The Political Economy of Professional Sport

The Political Economy of Professional Sport

New Horizons in the Economics of Sport series

Jean-François Bourg and Jean-Jacques Gouguet

This timely book offers a critical interpretation of the traditional social and economic accounts of sport. It provides an incisive analysis of professional sport and defines alternative foundations to the present model. The authors demonstrate that professional sport is an extremely complex phenomenon encompassing many unique factors depending on its global reach, financing and organization.

Chapter 2: Significance and Measurement of the Economic Impact of Professional Sport

Jean-François Bourg and Jean-Jacques Gouguet

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, sports, politics and public policy, political economy


The economic impact of professional sport is not a subject on which economists agree, and it is a matter of debate amongst politicians and public opinion. One just has to see the number of articles dedicated to the 2012 Olympic Games bids, where the justification for competition between host cities was the size of the economic impact. We, therefore, find again in Europe the same passionate debate that has existed in the United States for some time between private consultancies on the one hand, and university academics on the other. The former find very important economic impacts to this type of event, whereas the latter usually find very minor effects.1 Moreover, these controversies are usually stirred up before the organization of events and are forgotten afterwards – even if, in the case of the Olympic Games, for example, a few cities are continuing to pay back the loans for an event that did not hold up to its promises (this is, or was, the case for Montreal, Moscow and Athens). This all means that the debate on the economic impact of the sporting spectacle is often distorted by a lack of rigour and precision in the ideas used. From the point of view of economic theory, one must ask exactly what is understood by economic impact: ● ● Is it the measurement of the economic effects of a sporting spectacle on a given area (Gouguet and Nys, 1993) (that is, the Olympic Games on California or on Catalonia, and so on)? In this...

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