Sports have evolved a lot along the course of history. At first, it was a way of people exercising the essential skills of survival. Then, it became a stage for people to showcase their physical superiority. Not long ago, it was a way of entertainment for people to keep fit and have fun. However, recently, with the great leap in communication technologies and globalization, sports are being adulterated with other factors like money. It is literally being commercialized. The effects of the commercialization on sports are two-sided. However, the trend of commercialization of sports is inevitable and inexorable, given the global environment nowadays.
Commercialization can help a sport to survive and progress. With the effect of commercialization, athletes are paid for playing a sport. It is extremely important for some niche sports which need athlete to fully dedicate themselves into training and sports which involve very expensive equipments as people no longer afford to play those sports just for fun. For example, Formula One, or F1 in short, is a very extreme example of sports commercialization. If you go to watch F1, you will see numerous advertisements painted on cars and walls of tracks. The entry tickets are also expensive. However, it is easily justified, given the particular characteristics of that sport. F1 features athletes, or drivers, to compete in the cutting-edge racing cars which can easily cost millions of dollars. A qualified driver needs to undergo a professional and comprehensive training. Moreover, the relating costs of F1, such as transportation and maintenance, are also tremendous. It is impossible for sports like F1 to survive if they are not commercialized. Commercialization can also popularize a sport. Through the broadcast of sport matches and many promotional events, more people get to touch a sport they did not hear of or were not familiar with before. They stand to get involved into the sport if they find the sports interesting or they are fascinated by the charismatic stars of the sport. With the growing number of followers, a sport is set to progress and prosper. For example, China once was an infertile land for basketball. After China’s superstar Yao Ming landed NBA, then NBA commissioner David Stern found it an excellent chance to open up Chinese market and popularize NBA, or more broadly speaking, basketball in China. Stern used commercial tactics like signing broadcasting contract with CCTV5, China’s national sports channel and opening franchises in China to sell official NBA products. He also invited Yao to endorse NBA in China. These tactics proved to be a success. Now, NBA has a strong foundation of followers in China, ranging from teenagers to the middle-aged, from men to women, and more and more people are now playing basketball as a regular sport. Thus, we can conclude that commercialization does sometimes play a positive role in sports.
However, commercialization is a two-edged sword for sports. Too much commercialization or inappropriate use of commercialization can stain sports. Commercialization holds a risk of people being so indulged in money that they flout the basic principle of sports which is fairness. As sports gambling becomes more and more popular, people seek to make money from sports in a cheating manner. They bribe athletes or judges to rig the match in favor of themselves so that they can make a tremendous amount of money from it. It is extremely harmful to sports as it will make people lose interest and faith in sports. Moreover, athletes driven by the lure of money may relentlessly push themselves without caring about their own health and it may cause tragedies of disability or even death of athletes which is certainly not the intention of sports. Thus, we should deal with commercialization carefully as it can easily make tremendous harm to sports and in fact it has already done as shown above.