Unlike many sports which have professional ranks that children aspire to participate in, wrestling has never had a professional circuit. For folkstyle wrestling solely done in the states, the pinnacle of wrestling is collegiate athletics. Those of whom wrestle on the international stage via Freestyle and Greco-Roman competitions have the ability to set their sights on Olympic greatness. While each athlete’s path to their success is both individual and unique, many start out in the same scenario–seeking sponsorship and support on their quest for victory. There are obviously many ways to drum up this support, and I am going to focus on the specific persuasive technique primarily used by many of our nation’s best athletes to do so.
These athletes are truly no different the normal everyday citizen, and because of this, they use the same communication styles on a day-to-day basis. All of these athletes must generate the fan base, publicity, funds, etc. to continue to train 24/7 in hopes of achieving their lifelong goals. To do this, they must use carefully crafted persuasion in order to deliver the most effective message to potential fans or sponsors during their quest. I am going to argue that many Olympic hopefuls use the pragmatic interpersonal perspective to gather support during their mission. I will demonstrate this by evaluating a specific example from a past Olympic champion, the qualities of Olympic athletes and how those traits correlate to this perspective, and the way they let their supporters feel part of their individual successes.
The pragmatic interpersonal perspective is a perspective that stresses accomplishing the goals and outcomes of the individual asking for support. In doing this, the individual must make express qualities of confidence, immediacy, and expressiveness. If the individual does not express these qualities, it is unlikely that many would fully “buy in” and support them. There are four main actions in this perspective, also. The first is the strategic/planned communication, which is like the sales pitch. The second is the ability to gain trust, self-control, and involvement. The third is the direct response and interaction management, used to move discussion toward a decision. The fourth is linking to others through inclusive language.
Jordan Burroughs was a very good college wrestler at the University of Nebraska, and immediately upon graduation, had his sights set on the next stage in his career. He is the world’s most marketable wrestler due to using the pragmatic interpersonal perspective. Under his personal twitter handle “@AllISeeisGold” and his website with the same name, he got wrestling fans to follow him throughout his journey by communicating to his followers about the process, diet, workouts, family life, faith, etc. Jordan’s twitter handle also demonstrates the ability for him to interact with fans and his expressiveness. Even before eventually captured his Olympic gold medal, Burroughs’ coach Mark Manning said, “Jordan’s Olympic win is going to blow up into something so big, it’s hard to even imagine where it might take him,” (York, 2012, p. 12). Every interview Jordan did revolved around the fact that he knew he was going to get the job done. “He told everyone that goal had a 100 percent chance, and it wasn’t being cocky. It was being confident and driven every step of the way,” (York, 2012, p. 12). The confidence demonstrated by coach Manning suggested that the goal was going to be accomplished in a matter of when, not if, and support him to come along for the ride.
All Olympic athletes bolster impeccable levels of resilience, selflessness, passion, discipline, and motivation (Blumenthal, 2009). While these intrinsic qualities are absolutely necessary, many say they cannot be taught. Olympic Gold medalist Bruce Jenner said “sports are 90% mental and 10% physical,” (Gregoire, 2014, p. 3). If an athlete has the right mindset they will stress their goals. Jordan Burroughs made his goals known to everyone via social media, his website, and throughout his interviews. This directly speaks to the pragmatic perspective as the necessity of confidence is needed in both aspects. Burroughs has been spoiled with sponsorship deals too after his success. MusclePharm supplements, USA Wrestling, and Asics footwear just to name a few have lined up to sign Jordan to be an elite embassador of their brands. None of these companies had ties with him before his international success and this is a direct example of the action step response moving discussion toward a decision. Using his success and body of work he was clearly able to negotiate deals with large companies that he could not have done before his Olympic greatness. There are many positive traits that these world-class athletes portray, and using the qualities that the pragmatic perspective addresses, it is obvious how these reputable athletes continue to gain support during their careers.
A very effective way to garner support for these athletes too is to make the audience or fans feel a part of the action. This is easy to do via social media as athletes can thank their fans and supporters literally minutes after a large accomplishment. Jordan does this each time he gets done with a tournament which is a large reason why his following is the largest of any wrestler worldwide. His famous twitter handle “@AllISeeIsGold” is the subject of many new products offered by his various sponsors. Now you can get shirts, singlets, and shoe packages that donn the popular forward-thinking phrase. While Jordan Burroughs was in the finals of the World Championships, he heard the home crowd chanting, “USA, USA!” during his bout. Clearly, it helped that the championships were hosted in Las Vegas, but had Jordan not been as open and marketed himself as just an ordinary guy with big aspirations, he definitely would not have been admired in the same sense as he was.
In reality, there are many ways in which big time athletes market themselves in a favorable light to their fans. While other athletes may use the use of television or just the sheer popularity of their sport to generate a buzz for themselves, athletes in less populated sports must create unique avenues for themselves in order to accumulate the largest accrual of fans as possible. A very effective way of doing this is through the means of interpersonal perspectives, and in particular, the pragmatic perspective. Through the use of stressing accomplishing goals and outcomes, communicating confidence and approachability, and marketing themselves to their sponsors via their successful body of work, Olympic athletes are able to put themselves in the most successful situation they can all in hopes of achieving their lifetime dreams.