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Joey Cheek on Comedy Central tonight

timv's picture

According to the front page at http://www.colbertnation.com/home, Olympic ice speedskater Joey Cheek is scheduled to be a guest on The Colbert Report this evening on the Comedy Central network.

In case you haven't been following the story, Stephen Colbert signed on as the title sponsor for the US national speedskating team after their previous sponsor, Dutch bank DSB, went bankrupt leaving the team several hundred thousand dollars short on operating funds. Or rather, Colbert signed his viewers on sponsors, since the funds will come from donations received at the show's website.

The video segment where he announced the sponsorship, which was taped and broadcast the past Monday, can be seen here:Sport Report - NYC Marathon & Olympic Speedskating | 11/02/2009 It actually starts with a minute or so on Meb Keflezighi's New York City Marathon victory, but the skating stuff comes right after that. (Flash Player 10 required)

You can also check out Time Magazine's online report on the unorthodox sponsorship deal: Colbert to the Rescue: Can He Save U.S. Speedskating?

The skaters should probably temper their enthusiasm, because Colbert isn't exactly cutting a check to U.S. Speedskating for $400,000. Over the next few weeks, the show will plug the sport regularly and feature speedskating in a few bits. The team is counting on the generosity of Colbert's audience, in both a down economy and around the holidays, when spare change goes to stocking stuffers. "It's a gamble," [U.S. Speedskating executive director Bob] Crowley concedes. U.S. Speedskating was in preliminary discussions with a few sponsors, but none were willing to pay $100,000 for the suit space. And with the Olympics just 100 days away, Crowley was left with little choice. "We need to make up lost revenue, and we don't have the comfort of getting that guaranteed check every three months," he says.

Luckily for speedskating, Colbert's audience tends to adopt his causes. He has raised at least $240,000 for the Yellow Ribbon Fund, which assists injured service members and their families. But even if the economics work out, the Colbert stunt could backfire. After all, if your sport becomes too intertwined with a comedy program, does it become a joke? "We talked about that," says Crowley. "We stressed to the Colbert staff that we have exquisite athletes who have trained their entire lives for that Olympic platform. They can't minimize that. They get it, and they recognize that."

Plus, many Olympic speedskaters don't take themselves too seriously. "We're Olympic athletes, and that in itself deserves respect," says Katherine Reutter, a short-track skater who will be competing in her first Olympics in Vancouver. "But we race around in little circles in full-body spandex. There's plenty of stuff to make fun of." And who knows? Those jokes may pay for her medal.

Colbert reported on Tuesday's show that they had received over $40,000 in donations since the donate link went live that morning. (The show is taped sometime around 5:00PM, I think.)

And to certain TV sports commentators who object to having Colbert Nation logos on the uniforms of our nation's speedskating team, which apparently should say nothing but "USA," look at how unbespoilt by commercial sponsorship they were under DSB's patronage.


eebee's picture

Very cool

This is very cool news. Thanks for the links, Timv. I thought it was a joke when I first heard about it.

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