Sport Everywhere

There is sport and there is sport. Sport ranges from any recreational activity to any activity that requires bodily exertion that is played to a set of rules. Sport played to a recognised set of rules paradoxically teaches children to co-operate and compete at the same time. Children are taught to co-operate with their team members to defeat the opposing teams. Team sport is based on the idea both individual and collective effort is needed to achieve a goal. Sport mimics the relationships needed to create a successful society. So how has sport, an activity that has played such an important role in creating social cohesion in so many societies over the years, got it so wrong in the 21st century?

Sport a normally inclusive activity has been, to a significant degree, transformed into a spectator based activity. The problem has been compounded by the corporatisation and globalisation of sport as a result of technological innovations that can and do give everybody in the world the ability to see sport played in any place on earth.

When you add the corporate owned media, mass advertising and the increasing role gambling plays in 21st century sport you can begin to see an activity that built social cohesion has now become so corrupted individual and collective effort on the sporting field means nothing if it does not generate a profit. The corporatisation of sport has become so invasive and dominating that amateur, junior leagues and even programs that involve very young children are increasingly becoming the private property of individuals and corporations. The domination of all levels of junior sport by private entities that have been created to generate profits for their major shareholders as well as significant numbers of the larger member based clubs, has opened the way for advertising to influence every aspect of sport. It seems the goal of every sport, whether it’s the new AFLW competition or established competitions, is to obtain free to air, pay television or mass exposure on the new platforms that are emerging in order to attract advertising to pay for the formation of new professional leagues and the running of old established leagues. Individual and team sport has never been the issue, they have an important role to play in any society. The issue is the corruption of all levels of sport including very junior leagues to feed emerging talent onto a corporatised maelstrom that is designed to generate profits for privately owned organisations irrespective of the human misery and social costs that occur.

Dr. Joseph Toscano

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