India is a land of opportunities and home to 1.25 billion people. Globally, the sports sector is estimated to be worth USD 480-620 billion and contributes about 1-5 per cent to the GDPs of some countries. In India, Sport is yet to be recognized as a sector and there is no comprehensive study on the dynamics of this sector. The definition of Sport differs from one country to the next.
The sports industry consists of several different segments, including sports tourism, sporting goods (manufacturing and retail), sports apparel, amateur and professional sports, recreational sports, high school and college athletics, outdoor sports, sports businesses such as marketing firms, the sport sponsorship industry and sport governing bodies. The industry also supports other industries like education, real estate, infrastructure, tourism, and manufacturing.
In India, the Draft National Sports Development Bill, 2013 recognizes 66 kinds of sports. Even if a few of these are developed and monetized, sports as a sector has the potential to make significant contributions to the country’s GDP. The young mushrooming middle class of India with their increasing disposable income offers huge consumption potential for the business of sports. It is expected that the middle class as a percentage of total population will increase from 4 per cent in 2005 to 41 per cent by 2025. In a country like India, 29.3 per cent of the population is in the age group of 0-14 years, which is an indicator of the size of the opportunity available for Indian corporate houses to take advantage of. The viewership of sporting events is rising in the country with such events like Leagues similar to IPL in other sports like Hockey, Football, Badminton, Golf and Kabbadi, and the hosting of global sporting events such as the 2010 Common Wealth Games, Cricket World Cup (2011), Formula 1 Grand Prix (2011 onwards), and the World Chess Championship (2013).
One of the biggest and the most important concerns with sports in India is the lack of a sports culture. Very few parents encourage their children to pursue sports as a career. Some of the key issues of our sports industry are:
- Limited funding avenues for sports
- Lack of transparency or regulatory frameworks in sports governance
- Low interest from corporate houses in funding sports infrastructure
- Scarcity of spaces and high capital expenditure required to establish private training academies.
- Few specialized courses in nutrition, sports medicine, and psychology.
- Limited implementation and follow up on existing schemes.
- Lack of policy ensuring financial security post- retirement for some players.
- Lack of coaches and technical know-how on sports in India and poor coordination among the concerned bodies affecting professional uptake of sports.
- Imposition of custom duty on training equipment imported by private academies vs duty exemption on the same import by government.
The government and sports organizations should initiate nationwide campaigns to raise awareness on sports and its contribution to the economy. Active regional/ local media can play an important role in spreading the word for sports in India.
Sports should be formally recognized as an industry to create avenues for sports funding.
Implementation and compliance of the Sports Bill, 2013 will resolve some of the major issues involving lack of transparency across all levels. Policies should be focused towards promoting collaboration among all concerned stakeholders to encourage more innovative business collaborations and better opportunities for the players.
Private training academics should be given access to the public infrastructures to train in lieu of reasonable fees. The Government (Central and State) and National Sports Federation (NSF’s) may promote awareness on opportunities for sports coaches by providing case studies on typical career paths, opportunities for further development and companies’ recruiting coaches. The government should come up with innovative PPP models to attract investments from corporate houses. Also an archive of case studies of acknowledged instances of corporate investments in sports infrastructure can be used as an important tool to assist corporates in decision making.
Sports can make significant impact on the socio-economic dynamics of a nation. It plays a crucial role in ensuring physical fitness and promoting a healthy lifestyle. It unites people from different backgrounds and hence promotes peace and harmony in a nation. It is important to build a dynamic sporting culture in India and there is need for the government and the private sector to collaborate to strengthen the core of the sports industry. Corporate funding in sports may therefore be the trigger to ignite sports development in India. The gestation period for realizing return on such investments may be long, but eventually the results are rewarding. It has been observed that investment in sport provides private organizations with significant return on Investment (ROI) in terms of enabling brand recognition and brand building by reaching out to the masses. Moreover, with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) becoming mandatory under Companies Act 2013, business houses are increasingly considering sport as an option for CSR initiatives due to its significant social ROI.