International and Australian Experiences
New Horizons in the Economics of Sport series
Sports are big business with unique public policy aspects. There is significant public interest both in terms of viewing as a spectacle in itself, but also in the success or otherwise of athletes and teams. The sector attracts significant public spending, and the amounts have grown rapidly since the 1960s and 1970s. For example, annual spending by the Australian Commonwealth government increased from between A$5–8 million in the 1970s to A$24.8 million in 1983 and A$307 million in 2013 (see Annex to this chapter). This does not include major infrastructure grants, often provided by state governments for new facilities. Wilson and Pomfret (2009) estimate that approximately A$2 billion was earmarked for stadium development in the years from 2000 to 2009. Outcomes are often measured in direct success, such as gold medals in Olympic Games; estimates of the cost to Australian taxpayers of an athletics medal at the 2012 London Olympics vary from a minimum direct cost of A$15.5 million to over A$100 million (Jolly, 2013, 30). Towards the end of the nineteenth century, spectator sports emerged as a major recreational pastime and began to attract larger crowds. Through the twentieth and into the twenty-first century, sport has become a significant business. Technological shifts enabled mass audiences beyond those spectators physically present, and broadcasting, first by radio and then by TV in the second half of the twentieth century, vastly increased the value of players, teams, leagues and sporting events.