Monday, January 30, 2012

A Response from Ben Moon to the Last Post

I got a lot of reaction to last week's post, reaction which was by no means expected. I felt I was making the simple point that sponsorships in climbing have to be earned and that depending on the effort put in, you may find yourself breaking even at best. A lot of people agreed but unfortunately Ben Moon at Moon Climbing took exception to my account of my experience as a sponsored climber. He wrote in a comment to my blog:

"Moon Climbing is not some big faceless corporation. It's a tiny company with only one full-time employee which is me. Every email that comes to the company comes directly to me and 95% of the product that comes in and out of my small warehouse passes through my hands. I have virtually no marketing budget and do almost zero advertising. Any budget I have goes towards supporting a team of climbers from around the world. In 2011 the team became too big and cost too much to finance so I had to make cuts for 2012. Since I do very little business in the US it was hard to justify sponsoring so many US climbers and I had to make a cut somewhere and unfortunately Peter lost out."

I want to thank Ben for reminding all of us that many of the manufacturers in climbing are very small operations, running on miniscule budgets. My purpose in writing the post was not to denigrate Moon Climbing, whose products and philosophy I respect greatly, even if I am no longer formally affiliated with them. It was instead to correct misconceptions about what "free" gear really means to both sponsor and athlete. Moon fulfilled their obligations toward me generously and I believe the same could have been said of me. I certainly have nothing negative to say about the company or Ben in any sense and would still encourage climbers in the US to seek out their gear.

Losing and gaining sponsorships is an uncertain part of the game at the higher levels of the sport of climbing. There is almost a trainspotting aspect to seeing which climber is wearing which brand shoes this year. Some find this fascinating. For me, not so much. I want to support companies which focus on simplicity, integrity, environmental awareness, independence and quality, whether through my purchases or promoting their products in this blog or in other media. These values reflect my own and are not for sale.

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