Seb Coe on Marketing The Sport: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

February 27, 2015

Double Olympic gold and silver medalist, 11-time world record holder and 2012 London Olympics chairman Sebastian Coe is running to succeed Lamine Diack as the next head of the IAAF.

We’re honored that Coe has chosen as the venue to make his case for the presidency to the U.S. track and field and world (and mid-d and distance fans across the globe). Recently, Coe sat down for an interview with Brendan Foster, the 1972 Olympic 10,000m bronze medalist and founder of Nova International, and talked about his vision for the sport moving forward. The interview, which has been broken up into five parts, is being released first on We’ll release one video for five days straight.

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The fourth video, just 2:53 long, in which Coe talks about moving money from IAAF headquarters in Monaco to the member federations so they can help grow the sport in a way that makes sense for the local market, appears below. We’ve provided a transcript of some the day four video below the video.

Video by FilmNova Sport Production –

Brendan Foster: One of your views of the sport is the sport has to be in a financially healthier position, it has to maximize its income in order to redistribute that income to encourage the development of the sport. Is that something you see as achievable?

Seb Coe: Yes I do, and it’s really important. We have 213 federations now — South Sudan became a part of the family just a few months ago. We have to put the member federations in the best possible position to deliver the sport in the way they know there is a local interest, and that will mean redefining budgets, it will mean moving funding from the center and giving those member federations a better chance to do that. I don’t think the sport any longer can be delivered in the way that we’ve been delivering it in the past. That’s not a criticism of the past — it’s just to say that when you have a sport with 213 federations and you are across such huge continents [it has to be done locally].

If you look at Asia for instance, Asia technically runs from Qatar through to the Philippines, from Sri Lanka to northern China. Now, how are you going to deliver a one-size-fits-all, with just one marketing strategy, for the whole of that continent? So we’ve got to find the key drivers of growth for the sport and we’ve got to be able deliver that sport in a much more flexible way. We have to create sponsorship programs that enable the federations to be able to deliver better sporting opportunities, the creation of events, partnerships with universities and making sure the athletes that are wanting education attainment [are getting it].

You know we are having this discussion at the moment about the transference of allegiance, well that’s a complicated process. We sort of tend to think that most athletes move to another country simply to advance their competitive, athletic [opportunities]. Actually a lot go for educational advancement, a lot go because families move. You know we are in a global society here and we have to give as many reasons for athletes to remain in their continents and to become the role models, like the African athletes have become and are, and to create those opportunities we can only do that by broadening the scope of our sponsors and making sure that those sponsorships are really trickling down to the grassroots and the member federations, who know better than I do, sitting in the center, how to deliver the sport.

Other Days:
Day 1: Seb Coe States His Case For The IAAF Presidency (Intro & Summary)
“There’s not a sport in the world that has that universality (213 nations), that global reach [of athletics]. It’s tougher to get a medal in a track and field championship than any other sport. But the sport has its challenges. I think we recognize that we’ve struggled, valiantly on occasions, but we have struggled to connect with the next generation…I take great exception to people from outside our sport trying to redesign our sport because they don’t fundamentally understand the nature, the history and the philosophy of it….If I’m in a position to shape the future of my sport, why on earth would I not want to do that?”

Day 2: Seb Coe On Why Trust In The Sport Is Critical/Why Drugs Must Be Eradicated “Fair play starts at the very top of the sport… The tone and style is set from the top… It’s absolutely vital that people believe in our sport….The spectators going into those stadiums have to go to know what they are watching is real…We have to be open about this… I’ve always, always preferred to the face short-term embarrassment than the long-term genteel decline… This is not a war we can lose.”

Day 3: Seb Coe On Growing The Sport Commercially For The Athletes
“We’ve got a sport, I think we’ve got to create a movement…. There are millions of people around the globe that run. I don’t think enough of them see what they do as being related in any way with Usain Bolt does. I think we’ve got to create a running movement…What sport is better placed to actually make a difference [with obesity] than athletics?…We need to do more to explain the fee structure and income structure. I’ve never had a problem about appearance money. I think we should be really open about that. I don’t think we should be too coy or shy.”

Day 4: On Marketing The Sport Across 213 Member Federations – One Size Doesn’t Fit All Coe advocates moving money from Monaco to the member federations who know what works best locally. “We have to put the member federations in the best possible position to deliver the sport in the way they know there is a local interest….We’ve got to find the key drivers of growth for the sport and we’ve got to be able deliver that sport in a much more flexible way.”

Day 5 (Coming Saturday): On The Possibility Of The Sub-2 Hour Marathon

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