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11th March 2021

Is money ruining sport?

Last weekend, Eddie Hearn did an interview talking all things Joshua v Fury, a fight that is being billed as the biggest in boxing history and will see the two Englishmen go head-to-head and finally put an end to all the talk and prove who really is number one.

Now, the fact that I mentioned the word Englishmen might lead you to believe that this fight will take place in the country of both fighters’ birth as, after all, we do have one of the most iconic stadiums in the world. Well, during Hearn’s interview it seemed as if Wembley Stadium was not even in the top five preferred locations for this fight and that appeared to be down to two things: Covid guidelines and, of course, money.

However, the recent government announcement stated that we should be relieved of pretty much all Coronavirus restrictions by 21st June and with this fight being scheduled for the end of that very month, surely Wembley stadium should be more seriously considered as the official venue, and this got us thinking – is money ruining sport?

There is no denying the sheer money being pumped into elite sport these days. The numbers are astronomical, so much so that Qatar managed to win a bid to stage the 2022 World Cup and, at the time of winning, it probably didn’t even have a handful of appropriate stadiums to host the matches. I’m sure the World Cup organisers will put their decision down to the fact that hosting the tournament will create lots of jobs and it will be fantastic for the region, etc, but we can’t get away from the fact that they probably also had the biggest purse.

We can also talk about the gigantic salaries in elite sport these days, the numbers are now officially out of control. In September of last year, NFL star Patrick Mahomes signed a TEN-YEAR contract worth up to HALF-A-BILLION dollars. I mean, there’s no denying the young man’s ability and at just 24 years of age, the sky is the limit, but, having said that, what happened to playing for the love of the game?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting here saying that I wouldn’t accept that sort of money to play the game I adore but at the rate we’re going, the majority of sports we know and love are going to be driven by money and money only, when the reason we initially enjoyed them was anything but.

I myself am a huge football fan and that is probably because it was so easy to play as a kid. For just £2 subs a week you had a place in a team. It’s a game for everyone, regardless of social status. However, now, with the amount of doe being pumped into the game, could it potentially be changing for the worse?

Take tennis and golf as another example, lessons for these sports can cost around £30 which means there’s an unfair advantage right from the off and these sports now seem tailored to apply to middle- and upper-class families and sport should never be like that.

One thing’s for sure, these numbers are going to get higher and higher as time goes on. I just hope we don’t lose ourselves along the way and forget why we fell in love with sport in the first place.