8. Sport, Economy, Media

8.1. Sport as an Economic Resource

Sport is linked to other social sub-systems and mechanisms in a special way, but at the same time it possesses a relative independence. Since sport is, to some extent, subject to the economic and political changes of society, these changes have altered the functions of sport in the course of history. Sport has an entertaining function, among others, since the sight and excitement attracts millions of spectators into the arenas and to the television screens. Organizing a major international sport event promises a very high profit and benefit to the entire country through the advertising revenues, the sports facilities and the development of the infrastructure (Laki et al. 1995)3. One of the most important changes that sport–let it be leisure-time or professional sport–has undergone is that it has acquired an economic significance, so that effects of sport are detectable and measurable in the field of financial issues as well (András 2015).

The changes were primarily induced by the amounts of money available for consumption and the simultaneous increase of free time.

There is another approach to the interrelation between sport and economy: how much profit may regular sport bring to the doer, and what a burden does the inactive way of life place on social secuity? Ács and colleagues conducted a survey in 2011, by examining data obtained from the Social Security and through an inventory they compiled and circulated. They calculated the value of being fit in Hungary. They argue that a 10% reduction in the inactive segment of the population (way down to 67%) would lead to a theoretical save of HuF 9,1 billion for the Social Secutiry in the treatment of the diseases and their complications the authors had specified in the their hypothesis. The data do not include the costs of the individual, those of the employers and other sub-systems of the network of public finances. These additional costs further increase the expenses incurred in connection with the inactive life and diseases. With an increase of the physical activity of society the amounts theoretically saved will also increase (Ács et al. 2011).

8.2. Media as a Means of the Reproduction of Inequalities in Sports

Media has a dual role in the processes and life of society, including sports. On the one hand, with the help of media, millions of people may see events of a number of different sports they would never see, and they may learn about sports they have never heard of, and they may follow the matches and tournaments of the popular spectator sports. Media are important in general, offering knowledge and information to masses of people who are for some reason in an underprivileged status about the importance and benefit of physical activity. The media also show positive role models in the persons of prominent sportspeople to young people. Furthermore, media reinforce the sense of national identity and integrity as crowds of fans have the opportunity to support their teams in local and international sports events. On the other hand, it is also clear that sportspeople and branches of sports that often are often present in the media, shown as interesting, exciting and popular, have a definite edge over others sports. This may push sports in general towards yellow press sensationalism. It can easily be manifested in the overrepresentation of the private life and external appearance of a sporstman, and especially a sportswoman (see Chapter 6.3.), and the performance of these people in their respective sports slips into the background. In the course of that process a sportsperson becomes a celebrity. Often sportswomen and/or members of some minority are underrepresented, and it suggests to the viewers and readers that the members of these groups are less valuable that those who regularly appear in the media. Media may boost negative social phenomena within sport such as racism (see Chapter 6.4.), certain deviations and football-hooliganism (see Chapter 10. ). At the same time, it is media through which famous and popular sportspeople are able to effectively campaign against racial, sexual, religious, ethnic etc. discrimination, as they are able to relay their messages through on-line and television programmes in an easy and effective way to the highest possible number of people across the world (see the video below).

SAY NO TO RACISM!!! (video)

A research conducted by David Philips had an astonishing result, as he found a direct connection between the heavyweight professional box and the number of murders in the periods following a championship final in the USA: after a title match there are eleven ”plus murders”, and the skin colour of the victims was identical with that of the defeated sporstman in each case. The larger publicity a match was given in the media, the higher the number of victims was; the behaviour of the perpetrators thus ”followed” what they had seen on the TV, using what they had seen as some sort of a role model (Földesiné et al. 2010).

8.3. Sport, Economy and Media Intertwined

The demand arising on the side of the media is, naturally, largely influenced by the customers’ interest in any given sports event, and also by the direct and indirect costs of the appearance of the media the event. The most important element of the media demand is coming from the side of the television channels. The active presence of the media is necessary for any professional sport to become a spectator sport (even though it does not happen every single time). Another segment of the demand is the part of the business sector that uses a sports event and all its participants as a business opportunity (advertising, publicity, sponsorhips, brand management). These segments are closely intertwined, since just as the demand of the spectators influences the media demand, the media demand, in turn, influences the demand of the business enterprises (András 2015).

Spectator sports have emerged because the media is capable of influencing the direction in which a specific sport develops. The sports that meet the expectations of the media (great public interest, a high number of supporters) may expect a great revenue from the media and may become a spectator sport. The branches of professional sport that are outside that circle will not have the same financial resources. As a consequence, professional sport has become a highly competitive industry, and also a part of the entertainment business. The functions of professional sport, as well as the management style and requirements necessary for efficient work have largely changed as a result (András 2015).

Urbán (1997 quoted by Földesiné et al. 2010) believes that we talk about a five-player model when it comes to sport: sport industry itself, media industry, the business sectors, agencies and the audience. At the sports events sponsors advertise their goods and services on the clothing and equipment of the sportspeople, in commercial spots and through the Internet, the tens or hundreds of thousands of people who watch the broadcasting become the potential buyers of the goods and services advertised. The agencies may find each other, and the representatives of the media through the sports events, sports clubs and with the sportspeople themselves.

Control questions

  1. In what ways are sports, economy and media interrelated?

  2. How are gender differences, racism and football hooliganism boosted in sport?

  3. Describe the five-player model of sport!

  1. The huge amounts of money circulating in the world of sport are well illustrated by the prices of entry tickets to the major sports events. e. g. the Super Bowl final, or the prices of a television commercial spot. In 2018, the average ticket cost $5,200, that is, $2,000 more than in the previous year. For 30 seconds of commercial spot customers paid $ 5,02 million in 2017, and $5,05 million in 2018 (on the first occassion, when it was broadcast, in 1967, the price was $42,000). As a comparison, for instance, a commercial spot within one of the most popular American television series, This is us, cost $395,000, and during the 2017 Oscar-award ceremony the average price was $2 million (Source: qubit.hu).↩︎