For those of you who are not familiar with the website Thuzio.com, it is a business that specializes in providing athletes, both active and retired, opportunities to appear at events. One of the founders is Tiki Barber, the Giants running back from the late 90s and early 2000s. Hundreds of athletes from across the United States are involved with the site and are available for events ranging from sitting down to a dinner to something like playing a round of golf. Because I am an opinionated jerk who refuses to keep his mouth shut, I have multiple thoughts regarding this kind of venture and will voice them now.
In a way, the fact that this exists presents some incredible opportunities because it's a simple way for youth sports teams to book a training session with a world class athlete. On top of that, they cater to summer sports camps and can send an athlete to spend time with young athletes for the day. This sounds like it would be a great experience for all those involved. Coaches and camp councillors would get some welcome time off, the campers or team members would be able to spend the day learning skills and tips from professional athletes and the athletes would get a day teaching young people their awesome skills, not to mention some money in the pocket at the end of the day. It sounds like a win-win-win.
On the other hand, I almost feel sorry for the athletes who sign up for something like this. They're obviously being paid for their time, but one of the options for an activity is to have dinner with one's athlete of choice. This essentially means that anyone who can sign up for this site and fork over a small pile of cash can request dinner with a professional athlete. While obviously these athletes know for the most part what they are getting into, I can only imagine that more than a few of them have showed up to a casual dinner only to meet an over-enthusiastic, giggling, drooling, heavy-breathing fan asking for a hair sample to make a clone.
After reading most of the customer experience part of their site, I truly cannot tell whether the people hiring these athletes are completely oblivious to the world around them or if these athletes truly love meeting new people for a meal and some drinks. Along with athletes, there is an option for customers in New York to hire actors and performers to attend events. This is an interesting business with some major advantages for all those involved, but with that said, I do feel bad for any affiliate athlete who shows up to a dinner only to encounter a deranged, obsessed troglodyte sitting across the table asking for a vial of sweat or a cheek swab. All my tirades aside, here is a list of each type of appearance that an athlete can be hired for on thuzio.com, along with the priciest options. Interesting to note is that quite a few of the personalities available on Thuzio do not pocket the money from these experiences, but rather give their Thuzio earnings to charity or use them to fund their own charitable organizations.
10 Appearance: Steve Elkington - $45,000
9 Celebrations: Charles Oakley, Daryl Johnston and Scott Fujita - $10,000
8 Coaching: Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling - $15,000
7 Corporate Outing: Mike Bossy - $5,000
6 Dining: Mike Modano - $20,000
5 Play with a Pro: Mike Modano - $22,500
4 Speaking Engagement: Lynn Swann - $40,000 - $50,000
3 Video Message: Over 1000 Athletes - $99
2 Tweet: Gary Payton - $10,000
1 Q & A: Scott Fujita - $10,000-$15,000
The Thuzio.com website is very flashy and details monetary values and stars in much greater detail than specific rules for events for which these athletes can be hired, which makes sense. But I am curious as to how personal and hilarious a question and answer experience with one of these athletes could get. Part of me hopes that customers are respectful of their hired athletes and focus on sports questions rather than prying into their personal lives. Then again, prying into the personal lives of big name people is kind of like a worldwide pastime, unfortunately for them. If one is looking to spend a solid pile of money on a Q&A period, former linebacker and Super Bowl winning Scott Fujita would be a safe bet. As previously stated, he also donates money from this venture to charities, mainly to do with wildlife and adoption advocacy programs.
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