Commercialisation: Professional Sports and Voluntary Sport

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Hannah Ingram Commercialisation In Sport. The media is now more powerful and pervasive than ever before; in today's world it's impossible to go anywhere or to read a magazine or watch TV without a sports star encouraging you to buy the latest craze item. Whether it's trainers, clothing, perfume or a car a sports personality will endeavour to sell it to you. The advertisement market loves to use sports people to sell their products, as they know these people attract an eclectic range of attention and puts their product in the "public eye". Popular sports stars now earn as much through advertising as they do from competing and there are many examples of this. Probably the best-known sports star in Britain is David Beckham who earns in the region of '4.6 million a year playing for Manchester United. His personal sponsorship deals include products such as; Adidas, Pepsi and Police Sunglasses. All...

Since its formative years sport has had a commercial component to its operation. As early as 590 BC Greek athletes were financially rewarded for an Olympic victory (Harris, 1964). However, in no previous time period have we seen the type of growth in the commercialization of sport, that we have seen in the last two decades. Today, sport is big business and big businesses are heavily involved in sport. Athletes in the major spectator sports are marketable commodities, sports teams are traded on the stock market, sponsorship rights at major events can cost millions of dollars, network television stations pay large fees to broadcast games, and the merchandising and licensing of sporting goods is a major multi- national business. These trends are not just restricted to professional athletes and events, many of them are equally applicable to the so-called amateur sports. In some ways parallelling the increased commercialization of sport has been the emergence of academic interest in the business and management of sport. Much of the work in this area, including some of my own, has been concerned directly or indirectly with issues of effectiveness and efficiency and has the implicit or explicit aim of improving managerial practice and the functioning of organizations. From this perspective, sports goods and services are commodities which, like other goods and services, are subject to market forces. The managers of sport organizations are presented as purveyors of rationality and the management of a sport organization is considered to be a socially valuable technical function that is carried out in the general interest of athletes, employers, sponsors, and spectators alike. However, such approaches do little to challenge the virtue of commercialization and the managerial actions that have portrayed this process as a socially desirable and unproblematic practice. Also, they do little to demonstrate the negative side of this drive towards rationality, or to present new and challenging ways of thinking about the business side of sport. Rather, such uncritical views are actually concerned with the preservation of established privileges and priorities such as maintaining hierarchical control and generating profit. The commercial trends that are occurring in sport are far too important and wide ranging to be accepted unquestioningly and it is here that I would like to think there is a role for the sport sociologist; to challenge some of these practices. While the organizational and managerial changes we have seen take place as sport has increasingly become a form of commercial activity can be enabling and beneficial for sport and sports people, they can also be constraining and, as such, should be the subject of more critical analysis than occurs at present. In this brief paper, I look critically at the use of marketing in voluntary sport organizations. I focus specifically on these organizations not because they are exemplars of marketing practice, but because as governments in many countries have reduced funding for amateur...
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