Just read this article in a German paper where the advertisements a Formula 1 driver can wear on his suit is compared to the fact that swimmers are not allowed to wear advertisements.
That is really the height of illogical arguments.
Compare the amount of space to advertise on from a F1 driver, who is actually covered in fabric, to that of a male swimmer, who wears a tiny bit of cloth around the loin.
How much advertising can go on such a trunk?
I think the swimming and commercialisation debate needs to find a useful consensus and not wildly speculate on the worst comparisons.
The article in Frankfurter Allgemeine compares a swimmer to an ice dancer. Again a useless comparison as an ice dancer can be seen for a prolonged period of time by a large amount of viewers. I remember having spent hours on a Saturday afternoon to watch the ice dance competitions, but swimming is not on for that amount of time and would not attract the same viewers, just like tennis, football or boxing.
I spend a large amount of time near the London Aquatic Centre, located right next to the West Ham stadium. The thousands of people going past the LAC to a football games, compares to a tiny number of people who come to visit a swimming competition.
There is little commercial viability in sponsoring swimmers as much as footballers.
Swimmers spend the most time, they are on-screen, under water. The only time they are able to carry advertisement on them, would be for most of them on the coat or dressing gown they wear prior to the swim or on their cap.
As even Adam Peaty rightly remarked, swimming doesn’t have such a large viewing audience that would make the advertising very viable for companies to pay large amounts for.
Of course some athletes do get sponsorship from companies, which is largely not visible but then there is little point in making it known other than by the sponsors themselves. There are swimmers who get free cars or other perks, which is not widely known.
Katinka Hosszu is one of the most quoted athletes causing grief to FINA over the inability to make money from performance swimming. Yet Katinka has a very viable company in her country, with a commercial website, has an enormous status and sells her own branded merchandise.
I am not sure about Michael Phelp’s reaction to the debate but he is another great example to show how the swimming can create a successful world-wide brand, that sells swimming equipment.
This sparring with FINA is not helping the sport, a sport that relies largely on voluntary involvement to make it happen in the first place.
How many free volunteers swimmers think they can get if the swimmers all earn money from the swims but the volunteers have to work for free?