In 2010, the New York City Marathon boosted the city’s economy by $340 million. This example makes clear the potential of sport to benefit society, but unfortunately it is not the most common outcome. In most cases, the money generated by the thousands of fans watching or going to the event is directed towards a few elite athletes at the very top of the sport, and the benefits to the surrounding area are unreliable and rarely make a significant impact. Not to mention, there is a large gap between the amount men are paid, when compared to the amount women are paid in most sports.
Sport is also an important aspect of national unity. It can help a country foster nationalism, by coming together and supporting their country’s team. However, the ardent support of your team can also cause division. In some cases, different sport teams represent different views or nationalities, and the divisions between two groups translate to the sport itself. For example, the Montreal Canadiens, a professional ice hockey team in Canada, have a fierce rivalry with the Quebec Nordiques. Interestingly, Canadiens fans are more likely to be Liberals and Federalists, and Nordiques fans more likely Pequists and Sovereigntists. This rivalry has culminated in violence between fans of the two groups.
The final way in which sport can help people is the undeniable psychological and physical effects. These are proven to be substantial in many well-known ways, but sport is not a guarantee of all these benefits. Whatever level you play at, sport can be stressful, especially when the objective switches from enjoying the game to winning a match, or beating another team. This means, no matter how old you are (although young children are affected the greatest), the confidence sport is meant to give you may turn into stress and worry. Not to mention, the chance of injury thanks to sport is always present, especially when you train or play more than you should.
Overall, sport is a very beneficial thing in itself, and the opportunities it offers are great, but there is a problem in how parts of the sporting world are structured, undermining the potential of sport to do so much good in the world. The changes that need to be made may seem huge, but if fans of sports all call for it, then it will be possible to make sport the amazing thing that many claim it to be.