It’s widely known that South Africans are mad about sport – our, bright sun-shiny days are perfect for watching other people run around after a round, oval or hard red ball. You see, we don’t necessarily want to do the running around ourselves, but watching other people exert themselves and expose themselves to various levels of bodily harm while we unwind with a cold one in front of the TV is perfectly acceptable in South African society; which, of course, is our right as paying consumers.
Advertisers are very fortunate that sports exist for them to sponsor in order to speak to us while we’re relaxed, enjoying ourselves (albeit a little merry) and open to their sponsorship messages. You’re welcome, advertisers.
Of course, I’m talking about the “Big 3” sports in SA – soccer, rugby and cricket. The sponsorship, marketing and promotion of these sports amounts to billions of rands – all focused on providing entertainment and enjoyment to you and me – the average non-participating viewing consumer – who will hopefully be influenced to buy something or pay someone in return for that entertainment and enjoyment. It’s a social contract that we’re all party to and agrees to, and everybody’s happy.
South African sport is not only about soccer, rugby and cricket. We’re fortunate enough to have a myriad sporting entertainment available to us. Our golfing exploits are remarkable for a nation of our size, with more golfing honours recently bestowed on the 2011 US Masters winner, South African Charl Schwartzel [and now Ernie Els inducted into the Golf Hall Of Fame]. We have several outstanding swimmers and athletes that have entranced the world, and yet have struggled to find sponsorship at home.
With Brand Inc. Sport’s focus on sports-related design and advertising, I have been fortunate to see first-hand how much the South African sporting landscape has matured over the last few years, with truly world-class non “Big 3” sports events taking place on our shores recently – The Vodacom Championship (golf), the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate (horse racing), The BMW International Polo Series (Polo), The Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour (Cycling), The SA Open (Tennis), The Vodacom Origins of Golf Tour (golf) and more.
There are over a hundred active sporting codes in South Africa, and for the most part, are too “small” to receive much media coverage. And still, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to watching and supporting soccer, rugby or cricket. Our weekends are too short and too busy to enjoy every sporting event that graces our shores on a weekly basis, but I urge you, the lazy couch-straddling typical South African sports fan, to take the time to explore other sports viewing options, beyond the soccer, rugby and cricket mega-matches [just look at the massive growth of MMA in SA, more specifically EFC Africa]. You may be surprised at the level of competition at the SA Jukskei championships or the surprising skills of the South African Ice Hockey Team.
Article by Damon Freeman, Design Director of Brand Inc. Sport.