From the Gridiron to the Diamond, It’s All About the Money

In its purest form sports is all about competition, just athletes performing against the clock or one another in a test of athletic prowess. But even the sports world cannot escape the clutches of business influence, advertising, sales, marketing and promotion. In other words, even sports comes down to the money.

Don’t think this is true? Here’s a question for you: Who is the greatest basketball player of all time? Michael Jordan, right? The highlights don’t lie, Jordan could fly. Seeking to capitalize on MJ’s incredible talent, companies such as Nike, Gatorade, McDonald’s, Wheaties and a host of others used him as their poster boy to sell products. Jordan’s presence in these ads enhanced his image not only as a celebrity, but may have made him seem like an even better player than he already was. Check out Douglas Kellner’s take on the “spectacle” of Jordan and then pretend if you never saw a Jordan ad. Still think he’s the best baller? You might, but it definitely makes you think harder.

The influence of money is obviously ingrained in professional sports, but don’t think amateur athletes don’t get caught in the web as well. The enormous popularity of college football and college basketball has allowed schools to make huge sums of money off their 18 to 22-year-old players, who receive scholarships but don’t get a piece of the pie. Just last year, the NCAA granted a $2,000 stipend to players, a proposal that is already being reworked. Considering the tenuous system of college athletics, Charlie Pierce believes compensation is just the first step in an entire reconstruction of the college athletic model.

These are just of the examples of business and the bottom line’s influence on sports. Through this blog I hope to explore some of the major topics at hand in sports that have major money consequences. CNBC’s Darren Rovel does great work studying this through his Sports Biz blog, as well as sites such as Sports By Brooks, Sports Media Watch and others. My hope is that this blog will spark discussion of not just X’s and O’s, but expenses and cash flows.

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