Athletes face the harsh law of Instagram to finance their Olympic project

Athletes face the harsh law of Instagram to finance their Olympic project

A photo taken on a boat during a vacation in Corsica, another in front of a Christmas tree and a gaggle of beautifully wrapped presents, a third in an evening dress on the red carpet of an award ceremony… All interspersed with many shots in white suits, mesh masks on their faces and sabers in their hands. This is not the Instagram account of an influencer, but that of the fencer Charlotte Lembach, Olympic vice-champion with the French women’s team at the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2021. Like her, many athletes now appear on social media. Indeed, these platforms have become an essential tool in the quest for visibility, and therefore for sponsors, especially as the biggest deadline of all, the Olympic Games (OG) in Paris, in 2024, approaches.

“The importance of social networks in the financing of a sports career is considerable today”, explains Uriel Abalo, expert in communication on social networks, specializing in the field of sport. Feeding publications into personal accounts is now a must for those who intend to fight against anonymity between major competitions. “Athletes are generally apprehended in the light of a performanceargues Mr. Abalo. But besides that, there is the whole “lifestyle” dimension [art de vivre], which will allow them to monetize their image and their DNA. » Even if it means, sometimes, putting yourself on stage far from the sports fields.

This new income is particularly valuable for representatives of disciplines with little or no professionalism. “Ten or fifteen years ago, there were very few of us to live from our sportsays Charlotte Lembach. Now, with the social networks and the community that you can have by being sporty, young people think that they can earn a living by making videos, photos, posing…” Many young athletes are “in a precarious situation”argues figure skater Maé-Bérénice Méité, this can allow them “simply not having to survive anymore”.

After her Achilles tendon injury during the World Championships in Stockholm in March 2021, the six-time French champion, 28, became aware of the advantages of this approach herself: “I could no longer use the main work tool that is my body to generate income. So I said to myself that I had to develop my brand image and be able to monetize it. » With her 137,000 subscribers on Instagram, she hopes to eventually no longer depend on external aid and subsidies to skate.

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