January 14, 2013 by Charlie Eisenhood in Livewire, Opinion with 4 comments
Even though Nike is just a title sponsor for these new Ultimate youth camps, this could be an incredibly important first step in the mainstreaming of ultimate.
This is the first time a major sporting goods company has associated themselves with ultimate in any way.
One of the challenges ultimate has faced for many years is simply a perception issue. For those outside of the player community, it is generally considered a game (not a sport) played by hippies on the beach or with dogs. This is not an overstatement.
Having Nike dip their toe into the scene could start to change that perception. Nike has serious credibility as a sports brand, much like Gatorade, ESPN, Adidas, etc. These companies don’t associate with Quidditch (yes, that’s a thing), croquet, or other “fake” sports.
Not only that, but there is the possibility that Nike sees ultimate as a rich new marketing target. (It is beyond me why they haven’t started advertising cleats to ultimate players yet.) Aaron Bell, the program director of the Nike Camps, pointed out that if these camps gain traction and he can go to Nike and say, ‘Look, we sold 3,000 pairs of Nike cleats to youth players this summer,’ that could be a game changer. Nike might think it’s worth some extra resources in other areas of the sport (sponsoring USA Ultimate or the pro leagues, e.g.)
We are still far from that world, of course. But it’s not unrealistic. It’s really not difficult to imagine five years from now having the College Championships sponsored by Nike and Under Armour.