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EP: 157 Beyond the Podium - Have We Setup Athletes to Fail?

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Is the Outdoor Industry Setting Its Athletes Up for Failure?

The outdoor industry has no shortage of objective-based films. Year after year we see brands pumping out countless stories of physical feats and athletic prowess. These narratives, often breathtaking and awe-inspiring, have become the backbone of how outdoor brands communicate with their audience. But at the heart of these stories, there's a critical element we might be overlooking: the human experience.

Many outdoor narratives focus primarily on physical accomplishments and while undeniably impressive, this approach to storytelling can sometimes miss the mark on relatability and emotional resonance. The result? Audiences may feel detached, viewing these feats as distant spectacles rather than stories they can connect with on a personal level.

But why do these types of stories dominate our industry? Athletes, with their remarkable tales of perseverance and triumph, often find themselves at the center of these narratives. This leads us to question: where does the responsibility lie? Is it the athlete, who lives and breathes these extraordinary experiences? The storyteller, who chooses the lens through which these stories are told? Or the brand, who equips and supports the athlete?

In this episode with Lindsay Yaw Rogers, we talk about how the issue at hand is not about assigning blame but rather reflecting on how we can evolve our storytelling and support our athletes to be more inclusive of the human experience. How can we balance the awe of physical accomplishments with the emotional journeys that underpin them? How can brands encourage and support athletes beyond the podium?

By doing so, we can engage our audiences on a deeper level, fostering a connection that goes beyond admiration to genuine inspiration and understanding.

Lindsay Yaw Rogers is the founder of Raw Strategy, an agency that works with high level athletes and leaders throughout the industry on positioning and messaging. She works with the Olympic and Paralympic athletes as well as the North Face athlete team.

In this episode, Cole and Lindsay discuss:

  • How brands could better work with and equip their athletes
  • The differences between influencers, ambassadors, and athletes
  • Empowering athletes and employees to be brand ambassadors
  • Her hopes for the future of athlete programs in the outdoor industry and beyond

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