In a move that places an action-sports sponsor in a similar role as the U.S. Olympic Committee and major pro sports teams, Red Bull North America recently signed a deal with a renowned Southern California sports-medicine center to provide its entire athlete roster top-tier medical coverage.
DISC Sports and Spine Center, which also provides medical care to USA Volleyball, the L.A. Kings and some 1,500 U.S. Olympians through the USOC, now will do the same for more than 200 Red Bull athletes -- part of what Red Bull calls its "complete athlete performance program."
"There's a lot of great docs out there, but with this system, it's plug and play: We call one person," said Red Bull's director of high performance, Dr. Andy Walshe. "We've been using DISC for a couple of years, and now we have a formal relationship that we can leverage across all our athletes."
Jenny Adams, DISC's athlete liaison officer (essentially who ensures every athlete gets what he or she needs right away), likened DISC's partnership with Red Bull N.A. to a "concierge service" for injured athletes. "They are just on the fast track. They get in and get out so they can get back to practice the next day," Adams said, noting athletes have immediate access to 27 specialist physicians, from spine surgeons to knee doctors.
Leading up to the formal partnership, a number of Red Bull's athletes received potentially career-saving care from DISC. FMX star Robbie Maddison had his wrist overhauled, BMX Olympian Mike Day had a disc replaced in his back and downhill mountain bike racer Dan Atherton's broken neck was improbably repaired by DISC founder Dr. Robert Bray in 2010. Surfer Ian Walsh, who has also been treated by DISC in the past, called the organization "the most advanced medical group I have ever seen. Having them provide care for all of Red Bull's athletes is going to help progress and push the boundaries for so many different sports."
According to Red Bull, its partnership with DISC is a first-of-its-kind allegiance for the company. The formal agreement was executed earlier this summer, Walshe said.