The twenty-first century has produced a society driven by economic success, capitalism, and class and power disparity. Social institutions reflect these ideologies. The world of sport, in particular, has been severely impacted by the corporate mentality, transforming it from a game run by athletes to a big business where the decision-making rests in the hands of national organizations and flows towards the sources of revenue. Sports have become more like work than play, with the primary emphasis being placed on winning rather than playing. Winning attracts spectators and media, thereby bringing in more money. This has forced an evolution in the world of sports. First, one must look at the world of sport from its conception in order to understand some of the changes that it has experienced.
Sports have been played since the beginning of time as an integral part of survival. Man, attempting to avoid extinction, ran, jumped, climbed, and swam for his life. Among children, these activities evolved into more complex forms of competition that prepared them for adulthood. Sport has constantly undergone change for thousands of years, from medieval forms of sport, to the Greek games and the Roman gladiators. The Renaissance also saw a rise in overall interest in sports and physical activity. Sports such as baseball, basketball, and football emerged in the early nineteenth century as forms of "gentlemanly competition." These sports soon became popular games among the masses, with a large spectator interest (Baker, William). This was the beginning of organized competitive sport as it is known today.
Over time, sport has developed even further. It is no longer just a game that people play. Sport is seen as an effective activity for instilling desirable values and characteristics into those who participate, values such as hard work, teamwork, competition, time management, and sportsmanship. It is easy to understand why participation in sport is encouraged by parents, administrators, and community leaders (Frey and Eitzen 506). Sport is also seen as a trigger for socialization, introducing children of all ages. It is perceived to build character, develop morals, and shape one's personality, while transmitting the values and morals of the dominant culture to its participants.
Sport in the 21st century has developed so far that there are now infinite levels of competition. Sport on the professional level serves as the model after which all other levels of sport imitate. Professional sport is a multi billion dollar business with money generated from advertising, media coverage, gambling, ticket sales and other forms of merchandise. Sport's purpose is rapidly becoming more of a commercial pursuit with the intention of making money rather than adhering to its original purpose of enjoyment and play.
A major source of revenue for professional and collegiate teams is the media. Television has had an enormous effect on the world of sport. ...