Lobbying has been mentioned time and time again the news during political debates, especially in the UK and the US. For a common person, lobbying is the root of many legislative evils, while for corporations, it is a legitimate way of doing business and making sure the business in question remains lucrative for the foreseeable future.
Lobbying in sports is also something to watch out for, as the industry is not immune to interference.
Pay to Play (and Broadcast)
One way for the big groups to pressure the governing body comes in the form of broadcasting rights. For example, in 1998, cricket coverage was removed from free TV channels in the UK. In other words, if you were into cricket and wanted to follow the World Cup, you would have to open your wallet to see it on Channel 4. This move was done by the Secretary for Culture, Media, and Sport at the time – Chris Smith.
However, it showed a couple of upsides as well. For example, Channel 4 introduced cricket tournaments to the rest of the world, as well as some new technology used in more and more sporting events, like the Hawk-Eye system.
It is interesting to point out that lobbying in the world of sports comes in many shapes and forms. There is an organization that is nearly a hundred years old, called the League Against Cruel Sports. Their mission is simple – keeping sports that hurt the animals at bay. They have been very vocal against blood sports like fox-hunting and hare-coursing, among others, where the animals are hunted, traumatized, and killed purely for entertainment purposes. The organization fights pro-hunting lobbies on a regular basis, trying to preserve and enforce the Hunting Act of 2004.
Big Leagues, Big Lobbies
The final issue of lobbying in the world of sports for today is concerned with the actions and influences exercised by big sporting leagues in the US. You would think that lobbying in this manner in concerned just with the sports regulation and similar issues, but major leagues, like the NFL, have their fingers in many pies related to the economy and healthcare.
Meanwhile, it is the athletes that often feel the (negative) effects of pushed legislation, like the inability to form a union or a clear lack of an exit strategy, as well as numerous and costly health issues. Through the power of lobbying, sports is starting to lose the idea of sportsmanship.