When watching sport, it is hard to avoid the large, branded banners or highly visible logos on sports kit.
I have always questioned why do companies sponsor sport? What are the benefits for them, and what are the benefits for the athletes?
Sponsorship is the provision of funds or other support to individuals, teams, events and organisations in order to gain publicity and a commercial return on investment . Sponsorship agencies bring sponsors and sporting bodies together to organise events and programmes.
Sponsorship can be in many forms. One form, the most visible by the public, is through sportswear and equipment provision.
When you picture your favourite sport star, mine for example- Jessica Ennis, I always remember her wearing trainers from Adidas. Another form of sponsorship is money for living expenses- this may cover food, heating and mortgages. This also may be nutrition for specific dietary needs- for example the famous 'Quorn' advertisement with Mo Farah who features advertising 'healthy protein' to maximise training.
Another form of sponsorship is through scholarships and funding education, universities often give grants for athletes to study and train at their university or college.
Another type of sponsorship is through events and leagues as well as training and competition costs including travel, accomodation and facilities. Furthermore, another form of sponsorship is through prizes and awards, a well known example is the 'Guiness player of the match' in International Rugby where the brand gains maximum exposure at a particularly high viewing rate moment of the post match media focus.
So, how does sponsorship aid the athlete?
Sponsorship facilitates an athlete to be able to train full time and allows their full concentration to be on sport, rather than having money worries. Sponsorship is also able to cover living expenses, travelling, equipment as well as coaching. Sponsorship also benefits a performer as it potentially provides financial security for when their career ends.
However, sometimes sponsorship can be a disadvantage to a performer. Sometimes the athlete can become reliant on the sponsor and therefore there are sever effects if the sponsorship is suddendly withdrawn or if it is only offered for a short period of time- which can add pressure. Some sponsorship companies can also give the athlete a bad image for example- tobacco or alcohol and gambling companies. Sponsors unfortunately also try to control and manipulate the athlete.
Sponsorship is enticing for companies as it provides them with a positive and healthy image, for example, McDonalds sponsorship scheme with the Olympics in London 2012.
Sponsorship also benefits the companies as it is seen as an inexpensive form of advertising for major exposure to increase sales and profits. Also, the sponsors get hospitality and the best tickets to big events. It can also be tax deductible.
However, sponsorship can also have negatives for the sponsor. For example: if an individual or a team behaves badly it can reflect negativley on the sponsor. It is also an uncertain investment and the success of the performer is not always guarenteed.
Media also has a major effect on sport. Media coverage of sport also affects sponsorship as it can lead to huge sponsorship deals between high profile performers and companies. For example, Serena William's sponsorship with Nike as Nike and other sports companies put large sums of money into commercial activity.
The effect of media on sport can be positive. Due to increased exposure of sport through TV, radio, newspapers and social media. This can raise the profile of sport. Media also provides an increased level of funding to improve resources, coaching and facilities and gives sport financial security for a period of time. Media also attracts the best players in the world to that sport. However, there can be some negative impacts of media coverage on sport. For example, media can change the timings as well as the rules of the sport to suit TV to make it more audience friendly. This can be seen as the swimming final for the Olympics is usually held in evening around 8pm which doesn't necessarily suit the performer. Also, media tends to support the more popular sports leaving the less popular sports out- further increasing the gap in media coverage and participation in some minority sports. Also, the influence of TV has caused an increase in adverts which has caused to the loss of some sports traditions. For example, American football has frequent ad breaks which disrupt the game.
Media also affects the performers. Media allows athletes to earn income as a full time job and it allows performers to gain maximum exposure to promote their personal brand. It can also lead to additional roles after their career in sport has ended- an example is Alex Scott who was an ex-footballer who now works for BBC sport as a presenter.
However, there are some negatives for the player associated with media. It can sometimes encourage deviant behaviour due to the pressure of success, this can sometimes be in the form of performance enhancing drugs.
Also, media companies tend to favour male over female atheltes and able-bodied over disabled atheltes when choosing which performer to sponsor and cover in media. This bias therefore creates inequality within media. Media and sponsorship also may cause a performer to advertise a product they do not like and they also may be contracted to attend public speaking at make appearances at public events.
Furthermore, media also affects us- the spectators. It can positivley impact us as it offers us a wider range of sports to be available to watch. It also enhances our viewing experience due to investment into technology including 'slow-motion replays' as well as 'miked' referees and Hawkeye technology. However, media can also have a negative impact on spectators. Increased media coverage encourages spectating and not participating, it can also be very expensive for fans and spectators. For example, boxing is only really available to watch through a pay per view with tickets to attend being unattainable to the average fan. Also, it can affect the view experience due to increased TV breaks, adverts and time outs which disrupt the flow of the game.
So, next time you watch your favourite team or sportsman/woman you will now know the impact of their branded kit and sponsorship deals as well as the increased media coverage on the player, the sport itself and also yourself!