The Impact of the Global Economic Crisis on Sport

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The current economic crisis is the worst one in decades; it is surely the worst one the world has experienced since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Although it has affected countries with different positions in the global village in different ways and to different degrees, it has had worldwide consequences in most sub-systems of societies, including sport. These are hot issues in management and in everyday practice; still, relatively little attention has been paid to them within the social sciences. The objective of this paper is to close this gap by studying how the recent global economic crisis has affected sport. Two spheres of sport have been selected for analysis: mega sport events and grassroots sports. These two fields were chosen because of their social importance and because there is little scientific evidence about how they face and answer the challenges coming from the economic crisis. The topic is discussed from the theoretical perspective of the nexus of economy, politics, society, and culture. The methodological considerations refer to the lack of reliable sources for economic data related to sport. The results indicate that mega sport events have suffered less from the recession: there might be new actors, but the show goes on. The true loser is grassroots sport. Household impoverishment might lead to a decreased willingness of the individual practitioners to pay for sports goods and services and to a decreased contribution of volunteers working in sport. The funding models vary across countries, but generally both public and private funding has been reduced. In conclusion, it is underlined that no fields of sport have been left untouched by the current global economic crisis, but grassroots sports have suffered the most from it.

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