The media is now more powerful and pervasive than ever before; in today's world it's impossible to go anywhere or to read a magazine or watch TV without a sports star encouraging you to buy the latest craze item. Whether it's trainers, clothing, perfume or a car a sports personality will endeavour to sell it to you.
The advertisement market loves to use sports people to sell their products, as they know these people attract an eclectic range of attention and puts their product in the "public eye". Popular sports stars now earn as much through advertising as they do from competing and there are many examples of this.
Probably the best-known sports star in Britain is David Beckham who earns in the region of ï¿½4.6 million a year playing for Manchester United. His personal sponsorship deals include products such as; Adidas, Pepsi and Police Sunglasses. All of these companies together pay him about ï¿½5 million a year. However as part of Manchester United Vodafone, Nike, and Lycos also sponsor him.
Anna Kournikova, the Russian tennis player earns more through advertising than she does from competing. She does most of her work for Adidas and Lycos. Anna is the highest paid woman in tennis but is yet to win a major tournament.
This situation is great for the key players in the sports industry however the competitors and teams in the lower leagues have a hard time. Due to the lack of sponsorship and media attention it makes it extremely difficult for people at the bottom to climb the success ladder. For many of the performers at the top of the tree, they got a 'lucky break'. As a consequence of this huge imbalance the divide between elite and amateur sports performers is growing and growing.
One example of this is the recent crisis in football; many teams are going bankrupt, as they cannot afford the player wages and prices. This is because teams in the premiership, like Arsenal have huge sponsorship deals as companies know that their logo will be seen by millions. Companies inevitably avoid investment in unsuccessful teams, as they will be tarnished with the same brush and those in lower leagues, as not as many people will see their logo. This in turn is meaning that lower league teams simply can't afford to buy good quality players or are forced to sell their good players meaning less and less people will go and watch their matches eventually forcing the club into bankruptcy; it's a 'cycle of despair'.
Last year there was extensive global attention for the FIFA World Cup, possibly the most lucrative sports event for advertising companies. Being an official sponsor of the world cup ensures a boost in sales. So indirectly sports performers are having an influence on advertising methods, because an event they are staring in is being used as a sales method. Money dictates sport and its performers and is becoming more important than the game itself. For example we are buying Japanese players and putting them in our football teams even though they aren't necessarily as good as some of our local talent. However it's a way of slipping in to foreign markets. It increases merchandise sales and increases our foreign income.
The organisation of sport has also changed, and is now ruled by money too. For example the offside rule in football was changed with the intention of making the game more interesting. Also, the times of events are altered to fit public convenience and as a consequence gather the biggest audiences possible, even if it's not really appropriate for the performers. Should these factors really be more important than the event itself?
Sports clubs and sports men and women have developed as performers, the abundant money involved has improved their equipment and facilities so inevitably their performance. However as we have seen this is by-product; not really a priority. Therefore I think these people need to take a good, hard look at their situation. They need to remember why they originally chose a career in sport. We're in danger of sport becoming orientated by financial gain rather than sporting outcome. Personally I think this defeats the object of sport.