Professional sports is one of the most profitable areas of modern show business. Games are watched on TV, tournaments draw full stands, and equipment manufacturers earn millions of dollars. Most popular sports grew out of the games of European aristocrats of the last and the century before the final.
The sports business is no less volatile and unpredictable than the oil business. Sports betting on Betstarexch collects considerable money because millions of people use bookmakers.
The first game with an international scope
The first game that moved from England to continental Europe and gained international popularity was croquet. In this game, athletes hit wooden balls with long-handled mallets. The goal is to drive the balls into special gates mounted near the ground.
The peak of croquet came in the last third of the XIX century. Uncomplicated rules, the ability to play men and women together, and the minimum playground requirements contributed to the sport’s success. Croquet sets comprised mallets, balls and goals and became the first global sporting goods. In 1867, over 65,000 croquet rule booklets were sold.
However, it soon became apparent that what had helped croquet spread initially was an obstacle to its continued popularity. Simplicity meant a need for more excitement and dynamism.
In a relatively short time, croquet fields were converted into tennis courts. It was tennis that became the deadly opponent that pushed croquet to the margins of the sport. World Croquet Championships are still held today, but modern croquet remains a purely niche sport and only competes with prevalent disciplines.
How tennis became popular
Tennis, which replaced croquet as the premier game of high society, has held its status for over a hundred years. Despite the format not quite right for television, it has proved to be a commercially successful game. According to Forbes, two tennis players, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, are among the top twenty highest-paid athletes in the world.
The advantage of tennis is due to a whole group of factors.
- The speed and dynamism of the game on a relatively large court allow you to follow the strokes and techniques of athletes – in this, and tennis is something like soccer.
- At the same time, tennis is firmly associated with the sport of the upper classes, which gives the game an aristocratic aura.
The special status of the biggest tournaments – Wimbledon and Roland Garros – also favours tennis. These are tournaments with a long history and traditions: the participants instantly become one of the legendary tennis players of the past, which strengthens the link between generations and adds gloss to the game.
An equally important success factor has been the popularity of women’s tennis. In many countries, it is as popular as men’s tennis – a rare occurrence for the sport. In the twenty-first century, this has worked to make tennis popular with all groups of spectators.
Golf brings in billions
The second global game to replace croquet was golf, which is much closer to croquet in its philosophy. It is an even more aristocratic game than tennis, and golf seems even more attractive to neophytes due to its reputation. An elitist image has ensured golf’s commercial and spectator success for over 100 years. The first athlete in the world whose fortune passed $1 billion was golfer Tiger Woods.
Golf is steadily associated with success in life: in the average person’s mind, golf is a hobby of wealthy businessmen and other rich people. An essential feature of golf is its broad business exposure. This game allows earning money not only on clubs, balls, coaching services and equipment but also on the construction of courses for the game.
The construction and maintenance of such fields is a huge business. Each field has an area of tens of hectares and is a masterpiece of landscape design. The price of one object is, on average, $1.5-2 million. Based on the number of golf courses on the planet, we estimate their total cost – about $68 billion. Moving on, such fields in the automotive industry formed the direction of golf carts, providing employment and earnings for thousands of people.
Speed is the key to success
Speed contests were originally a sporting event that attracted substantial public interest. In ancient Rome, horse racing was among the two (along with gladiatorial fights) competitions that drew huge crowds. From a historical perspective, the riders outlived the gladiators, and fan groups at racetracks became political parties in Byzantium and directly influenced the government.
But racing proved to be the sport where fashions changed dramatically due to technical changes. Trotters were replaced by bicycles. The beginning of the XX century – the time of the bicycle boom, and track races were no less famous than multi-day highway races. Motorcycles and automobiles were breathing down their necks, and the short reign of bicycles ended quickly. After 1945, motorsport established itself as the number one speed competition.
International Formula One is pitted against the purely American IndyCar championship. But the latter has fallen victim to splits and, as a result, has moved for the American public to third place after the NASCAR bodybuilding series and the same “Formula 1”, which, unlike European soccer, feels quite cozy in America.
At the same time, one can notice a paradox: air racing has remained a relatively marginal sport, and motorboat racing is sharply inferior to sailing regattas. Technical progress only sometimes helps new sports to fight old ones.