Business of Sport

Sport industry v sport bosses

2011-10-05 14:09
George Marx
Comment: George Marx

Johannesburg - The Virgin Active Sport Industry Awards have now closed for entries with a record number of fantastic, innovative and exciting campaigns entering from some of our favourite household names – which proves an important point for the South African sport industry as a whole.

Everyone was expecting the sponsorship, activation and marketing budget to plummet after the FIFA World Cup jamboree left our shores last year, but I don’t believe that happened. My feeling is that the budgets have stayed more or less the same – the sport industry’s hierarchy have just spread the investment across different sporting codes and focussed on smarter, more thoughtful campaigns. None of those individual campaigns have the overall budget thrown at the FIFA World Cup, but many of them are more targeted, more intelligent and will prove to be more effective on many levels. This is the good news.

The bad news is that we have certain sport bosses – by no means all of them, but some influential and important figures – for whom the words ‘smarter’ and ‘more thoughtful’ do not always fit. Some of their comments, decisions and contributions are not only non-beneficial to their organisations, but run the risk of damaging the reputation and views of the South African sport industry, both internationally and locally.

Our boys are in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup, hoping to be the first country to ever defend their title as world champions, and our coach seems unable to think about the wider implications of his comments. Cricket, meanwhile, is making great inroads on broadcasting deals and major sponsorships, but the people that front the sport – its leaders – need to understand that their bickering has a negative impact. If it affects fans – and ultimately reduces the number of bums on seats – that hits ticketing revenues and leaves broadcasters stuck with shots of empty stands. That isn’t something the game can afford, and that’s without even mentioning that some of those new sponsors might start to wonder what sort of sport they’ve stepped into.

My belief is that governing bodies need to feed off the marketing and sponsorship market to successfully put together leagues, competitions and, ultimately, World Cup campaigns. My question is this: when does the sport industry get to say to the sporting bosses that they have had enough of what is, all too often, bizarre or otherwise amateur governance?
My answer: I hope it will happen soon.

* The Business of Sport Column is produced in partnership with the Virgin Active Sport Industry Awards 2012. Click HERE for more details...or follow us on Twitter: @SportindustrySA

George Marx is the International Business Development Manager at the Sport Industry Group – the organisers of the Virgin Active Sport Industry Awards.


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