Sports are a form of life although there are individuals who regard them as a metaphor for the life of an athlete. Of equal significance are the fans whose participation defines the sports’ presence or absence. Just how would a sport be without fans? Could it even persist? People buy sports in almost the same way they buy commodities or invest in the stock market. In this case, success of one’s sport determines how fruitful your investment in time and finances has been. With fans come publicizing hence the media attention. Media is the main platform for sports marketing which has resulted from the symbiotic relationship developed between sports and mass media. In selecting the sports to promote, the media considers a number of factors such as ability of players, sport’s competitiveness, degree of audience attention and performance. Alternatively, there are a number of factors which are considered by various sports in selecting the media to use in creating publicity. Some of these factors include its influential power, capacity to build trust, authority of medium and ability to build and sustain a tie with the media selected. Increased publicity of sports through the media has resulted into emergence of the issue of celebrity. A significant proportion of individuals associate themselves with various sports personalities in a number of ways such as imitating their lifestyle.
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The media has enhanced sports publicity through a number of mediums such as television, radio and print media. As a result, journalists started probing sports scandals and gossip on sportspersons’ private lives and this proved to be something of marked interest to fans. Today’s myriad television and radio stations exclusively based on sports events and personalities are attributed to this humble beginning. The publicity serves to explain that sports are a way of life in whatever arena and are here to stay.
The objectives for people choosing different sports are as varied as the people themselves. Some are into a sport for the fan of it; a sort of thrill associated with seeing your team or favorite sports personality win. Others do it for the love of the game while to some the travel involved is what entices them into sports-just the adventure involved. Since it involves a pool of people, businessmen use the opportunity to market products. Others will go to support their countries out of patriotism while another portion is into some sports for philanthropy especially if an event is geared towards a charitable cause. The following is a breakdown of these motives.
Reasons for attending sporting events
Fun: Some people like sports because they get entertained. They love the lively, joyous play and amusements created by sports and hence attend the events. This however is hardly for free. While organizers make attendees feel as comfortable as they possibly can, they in turn are expected to pay fees for the services rendered. In most cases this cost is higher than its worth for the organizers to make profits. Increased passion for sports as a source of fun has resulted into emergence of unethical social behaviors. For instance, in both developed and developing countries, sports fans unable to raise entrance fee to stadia sometimes force themselves in causing stampedes. In addition, fraudsters capitalize on this passion for sports by selling fake tickets to fans for financial gains. This is being curtailed through introduction of kiosks which specifically sell genuine tickets. Other fans view attending the events as a chance to physically meet the players they admire.
Passion: The way people value and are passionate for various sports is varied. They adore certain sports events and don’t want to miss every bit of them. This motivates them to be present at the game and get full satisfaction in addition to publicity campaigns that arouse their curiosity before the games. Good performance by team players further motivates fans to attend as they enjoy the way the game is played.
Travelling: Individuals attend sporting events because they want to travel to different places where the events are held. Attending the events gives them a chance to spend time and money doing different activities from what they normally do while attending sports which intensifies the pleasure of leisure. They travel to new places and tour different exciting sceneries of the host location. The tourism industry is aware of this fact and takes every opportunity to promote their activities if such an event is forthcoming. Offers of family packages including children’s’ favorites are presented way in advance in accommodation, guided tours just to mention but a few to potential attendees. An example is the current impressive advertisements by hotels in South Africa in the entire world media for the forthcoming June FIFA World Cup finals with all manner of pleasantries attached.
Marketing: In Schlossberg (1996, p. 34), and Milne and McDonald (1999, p. 67), the authors agree that there are people who attend purposely to make business. They view other attendants as a perfect large market for their products which if well tapped increases their profits. This takes forms like actual sale of companies’ products like foodstuffs in commercial stands, temporary billboards for creating good image and awareness of their products or services, and donation of products like clothing to players in the hope that the fans who emulate them go ahead and purchase the products. The investors in hotel industry improve the quality of services they offer to ensure clients are attracted the products while making sure their businesses meet international standards.
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Social activities: Some events are held to raise revenues to assist in solving certain societal problems. Individuals get motivated to attend and contribute in these events to assist with the course such as raising funds for cancer patients, those who need constructive surgery, and people with eye problems who cannot afford to pay their medical bills. This participation makes the general public encouraged to attend in large numbers to support others in the society. Organizers of the events normally do not have the money they need to help the less fortunate as they will to do.
Patriotism: Some people are motivated to go and attend sporting events of their national teams because of patriotism. At the end of the day if the team wins the attendants appreciate and get value for time sacrificed as well as value of their money. Patriotism is what makes fans support their national teams against any other country no matter how bad their team may perform and never support any team playing against their country. It sometimes motivates people to voluntarily donate extra cash apart from the tickets cost to help ease their teams expenses when in need.
While sports gets maximum attention from spectators and become an assured area of target audience for the media, it promotes media’s market, profitability and competitiveness. The media does not equally cover all sports but takes into consideration various factors such as: possible degree of audience attention, competitiveness of the sport, attraction to sportsmen, skill, performance and ability of the players-how promising they are. Sports, in determining the kind of media to employ in their publicity campaigns consider among other issues: authority of that medium, its influential power, and the scope to build a trustworthy, co-operative and sustainable tie-up with them. They also take efforts to better their character, and reinforce co-operation with media.
As discussed above, apart from the attendees, all the other interested parties ranging from the organizers to all the companies sponsoring the event are interested in how much they can gain from the sporting event in totality either instantly or in the long run. This means that sponsoring or creating sports awareness through various means is motivated by financial gains. As long as the gains can be achieved, attendees are encouraged and enticed to go to these functions so that the involved parties gain.
Sport personalities are not always at the receiving end. They give, and in this case entertainment for those into sports for fan, satisfaction for those who simply love a game. This means as any other profession, they are required to show integrity and prove their industriousness. After all, their fans have invested in them and disappointment, though acceptable is not entertained.
McDonald, A & Milne, R., 1999, Cases in Sport Marketing. Mississauga: Jones and Bartlett Publishers International.
Schlossberg, H.1996. Sports marketing. Birmingham: Blackwell publishers.