What Is modern Sport? Essay
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 1992, when the NBA allowed the so called ? dream team’ to play in the Olympics even though the players risked injury and fatigue, that could have jeopardised their involvement in the following NBA season. The worldwide coverage of Olympic basketball resulted in providing the NBA with publicity worth millions of dollars. High profile players were introduced to millions of people, and many of these developed an interest in seeing these players in action again.
As a result, the NBA finals and the NBA all-star games are now broadcast in over one hundred countries annually. (1) The second reason commercial sports have gone global is because transactional companies with manufacturing and distributional processes in many different countries can use sports as a medium for establishing products and services internationally. The fact that sport, events, and athletes can be used to catch the attention and emotions of million of people worldwide, has been noticed in the business world. Since the 1980’s, company names and logos have become synonymous with athletes teams, events and sport facilities.
People around the world now associate Michael Jordan with the ? Air Jordan’ trademark copyrighted by Nike. Companies know that association with top sporting events provides advertising stages and connects them with clearly identified categories of consumers. This is why corporations whose revenue depends on the sales of alcohol, tobacco, and fast food are eager to have their products linked with the healthy image of athletes and sports. (1) As we enter the twenty-first century, we are in an era of the transnational corporation. The two hundred largest companies in the world control nearly 30% of the economic activity around the globe.
The decisions made by management in these corporations influence the financial systems of entire nations and even regions of the world. When entering the world of sports, they are able to negotiate deals that advance their interests and increase their control in the area of transnational dealings. As these corporations continue to do business, they must set up a universal image of themselves as positive, cultural, political and economic forces. (1) This is the reason why coca cola spent nearly $500 million dollars in association with the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney.
Like other corporations, it has an interest in creating the idea that enjoyment and satisfaction in people’s everyday life depends on the company and its products. When this belief is internalised it becomes what is called an ideological outpost in the minds of people around the globe. Corporate executives realise that they can use such outposts to resolve opposition or confrontation to business policies and as points through which they can provide a wide range of ideological messages about what is and should be happening in the world. (1) Whenever a sport is converted into commercial entertainment, its success depends on viewer demand.
Spectator interest in sport is usually related to the uncertainty of an events outcome, the risk or financial rewards associated with taking part in an event, and the anticipated display of excellence, heroics or dramatic display by the athletes. As uncertainty, high stakes and dramatic performances attract spectators, commercial sports will stress these things to attract large audiences. (1) Commercialisation has affected the organization and aims of many newly developed sports, but has not produced much change in long-time, established sports.
In newly developed sports, rules have been made up in order to promote more action on the pitch and create more entertainment for the audience. Established sports have undergone slight rule changes to make action more exciting and understandable for spectators, but the changes have not altered the basic designs and rule structures of the games themselves. An example of this can be seen in the commercialisation of the Olympic games, which has led to events with little spectator appeal being abandoned, and new sports being added to attract new viewers from wealthy countries with money to spend on sponsor’s products.
(1) Rule changes and rule developments related with commercialisation are used to speed up the action in an event so that fans wont get bored, increase scoring to generate more excitement, balance competitions so that events will have uncertain outcomes, maximise the dramatic moments in the competition and provide commercial breaks in the action so that sponsors can advertise products. For example, Golf tournaments now involve total stroke counts rather than match play so that big name players will not be eliminated in the early rounds of televised events. (1)
Because sports are social creations, they change in relation to social interactions and changes in social circumstances and power relations in society as a whole. Although the goals and structures of sport are sometimes regarded as sacred and fixed, this is not the case. These rules were made up by people and are related to the social ties and conditions that existed at the time. Today changes that are being made are strongly influenced by economic ties and conditions. (1) Commercialisation is also responsible for changes in the organisations that control sports. The main aim of these organisations is to maximise revenues.
When sports begin to depend on the amount of money that can be made, players tend to lose control of sport organisations and even conditions in their own sport participation. Corporate sponsors, advertisers, media personnel, agents, team oweners and general managers manage these conditions. (Gaterson 1944) In conclusion, one can see that the development of commercial sports has been influenced by many factors including, urbanization, industrialisation, improvements in transportation and communications technology, the availability of capital resources and class relations.
The recent growth of commercial sports has been increased by sport organisations looking for global markets and transnational corporations using sports as a means for global expansion. Commercialisation has also led to rules, structures and goals of sport being changed. Heroic orientations are now emphasised over aesthetic orientations by those connected with commercial sport. By and large, commercial sports are now being packaged and presented as total entertainment experiences for spectators. This commercial model of sport is not the only one that will provide athletes with enjoyable and satisfying experiences.
However, most people are only aware of this model. Therefore, they continue to express a desire for what they get although their desires are based on restricted information controlled by commercial and corporate interests (Stewart, 1987). As a result, changes will occur only when people connected with sports, are able to develop visions for what sports could and should look like if they were not shaped so tremendously by economic factors. (1)
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.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 1 June 2017
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