Blatter is concerned with the immensely rich individuals with little of no interest in the game, buying up football clubs; of players abetted by greedy agents demanding and getting huge sums of money to join their clubs and play; of clubs that are more interested in the players performance rather than their welfare; and of the huge disparity between the earnings of the star’ players and the rest of the team, not to mention the thousands of players in other teams and clubs who earn a pittance.
Commercialization has ruined sport to say the least. Athletes are more interested in the big bucks than the game itself. Much to say that these endorsements and the money factor has bought drugs into sport. Why would anyone want to lose out on an endorsement worth millions due to underachievement? The pressure to succeed in order to obtain money benefits has pushed the athletes to use all means necessary even if it means resorting to drugs. Are we ready to stop this impending doom by devising a system to ensure that money flowing into the industry is checked so that the quality of the sport as well as the athletes is maintained or have we already accepted our defeat to this menace?
The commercialization of sport has evolved over decades, from the 1950’s advertisements of athletes pitching shaving cream to the multi-million dollar shoe endorsement deals of today. Much like other aspects of capitalism, when a profit is to be gained by promoting a consumer product, sport is not exempt from commercialization. However, even when adjustments for inflation are figured, the astonishingly lucrative field of sport commercialization has become a staple of product promotion and corporate gains.
Beginning as early in life asLittle League. youngsters are conditioned by advertising to employ the “ popular” brand, those promoted by their favorite athlete or the ones that have national name recognition. These products are imprinted onto the fabric of society as acceptable, via mass commercialization in the structure and implementation of ad campaigns pinpointed at target audiences. Nothing is left to chance in promotion of sport products, consumer research is exactly that, and is approached as a scientific study with definitive direction aimed toward advantageous financial result.
The commercial sponsorship of collegiate athletics is easily one of the most important features of a profitable college athletic department. Without shoe and uniform deals, many colleges and universities would need to suspend sports that are an economic liability, those which do not have large gate revenue or television contracts. So at the minimum, all college sports are commercialized by association.
On the level of professional sports, commercialization of sport is undoubtedly the most profitable, for both the advertiser and the fan. Without advertising support, professional sports would not have progressed to the number of franchises present today, and their financial stability would be questionable on an individual basis. NASCAR has taken the commercialization of sport to new levels of unabashed sport profiteering, with race cars that have become 200 mile per hour rolling billboards.
The prevalence of the number and quality of sports on television is directly attributable to the commercialization of sport. Without commercial sponsorship, fans would not be able to follow favoured sports as closely as they desire, and at least in this aspect, the commercialization of sport has benefited society in providing entertainment.
With regards to the safety issue it has been suggested that the commercialization of the sport has had the consequence of raising safety awareness. This is because sponsors want to be associated with the ‘ positive’ image of the sport – speed, success, glamour, excitement and it is suggested sponsors may feel it harms their advertising if associated with anything ‘ negative’ such as an accident. Therefore sponsors press for greater safety initiatives. FIA President, Max Mosley noted the possible negative association when Karl Wendlinger crashed heavily during practice for the 1994 Monaco Grand Prix; Mosley is quoted as saying:
This would suggest that commercial sponsors would like racing to retain a glamorous and exciting image whilst lowering the chances of serious accidents and fatalities. However, the link between commercialization and safety is not one directional and cannot be viewed so simply. Commercialization of the sport may also be seen to have had the unintentional consequence of ‘ undermining’ safety. For instance, not all accidents are perceived by sponsors as ‘ negative’. When Derek Daly crashed in his Tyrrell during the 1980 Monaco Grand Prix he luckily escaped unharmed which no doubt lessened people’s perception of the crash as ‘ horrific’ and may have even generated feelings of excitement due to a ‘ miraculous escape’ and:
The Monaco Grand Prix is an interesting event to consider when focusing on the relationship between commercialization and safety. Monaco is the jewel in the crown of Formula One racing, the most lauded and glamorous event on the calendar. But, it is also unpopular with many participants, two of the main reasons being the small and cramped conditions the teams have to work in and the nature of the circuit. As a ‘ street circuit’, Monaco does not have the characteristic run off areas of purpose built circuits instead the track is lined by walls and Armco barriers. Regarding Monaco, Professor Watkins, F1 Medical Officer writes:
So why has Monaco remained on the calendar when safety has become such an important issue? Monaco is historically important to F1 and commercially significant. Monaco has the highest level of corporate hospitality of any F1 race and is the focus of much media attention, often attracting interest from people who otherwise have little interest in the sport. James Hunt is quoted as saying: