Beyond the game: the most 125 marketable athletes of 2023

Nov 13, 2023

The Emerging Sportech Opportunity


Sports marketing is a dynamic field that leverages the passion in a vehicle to promote brands, products or even the sports themselves. It uniquely intersects business and entertainment, creating powerful alliances between athletes, teams and brands. The fame and popularity of sports stars are harnessed to engage fans and consumers, making sports marketing a valuable tool to forge strong brand identities and customer loyalty.

The SportsPro community, in collaboration with NorthStar Solutions Group, has released a research analysis from the sports industry featuring the most marketable athletes in 2023. Following three scoring pillars, Brand Strength, Total Addressable Market and ECON – Triple Bottom Line, they have applied marketing data to determine a marketability score and rank from 1 to 125 of the current top leader athletes.

And what about the three pillars that the colleagues from SportsPro have studied to determine the final ranking?

Brand Strength, which carries a maximum score of 35, is determined by individual factors such as authenticity, risk and reputation, in-sport performance, presentation, momentum, and each athlete’s purpose, mission and values (PMV). Total Addressable Market – with a maximum score of 45 – encompasses overall reach, attention growth, social sentiment, audience engagement, sponsor, sport and team awareness. Meanwhile, Economics, which carries a maximum score of 20, incorporates an athlete’s market value and estimated worth, their public support for environmental causes, and the extent to which they generate social and community benefits through their actions, influence and engagement.

In addition, the three pillars have their internal strengths, enhancing the authenticity of the athlete brand, the audience reach capacities, and at the third key point, their social ROI, with more than 40% of the importance of the Triple Bottom Line.

Now it’s time to attend the final ranking, where the top leader athlete is undoubtedly the Argentinian football player Leo Messi, with his significant move to Inter Miami last summer. Not only does football move the sports marketing world, as the United States is growing up even faster with the arrival of Messi and Beckham, but American athletes are also present on the top of the list with the NBA star Lebron James (2nd place), the football player Alex Morgan (3rd place) or the gymnast Simone Biles. These sports stars, and many more, have showcased authentic portrayals of their brand, garnered significant global audience reach, and made a considerable social impact through their actions, both on and off the field.



Let’s also take a moment to acknowledge the Spanish athletes who’ve made it to this impressive list, with Alexia Putellas at the 23rd position as one of the best women’s football players; Mapi León, her teammate at FC Barcelona in the 46th position, and Aitana Bonmatí, the current Women Ballon d’Or in the 86th place. Their inclusion speaks volumes about their influence and impact on a global scale. Not only women’s football has driven top Spanish athletes, as the tennis star Rafael Nadal and the rising star (or not anymore) Carlos Alcaraz are included in the top 50. Their stellar performance, outstanding audience engagement, and commitment to environmental causes all contribute to their significant marketability score.

But let’s take a step back and appreciate these Spanish talents’ dedication, resilience and unwavering spirit that inspires so many while adding value to their respective sports. Their journey to worldwide recognition results from their relentless commitment to their mission, deals, and individual sports, reflected aptly in their Brand Strength score.

Now, let’s eagerly await the progressive impacts these athletes will continue to make in their respective fields and inputs to the sports industry. Their unique blend of talent, amplified by astute career management and authenticity, sets them at the forefront of their sports and among the most marketable athletes globally. Their successes remind us about the broader impact of sports – serving as a platform for the athletes to positively affect society and the environment, thereby underlining the importance of the Triple Bottom Line pillar.

In conclusion, the SportsPro 125 Most Marketable Athletes 2023 List is a testament to the narrative that success in sports goes well beyond the field of play. It involves authenticity, market reach and commitment to positive societal impacts, transcending the individual’s sporting achievements.

Realizing the scale and significance of these athletic feats and witnessing the power of sports as a tool for society’s good, the comprehensive report from SportsPro enumerates the most marketable 125 athletes, offering a deep dive into the metrics and narratives that define the global sports industry in this era. Now more than ever, it’s clear that our athletes aren’t just champions on the field; they’re also champions off it.

Discover the full report here!


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