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As an aspiring athlete, you are bound to encounter opportunities for ambassadorships, sponsorships, and scholarships. While these three terms may sound similar, they play very distinct roles in the world of sports. What is a brand ambassador vs sponsored athlete; is an athlete scholarship the same? Can I do more than one? Is it better to be an ambassador or sponsor for a sports brand?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll uncover the differences between them, helping athletes like you make informed decisions when accepting or applying to be a brand ambassador or sponsored athlete,.

Ambassadorships in Sports

Definition: An ambassadorship is a role where an athlete represents a brand or organization to increase awareness and improve the image. 

– Exposure
– Access to exclusive products
– Potential monetary rewards
– Networking opportunities

– Promote the brand
– Adhere to brand values
– Attend events

Example: Becoming a brand ambassador for a sporting goods company where you receive free prooducts they are wanting to promote or vouchers to use towards their products. 

Ambassadorships versus Discount Schemes

It’s essential for athletes to also recognise the difference between authentic ambassadorships and marketing strategies disguised as such. Some brands may approach individuals with an offer to purchase products at a small discount, framing it as an “ambassadorship.” However, this is more akin to a marketing strategy or a discount scheme rather than a genuine ambassadorship.

While this approach isn’t necessarily bad and may be appealing to some, it can cause confusion. True ambassadorships typically offer something more substantial in exchange for the ambassador’s time, content, promotion, or other contributions. These may include exclusive access to exclusive products, significant discounts or keeping products they review. It’s crucial to understand these distinctions when evaluating opportunities and ensure that the terms align with your expectations and career goals.


Sponsorships in Sports

Definition: Sponsorship refers to a financial support system where companies provide funds, products, or services to an athlete in exchange for advertising or endorsement.

Benefits of a sponsorship 

  • Financial support
  • Equipment and gear
  • Training support
  • Enhanced public profile

Responsibilities in sponsorships

  1. Represent the brand positively
  2. Wear logos or use products
  3. Engage in promotional activities

Example: Being sponsored by a drink company who pays for your sports kit or equipment and wearing their logo on your training gear.


Scholarships in Sports

Definition: Scholarships are a financial aid awards given to athletes to support their education, often in exchange for participating in a specific sports program at a college or university. More recently there has also been a growing number of scholarships which are not just for students, these allow athletes to reduce their external work commitments, have more time to train and have the costings of sports practitioner support and training covered. 


  • Cash Incentive or tuition reduction coverage 
  • Access to top coaching and services
  • Academic support
  • Networking opportunities (meet other athletes and potential talent coaches/ scouters)


  1. Maintain academic standards
  2. Participate in team activities and competitions
  3. Uphold the values of the institution

Recieving a cash incentive and some support services such as academic flexibility or physiotherapy to study at a university and play for their team.
Receiving a full-ride scholarship to play football at a prestigious university and some support package for athletes. Scholarships are popular worldwide with The US being one of the favourite countries to get athletic scholarships whilst studying. In the UK we have scholarships from dual career accredited sites, DiSE and TASS as the most popular options. 


Conclusion: Ambassadorships, Sponsorships, Scholarships – What’s Best for You?

For an athlete, understanding the difference between brand ambassadors and sponsors, along with scholarships is crucial. Each of these avenues offers unique benefits and responsibilities. And they don’t need to be independent from each other. Many athletes I have worked with and supported over the years build up a mixture of these and manage these at the same time.
The consideration is to balance your commitment, be willing to promote those brand and ensuring that they align with your core values. 

Ambassadorships focus on brand representation and often cater to established athletes, you are given something in return for exposure or use of their brand (sometimes testing and feeding back other times just wearing or using their brand).

Discount schemes focus on brand representation and often allow both established and less established athletes. Additionally, they are often more inclusive and a good way for athletes in niche disciplines to grow their own athlete identity and work with brands. These can often lead to more established ambassadorships and collabrations. But for these you are usually spending money and given a discount code to use, but not getting anything free.

Sponsorships provide financial and product support, essential for professional growth.

Scholarships prioritise a dual career in education and athletic development, typically targeting student-athletes. Though recent years more scholarship schemes are available for athletes who are on appreticeships in trades, the armed forces or

Evaluate your needs, goals, and current career stage in your pathway to decide which opportunity aligns best with your path. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or an aspiring athlete, these options can provide the support you need to reach your full potential.


Need further assistance in navigating the world of ambassadorships, sponsorships, or scholarships? Check our ultimate guide to sports scholarships in the United Kingdom

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