Commercialisation will be the death of sport. Discuss.

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There is no absolute relationship between shampoo and a soccer player. Drinking beer has nothing to do with watching a soccer match. Yet, we always have the impression of men watching soccer with Carlsberg mugs in their hands and the image that soccer players use an expensive brand of shampoo to suit their status. The association of these products with sports is a result of commercialisation. Commercialisation, in this case, of sports started decades ago but it is only in the recent years that commercialisation of sports is becoming more evident, with new technology which are able to connect the world more effectively. It is hard for an athlete to resist a million dollar contract in exchange for just posing with a certain product for some shots. On top of that, sponsors are needed for major sporting events like the Olympics. With only 10 percent of an athlete’s pay coming from the profession while the remaining 90 percent coming from advertising and other non-sport related activities, it is almost always true that sport cannot survive without the sale of teams or the utilisation of sports to generate income. However, it is also true that such commercialisation of sports could kill it, making sports not a means to achieve physical and mental excellence in a certain game or event but as a way to attain fame and riches.

There is a trend that the breaking of world records in the Olympic games have slowed after the late 1980s, however, there is a need to generate attention so that people will be awed by the athletic performance of the participants, so that they would become idols and heroes of the masses and with the fame, clinch deals that are worth a hundred times a regular person can earn in their lifetime. Technology has answered the athlete’s call. In 2008, Michael Phelps won 8 medals with the help of the highly advanced swimsuit. In fact, 21 out of the 22 medals won were the result of the high-tech suit. Intelligent shoes which can help convert running postures and open vents when ventilation is needed help to utilise the athletes’ energy efficiently. With these in place, it is no surprise that there is a surge of records in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In another example, anabolic steroids were used to enhance the athlete’s performance; Cox returned her medal for her relay 6 years after the event. The need to win drives the athletes to look for alternative methods to enhance their performance. It is no longer a fight of the athletes’ genetic makeup which has been given to them since birth, it is not a fight of their mental and physical capacity but a fight of technology. This reliance on technology has caused sports to lose its original function, to attain the highest of human performance. Likewise, the greed, the temptation which drove them to depend on the technology has caused sports to fail as a result of commercialisation.

However, the riches that await the athletes could be an incentive for them to perform better and it may not be the athletes’ ultimate aim but as a mean of support for himself or herself and their families. 98 percent of the world-class athletes receive no payment for their contributions and achievements at the Olympic Games as only the medallists receive prize money. The income for these professionals with passion for the sport may be only equivalent to that of a regular office worker unless he achieved fame or clinched some medals. In this realistic world, it may be insufficient for the passion to keep the athletes going as they have to feed themselves and to provide for their families. Hence, commercialisation, the trading of sport and its commodities could be a good way to retain these talents in the field and may not necessarily cause to death of sport.

Commercialisation also spreads and promotes certain sports to the world, showcasing the best of our species by letting them appear on shirts and talk shows. For example, many western sports are introduced into Asia with commercialisation. The products and merchandise of sporting teams which become increasingly popular helped to promote the sport and others who aspires to be like them may take on the sport, developing their innate potentials. Many famous athletes started off by being a fan of famous athletes and train to become like them. Ronaldo of the Brazil team for example, treated Pele, a retired player of the Brazilian soccer team as his idol and aspiration to become a great player. Hence, commercialisation could also work hand-in-hand with the industries such that it both provide revenue for them and promote sports.

However, the Olympic Games, that stands as the epitome of sports in the world, have been criticised for selling too much of its power to companies that wishes to advertise their products when the world is watching the Games. The Olympic Games is large scale and the host countries could lose millions of dollars just by hosting it. In order to reduce such losses, the Olympic organising committee may see the need to find corporate sponsors for the Games and these sponsors usually include private sectors. The Coca- Cola Company paid the Olympic organising committee 21 million dollars such that only its product, not those of competing soft drink brands, can be advertised. Events such as tennis matches were scheduled to maximise viewership and the advertising slots available before, during and after the match could cost more than 10 million dollars. Rules for certain games have also been modified to increase the duration and repetition of breaks and time-outs so that more commercials can be shown. Instead of optimising the periods such that the athletes could perform to the best of their abilities, these factors were ignored to make way for revenue. Therefore, commercialisation could be detrimental to sport as least consideration was taken over the athletes doing their best on the field than to make money.

In conclusion, even though many critics mentioned that commercialisation has caused sport to lose its function, to display the best of the athletes’ performance, sport still has to depend on the revenue generated by it to survive in this world. No matter how far the passion for the sport a sportsman could possess, he would require some recognition for his efforts and such recognition would be tangible gains generated by commercialisation as well as fame which he would receive. However, there is a need to control how much control is given to the private sector when it comes to games like the Olympics which stands at the top of all other forms of sports achievement, a symbol of the sporting world. If even this event has fallen into the hands of corporations as a tool for advertisement, there would be little hope for the future of sports.

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