By Jos Verschueren, Director Sports Management, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels - Belgium).
Sports economics. A discipline that gained a lot of attention and recognition in the past few decades in the Low Countries (i.e. Belgium and The Netherlands) and abroad. But sports economics is at the same time an academic and postacademic course and speciality that in the last few years had to describe scientifically and at the same time sadly, a series of financial disasters in sports. Because sports is all about emotion and hence far away or more than often too far away from concepts as balance of payments, balance of trade, budgetary balance, business plans, accountancy and costs.
More and more students and professionals - juniors as well as seniors in both categories – should and must pay appropriate attention to numbers. Because a correct insight in numbers, calculations, analyses, prognoses and a thorough knowledge of formulae, propositions and other statistics will be the necessary key to sports management success and to continuously develop each and every sports management and or sports marketing curriculum in the Low Countries and abroad.
Parents who for the first time ever will be healthier than their children, stadium management and venue infrastructure, broadcast rights and their national and international competitions, sustainability and Green Games, public private constructions, official suppliers, merchandising, The Olympic Programme partners, continental and intercontinental sports transfers, corporate social responsibility in and through sports, sports at school and sports boot camps, ski and snowboard holidays with family, friends, students, hospitality incentives, sports congresses, seminars and study tours... Everything is sports and economics or sports economics no matter how and from which angle or country you look at it.
The excesses however are huge. Sticky oil dollars, dirty gas roubles, matchfixing euros, untransparent betting agencies as shirt sponsors and poor financial management in general heavily affected the beautiful sports concept of fairplay within the worldwide and frontierless economic sports environment. The lack of financial and economic knowledge is not only obvious but also painful. Or is it really a matter of unwillingness of the members of the board of directors?
I do hope that in the near future there will be a serious shift from “Show me the sports money” to “Teach me the sports economy”. Let us all “inspire a new generation” of students and professionals with the core values, core numbers, core mission and vision of modern sports economics. Only then there will be a just path towards a justified ‘sports economication’ of society. And only then state of the art sports economics will receive the brand new position it deserves and earns in the emotional world of sport, figuratively and preferably also literally.