What is modern sport?
Throughout the 1970's, sociologists used the conflict and functionalist theory to lead their examination of sports in society. Each theory is based on different assumptions about the establishment of social order in society and different conclusions about the significance and consequences of sports in civilization. (2)
Sociologists using the conflict theory, view society as an ever-changing set of affairs, characterised by intrinsic differences of economic interest. Social order is believed to exist because some groups of people have capital enabling them to pressurize and subtly influence others to accept their view of the world, as the correct vision. Based on an updated version of Karl Marx's ideas, the conflict theory has been used to study all countries that have capitalist economic systems. (2)
The development of commercialisation in sports is one such area that is studied using the conflict theory. According to this theory, sports are used to promote capitalist growth in two ways. Firstly, by creating profits for large businesses and secondly by acting as an advertising means to encourage people in society to use expenditure as an measurement of self-value and quality of life. (1)
Sports have been used as forms of public entertainment throughout history. However, they have never been so influential and persuasive in the lives of people as they are in today's society.
These days' physical activities and games have become heavily packaged, promoted, presented and played as commercial products. Sports are evaluated, nowadays, in terms of admission fees and revenues from the sale of concessions, licensing fees, merchandise and media rights. Events are assessed in terms of advertising potential, market shares, and rating points. Even athletes are thought about in terms of endorsement potential and on-camera image; their very popularity may depend on their attachment to corporate names and logos. In addition, stadiums and teams are no longer named after historical figures and events but rather, large corporations. Consequently, sports are now corporate enterprises, integrally joined to marketing concerns and procedures of worldwide capitalist expansion. (1)
The growth and development of commercial sports is due to certain economic and social conditions. Firstly, commercial sports are more common in market economies where material rewards are highly valued by those linked with sport and secondly, as large amounts of potential viewers are needed they usually exist in densely populated cities. Thirdly, they are found in relatively affluent, urban, industrial societies where the standard of living is high enough that people can afford to spend time and money playing and watching events that produce no substantial goods. Sophisticated transportation and communication systems are also required. Fourthly, commercial sports are dependent on the availability of money to build and look after stadiums and arenas in which matches can be played and watched. Private investment in sports is motivated by expected financial gain whereas public investment is enthused primarily by the belief that the interests of the public will be served. And finally, commercial sports are most likely to thrive in cultures where everyday life is based on high rates of expenditure. (1)
The media is strongly linked with the commercialisation of sport as they provide publicity and generate interest among the public. While radio and newspaper filled this role in the past, it is TV these days that plays the greatest role in viewer involvement. TV allows an easy way to become a spectator and it increases the amount of people who will watch games and attend events in the future. (1)
There are two reasons why Commercial sports have now gone global. Firstly, those who manage, sponsor and endorse sports are always on the lookout for new ways to increase their market and make more money. An example of this can be seen in...
Bibliography: Jay J. Coakley (1998) Sport in Society, Issues and Controversies, Sixth Edition, McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
2. John J. Macionis and Ken Plummer (1997) Sociology: A Global Introduction
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