For thousands of years sport has been considered as activities for people to: enjoy, relax with, do for fun, bond people(teams), for exercise, for health, among others.
Sport now has taken on the mantle of big business. Listen to the words used today to describe sport, and you might be mistaken for thinking that you are at a business conference. Franchise, Brand, CEO, merchandising, label, image rights, advertising, floatations. In America sports such as the NFL, and the NBA are unashamedly called franchises.
I always thought that they both consisted of leagues of teams competing for titles. Now they seem to be competing for the title of “who can generate the most money” The sporting stars who were once driven by the desire to be the best, have now been replaced by sportsmen whose main motivation is the desire to get rich.
The introduction of colossal TV deals involving billions of £/$,s has completely changed the face of sport. Mediocrity is now the norm, and while there are still some driven by the desire to be the best, those people number but a few, compared to the number of professional sportsmen and women who are just happy to reap the rewards, regardless of their performances.
Sportsmen are being paid more money in 1 week than an average worker earns in 10 years. This begs the question: how much money do they need? If you are earning $1m a month, and are on a 5 year contract, it does not take much brain power to realise that the money earnt during that period is enough to last several lifetimes for most people.
Another massive influence on the world of sport is advertising. Companies clamour to have their names associated with major sporting events, and major sporting personalities, which has now filtered down to less well known sports. Even sportsmen who compete in lesser known sports need sponsorship to even compete in local events, much-less events outside of their own countries.
So where has this left the fans? Fans, who used to be the core element in the support of sports, have been slowly pushed aside in favour of sponsors and shareholders. “Franchises” (I have to use the word, much to my disgust), are now beholden to their shareholders, as they are now PLC,s who operate within regular company guidelines. Fans are being asked to splash out increasing amounts of cash to support their teams or their chosen sport. Team shirts/jerseys( which now are redesigned every year), TV channels(to subscribe to), merchandising, and ticket prices. All of these costs have to come from regular members of the public who can’t even imagine the sums being earned by the players, and generated by the franchises, but are continually being asked to find more and more money.
It has got to the point where a family of 4 having a day out at a major sporting event, are paying the better part of 1 weeks salary. In my opinion, we are going down a path which will result in sports literally becoming a means to an end. Fans will eventually reduce or stop their support of sports due to the increasing financial demands placed on them.