User:Kathleenmccaskie/Sport, Sponsorship and Social Responsibility

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Champions League 2007-08 match Schalke 04 and Chelsea FC, Veltins Arena photo by Tilo Gallasch from Salzwedel, German

Presentation - Sport, Sponsorship and Social Responsibility[edit]

Attached is the link to my presentation. This is designed to provide further information regarding the topic of sport, sponsorship and social responsibility. It follows the same structure of the report and can be considered to add supplementary information. All information has been taken from the report, and reference can be found in the associated area within the report. On the final slide all photos used have been sited. The presentation provides a single point of view of the topic, and addresses social responsibility issues surrounding business, politics and sport. The key point of the presentation is that society has evolved changing its opinions regarding what are deemed social responsible. Sport has also evolved, into a multifaceted enterprise, requiring greater input from society for its existence. It is the partnerships between sport and corporate businesses that provoke the social responsibility argument, however for sport, business and many local and international communities to survive this association must be maintained regardless of how socially responsible it may seem. I hope the presentation is found informative, and please read on for a greater understanding of this controversial issue.

Outline - Sport, Sponsorship and Social Responsibility[edit]

Sport has played an integral role shaping the society we live in. Successful athletes are promoted to hero or icon status after achieving greatness, and organisations and individual sports have the ability to dictate trends and fads seen across a variety of cultures. Corporate businesses forming strategic sporting alliances often see dramatic increases in their popularity, through promotion and association with successful sporting achievement. The issue then arises whether this influence impacts society in a positive or negative way, and who determines whether such influence is positive or negative, a factor increasingly associated with the concept of corporate social responsibility.

Many sports are seeking corporate sponsorship to survive, an outcome of which is that both their immediate community and their corporate sponsors find themselves with great power to influence the behaviours of society. However, there is a great expectation that this influence will be used in a socially responsible manner. This paper will focus in the relationship of social responsibility and integrity in sport, through an investigation of various partnerships developed between sport and corporate bodies. Consideration will be given to previous tension points, including sponsorship by members of the tobacco and alcohol industries, and the current tension surrounding sponsorship by members of the gambling industry.


Sport has evolved into a professional and commercialised industry, and is now considered to be a key contributor within the development of society. Through this increase in importance, sport has also seen an increase in the development of strategic corporate alliances with influential business entities. As the concept of corporate social responsibility increases in popularity among society, these relationships between sport and corporate business come under scrutiny. The three main contributors to sport sponsorship have been through the tobacco, alcohol and gambling industries. Although these industries are not the only contributors to sport funding, the focus of the following discussion will be on these three industries and their impact on sport within a local, national and international level. Society’s acceptance of these industries has changed, deeming their operations to be socially irresponsible. The crucial component of this discussion surrounds the integration of business, politics and sport, and the importance to the sporting industry of this funding. Although society does not directly accept these relationships as socially responsible, the effect on the sport industry through their termination could be fatal.

Corporate Social Responsibility[edit]

Corporate social responsibility is becoming increasingly popular to describe the relationship formed between a corporate entity and sport. Corporate social responsibility considers the moral impact organisations can have on society through their actions and decisions. This demands organisations to consider the sustainability of society, compliance to applicable laws, compliance with expectation of stakeholders and international norms of society [1]. Initially sponsorship within a sporting context was considered a form of philanthropy providing wealthy institutions the opportunity to contribute to society through funding sport [2]. The sponsorship relationship today is focused on a business and marketing potential, where the provision of funding results in an expectation of investment return through such areas as exposure and goodwill [3]. Sport possesses many characteristics that are considered attractive to corporate entities considering sponsorship, including the ability to reach specific target groups using a cost effective method of exposure [4]. Less socially desirable entities find additional benefits through the alignment of their products with positive features and success within the sport. Many of these entities also face increasing legislation and regulations limiting their advertising potential, and through sport sponsorship avoid breaking regulations yet still gain exposure to their market. Social responsibility is a key factor that must be considered when building a successful relationship within the sporting institution. History has shown that acceptable behaviours have changed through the development of society, and sport sponsorship regularly faces the predicament of adhering to society's expectation of moral and acceptable standards.

Sport, Sponsorship and Society[edit]

Sport in today’s society has developed into an institute providing educational direction and opportunity, and an entertainment enterprise [5]. Sport is viewed as a contributing factor to the health and well-being of society, claiming that people who are physically active tend to lead healthier and happier lives, and also as a key component in social development [6]. Due to increasing significance of the role of sport and its contribution to society, sport has become tantamount to a global institution, inevitably becoming an attractive investment for corporate sponsorship. The characteristics of sport sponsorship support the key corporate, marketing and promotional objectives of a company [7], making it a powerful instrument as use in expanding the corporate image [8]. Organisations entering into sport sponsorship are confronted with an expectation to conduct business in a socially responsible fashion [9]. The transition of what is deemed to be socially responsible creates problems for many entities considering sport sponsorship, as their products and services that were once considered an acceptable part of society are not longer accepted. The issue is then raised that without these sponsorships, sport funding is affected on a local, national and international level. Examples of the change in society’s expectation of suitable activities are evident in sponsorship from tobacco, alcohol and gambling industry, and the change in regulations that have followed society’ evolution.

Tobacco Sponsorship[edit]

Jean Todt - Formula One - Ferrari photo by en:User:PaddyBriggs

Previous debates surrounding sponsorship of sport by tobacco has occurred due to the conflict between cigarettes, health risks and perceived social responsibility. Considerable evidence has been published in a variety of sources [10][11][12] revelling the danger to individual health and society as a whole, with regard to the effects of smoking. These resources indicate the harmful effects on major organs of the body, as well as being a risk factor among three diseases holding the highest death rates within Australia, stroke, heart disease and cancer. Research into the health effects of smoking occurred long after cigarettes were introduced into society. During this time, smoking was considered to be an acceptable practice and so sponsorship within sport by tobacco companies was also accepted. The knowledge of the detrimental effects smoking has on society initiated restriction on advertising by tobacco companies in the late 1960s, causing an influx of indirect promotion through the use of sponsorship of sport [13]. Further restrictions banning tobacco and smoking sponsorship in sport occurred, despite argument from tobacco companies that sponsorship and advertisement was directed a current adult smokers, designed to influence their decision of brand use, rather than convert new, young smokers [14].

Internationally, this issue was at the forefront of controversy within the Formula 1 community. Tobacco sponsorship was first introduced to Grand Prix Racing in 1968 [15][16]. This indirect form of advertisement was invaluable for tobacco companies. Following the World Health Organisation’s proposal to ban all tobacco sponsorship and advertising [17], the Formula 1 industry suffered great scrutiny due to it continued support from tobacco companies. Until 2006, a world-wide ban on tobacco sponsorship was not in place. From the 1990’s various countries introduced a ban on tobacco sponsorship at different times. Evidence of the Formula 1’s attempt to avoid the termination of tobacco sponsorship was clear through decisions to vary and remove events from the race calendar according to which countries still allowed tobacco sponsorship. Bernie Ecclestone announced to media that particular races, Belgian Grand Prix in 2003 and Canadian Grand Prix in 2004, has been removed from the race calendar due to a major loss in revenue for teams sponsored by tobacco companies [18]. The main contender in tobacco sponsorship in Formula 1 has been Phillip Morris‘ Marlboro cigarettes, which began sponsorship Formula 1 in 1972. A variety of teams and races have been sponsored, however currently Ferrari is the only team maintaining their partnership [19]. Upon Ferrari’s announcement to renew their partnership with Marlboro until 2015, continuing to race under the official title of Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, outrage towards this decision was expressed by health lobbyist world-wide [20]. Understanding the health risks associated with smoking has changed the perception of social responsibility within society. Evidently restrictions have been implemented to limit sponsorship opportunities for tobacco companies, and due to the attraction of Formula 1 racing, alternative sponsorship opportunities have been sort.

Alcohol Sponsorship[edit]

Chris Kappler and VDL Oranta, $150,000 Prudential Grand Prix at the 2006 Hampton Classic in Bridgehampton, New York photo by Jon Kassel

In the age of commercialisation, the alignment of alcohol and sport in varying forms is considered a common practice [21]. The links between alcohol and sport are considered multidimensional including, sponsorship arrangements with teams and individual athletes, sporting clubs operating or becoming affiliated with licence premises, as well as the associating consumption patterns of participants in the form of post-match drinks, or spectator entertainment as part of the sporting experience [22]. Society’s expectation of social responsibility has triggered scrutiny regarding the appropriateness of the partnership between alcohol and sport. An increase in public awareness concerning the impact alcohol abuse has on society has produced constant pressure by governing bodies to place restrictions upon promotion and sponsorship of alcohol within a sports setting [23]. Alcohol is categorised among other products that pose a potential risk to health and portrays a negative image, which has been highly publicised in recent years [24]. This image is associated with spectator violence as well as boorish behaviour by sport stars, participants, and spectators as a direct result of excess consumption of alcohol. Alcohol sponsorship in a sporting context has expanded its exposure to the public through naming rights, signage, clothing and opportunities for direct marketing through product donations and pouring rights [25]. Through the increased exposure and association between sport and alcohol, it has been suggested that these partnerships promote the perception of drinking as an imperative part of sporting culture [26]. Conflict arises from reports of the detrimental effect alcohol has on society, due to the reliance and importance of alcohol sponsorship for the continued development of sport.

In recent years alcohol and its relationship with sport has become a leader in controversy. In 2008, the National Preventative Health Task Force re-opened the debate around sport and alcohol through providing recommendations to the Federal government regarding the regulation of alcohol, to limit its detrimental effect on society [27]. Evidence to support a plan to place restrictions on alcohol sponsorship is provided regularly through disreputable behaviour exhibited by athletes under contract with teams or playing in competitions sponsored by alcohol companies. The NRL has faced a great amount of scrutiny due to the numerous incidences involving high profile players bring the game in to disrepute as a result of excessive alcohol consumption [28] [29] [30]. Brett Stewart, of the Manly Sea Eagles, was dubbed the poster-boy of the NRL 2009 session following his previous year’s success [31]. Follow the lunch-time Manly 2009 session launch, Stewart was asked to leave the premises due to excess alcohol consumption, upon returning home he allegedly assaulted a young lady outside her home. Although Stewart was found to be not guilty, this incident renewed concerns about alcohol sponsorship within the NRL. In contrast to continual troubling reports, there is evidence supporting alcohol sponsorship influence in sport development. Many sporting organisations feel that in the event of a blanket ban over all alcohol sporting sponsorships, over $300million worth of sponsorship would be lost, and it would not actually aid in limiting the binge drinking culture [32]. It was also reported that the sports to be most affected would be the Olympic and second-tier sports such as hockey, netball and basketball as their current sponsors would be likely to terminate current contracts to pursue newly available contracts with high-profile, professional sports [33]. Although great evidence exists supporting a move to place restriction on alcohol sponsorship in sport, the issue of social responsibility must be considered on a broader-scale regarding who such bans would impact, and whether that impact is considered positive or negative.

Gambling Sponsorship[edit]

Sports book in the MGM Grand photo by Mikerussell

Gambling, as a multifaceted industry, has become one of the fastest growing industries associated with sport, and evidence suggests Australia is a leader in expenditure within the gambling industry [34]. The issue surrounding sport and gambling from a social responsibility stand point is multidimensional. Potential of corruption and damage to the integrity of sport has occurred [35], however the issue of public health is leading the controversial debate around sport and funding from the gambling industry [36]. Problem gambling places significant strain on the health and well-being of individuals and society as a whole. Problem gamblers have been broken into two-separate categories, an individual exhibiting a pathological disorder where they have a psychological uncontrollable urge to gamble, and individuals who find gambling an addictive behaviour requiring external help and assistance in responsible gambling [37]. It is clearly evident that the gambling industry conflicts with society's expectations of socially responsible behaviour. In contrast, the Productivity Commission report into the gambling industry identified one of the unique aspects of the gaming industry to be its support to the community through funding local sport [38]. Additional, poker machine contributions from Clubs throughout Australia are one of the key funding areas for local and grass-roots sport [39]. Clear evidence of this occurs at a local level within the ACT region. Many of the teams competing in the local AFL competition have direct links and are sponsored by a social club [40] [41] [42]. Within these social clubs large areas within these social clubs are designate to gaming, however the revenue gained is a key factor in enabling these social clubs to support the Canberra AFL community, as well as many other local sport associations and teams. Although the gambling industry clearly conflicts with social responsibility expectations of society, through its detrimental impact on the integrity of sport and most evidently on health and well-being of society, it is clearly evident to be a major contributor to supporting the community and local sport development.

The Interaction Between Business, Politics and Sport[edit]

Three of the key contributors - tobacco, alcohol, gambling - to sport funding in society are regularly faced with defending their business actions as socially responsible. As society has developed, a change in attitudes regarding what is deemed to be socially responsible behaviour has also changed. Sport has also developed, becoming a professional and commercialised global industry, requiring increasing support and funding to continue its existence. The interaction between business, politics and sport is clear within the sponsorship and funding area of sport. Corporate entities and the sport industry both rely upon the development of mutually beneficial relationships to ensure continual survival of the sport, and increased promotion and goodwill for the business. Society requires these relationships to be socially responsibly, which draws in a political interest to ensure regulations are met, and these relationships are maintained in the interest of society. Changing values and social expectations regarding the legitimancy of some products are considered socially irresponsible. Corporate social responsibility will continue to cause controversy within the sports industry due to the nature of business actions, and it is only a matter of time before the next socially irresponsible entity appears within a corporate-sports setting.


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