Lyles is doing a good job of making the world care about athletics…again!
Almost never do we see an athlete take up the mantle of marketing a sport for the governing body. What is the norm is for the athlete to focus on building a brand name for themselves, and naturally, the money begins to flow into their bank accounts. It’s usually the byproduct of having many fans of the sport watch you on a daily basis.
The superstars of the sport are the biggest draw for branding and endorsements. More importantly, the appeal of the athlete cutting across various cultural and national lines also plays a huge deal. It’s a long list, but the drift is athletes feed off being a big part of a popular sport.
Athletics is a strange phenomenon. You won’t be wrong if you call it the most popular sport in the world, as it gets the most attention and media hype at the Olympic Games. The problem with that is the games only last less than a month. As for the world championships that take place every two years, the governing body, World Athletics, has just gleaned the execution plan from the Olympics.
The numbers this year have been astonishing, to say the least. Over the nine days of this year’s world championships in Budapest, traffic was more than double that for any previous events. It got so bad that the website crashed as the global body didn’t envisage the over 14 million per hour visits going into the event.
What that has done is to make the eleven months outside the World Championships dormant. Aside from the hardcore fans who follow the track and field, it’s rare to find neutrals taking interest in the sport outside the Olympics and the world championships. That has to change. It should change. Recently minted triple world champion Noah Lyles knows it has to change. Hence his outroar at the post-200 m race press conference where he says it felt livid seeing the NBA and other National leagues in the United States tag themselves as the world champions.
And that’s what it took for most superstars in sports to pay attention to Lyles. He’s the three-time 200m Champion in the 200m, multiple Diamond League winner, and third fastest man in the world, only behind Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake. But does that really matter to global fans who support Kevin Durant, Novak Djokovic, Tom Brady, or Lionel Messi? Lyles just doesn’t have…