-Simon Chadwick is the Director of the Centre for the International Business of Sport at Coventry University, and runs the blog ‘Daily Sport Thought’ in which he addresses many of the important challenges currently facing sport. The opinions expressed are his own.-
I love sport, I have always loved sport, and I make my living researching, writing and talking about sport. As such, I do not need to be convinced about the social, cultural, psychological and health benefits associated with our engagement in sport. I also do not need any convincing about the economic benefits of sport, although some people will always and inevitably exclaim, "he would say that wouldn’t he!"
Well, it is not me it is actually the United Nations which states that sport may account for as much as 3 percent of global economic activity. It is the European Union that estimates sport to be worth 1.5 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). And it is the British government that has recently acknowledged just how significant sport as an industry has become by commissioning research which will result in the development of robust measures for the contribution that sport makes to the British economy. Previous estimates already indicate that sport may generate as much as 2.5 percent of GDP, in which case this means it is an industry bigger than agriculture and not so far behind manufacturing.
Sport is, indeed, much more important than we realise or acknowledge. It is deeply ingrained in many of our psyches: for some people this dates back to our childhoods and is bound up in our social and geographic identities; for other people, sport allows us to indulge in vicarious achievement (related to the psychological phenomenon of BiRG-ing – Basking in Reflected Glory) and euphoric collective experiences.
The consumption of sport is thus not a rational economic activity, an observation that is particularly pertinent amidst these recessionary times. Whereas other industries continue to suffer the effects of the downturn, sport remains one of the more recession-resistant sectors, buoyed by the inherently unique features that differentiate sport, making it a safe-haven during difficult times.