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Is Sport Too Commercialised?

It’s no wonder, then, that advertisers and marketers are willing to pay big bucks to draw even a fraction of our attention, regardless of how momentary it might be.


As consumers, we are constantly bombarded with ads and marketing messages from companies trying to convince us to buy what their offering. Research suggests the attention span of the ‘Y Generation’, or the ‘social media generation’, is abysmal. Not surprising as we can simultaneously surf the net, check out what’s happening on social media, catch up on the news and watch programmes and films, all the while eating, traveling and, if you’re a student, intensely listening to our lecturers. Why stay focused on one thing when technology allows us to multi-focus?

The Super Bowl took place in the US recently and is considered a de facto holiday for our American counterparts. It is the most watched sport in the US with this year’s viewership reaching a record breaking 114.4 million. Naturally then it’s Christmas, birthdays and every work vacation rolled into one for advertisers. A 30 second ad slot goes for $4.5 million and NBC, the network broadcaster, raked in an impressive $360 million from big named brands who have no qualms ponying up the cash for Super Bowl airtime prices. This year these included McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Nissan, T-Mobile, Dove and Toyota, to name a few. The more memorable a Super Bowl ad is the more chance it will get talked about so competition between brands to produce the most innovative ad is fierce, in which numerous celebrity cameos are used to help achieve this. This year’s line-up included: Pierce Brosnan, Jeff Bridges, and comedians Chelsea Handler and Sarah Silverman. Even Heisenberg rose from the dead to sell us some ‘e-surance’.

In addition it’s not just NBC raking in the big bucks but the players too. The top 3 Super Bowl salary ranges from six to almost nine million dollars, with Russell Okung, player for the Seattle Seahawks , taking in a cool $8.76 million per year.

With all these figures bouncing around, it’s easy to feel that sport altogether has become too commercialised. Surely a salary that earns you millions just for banging into your teammate (I think that’s the gist of how Americans play ‘football’) is way too excessive and it won’t be too long now that when a player injures themselves on the field, audiences will be holding their collective breaths for the injury lawyer lying in waiting and cue their dreaded pitch, “Have you ever been injured, in an accident or hurt at work….”

However, the NFL is a multi-billion dollar industry, similar to ours, and unless we decide this industry is way too overpriced and tone down our fascination with sport stars and major sporting events it’s here to stay. However, there is a silver lining to all these million-figure amounts and that is it does have the potential to cycle back round to the lesser-paid consumer. All those football and celebrity salaries are taxable and although the NFL may enjoy tax deductions regarding ad revenues, those ads still have to be created and produced by employees who are put to work and also make their contribution to the taxman.

Finally, whether we like it or not, we have created an economy that is dependent on the top 1% and the people in this industry are without a doubt the top 1%. Their extravagant spending and lavish lifestyles are what makes the world go round. If the 1% one day decided to halt their spending it would have unfortunate repercussions on the world’s economy.

Until this changes, next game anyone?

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