I am a big fan of the Colbert Report and was thrilled to see the show step up and mobilize “The Nation”, of which I am certainly a member to support US Speedskating. I don’t come across that much in sports that I would consider creative or innovative but this surely fits the bill.
You can read the full piece from AP at SI.com, http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/more/11/03/colbert.vancouver.ap/index.html, with an excerpt below.
NEW YORK (AP) — Of the many countries participating at the Vancouver Olympics, add Colbert Nation to the list.
On Monday’s “The Colbert Report,” Stephen Colbert announced his show has become the primary sponsor of the U.S. Speedskating team. The team’s largest annual cash sponsor, DSB Bank NV, left the team in the lurch after it declared bankruptcy in October.
The name “Colbert Nation” — the catchall for the legion of ardent fans of the satirical Comedy Central program — will be emblazoned on the team’s uniforms.
“On their enormous, billboard thighs, it will say, ‘Colbert Nation,”‘ Colbert said in an interview before Monday evening’s taping. “Be looking for that logo as it comes around the final turn. It will be easy to see because it will be in first place.”
Speedskating has produced some of the most iconic figures in U.S. Olympic history, from Eric Heiden to Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair. In all, Americans have claimed 75 medals — 32 of them gold — on the traditional long track oval and the wild-and-wooly short track rink. In Vancouver, Shani Davis, Chad Hedrick and short track star Apolo Anton Ohno will all be vying for medals.
“I personally love Comedy Central + The Colbert Report,” Ohno said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “Any attention the sport can get is going to be beneficial. I’d like to see how creative they can get! I’m game to do a skit about it :-)”
The show isn’t paying the team any money directly. Instead, Colbert is calling on his fans to donate to the team via www.colbertnation.com and www.usspeedskating.org. In the past, Colbert has had a great deal of success raising money this way. He has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Yellow Ribbon Fund, a charity that assists injured service members and their families.
The Dutch bank DSB was to pay $300,000 for the sponsorship but failed to make any payments. That put U.S. Speedskating in a difficult position with little time to court new sponsors before the games begin in February.
U.S. Speedskating executive director Robert Crowley, who appeared on Monday’s show along with Jansen, acknowledged it was a “definitely unconventional arrangement,” but said it would generate exposure for the sport.
“We’re highly optimistic that the country is going to get behind this and get behind the Colbert Nation and support this amazing team,” Crowley said. “I don’t have any idea if it’s going to make $5 or $500,000. I couldn’t tell you.”
You can see a short video detailing how much The Nation already raised. http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/254664/november-03-2009/canadian-hackers-sabotage-colbert-nation