The game gambit

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Michael Jordan or the NBA? Tony Hawk or the X Games?

Possibly the first choice a marketer has to make when diving into sports sponsorship is whether to link up with the star athlete or the sport where he shows off his dazzling skill.

"You can do both," says Dean Bonham, CEO of the Bonham Group, a sports marketing consultancy, "but if the operative term is long-term, then clearly you're much better off with the sport because the life of an athlete is very limited. Michael Jordan certainly is an exception in terms of longevity."

Tim Jarrell, VP-publishing director of Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated for Kids, says that sports "may rise and wane in popularity, but if you're looking at an endorsement with a particular athlete, then you have to figure out how long is that person going to be in the public eye, but more importantly does that person stand for something beyond the sport."

"Someone can be fantastic today and terrible next year or can get in trouble, or a million [other] reasons," advises Bill Carter, president of Fuse Integrated Sports Marketing.

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