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Sports key to economic development

in your interestResearch shows that investment in sports in developing countries is much less than in

developed countries, as it is usually not a top priority in the national budget or in the education system of most developing countries. Sports are often treated as recreation or leisure activities, and hence the treatment and attention that is accorded them. 

What is peculiar in some instances is the fact that corporate entities see their involvement in sports as a mere marketing and promotional ploy. Generally, the support bears a relation to the projection of a social consciousness. The tokenism therefore does little to promote and move sporting activities beyond the realm of amateurism to that of professionalism. It is at the professional level that sporting activities take on the face of big business. The investment generates substantial revenue and creates a variety of business linkages. At the core of professional sports is the employment of people. The various organized sporting disciplines enable other sectors of the economy to benefit substantially through the production and offering of a range of goods and services.

 In an article written by Gwen Burrow under the caption, Not just a game: The Impact of Sports on the US Economy, the point was made that the sports industry as a whole brings roughly $14.3 billion in earnings a year, and accounts for approximately 456,000 jobs with an average salary of $39,000 per job. In 2014, the European Commission, in addressing sport as a growth engine for the EU economy, commented that “overall, the sports sector accounts for two per cent of the EU global GDP, while the total employment generated by sports activities is 7.3 million – equivalent to 3.5 per cent of the total EU employment. Despite these impressive figures, the economic impact of the sport-related industries is often underestimated.”

 This information strongly suggests that sports have an economic value. It clearly is a medium for providing quality jobs, sustaining employment levels and uplifting the social standing of workers. It is definitely one way of enabling poor persons with talents, skills and an entrepreneurship spirit to rise from their poverty. The investment in sports, therefore, becomes a must.

 Players, officials, coaches, equipment suppliers, medical/health personnel and services, catering services, merchandisers, marketers, public relations personnel, facilities management and sports administrators, are only but a few on a long list of persons who are employed in the industry. The need for hotels and other forms of accommodation, along with the required ground transportation when events take place, add to the level of economic activity which sports generate. The possibilities seem endless. It is for this reason that sports tourism must be taken seriously and given the attention it deserves.

 Putting this all into perspective, the message that emanates is that there is the potential for growth to be achieved, should there be a concerted effort made to develop sports as part of the economic activity of any nation. It is for the powers that be to make this happen. In moving forward, a good starting point would be to find ways of helping outstanding national athletes develop their sports training so they can pursue professional sporting careers. In short, the development of sport career pathways must now become a viable option.


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