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Classifications Of The Global Sports Events Media Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 1833 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In this chapter we will discuss two important questions: what makes events global and what kind of events and in what time frame will be examined in this paper later on.

Concept and key features of the global sports events

Global sport events are specific sports mega festivals, that are characterized by its short duration (e.g., the average duration of the FIFA World Cup is four weeks), its worldwide status and its regularity. These events can be usually differentiated by their key characteristics, for example, their size, scope, appeal, types of sports included in the program, locations (single-site versus multi-site events), attendance and television audience, worldwide interest and global significance (Cornelissen, 2005, pp. 139-140; Trecker, 2007, pp. 248-252; Trecker, 1998, p. 29; Judd, 2009, p. 43; IOC, 2010b).

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Types of global sports events

In his study of today’s mega sports events, Cornelissen (2005) marks out three groups of global sports events depending on the scale of their internationalization. The first-order global events are characterized by worldwide scope and coverage, high prestige, publicity, international significance and participation of the most countries of the world (at least on a pre-phase). Typical examples of these events are the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup which are fully international in its scope, media coverage and participation. The second-order sports events are characterized by the lesser level of international scope and participation, but they still have international significance and a great attendance and TV-audience. They are usually popular only within particular countries and their examples include Commonwealth Games or Rugby World Cup. The third group of global sports events still involves several countries, but it is much more limited in its scope and therefore is characterized by a significant lesser audience. This group includes continental or regional events such as the UEFA European Championship or the African Cup of Nations. On the other hand, it also includes sport meetings that are partly limited by cultural or geographical conditions which causes smaller participation and media coverage. One of the examples of such events is the Ice Hockey World Cup (Cornelissen, 2005, pp. 139-140).

There are some more common definitions that help distinguish global sports events from the other ones. One of such concepts is announced by Short (2004) who believes, that if events are constitutive of globalization, they can be determined and identified as global sports events.

Nevertheless, the approach of Cornelissen provides more qualitative borders of the global sports event concept, while quantitative limits of particular events’ characteristics have not been set yet unambiguously. Further on we will observe and investigate only the global sports events of the first-order, hence we will try to delimit these events from the other ones with the help of definitive values of their key characteristics.

Classifications of the global sports events

To understand the nature of particular global sports events, it is vital to classify them according some certain criteria. Clark (2008) mentions two main features with whose aid we can distinguish different types of sports events.

First of them is a number of sports, included into the particular event. In other words, sports event can be the single one which means “the global competition in the single sport” (Clark, 2008, p. 94). The participation and success in these events has generally the highest importance in the sports world under the stipulation that the sport is enough popular worldwide and can captivate people all around the world. The examples of such sports events are the FIFA World Cup or the Rugby World Cup.

There are also so-called multi-sport events, where different sportsmen compete in different sports. The key characteristic of such events is that it is not only significant to win in particular sport but also it is vital for every country to compete for winning more events. The classic examples of these events are the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, and the Commonwealth Games (Clark, 2008, pp. 94-95).

This distinction between single or multi-sports events is important for getting an understanding of the potential benefits and possible hardship for the event organizers, host countries and cities and sponsors themselves. Probably the organization of the multi-sports events is more complicated, expensive and risky, but the possible benefits in this case also promise to be higher (Clark, 2008, p. 95).

Sports events can also be classified through the way of sports participation. Individual sports such as golf, tennis or surfing use to provide certain entertainment and demonstration of the individual performances. On the other hand, they do not usually cause so much fan passion and emotional involvement and are not so modern as the most of team sports. Another significant difference between individual and team sports is explained with the help of a fans’ behavior towards individuals and teams. If an individual sportsman wins once an important competition, he becomes a legend, an icon, especially in his hometown or home region. The passion of fans is mostly based on his individual features: attractiveness, charisma, sport skills. But once he loses his victorious positions, fans tend to find a new icon and forget the old time hero. In the team sport the thing is quite different: fans base their passion and love first on the regional, historical and traditional motives and they usually support only one team during whole their life. When legendary Michael Jordan left Chicago Bulls, the team has not lost their fans and supporters, because in reality very few people can lose their passion and love to the team after the retirement or the movement even of the most popular player (Markovits & Hellerman, 2001, p. 17; Hinch & Higham, 2004, pp. 155-156). This particular distinction can also influence the choice of the sponsor strategy depending on the individual or team form of the competition.

In further researches of the global sports events we will embrace all the mentioned classes and types of the events to have a complete overview of sponsorship activities and all the sports events they can focus on.

Key features of the global sports events

As it was mentioned before, the global scope is one of the main characteristics of global sports events. This means, that the most of the countries in the world participate in the events, at least from the pre-phase or qualification-phase. This approach meets with support of Short (2004) who considers that only the events where “most countries of the world competed” can be defined as “truly global”. For example, there are 200 national teams took part in the preliminary stage of the FIFA World Cup 2010. This number decreases to 32 teams which has been qualified to the Final round that takes place in South Africa (FIFA, 2009a).

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It is actually even more participants than the whole number of worldwide recognized countries, although the number differs to a very little degree depending on states or world organizations. The United Nations, for example, recognize 192 countries in the world (UN, 2006), the World Health Organization accounts 193 member states (WHO, 2010) and the United States recognize even 194 countries including Kosovo, the state that has not become recognition by the UN and the WTO (Chattopadhyay, 2009, p. 190). The extended number of the FIFA World Cup participants can be explained with the fact that not only independent countries but also traditionally formed teams take part in the competition. Thereby the United Kingdom is represented by 4 national teams: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Another example is Faroe Islands which have also a national team while the islands officially belong to Denmark. The whole list of independent national football associations recognized by the FIFA accounts nowadays 208 members (FIFA, 2010b).

Another important characteristic of global sports events is the audience and the event attendance (Cornelissen, 2005, p. 139). With the assumption that today’s world population numbers 6.5 billion people (Gilbert, 2005, p. 11), in this study we will observe the events which number at least one billion spectators all over the world. The number has been taken from the empirical studies of the events’ audience and is roughly determined, but it is necessary for the building up the borders of the current research.

The development of television in the 20th Century has significantly influenced the audience increase of the global sports events. First organizing the FIFA World Cup in 1930, there were not more than 80,000 spectators at the final game in Uruguay. After the first World Cup, the competitions were carried out every 4 years except the Second World War time, but the for the first time the games were broadcasted only in 1956 during the FIFA World Cup in Switzerland. Nowadays the cumulative audience of the whole final tournament account tens billion of spectators from more than 210 countries and this number is still growing (Tudor, 2006, pp. 232-233). Last FIFA World Cup broke all records in audience and total media consumption. The games were broadcasted to 214 countries with a cumulative audience of 26.29 billion viewers worldwide, or about 260 million viewers per one match. The final game between Italy and France attracted a total audience of 715 million spectators. The rapidly growing internet audience has also broken the record: the 2006 FIFA World Cup website was visited 4.6 billion times within 4 weeks of the event (Bühler & Nufer, 2010, p. 116).

Olympic Games are generally characterized by a great number of TV viewers as well. In 1956 Avery Brundage, the then president of the IOC, declared that “IOC has managed without TV for sixty years and (…) we are going to manage for another sixty” (quoted in Toohey & Veal, 2007, p. 147), but now Olympic games can gather the cumulative TV audience of 40 billion spectators from 220 countries, and access 3.9 billion people, what is even more than a half of whole world population (as it was in case of the Athens Olympic Games in 2004) of the world and the role of television for the games and for IOC itself has completely changed. The Summer Games has obviously the better ratings and bigger TV-audience in comparison with Winter Games due to the higher applicability of summer sports, but even Winter Olympics are broadcasted to 160 countries. For example, the Turin Winter Olympics 2006 were broadcasted to 40 African countries to increase the global interest for Winter Games (Toohey & Veal, 2007, pp. 147-148, 157; Wong, 2009, p. 182).


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