By Erick A. Fabian, Sr., www.OpinYon.com.ph
The sports industry is a huge source of revenue and employment. It has a major social impact on the people who participate in it and support it. In the United States, the sports industry is worth $422 billion and spends $27.8 billion on advertising alone. Neighbor country Malaysia estimates the average household expenditure for sports at about $351 per person and the industry is worth $10 billion annually in their country. Apart from being a profitable industry, it is also a way of life and a culture for millions across the globe. One look at the fans who throng World Cup stadiums and the celebrity athletes that they adore should be self-explanatory. These athletes make world records and create their mark on history with their amazing feats that leave us mere spectators breathless and awed. Their deeds become stories of heroism told and retold to generation after generation.
While the sports industry in the Philippines is very much alive and well, the infrastructure to support it needs a lot of work. It can be argued that the Philippine sports industry still has a long way to go in getting its act together, in comparison to its more advanced and well-organized Western counterparts. This has little to do with merely funding athlete needs and sporting events, as there are many potential sources of financial backing for our athletes. One problem that has been obvious since the country started sending athletes to compete abroad is that the industry has a dearth of management professionals who specialize in handling athletic talent and knows the local and international sports industry like the back of their hand.
There is a need for people who can understand the needs of sports professionals, and at the same time, have both the management skills and business acumen. A person with such combined abilities can help athletic groups and individuals organize and market their abilities as income-generating resources. Professional athletes can use the help of sport management professionals so that they can maintain a sustainable career way beyond merely competing in tournaments.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED), through the initiative of former UP Dean of College of Human Kinetics Hercules Callanta, therefore has come up with a curriculum in answer to these growing needs, creating a hybrid P.E. and Sport and Recreation curriculum (Section 6.2 and 10.2). In the CHED memorandum, it is stated that the sport industry currently impacts at least 55 sectors in the economy, ranging from: tourism, manufacturing, infrastructure, various goods and services. The memo also also notes the possible career tracks of sport management professionals (Section 5 B). (For a more in-depth analysis on the CHED memorandum, keep checking www.SportPhil.com for the release of the second part of this article.)
A sport management course is a necessity to face the challenges of doing business in an industry where one’s income-generating source is based on a person’s prime physical prowess. It will prepare an aspiring person for choices of careers in the management, marketing, and administration of sport programs in academic settings, sports business, and the entertainment industry. The degree will provide training and knowledge in essential areas such as sport law, structure and organization of sport programs, revenue and budgeting in sport, and sport and event promotion.
A sport management degree will arm a person with basic skills in finance, management, marketing, and a good knowledge of laws and regulations related to athletic organizations. He or she can therefore take advantage of different sports-related opportunities that will be opened to them upon exposure to the industry. Being prepared to handle the rigors of being in the industry will also help protect both the sport management professional and the talent from exploitation by seedy individuals and groups who seek to corrupt the institution of sports.
The reality is that Filipino athletes across the board are still marginalized. Consider the case of Michael Christian Martinez, a talented young man who made history as the first Filipino and Southeast Asian figure skater to make it in the Winter Olympics. His struggles in attaining his goals despite minutely token support from the Aquino administration is a reflection of the hardships that most Pinoy athletes face on a regular basis. The challenge of any sport organization, and any country for that matter, is to promote all sports and improve competitiveness, while making the sports industry more sustainable and financially profitable for the athlete, the industry and the whole country. It is apparent that the Philippine sports industry still has a long way to go in taking sport management seriously. Hopefully, one of these days, the Olympic gold medal will be within the reach of Filipino athletes, who can work as hard and play as hard as their international counterparts, granted that the country can attain an optimized and improved training infrastructure, which all aspiring young athletes rightfully deserve.