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Business or Sport

Updated: Jan 30

It's 1983, you are in England watching India play against West Indies in the 83’ Cricket World Cup Final. A sold-out stadium, which is not a surprise considering the gravity of the game. What else does one notice? Plain white jerseys worn by both teams, with nothing but the cricketing nations logo on it. The billboards, a couple of brands that have advertisements beyond the boundary ropes on fences, that's about it. 

In 2023 we cannot imagine how life would be without numerous advertisements and billboards surrounding us 24/7. Hoardings on every vacant spot, advertising some product or the other and even third umpire replays sponsored by certain brands. If there is an opportunity to commercialise sport, you best believe it's been taken. With sponsors on not just the front, but also the sleeves and back of sports jerseys, people who don’t watch sport often end up associating the team with a brand that's stuck with them. 

Some may see this as growth for sport, money being pumped in and the branding reaching new levels that have never been seen before. But at what point does sport lose what it once brought, the pure emotion of watching a team you would die for play. When does it truly become a business venture rather than a sport? When does a sponsor become bigger than the team itself? In the world of football it's often seen, where club owners disregard the attachment to the sport and are constantly seen trying to make profit rather than produce good performances. Often, this idea of a sporting team becoming a business, runs the club ragged, resulting in loss of love towards the team. This has been documented in the Welcome to Wrexham series, where Wrexham suffered for years due to poor ownership and minimal focus on the sport in itself. 

Today, it's not just teams but also athletes that are tied up to brands. A sad example is of South Korean footballer Heung Min Son not being allowed to take a selfie with an iPhone, as due to brand obligations with Samsung he isn’t allowed to touch any other device by a different company. 

As we navigate through the complex crossroad of sport and commerce, the primary aim should be preserving the joy of playing and watching sports, and genuine camaraderie, making sure we resist the temptation to solely prioritise profit.

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