These constituencies have fairly well-defined roles and responsibilities in
maintaining the integrity of their sport and its basic support network, whether
as participants in a main sphere of activity, as critical supporting or enabling
role players that facilitate the smooth running of the system, or as the all
important consumer, whose injections of enthusiasm and capital sustain the
entire enterprise.
As a business, moreover, sport is linked to related ecosystems in healthcare
(sports medicine, participation in sport as preventive medicine); education
(schools and universities as sponsors of teams and as sources of talent);
entertainment (movies, TV shows, and books about athletes, teams, and
sports topics; athletes and ex-athletes as celebrities –David Beckham and
Sachin Tendulkar); and hospitality and tourism (pre- and post-game food
and drink, travel packages to away games, and events such as the Olympics
or World Cup).
The ecosystems of most professional and major amateur sports are broadly
similar, with numerous constituencies feeding off a given sport’s fan appeal.
When a broad base of fans proves willing to spend money to attend games,
buy merchandise, watch and listen to broadcasts, place bets, follow media
coverage, and consume associated goods and services, money flows through-
out the ecosystem. Fan appeal – itself a function of the integrity of sport – is
the ultimate driver of this dynamic.
Additionally, the ecosystems of major sports share at least five attributes. First,
the ecosystems are wealthy – vast and growing sums of money are pumping
through them as sports globalise, media coverage increases, and gambling on
sport becomes easier and more popular.
Second, the ecosystems are crowded, with many actors and interests vying to
grow their respective shares of the bounty. Nearly all of them are competing
for a larger portion of fan spending, and some of them–owners and players,
leagues and broadcasters, for example– routinely engage in tough, some-
times acrimonious, negotiations over the division of revenues.
Third, within a given professional sport, owners as business leaders and
teams as commercial enterprises often differ in important ways. Most teams
in major professional sports are owned by one or two extremely wealthy
individuals, few of whom invest in sport purely for financial gain. While
GUARDING THE GAME Preserving the Integrity of Sport
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