Today, sponsorship accounts for an enormous portion of the sports business industry. The global sports sponsorship market had an estimated value of over 45 billion U.S. dollars in 2017. According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the market is estimated to reach around 47 billion U.S. dollars by 2020. Additionally, sponsorship has demonstrated sustained growth over the last 20+ years that consistently exceeds the growth of traditional marketing spends like advertising and sales promotions. In 2016, traditional media spending in North America is projected to grow just 5.6%. Clearly, corporations have recognized the value sponsorship adds to their overall marketing portfolio – creating and sustaining countless jobs in several sectors of the sports arena.
Growth in recent years has led to increasing criticism from the sports media and fans alike. The problem, they argue, is that corporate presence in sports is taking away from the purity of competition. The International Olympic Committee and related organizations are common culprits, with naysayers pointing to the millions – sometimes billions – of dollars shelled out by global brands to own the rights as the “Official Widget of the Olympic Games.” Such sponsorships inevitably lead to heavy corporate promotion and presence both at the Games and on television broadcasts.
What many consumers don’t realize is that sponsorships play an essential role in funding the cost of production. Sports organizations rely on sponsors to provide funds, products, and services, which ultimately drive profitability for all parties involved. Given the current barometer, however, it is clear that professionals working in sports sponsorship today and in the future will have to fight consumer backlash by striking just the right balance between sport and commercialism, maintaining the integrity of competition while sustaining financial viability. This is a great area to pursue a career in sports.