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
If you're holding an event and need a celebrity to make it seem slightly more awesome than it is, why not rent out an athlete? I personally would much rather just drop that spare grand or two on an open bar or a few kegs, but there’s the athlete option too. Most athletes on the site will show up at an event for a couple of thousand dollars. Tiki Barber himself will make an appearance for $5,000, while currently dominant players like Frank Gore and LeSean McCoy are available for $15,000. 10-time PGA Tour tournament winner Steve Elkington is the most expensive by far. You’d think golf enthusiasts were rich or something.
9 Celebrations: Charles Oakley, Daryl Johnston and Scott Fujita - $10,000
Whether you`re celebrating a wedding, a birthday, a religious event such as a bar mitzvah or communion, there are athletes who will show up and celebrate with your friends and family, for the right price of course. Greg Olsen and Pierre Garcon are available for $7,500 but if you really want to drop some cash; Oakley, Johnston or Fujita would be the way to go at 10 grand. Both Johnston and Fujita support charitable causes with their money earned through this company. Oakley may as well, but it doesn’t say so specifically on the site.
8 Coaching: Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling - $15,000
If you’re looking for a coaching session, good news, there are clinics and training centers for roughly any well-known sport in any major city. If you’re looking to throw buckets of money at a coaching session however, look no further than Thuzio. Thuzio’s athletes are available for private coaching sessions and group lessons, making them ideal for either those trying to maximize their game camps, trying to give kids an awesome experience. These two retired pitchers are the most expensive, but I have to wonder when the Thuzio website was last updated, because Schilling was diagnosed with cancer in early February. We obviously wish him all the best.
7 Corporate Outing: Mike Bossy - $5,000
Corporate outing is a nauseating workplace code for “event designed to keep employees from wanting to cause physical harm to each other,” right? Thuzio allows a customer to hire an athlete to attend their company events to help make these events more entertaining. It’s funny that employers think “teambuilding” means creating a friendlier and more cohesive work environment. Having been to teambuilding events before, I’m pretty sure that in reality, a "team-building"/corporate event is just a convenient meet-up wherein each employee can further determine which coworkers they truly loathe. But perhaps having an athlete present could actually make a team-building event bearable. Former New York Islander Mike Bossy is the most expensive and is listed as available for a golf outing or a conference. I wonder if he could just be hired to crosscheck a few coworkers for cheaper though? I’d probably throw down a couple of grand if I could bring Mike Tyson to work to insult and rough up a few coworkers, I can just imagine Tyson walking up to one of my “supervisors” shouting “I will eat you children!”
6 Dining: Mike Modano - $20,000
As I previously mentioned, one of the more popular choices on the site is to meet up with an athlete for dinner. While some athletes will gladly meet up with a customer for a couple thousand dollars, and in some cases $500-$1000 for smaller name athletes, Mike Modano is not so cheap. The long-time Dallas Stars player charges $20,000 to sit down to meal with a customer of Thuzio. I imagine he charges so much, so that if he ever does sit down with a truly repugnant human specimen, it will without any shadow of a doubt, be worth his while. On a side note, I’m not sure why, if someone had the kind of dough to hire an athlete/former athlete for a few hours, one would choose the dinner option. Mike Modano was one of the most skilled hockey players of the 90’s and 2000’s, having the most points and goals of any American born player. Why sit down to dinner? I’d much rather throw money, if he’d join some friends of mine to shoot pucks around, then join us for a beer afterward. A dinner has the opportunity to be awkward and irritating for all those involved, playing shinny and then drinking beer is always awesome.
5 Play with a Pro: Mike Modano - $22,500
This experience option is exactly what it sounds like. Athletes on Thuzio can be rented to play a pick-up game with groups or individuals for whatever price they have decided on. This is what I was talking about, why meet a world class specimen of human greatness for a meal when you could catch passes from a former NFL quarterback, shoot hoops with a former NBA star or get broken ribs from a Mike Modano slapshot. Again, Modano wants to make sure that anything he is signed for on this website is worth his time, and is the most costly option for this experience as well as the dining option. I should mention that Modano’s fees on the site are high in part because he has charitable organizations of his own that he funds partially through appearances and such events.
4 Speaking Engagement: Lynn Swann - $40,000 - $50,000
Thinking of holding an anti-abortion rally in the Pennsylvania area? Why not consider taking out a second mortgage so that Lynn Swann will speak at your event? For a very solid fee, there are many gifted speakers available on Thuzio, such as Olympian Tara Lipinski, who charges between $10,000 and $15,000 for appearances and speaking engagements. But returning to the most expensive of these athletes, Lynn Swann is a very gifted public speaker, in addition to being a football Hall of Famer. Watch a video of him speaking; whether or not you agree with what he is saying, his charisma is amazing. Too bad he tried to do that “politician” thing.
3 Video Message: Over 1000 Athletes - $99
We chose Tara Lipinski for the picture because it's always necessary to include an attractive female in a post, and also, she is available on the Thuzio site. Video messages from Thuzio are very cheap, mainly because they are simple to produce and are basically a great method to advertise your business. Most athletes on the site only charge a small fee for this experience. While it is a great value for the customer to have an athlete congratulate somebody on their wedding, anniversary or gallbladder removal, it also serves as advertising for the brand. Imagine a 30 second video of Eric Dickerson congratulating a man at a get-together after which a guest asks “wow, how did you get a personal message from Eric Dickerson?!” Instant conversation starter.
2 Tweet: Gary Payton - $10,000
This one just seems like a waste of money, but if someone has a spare 10 grand and wants a famous person to say their name on the internet, who am I to judge? Many of the athletes on Thuzio are willing to rent out their Twitter accounts for a price. Most only charge a few hundred but the greatest player to ever wear the Supersonics uniform will tweet a customer for no less than $10,000. It’s for a good cause, however, as much of the money earned through his activities on the site go towards his own charitable causes, of which he has several.
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.