American sprint legend Michael Johnson's new partnership to launch fan-focused track league


ATHLETICS American sprint legend Michael Johnson's new partnership to launch fan-focused track league

Festus Chuma 08:28 - 28.02.2024

Michael Johnson has partnered with Winners Alliance to launch a new track league aiming to revitalize the sport with innovative engagement strategies.

American sprint legend Michael Johnson is partnering with Winners Alliance in an ambitious effort to revive and transform track and field, aiming to rekindle the U.S. public's interest in the sport beyond the Olympic spotlight.

The new track league, set to debut in 2025, aspires to create a TV-friendly product that not only engages existing fans but also attracts new audiences with its unique storytelling and promotion of the sport's biggest stars.

For decades, track and field has struggled to maintain the U.S. public’s attention outside the Olympic Games. However, Johnson, a four-time Olympic gold medalist, believes it’s time for the sport to shine year-round.

 "I love this sport and owe everything I have to this sport," Johnson expressed in an interview. "It’s been a shame for me to watch it over the last couple decades since I retired not be able to continue to provide the same amazing moments to people, outside of just the Olympics."

The new league, though still in the planning stages, aims to resemble major U.S. pro sports leagues more closely, with a structure that is both engaging for fans and beneficial for athletes. 

Winners Alliance, a global athlete licensing and sponsorship firm, is serving as the operational and capital partner for this venture.

They have reportedly made a seven-figure investment, the single largest investment in track and field history, indicating the level of commitment and belief in the league's potential success.

Eric Winston, president of Winners Alliance, highlighted the importance of focusing on athletes as the main event. 

"I don’t think anyone [until now] has tried to show the essence of the sport and really put the athletes front and center," Winston said.

This strategy follows the successful examples set by the NBA and NFL, where athletes have increasingly become the focal point of the leagues' marketing and engagement strategies.

The challenge of elevating track and field in the U.S. is multifaceted, involving issues such as limited TV distribution, a lack of world-class facilities, and inconsistent marketing of stars. 

Despite these challenges, the sport saw a significant viewership increase during the outdoor world championships hosted in the U.S., signaling a potential resurgence in interest that Johnson and Winners Alliance aim to capitalize on.

Moreover, the partnership with Winners Alliance is not Johnson's first venture into the business side of sports. His experience as an Olympic federation consultant, entrepreneur, and owner of an athlete representation agency has equipped him with a deep understanding of the commercial challenges faced by track athletes.

Winners Alliance is also in discussions with World Athletics, the international governing body for track and field. The goal is not to compete with existing entities like the Diamond League but to complement and elevate the sport's profile globally. 

Johnson envisions the new league as a platform that not only showcases the world's best talent but also serves as a preparatory stage for major competitions like the Olympics and world championships.

The timing of the league's launch is strategic, leveraging the excitement surrounding the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Paris to build momentum. 

With Johnson's expertise and the operational prowess of Winners Alliance, there is a strong foundation for success. 

The venture represents a significant step towards redefining track and field, making it more accessible and engaging for fans around the world.

"The track has been such a big part of my life," he reflected. 

With this new league, Johnson is not just aiming to leave a lasting legacy as one of the greatest sprinters of all time but also to ensure the sport's vibrant future.

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