Role of Sport Sponsorship

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Sport Business Operations
Sport Promotion and Sales Management

Chapter 8: The Promotional Role of Sport Sponsorship

Pregame Introductions

It would appear that the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, hosted by the city of Los Angeles, served as the catalyst for the recent phenomenal growth in American sport sponsorship. •Before the 1984 Games, financing had primarily come from government funding, lotteries, and donations. •Sponsorship of women’s sport, which has realized an increase of 100% in just the past five years. •The inability of public funding to keep pace with the skyrocketing cost of sport, as well as an unwillingness of taxpayers to increase public funds for sport, has challenged sport promotion specialists to seek alternative means of generating revenue for sports ranging from those based in schools to those associated with the Olympic movement. •Consequently, corporate sponsorship has emerged as one of the primary sources of income as well as means of reducing expenses. • In fact, sponsorship accounts for nearly half of all revenue generated by major college athletic programs within the United States. •Corporate sport sponsorship has continued to thrive on the basis of a sponsorship’s ability to serve as a platform for a specific type of brand extension, cut through the clutter of traditional media advertising, and provide a cost-effective business-building technique. •Corporations freely spend thousands, if not millions to nurture relationships with current as well as prospective clients at sporting events. •In fact, data collected from customers entertained by Federal Express during the 2000-2001 Bowl Championship Series revealed that the opportunity to interact with the sales host significantly improved personal relations with the company, thereby solidifying customers’ willingness to continue shipping with Federal Express.

Sport Sponsorship Platforms
The platform for sport sponsorship extends beyond events to include governing bodies, teams, athletes, media channels, facilities, and specific sports. •For example, the NBA’s Cleveland Cavs and WNBA’s Cleveland Rockers are able to offer corporate sponsors team as well as facility sponsorship entitlements, as the team and building owners are one in the same.

A. Governing Body Sponsorship
Governing bodies ranging from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to local adult recreation leagues have secured sponsorship from corporate partners. •Similarly, a corporate partnership with the NCAA provides a company the opportunity to affiliate with any or all men’s and women’s national championships administered by the NCAA, but renders no entitlement to affiliation with member institutions. •Meanwhile, sponsorship of the NBA and WNBA can allow for use of all league and individual team logos in national advertising campaigns.

B. Team Sponsorship
Depending on the limitations imposed by a governing body, sponsorships may be offered in noncompetitive product categories or to local corporations. •For instance, NFL teams are precluded from arranging sponsorships with direct competitors of sponsors of the league.

C. Athlete Sponsorship
Such arrangements typically involve some type of endorsement of the sponsor’s product by the sponsored athlete. •Athletes in individual sports (e.g., golf, tennis, motor racing, skiing) tend to attract more sponsor interest, often because they are able to generate a number of visible, well-focused sponsor impressions on television. •This accounts for the location of sponsor logos on the head and shoulders of most golf and tennis players and the need for all downhill skiers to appear on the post-race interview with goggles on backward and tips of dismounted skis facing the camera. •NASCAR champions such as Jeff Gordon pose in Victory Lane drinking Pepsi and milk while wearing the appropriate sponsor-logoed cap during the post-race victory photograph sessions.

D. Media Channel Sponsorship
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