• Thato Mathebula

SHOW ME THE MONEY!


“Show me the money!” a popular catch phrase from 1996 romantic sports comedy Jerry Maguire starring Cuba Gooding Jr and Tom Cruise. Gone are the day’s where professional athletes are working class individuals who love their sport for the love of it and feel a sense of gratification from the legacy they have left behind.


In today’s world this love, desire to build a legacy and money all go hand in hand. Sponsorship, broadcasting rights and personal branding have created a huge money-making powerhouse through professional sports.


As industries grow, they present opportunities for people to either contribute to that growth, increase wealth or both factors simultaneously whether it is intentional or simply a consequence of circumstances that were not anticipated. This is evident in the rise of YouTube superstar exhibition fights. Brothers Logan and Jake Paul have been a major topic of conversation in the boxing world with varied opinions from fans, current boxers, and legends of the sport about whether they are a threat or benefit to boxing.


Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson has advocated for YouTubers stepping in the ring suggesting that we need to accept that boxing isn’t how we it used be.” With YouTubers anything anyone does with gloves pays homage to boxing” said the former champion. Current Mexican professional boxer Canelo Alvarez on the other hand feels that this trend is a dangerous money grab.


There are multiple examples of how institutions struggle to accept things they don’t understand or that don’t directly benefit them. Although it may not be that obvious these Youtubers are contributing to the sport in a good way even if that may mean that it’s indirect. Most of the Paul brothers and Ksi’s followers are between the ages of 8 and 14 with others in their late teens. This brings a whole new demographic to a sport that has sometimes struggled to bring excitement to its fans over extended periods. They are also an example to professional boxers on how to find creative and effective ways to promote themselves and build their personal brand.


Ultimately money is probably one of the most important factors in sport today. Is the increase in financial power of professional sport a threat to the purity of the different sporting codes loved by people all around the world or is it beneficial to making sport better? Does athlete performance get affected the more established and wealthier they become?



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