A comment on sponsorship

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A comment on sponsorship

Post  rickiep00h on Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:00 am

There's been much talk of sponsorship of the Pro Tour lately, mostly in comparison to professional sports. I'd like to mention a few things.

I'll use the example of American football, but this extends to most, if not all, of the major sport in this country (the US).

First, in order to properly draw parallels, the NFL is to football as the DCI is to Magic, it is the overall governing/sanctioning body. It is in charge of rules and organization, and it handles some licensing for the teams and players. This does NOT mean that the NFL pays its players. The excessive amounts of money that pro players receive comes from their teams, and therefore their owners. A team's owner recognized at some point that people were willing to buy at ticket to watch people play a game, so they hired a bunch of players to play for the sole purpose of filling seats and getting people to buy tickets, merchandise, food, and other goodies that they don't necessarily want and certainly don't need at highly inflated prices. This goes for NASCAR, baseball, basketball, and hockey. There's a reason team owners are multi-millionaires, and there's a reason they stay that way after they buy a sports team, especially in a large market like New York, Chicago, or LA.

Second, players in the NFL are not playing one-on-one, they play as a team. It does not necessarily fall on one person to win a football game, therefore his final standing is determined by those trying to achieve the same goal WITH him.

Finally, in order to get a sponsorship as a player, you have to be a member of a team and receive the trickle-down along with the other players, again, thanks to belonging to the organization of your team, not by being a member of the NFL (or, in our microcosm, the DCI). Otherwise, you're making an endorsement deal with some other product outside the realm of actually playing. A theoretical example would be Heezy endorsing Ultra Pro sleeves or something.

In short, comparing Magic to team sports is not only a bad analogy, it's simply wrong.

A more workable comparison is to that of golf, or tennis, wherein there is a governing body (for example, the PGA) which oversees the game, and there are individual tournaments which are solely funded by outside sources. The prize money at the end of a Masters or a Grand Slam tournament doesn't come from the governing body, rather it comes from the sponsor of an individual event. A sponsor that wouldn't put on an event if they couldn't make a buck selling tickets, merchandise, food, and other goodies that people would pay inflated prices for.

So what it means is that in order for Magic to be upheld in such a way as the professional sports, it needs to have an outside entity that is willing to make money off spectators... and as it stands now, there's a very small percentage of people who would be willing to pay for the right to watch a match of Magic in-person. An increase in public interest would be necessary before such a thing were to happen, and I don't really think some random jock is going to enjoy two guys slinging cards with the same visceral relish as watching a football game. (I'm not saying this to slight anyone, btw, this is simply a generalization to make a point.)

Magic lives in a particular place in competitive gaming. As a game that is always in flux and always expanding, it is difficult to pin down easily like chess, tennis, or football. The rules are always changing. But having Wizards pay for the Pro Tour is like having Rawlings pay for the World Series: Wizards simply makes the product. Wizards is trying to sell cards, pro teams are trying to sell spectators' seats... there's a huge difference.

And we need to realize that.

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Where's the best place to get our money?

Post  Millimbar on Tue Feb 05, 2008 2:34 pm

I agree that WotC shouldn't be the ultimate source of funding if we want organized play to grow to a point where it really can be a lifestyle. There just isn't enough incentive for them to do anything beyond promoting a small group of people to the most basic level of fame... which doesn't require that they do anything more than they already do.

So where do we go from here?

It might be better to look at how a game like poker is set up. Similarly, most people don't enjoy watching a game of poker - at least not straight up. The few that do enjoy it typically prefer to see the cut up moments of glory on TV. The demand is small, and the market isn't very good for companies that want to advertise off of it. A lot of the money comes from investment by the players in their buy-ins.

Now think about how many poker sites have satellite tournaments. They have large 'qualifying' tournaments that if you win them, you're paid into a main event. This is similar in function to our PTQ circuit. A bunch of people put in some cash, the winner walks away with a plane ticket and an invitation. Perhaps if WotC allowed more PTQs - sponsored by the local game shops, etc - more money could be brought into the PT. If instead of the current setup, organizations could hold any number of PTQs that their player base supported (instead of being limited to 1 or 2), but also require that they pay not only for the plane ticket, but a sort of 'buy-in' to the pro tour, there would be a whole lot more money at the end of the road.

To maintain integrity, the only limit I'd see that would have to be placed on the sanctioning of a PTQ might be a minimal number of players in attendance. Obviously, from a financial standpoint, PTQ organizers would want these to be large tournaments or they'll end up losing a lot of money. The entry fees have to cover the cost of buy-ins plus everything they're already covering now.

Your thoughts?

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Re: A comment on sponsorship

Post  ColeS on Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:52 pm

Magic could easily be sponsored by a corporate company though. Males aged 18-25 is a hard age group to reach, and putting advertisements of the sponsor inside booster packs etc would appeal greatly to the sponsor, or putting up large sponsor signs at PTs.

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More ideas about sponsorship

Post  Eelco1972 on Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:03 pm

Agree.
I think WotC is doing quite a bunch already when it comes to sponsoring: at Worlds this year people were able to win Apple products and an SUV and my guess is that they were sponsored. If not, than that could be another reason why a PT was cut this year, because the car and the electronics must have cost them a nice amount of money...
But i'm pretty sure they were sponsored, so let's see what else could be interesting for WotC to merge into the GP's and PT's to make prizesupport a little more interesting.

I'll start out with a little joke, but it could just as well be interesting to think about possibilities...
Why not have Old Spice (http://www.oldspice.com/products.html) sponsor high profile Magic Events ? Everyone is always joking about how Magic players should be introduced to the fabulous discovery of Deodorant and the like, so i think the feature match area could double as some sort of advertising stand for Old Spices line of deodorants, incidently named Red Zone (not kidding...).

Same for MacDonalds or Burger King: at pretty much all the venues PT's and GP's are organized, only lousy food can be obtained (GP Amsterdam was a nice exception, last year, but that was because i was in charge of the catering; i am positive that it could have been better, but it was not bad...).
So why not have one of those two international fastfood giants help out catering the events ? I'm pretty sure Hasbro already takes care of the toys for either the Happy Meals or the Burger King variant of that menu item, so it won't be difficult. You always need to buy off the contract of the dedicated caterer at the venue, but in case of GP Amsterdam it didn't cost us too much and i'm sure those kind of numbers are not much of a speedbump voor MacD or BK.
Alongside MacD or BK, Coka Cola or Pepsi can be introduced to the tournament area too.

Apple was already mentioned: as an international electronics giant i'm sure they'll be more than interested in helping out upgrading the prizesupport of GP's and PT's. If WotC would be able to provide certain SE's with nice iPods and notebooks, i'm sure more people will show up and if they would also make some sort of Overall Weekend Winner (the person that wins the most SE's during the tournament's weekend), a lot more people will stay till after the Finals, because before the next GP or PT Winner is crowned, that prize will be announced.
Two birds with one stone, because sometimes it's plain awkward that the finals of a GP or PT are being watched by the judgestaff and 12 friends only...

Like i said: i'm pretty sure WotC is taking care of these kind of ideas right now, but it doesn't hurt to brainstorm along a little bit. Maybe someone at Apple or MacD reads along and contacts WotC...
Wink

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Re: A comment on sponsorship

Post  iceage4life on Wed Feb 06, 2008 6:31 am

Good ideas. I assume that WOTC ether gets the car/ipods at a big discount or free. That said those companies were not really sponsors. Charge them money and let them plaster their logo on stuff. Would people mind having corporate logos on their PT ____ 2008 shirt if it meant more prize money/events/whatever? I doubt it.

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Re: A comment on sponsorship

Post  themasonjar on Wed Feb 06, 2008 9:52 pm

iceage4life wrote:Charge them money and let them plaster their logo on stuff. Would people mind having corporate logos on their PT ____ 2008 shirt if it meant more prize money/events/whatever? I doubt it.

Why not take it a step further? Would people mind having corporate logos on certain cards (a la tokens/Pro Player cards) that are distributed with each pack?

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Re: A comment on sponsorship

Post  MCosta on Thu Feb 07, 2008 12:10 am

Maybe they should print entire expansions with sponsors. I'd be down with drafting Coke, Microsoft, Sony if it meant better prizes.

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Re: A comment on sponsorship

Post  rickiep00h on Tue Feb 19, 2008 7:22 pm

I actually just remembered something about Upper Deck's World of Warcraft tournaments. At all the larger tournaments there are side events that players can win sponsor's products, but it's a LARGE number of items. If I remember right they gave out something like 10 iPods per tournament, and they gave out customized computer systems (it is based on a computer game, after all...), and similar stuff, as well as having HUGE payouts at the end of the tournament... Sure, UDE and Blizzard probably have as deep (or deeper) pockets as WotC/Hasbro, but the idea of having multiple sponsors provide multiple products probably shouldn't be ignored.

And hey, you could try to get your local store to back you at your PTQs...

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Re: A comment on sponsorship

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