Bodybuilding contracts are no different than any other athlete contract in that there’s a certain degree of risk involved. Teams are companies. Supplement brands are as well. Whether a company or a sports team gives a gifted athlete a lucrative contract, there’s always the chance that the athlete will start underproducing. Maybe complacency will set in and they won’t give their all at practice. Maybe they’ll choke when their athletic superiority is needed most, say when the team is down significantly or needs to execute a decisive play. The same can be said with a supplement company hiring a top bodybuilder or other physique-based athlete. Maybe the company is on the ropes and could really turn things around if one of their sponsored athletes won the upcoming Arnold Classic or did very well at the next Mr. Olympia. That could generate considerable sales! And who knows, if the sales are huge, that might warrant the company and athlete to renegotiate the contract.
Other companies may work with social media influencers. In these situations all they have to base their valuation of a prospective sponsored athlete is what kind of numbers they get on the various platforms. They’ll want to study analytics closely. It’s a totality of the factors. You look at Likes/Thumbs-Ups, comments, share and subscription numbers. You look at the numbers of posts vs the sub count. There’s a number of formulas at play. If everything looks right and it he/she doesn’t appear to be a fad star, then the signing company has to ensure that their new signee give the company the absolute greatest value for the money they’re investing. If it’s a month-to-month contract that helps the company hedge its bet. If it’s an annual contract it helps the athlete. That said, if the company helps the athlete with a year of monthly payments, they’re going to want to maximize their investment. The last thing they want is for their prized athlete to be giving what amount to free interviews or make free appearances on rival programs sponsored by rival companies.
Restrictive contracts may not benefit the sport, the media, or make the fans happy, but it’s business 101. If Hosstile is paying huge money to a Nick Walker or a Sam Sulek, why on Earth would they want them appearing on RX, MD (when it operated), or elsewhere? Hosstile has its own media where its athletes can appear. And in the case of Sam, it’s an even more important point to hammer, because unlike Nick who’s competing and winning huge shows, social media is all that Sam has. Therefore, there’s no way Hosstile or any other company worth their salt would allow their top social media talent to go on Desktop Bodybuilding or RX where a) they’re not going to get paid, b) the appearance may or may not generate sales, c) the media company now owns content with their star influencer, and d) the show where their star influencer appears is sponsored by other companies. This dilutes the reach of their influencer and removes their ability to have any kind of say.
Companies need to be profitable and for the few top companies still signing athletes to huge contracts, they must all-but-guarantee that there’s going to be sufficient return on investment (ROI). Otherwise, the company will lose money. This is why many top entrepreneurs have linked up with competent legal counsel and come with the best contracts. These documents are all-encompassing and totally enforceable. They usually compensate big stars with big money, but they are behind some of the most detailed contracts in the industry. The last thing they want is get played. That doesn’t mean media sites give up easily. Some sites are so desperate for interviews, they’ll stop at nothing. In some cases, they’ve been able to successfully dupe top signed talent. In rare instances an athlete or influencer may breach their contracts by appearing on unapproved programs and may even lose their contract.
Whoever breaches a contract is SOL. And not only are they SOL, but they can be sued as well. Usually, if a company is unforgiving, they’ll just cut their losses. If the star is big enough, they might give what amounts to 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th chances. Others just move on to other stars.
Every so often, it’s the star who knowingly hits the eject button. The professional-type honor the term of the contract and fulfill their end. When the contract is complete, they don’t renew, and move on. It’s a gamble and those that have been around for a while would never make it unless they had something else set in place. Those that don’t learn a very valuable lesson.
At the end of the day, Sam Sulek doesn’t have to be signed to a big (probably restrictive) contract. I mean, there’s always Uber, right? But something tells me it’s going to take a lot more than selling $80 photos or only being able to appear on BroChat to make Sam walk. Like I said, the media might not like it and the fans might be annoyed, but oh well. Money’s money and bodybuilders – like everyone else – need to pay their bills. Being signed to a huge company and having job security are luxuries most seasoned top pro’s can only dream of. If you’re doing as well as Sam is doing in his early 20’s, you don’t piss that away.