Today it seems there is hardly any level of sports participation which does not have sponsorship or some variety of commercial venture. Sporting events, teams and even individual players wear logos on uniforms and appear in television advertising. This rise in commercialisation has almost become part of the modern game, but it is important to remember it has positive and negative effects on the sport, the players and the fans.
Commercialisation is about media exposure for the sport. If a major company sponsors an event it is much more likely to get prime time television coverage, bringing in greater advertising revenues and exposing more people to the sport. This will bring in more fans, improve the profitability of local sports clubs, which in turn helps the local economy and revives community spirit when the team is performing well.
With increased exposure of the game comes increased participation. For example, when a national team does well at the Olympics the number of children taking up the sport increases. This is at a time when there is national worry about the health of young people with regards to what they eat and the level of exercise they participate in. The commercialisation of sport which leads to increased exposure, encourages children to get more exercise and reduce obesity. It can also help young people find a hobby which gets them off the streets and discourages them from crime.
Sports teams are businesses like any other and they need to make money to survive. The only way they can keep up with rising wage costs, improving facilities and bringing in new players is to sell advertising space to increase revenues. All fans want to see their team succeed and are not fussy about the sponsor's logo on the team shirt or billboards around the ground. There have on some occasions been problems when the name of the stadium has been changed to include a corporate trademark.
One of the main problems with increased commercialisation from a fan's perspective is the feeling the increased costs are passed on to them. Ticket prices, refreshments and team shirt prices have all gone up at the same time more and more advertising space is sold around the stadium and television rights are sold for almost every game.
It has been claimed in some sports that commercialisation results in poorer player performance at international levels. For example the underperformance of the England soccer team despite the domestic Premier League having the highest wages of any soccer league in the world. Commercialisation also offers a distraction from the game as the top name players are singed up by major labels to promote products.
For those watching at home the main drawback of commercialisation in sport are the advertisements that appear every time the game stops. Every camera position at the Superbowl is now sponsored by a different company, there are commercials shown almost continually and the advertisements during half time are the most expensive pieces of air time that can be purchased. All of this could be seen as a major distraction from the sport itself. Critics claim the pace, and occasionally the outcome, of major league sports games are dictated by television commercials.