Challenging times for Sport

Many sporting organisations at the international level have begun to feel the economic pinch through the medium of sponsorship. The highly valued Formula 1 car-racing organisation has already experienced significant loss of sponsorship at one level or another. This is but the tip of the iceberg.
This year’s Super Bowl XL11 played in Tampa, Florida, saw a number of the perennial major advertisers withdrawing altogether from the event. The reason is simple, they cannot afford to meet the cost in these harsh economic times.
Many sport analysts have already begun to suggest that we can expect significant declines in sponsorship during 2009 and beyond until the light is seen at the end of the economic tunnel. They have come to an appreciation of the economic reality of today where many of the major financial institutions cannot yet be able to determine the precise nature of their losses.
Without sponsorship there is little chance that sporting organisations would be able to sustain their annual calendar of competitions. They would be unable to maintain their commitment to some of the leading athletes in the world.
We have already seen some international companies relinquishing their contracts with star athletes whom they have sponsored for years. This has been helped, of course, by the fact that it now seems almost impossible for any commercial house to readily endorse an athlete without fear that there may be some ‘cobwebs in the closet’ either in the form of use of performance enhancing substances, the outright use of drugs for entertainment or some other unethical and/or immoral conduct. In a sense many of the elite athletes have proven to be their own worse enemies. Witness the latest fiasco with the published photos of multiple gold medallist, Michael Phelps, and his spate of apologies for being really foolish and perhaps, even childish.
Increasingly, in the face of the global economic crisis, sponsorship of sporting events and sports personalities is difficult to attract.
The prognosis is that things would get much worse before we see a turnaround. At the local level there has always been a challenge in accessing adequate sponsorship. In these harsh times it is likely that things would be far more difficult and not merely challenging.

Sporting organisations around the world are now ‘looking down the barrel of a gun’ in many respects. They are hoping that in the face of the chronic economic crisis the sponsors would still see the value in supporting sport.
Some sporting activities have been cancelled for 2009 while others have been significantly scaled back.
We can readily expect that over the next few weeks several international and regional organisations would announce their inability to organise several of the planned competitions.
At the local level, increasing unemployment, accompanied by underemployment would mean that several individuals would not be able to meet the requirements in the procurement of equipment to participate in competitions. Sporting events can be expected to take a literal ‘nose dive’ in the face of loss of sponsorship.
As businesses seek to realign their association with different activities sport may emerge as perhaps the biggest loser.

The economic crisis would have significant impact on the process of development in sport in St Vincent and the Grenadines.