Although careers in sports marketing are relatively new, sports marketing as a practice is over a century old. As sports began to professionalize, savvy promoters, athletes, and entrepreneurs quickly recognized that the business of sports required marketing support.
Sports marketing has two distinct, interdependent, forms: marketing of sports and marketing through sports. If you market sports, you work with organizations, players, venues, and teams to promote games and related events. If, on the other hand, your job is to market through sports, you use those same teams, players, and events to promote your company’s products. Through the symbiotic nature of sports marketing, each side benefits.
It’s probably safe to say that, without sports marketers, professional sport as we know it would not exist. It would be impossible to support oneself playing any sport without fans willing to attend games. What better way to drum up excitement, team loyalty, and schedule information, than marketing and promotions? The sports industry brings in a tremendous amount of money—but it spends that money quickly, for salaries, insurance, venues, concessions, facilities, and travel. In order for a professional sport to survive, it needs to be able to connect with a fan base quickly and profitably. Quality sports marketing is therefore essential to today’s professional athletes.
Many athletes would likewise be unable to make a living at their chosen sport if it weren’t for sports marketing. We’re familiar with the multi-million dollar endorsement contracts offered Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and LeBron James. However, many sports figures rely on endorsements to make their careers possible. Golfing, sport fishing, racing, and professional pool are just a few of the sports in which professionals make most of their money endorsing products, rather than by winning. Without product endorsements, many of these sports would not exist at the professional level.
Finally, professional sports don’t just bring money to players and owners. It supports a huge industry, and thousands of jobs. Communities fortunate enough to have a professional team or to host a large sporting event reap the benefits of drawing thousands of visitors—and their money—to the local economy. Add to this the millions of jobs supported by product endorsements and media events, and you can comprehend how valuable sports marketing jobs are, not just to a few players, but to the global economy.
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