By Marcus Honesta.
It seems every time you turn around or open a newspaper one or other of our so-called sporting stars is entertaining the population with ever more ridiculous scandals, dummy spits, or some form of school yard behaviour that, in my day, would have had you sent to the headmaster’s office for six of the best.
This kind of draconian punishment fortunately has no place in the world today but begs the question, what do you do with this mad bad or totally ill disciplined of individuals?
One could argue that if such behaviour is the result of a personal relationship matter then it Is nobody’s business other than those involved, (provided of course they are not breaking the law). But in today’s 24-hour, muckraking news cycle it seems anything is fair game. One Sunday Newspaper recently carried the scandal-riddled tale of a rugby league player allegedly paying a third party to negotiate an abortion for an unwanted pregnancy. A fee of $50,000 was allegedly paid to the young woman involved. However, this alone was not a big enough story. The following two full pages reported how mistreated, marginalized and bullied the woman felt. The man’s name made the headlines yet for some reason her name was suppressed. Surely this is not mainstream news and the young couple should be left alone to sort out their differences in private. It does neither the sport nor them, any good at all.
In the same week some rugby league playing rocket scientist is alleged to have bet against himself in games he was playing in. The amounts in question were quite small, $20-$30 we are told, so why would he do it?
It is of course a very different matter to tennis players behaving like children, abusing crowds, arguing with umpires or smashing rackets on the court. We could well do without this. Sports marketing is a multi-billion dollar business but it seems that anything goes provided the crowds still flow into our modern day coliseums.
According to Price Waterhouse Coopers recent reports, the Global Sports Marketing sponsorship pool was valued at around 45 billion U.S. dollars in 2015. This accounts for around 69 percent of the total sponsorship market. The total North American sponsorship market; projected to grow by 5.5 percent in 2015.
The European sports sponsorship market is about equal in value to the North American market with around 14 billion U.S. dollars in revenue (including the Middle East and Africa). The highest-grossing sport of the industry is soccer. The English Premier League for example receives an estimated 50 million euros per season from its naming rights sponsor Barclays. Kit / jersey sponsorship is an essential stream of revenue for most soccer clubs in Europe.
Sporting mega events such as the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA EURO make up a substantial part of total sponsorship revenue. The Olympic Games (Summer & Winter) for example, which were held in the period from 2009 to 2012, generated almost 1 billion U.S. dollars in sponsorship revenue from its TOP sponsorship program alone.
With such huge amounts of money on the table shouldn’t the officials who manage our sporting heroes be doing more to train, counsel and guide them? Wouldn’t this in turn create a more professional and therefore profitable environment? Having Dickensian like schoolmasters hand out detentions, life bans, large fines, or strip points from the offending players and clubs is surely not the answer. What is being done now simply isn’t working.
Every time you turn on the radio you hear sanctimonious former thugs and bullies who have become coaches or radio shock jock’s screaming for the need to maintenance the highest practices of integrity in their sport. I wonder if they really know what integrity means?
- the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.” Honesty, uprightness, probity, rectitude, honour, honourableness, upstandingnewss, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, nobility, high-mindedness, right-mindedness, noble-mindedness, virtue, deceny, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfullness, trustworthiness – “I never doubted his integrity”.
2. the state of being whole and undivided.”upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty”
I guarantee none of these blockheads has any idea what they are spruiking about. “His actions have bought our great game into significant peril” “Our game doesn’t need thugs like this”, “Integrity is the only thing that we hold dear in our sport”. What rubbish! The only thing they fear is the loss of potential sponsors and revenue. They’re all only one generation, from being the worst of the sinners. Scandals of drug taking, group orgies at training camps, and match fixing are all swept under the carpet. The opportunity for sensational headlines to take the heat off the real underlying issues are always welcomed.
Certainly let the punishment fit the crime, but to be fair, there are certain concessions that even the worst offenders should be offered. For a first offence lets say a 3 months disqualification, a second offence, six months, and a third offence 12 months. If the person is a recidivist then, and only then, should they be banned for life because let’s not forget, sport is their livelihood. One thing if for sure the current system isn’t working so perhaps it is time that it should be addressed.
Surely a better answer would be the following. Young players who provide entertainment to sports-mad communities should be managed with compassion and offered a real plan for a proper career, including transition, progression and development to provide for the time when, inevitability they pass the peak of their athletic prowess. On the surface at least it would appear that today many are just thrown onto the scrapheap of life to fend for themselves. A famous international swimmer who recently had personal psychological issues and a very public breakdown immediately comes to mind.
Should the Mandarins who are stuffing their pockets full of sponsorship dollars be required to be more responsible for their young charge’s future even after the dollars have been dried up? It is almost impossible to argue against this.
Instead of bitching and fighting about who gets what from the gate takings – the management or the players – it would perhaps be more fruitful to establish a future fund comprising of say, one third of the year’s takings. This could then be used for the management and progression of players who are transiting from an illustrious sporting career into the “real world” of work and community. It would certainly enhance their ability to make a positive contribution for themselves and to society for the rest of their lives.