by Christian Duque
It seems everyone is talking about the major split between Hosstile Supps and Justin Shier. Athletes come and go in the fitness industry. It’s the nature of the business. It’s common for competitors to get signed and then not re-sign or get dropped. We’re in probably the most competitive space imaginable and what it all boils down to is money in vs money out. Sometimes tough calls have to be made despite the fact that friendships are involved. In some instances the parties might even be related. At the end of the day – it’s just business. At least that’s the best way to process it.
Many, however, can’t not take it personally. For some, being dropped from a company is tantamount to betrayal. And we also see this when athletes – for whatever reason – don’t want to renew contracts. That’s what I think happened between Justin and Hosstile. For whatever reason, the famed pro bodybuilder didn’t want to sign a five year deal with Fouad’s company. Abiad was notably saddened but publicly stated that he hoped the friendship continued and that Shier would continue to make appearances on Abiad’s hugely successful podcast, Bro Chat.
Interestingly, the two would see each other some time later at the Toronto Pro and according to certain media outlets, Shier extended his hand to greet Abiad and Abiad left him hanging. It’s to say that he didn’t shake his hand. That sort of behavior is not only juvenile but it’s unprofessional. That’s if it actually happened. There’s no video and neither Abiad or Shier have officially addressed it as far as I’m aware. They may never address it. However, everyone is talking about it, and I’d like to weigh in on the controversy. I’d also like to address some of the points Xavier Wills made on Desktop Bodybuilding relative to this situation and his perception that Abiad/Hosstile objects to HS athletes appearing on DB podcasts.
First and foremost, I don’t believe that Abiad was being disingenuous when he stated that he wished Shier well and hoped the two could remain friends even though they were no longer going to be working together. That said, I think Abiad was being a little naive thinking that Justin could continue appearing on BroChat after he no longer worked with his company. There are guys who are with other companies that appear regularly on the podcast but it really doesn’t do much for the companies they work with.
In reality, and this is arguable, I’d argue that Hosstile gets tremendous benefit from the reach BroChat gets. The same can be said for the various companies that buy ad space with the show. I don’t know if Abiad shares the proceeds with his regulars or guests, but something tells me he probably doesn’t. The typical quid pro quo in this type of setting would be paying in exposure.
In other words, an argument can be made for the fact that everyone wants to be on this show and if you’re lucky enough to be a co-host – whether as a regular or as a guest – that’s payment so to speak. Plus, no one pays for interviews in the fitness industry. For a time, it was said that Generation Iron did. I don’t know if that’s still the case or not, but they were in the minority. RX, MD, SA, and IronMag TV never paid for interviews and I worked for all of these outlets, that’s how I know. Therefore, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that Fouad doesn’t pay, either. I could see someone like Guy or Nick (back in the day) maybe getting a cut, but again, I doubt it.
Secondly, there’s also a very strong case made for changed circumstances. So Justin may not have wanted to sign a five year contract and the two parted ways. To be honest, I think multi-year contracts are a little bizarre in an industry as chaotic as the fitness world, but as long as both parties are happy, that’s all that matters.
As far as I’m concerned, I could see where an athlete would feel trapped in such a deal, but I could also see where a supplement company might feel like they got the short end of the stick because when you give an athlete that much security, there’s the risk he/she may not work as hard. If you had a five year gig set in stone who’s to say you wouldn’t want to drag your feet a bit when it comes to promoting the brand? Maybe you’d compete less? And that’s even if the company gave you bonuses based on if you placed Top 10, Top 6, if you were Top 3, or in the Top 2. Obviously if you won the show you’d get a huge check. At the end of the day terms like ‘big’ and ‘huge’ become super subjective because it all depends how valuable you are to a company. And that’s where it’s not so good for the athlete.
If a company has you for five years – they pretty much own you. Plus Justin is currently 34. He’s at the peak of his bodybuilding career. If he signed a 5yr deal, he’d be pretty much 40 when the deal concluded. He’d basically be signing a contract for the remainder of his bodybuilding career. The best years of it. Those are pretty high stakes, especially if he believes that he can be at the top of the sport in 1-2 years. I’m sure there would have been contingencies in play that would allow him to get more money if he placed higher, but would the contract itself change? Typically, once contracts are signed, the terms are pretty much locked in. And then there’s the question of what does the contract cover?
I’d venture to say that a five year contract with Hosstile would be incredibly demanding. There’s supplements, clothes, podcasts, and appearances. Maybe there’s clauses that limit how many other sponsors Justin could have. Maybe it was an exclusivity deal and Hosstile was the only company he could work with. I honestly don’t know, but if the deal was as sweet as some are saying, then why didn’t Shier sign? At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself why he didn’t sign. And that too could’ve been for a million different reasons.
I will say that I understand where Xavier is coming from and I totally understand his frustration when he says it’s been incredibly difficult for him to get Hosstile athletes on his podcast. It’s been so tough that he half-heartedly believes that they may be forbidden from doing so contractually. Although he walks that concern back, he goes back to it, because I’m sure a part of him believes it could be so. And what if it was so? Don’t we remember the exclusivity agreements that FLEX and MD used to have their athletes sign? That was the way it worked in the print days and it made sense. If a guy was getting a check from FLEX every month, whether he won or lost, and whether he competed or not, why in the hell would he be allowed to work with MD or MuscleMag as well? That would’ve made no business sense at all for MD.
At the end of the day, if we’re talking business – it has to make business sense. If an athlete is with Hosstile and appears on BroChat it stands to reason that Abiad wouldn’t want to share that athlete by having them do podcasts with Desktop Bodybuilding.
The argument could be made that appearing on Desktop offers Hosstile more exposure, but when you have the most popular podcast on the planet, going to a substantially smaller one doesn’t exactly extend reach. If anything it might water it down because Desktop’s podcast and Desktop itself is backed by a supplement company and that company isn’t Hosstile. Again, I don’t know that the HS contract forbids its athletes from appearing on rival podcasts, but if it did, it would make business sense. It might not be good for other outlets or even the fans, but it would make business sense for Hosstile.
Again, I don’t know why Justin didn’t sign, and I do think that Abiad probably hoped the two could remain friends, but we don’t know what could have happened from the break till Toronto. I wasn’t thrilled to hear that Justin tried to shake Abiad’s hand and Abiad allegedly left him hanging, but we don’t know what went down. And unless those two guys speak on the matter, then all the media talking heads are just speculating.
At the end of the day the hope is that Fouad and Justin reconcile, but until then I suspect the entire world of bodybuilding will be theorizing about what went down and what’s to come next. That’s just the nature of bodybuilding. What say you? What went down and what’s to come? Do you think Justin will return to Hosstile/BroChat? Only time will tell.