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Sponsorship, Media Influence and Australian Tennis

Is Australlian Tennis Heading In The Right Direction?

Are they? This is one of those most perplexing questions dwelling in the minds of every tennis admirer in Australia. Tennis in Australia is not just about the sport and its charms anymore. Although tennis players are considered to be amongst the highest paid athletes in the word, yet the query for more is causing troubles. For this reason, tennis can no longer be considered as a provider of equitable opportunities.

The Australian Government has drastically cut off its funding in this field of sport. They are no more that concerned about its improvement. Therefore, for the easy rolling of tennis in Australia, Tennis programs all over the country needs financial stability. This is where sponsorship comes into play.

Sponsorship is the key to success in any field of sport in the modern era (Eagleman & Krohn 2012). Whether be it football, cricket, basketball or tennis in this case, the easy flow of money always has its own aroma. From sport associations to individual players, everybody claim their fair share of sponsorship deals nowadays.

Australian tennis is now riding the same train. Due to the lack of funding from the Australian Sport Commission, Tennis Australia has had to seek out to many a sponsor for fluidity of funds. However, with the increase in sponsorship opportunities, media paid more attention towards the sport. To get maximum share of publicity and gain financially, the media and sponsors walk hand in hand. This has kept The Australian Open as one of the most popular Tennis tournaments in the world (Ausopen.com, 2017).

The Figueroa Framework

Professor Figueroa developed this framework to analyse issues surrounding equity, equality and access in the field of sports and physical activities. The levels mentioned below highlights the functions that create, reinforce, remove and eliminate existing barriers and inequities within a particular sport.

Below, each of the five levels from the framework has been specifically identified and analysed with relevance to media and sponsor influence on Tennis Australia. They are as follows:

  • Individual level: At the individual level, it is extremely necessary to figure out the necessary pitfalls. Sponsorship and media limelight is extremely bothering at this level. This can play two distinct roles in the mind of an individual, trying to pursue tennis as a career. First are individuals who are swayed away by their lust for fame and money. This affects youth development drastically. The young and talented people tend to lose their way. Aiming for fame sometimes throws away one’s cap of passion for the sport.

Even established superstars may be a prey to this. The values that they admired once are now immersed. Following up hectic sponsor set schedules as per contract signings, leads to unnecessary wastage of time and energy. Media intervention can make a personality famous and throw him off the same cliff, at any time. Privacy is jeopardized to a greater extent (Leishman & Mason 2012). Speaking collectively, the focus from sports is anyway shifted.

The Figueroa Framework


Nevertheless, there is a positive side of it as well. Well maintained sponsorship planning at the grass root level encourages many young minds into tennis. Tennis institutes and training centers have been opened all over Australia with the help of sponsorship aids. This allows financially weaker sections of the society to take up tennis as a passion or a career. The hope to attain greatness like the superstars they watch on television may however act as a catalyst to some.

  • Interpersonal level: The interaction with others from the society is camped under this level. Peers might find it attractive enough to guide their seekers into tennis, with an eye to pocket more money and fame. However, people with a keen outlook for things may decide to investigate further and formulate out the consequences for sponsorship dilemma. Thus discouraging putting up a negative attitude towards the whole.
  • Institutional level: The rules and regulations, dress codes, schedules, fees and so on are considered to be greatly affected due to the increase in sponsorship. It is the sponsors that would decide the dress code and other decorative aspects of a tournament.

The traditional approach might just be overlooked. The television channel with the media rights at any time may ask for rescheduling of matches. This affects the mindset of a player. Supposedly, the final of the Australian Open was scheduled to be held on the morning of the Boxing Day. However, due to certain political agendas, the media channel with broadcast rights decide to postpone the match until nighttime. The media organization may gain profusely from this, but the mentality of the players who were to compete for the final would be shattered. They would have to rethink their tactics. A day match is different from the one played at night. Thus, the whole system is disrupted.

Similar events as above lead to a slight shift of interest. The game becomes a business agenda. The sporting ethics die off eventually.

Institutions in the grass root level are however benefited if sponsorship and maintenance is taken seriously. Proper investment helps in nurturing passion for the sport. The chances of discovering talents are multiplied if the right infrastructure is provided.

  • Structural level: At the structural level, it is all about the social outlook of the whole setup. Sponsors and media limelight generally tend to favor that individual who helps them grow in return. This leads to a globalization of fame. From free sports accessible to medical coverings, the sponsors take care of it all. The rich and famous grows in the same path, whereas the fresher in the sport is yet to find a racquet sponsor or a proper treatment to a career harming injury.

The professional players who are playing for money, fame and medals get all the attention. An amateur, struggling at the lower divisions will remain behind the blinds forever. Equality is blown out of context due to this factor. This sometimes affects at the individual and the interpersonal level of this study. As individuals slowly lose hope due to ignorance and drop out. Peers tend to pull off their interest considering the sport to be a “Rich-man’s sport”. The harm is therefore done to a great extent.

  • Cultural level: Though racial diversity is out of context nowadays, however socio-economical diversity is observed all throughout tennis in Australia. The rich and famous athletes of the sport are favored all over.

Gender bias comes to play as well. Tennis Australia is reportedly criticized for its unequal policies based on gender (Gacka 2017). Study shows that a male earns $120,624 more compared to his female compatriot of the same world rankings (Rothenberg, 2017).  This is extremely demeaning. Andrea Petkovic, a German women’s’ player said in an interview, “The fact is we don’t earn equal prize money (news.com.au 2017).” This shows the real face of the sponsors and media. A change is needed, as early as possible.

Conclusion

It can hence be concluded that sponsorship and media attention has its own boons and curses over sport, tennis in Australia in this case. Government’s negligence is a major issue. This leads to the increase in sponsorship needs. There must be ground rules set by the federation and they themselves should abide by it too, otherwise the future seems obsolete for tennis in Australia. Infrastructure and quality should not be compromised with an eye to grasp more money and fame. Nurturing of young talents should be the prime aim of local institutes with sponsors. Sponsors and organizers must pertain to the fact that equality is maintained among all sections of the tennis fraternity. For a better future in tennis, passion and professionalism in the sport should have their own space for growth and peer interest.

References

Ausopen.com (2017). Australian Open 2018 - The Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific. [online] Australian Open 2018. Available at: https://ausopen.com/ [Accessed 24 Oct. 2017].

Eagleman, A. N., & Krohn, B. D. (2012). Sponsorship awareness, attitudes, and purchase intentions of road race series participants. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 21(4), 210.

Gacka, H. (2017). Levelling the Playing Field: Discrimination Against Women in Sport in Australia. Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity, 5(1), 189-219.

Kia-buzz.com (2017). Kia Motors Extends Major Sponsorship of Australian Open. [online] Kia-buzz.com. Available at: https://kia-buzz.com/kia-motors-extends-major-sponsorship-of-australian-open/ [Accessed 24 Oct. 2017].

Leishman, F., & Mason, P. (2012). Policing and the Media. Routledge.

News.com.au (2017). Lifting the lid on tennis’s best-kept secret. [online] NewsComAu. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/sport/tennis/tennis-pay-not-as-equal-as-you-think/news-story/ae2a75bb9dcc1ef7d91eb9c9b82c0de0 [Accessed 24 Oct. 2017].

Rothenberg, B. (2017). Roger Federer, $731,000; Serena Williams, $495,000: The Pay Gap in Tennis. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/13/sports/tennis/equal-pay-gender-gap-grand-slam-majors-wta-atp.html [Accessed 24 Oct. 2017].

Sportsaerobicsipswich.weebly.com (2017). Figueroa's Framework. [online] Available at: https://sportsaerobicsipswich.weebly.com/figueroas-framework.html [Accessed 24 Oct. 2017].

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