Sponsors in sports
In the world of sports, everything from the cups the athletes drink from to the stadiums they play in is up for grabs. The four major sports are a playing field for the teams as well as major companies hoping to influence the public. While there are some positives and negatives to sponsors, a line has to be drawn somewhere.
The four major sports, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, and the National Hockey League all generate millions of dollars from sponsors each year. Individual athletes themselves command large endorsement contracts that in many cases exceed their own salaries. And although the heads of these sports try to limit the influence of companies, they are still a major part of every game played.
One of the more widely known sponsors of sports is Nike. Their rivalry with Reebok and other shoe and apparel companies is seen on television and on the playing field. Advertising their company is
the major concern when displaying their logos in sports. Beverages, fast foods, credit cards, automobiles and a wide variety of companies spend their money on sports related ventures. They spend big dollars to name stadiums and arenas after their companies. Television gives these companies even more chances to influence the public with commercials that companies might sometimes pay up to $1 million for. The uniforms that the players wear are now being made my different manufacturers whereas five years ago each league had all their teams wearing the same brand. The equipment being used is also made by different companies. No matter what is being fought for, sponsors create good and bad influences in each sport.
Major League Baseball is recognized as the most popular sport. They also play the most games which is a plus to sponsors. Each game is seen as a chance to spread word of their company. But MLB seems to be the least affected team wise by sponsors. This is probably because of the strict rules set forth and also because of recent work stoppages and labor disputes. MLB was once the leader in innovative ideas involving sponsors. Billboards are placed around the stadium in strategic spots that will be noticed by fans and television. Stadiums are now being renamed by companies willing to spend millions to have the stadium named after the company such as 3Com Park in San Francisco. These short term deals can create a problem in the future though. Athletes are not as widely chosen for endorsement contracts as in other sports. This is probably because many players cannot make a huge impact on the outcome of the games. Also many young athletes are not known because collegiate baseball is not watched as much as other collegiate sports.
A positive effect that sponsors have on Major League Baseball is that they are trying to help restore baseball as the national pastime. Baseball needs to regain interest with the public and sponsors are coming up with new and exciting ideas. More players are being endorsed and commercials are reaching out to the youth who play the sport. Money being spent by various companies is being redistributed so that the lesser markets can receive some money. Basically anything that can attract people to the sport is good for baseball at this moment.
A negative effect that sponsors have on baseball is not really much of a negative. Companies are not sponsoring baseball enough. The strikes and disputes are the reason why. But sponsors should be more of a part of baseball. More athletes should be endorsed and more impact on teams in smaller markets need to happen for baseball to regain popularity.
The National Basketball Association could be easily summed up concerning sponsors as shoe wars. Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Fila and anybody else are fighting for just about every athlete in an effort to make money. The response has the public interested in basketball and has made basketball a stable and profitable sport. Women's basketball is now picking up steam because companies are realizing that they could make money on women too. These shoe wars have trickled down to the collegiate level, where companies pay schools to wear their sneakers, and even the high school level where basketball camps held yearly bring in the newest and best talent available.
A positive effect that sponsors have on the NBA is that basketball is increasing worldwide. People like and watch the game and the players. The majority of the public know Michael Jordan and Nike is a main reason why. Young athletes can see their heroes and dream of playing basketball because companies give basketball a good image.
A negative effect though is that these shoe wars sometimes lead to too much control. Players at the college and high school levels know that if they are good enough, jumping to the NBA is first on their list because of
the money being offered. Nike and Reebok and the other companies give more money to the players for endorsements than the players make for their salary. This reason of playing in the NBA for the money is not good. Also giving money to schools for wearing their shoes is not fair to the players who must wear them. They see none of the money which gives them an even greater reason to go to the NBA.
The National Football League has made many changes over the last five years. More companies are sponsoring teams than ever before with the Super Bowl being the high point of corporate spending. Again, Nike is a strong influence on players and teams. Recently they gave the Dallas Cowboys $300 million to basically put their logo on everything. While this does generate publicity for the NFL, some teams are seeing more money than other teams. As in basketball, collegiate football is seeing a surge in popularity because of sponsorship of various activities.
A positive effect that sponsors have on the NFL is that like in basketball, interest is growing. Companies use different ways to show their football ties hoping to create interest in their product.
A negative effect is that some companies are trying to get too much control. The situation with Nike and the Cowboys is under review. It can lead to a terrible downfall for the NFL if too much power is held by one company. The lesser teams will not have the money or the prestige to lure players to play for their team.
The National Hockey League is seen as number four in sports. The reason in part is because of hardly any sponsors at all. It has always been the same until recent. More air time is being given to hockey therefore a need for sponsorship. Inline hockey is the fastest growing sport and ice hockey is being watched more than ever. Companies have realized that hockey can be a very healthy investment. They can have their names placed on the boards around the rink which is almost always seen. Arenas are now being renamed such as USAir Arena and Continental Airlines Arena in the quest to impact hockey and make some money. Nike has made a huge step by acquiring a major manufacturer of equipment named producing the Bauer brand in an effort to gain interest in hockey. Uniforms are now being made by three different companies instead of one. Players are now first seeing endorsements from companies. Hockey is growing at a rapid pace.
There are no negative effects on hockey. Everything is positive because any kind of sponsorship is a plus. Hockey is trying to work upward and be recognized as a major sport. Companies are just now realizing hockey's potential. Five years from now with more sponsors, hockey could be just as big as basketball.
The influences of companies on sports are for the most part positives. Sponsors help make a sport grow with money for the teams as well as themselves. More interest in sports lead to advancements in the games themselves. The negative effects have to be monitored because on negative can outweigh many positives. A step back in sport because of a sponsor will not be good for the future of that sport. As long as the companies and the leagues work together, sports will be able to grow.
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