Southern New Hampshire University
Across all levels of sports, perhaps the connection between sport and society is the most valuable and co-dependent element for sport managers to understand. Without the impact our society has on sport, athletes, owners, television networks and sponsors would not spend or generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. If sport managers fail to grasp and understand the significance of this connection, they are simply not doing their job. Sociology of sport can help the development of today’s sport management practices and policies and provide a base for sport managers to be successful. This paper will provide a framework of the significance of the relationship between sport management and sociology of sport.
The Relationship between Sport Management and the Sociology of Sport
An example of the relationship between sport and society and the implications it has on sport management is the ramifications of the recently concluded NHL lockout. The lockout, which lasted 113 days, marked the third time since 1994 that the NHL cancelled regular-season games due to labor unrest. Roughly 10% of games in that time frame have been cancelled. While the lockout has finally ended and the NHL will open the 2013 season on January 19, significant damage has been done to the relationship the NHL has with its fans, and it’s up to sport managers to make it right, and in a hurry.
The recent history of the lockout proves that they benefit nobody in the long run, and nearly kills the sport in the short term. The city of Detroit lost roughly 1.9 million dollars for each cancelled game this season, or roughly 35 million dollars overall. Local sports bars lost millions of dollars without any fans to serve over the last couple months. The relationship between sport and society comes into play in how the sport managers plan to rebuild the trust they lost from what has traditionally been a very trusting fan base. While the diehard NHL fans will return, the NHL has undoubtedly lost many fans that have found other things to keep them preoccupied.
So how do NHL marketing experts rebuild their relationship with their fan base? The Tampa Bay Lightning, a non-traditional hockey city, is offering special season-ticket memberships for just $200 (less than $20 per game) for a limited time. Fans also receive a special $25 gift card when they sign up for the special season-ticket package. The Phoenix Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings have both said publicly that once the NHL schedule is released, they will identify certain games with special value in appreciation of the loyalty and support of their fans. Virtually every team is likely to follow suit with something similar.
When Major League Baseball returned from the player’s strike in 1995, attendance dipped significantly, and many felt the league and its teams did not do enough to apologize to their fans. Clearly, the NHL is recognizing the importance of its fan base. Many teams through their general manager, head coach or website, have already publicly apologized for the lockout because they realize that without their fans, the NHL is in serious trouble. The NHL does not have the billion-dollar TV contract the NFL has. Thus, when there are games to be played, the NHL has always put it fans first because they are irrelevant without them.
As a future sport manager, the relationship between sport and society is something that always must be considered when any business decision is made. To be truly successful as a manager, the majority of decisions must be made with one’s fan base in mind. Correctly valuing the society that is passionate about your organization can enable you to maximize your profit and public image. If an NHL franchise failed to issue any kind of apology, ticket, concession or parking special, or have any special public events for its fan base after...