"International Sports Diffusion" Is Topic of Recent Faculty Lecture

June 01, 2010

Modernization. Growing media. Returns on investments. While these are terms usually associated with business and economics models, Dr. Jim Thoma, professor of human performance and sport management at Mount Union College, linked these concepts with the spread of sports from country to country.

Speaking at the College's annual faculty lecture, Thoma, co-author of "Sport Governance in the Global Community," questioned whether or not this international sports diffusion is the new reality the world is facing. "If buying an alarm clock from a Liverpool soccer team doesn't matter to you," Thoma said, referring to the array of merchandise available, "then no, there isn't a new reality."

However, if one looks at the modernization and "hyperactivity" visible through the Internet, videogames and international merchandise, according to Thoma, a new reality is easy to see.

Capitalism and Americanism, which Thoma lumped together as "modernization," are visible through the emerging international popularity of football and the basketball. "The market in the United States is saturated," Thoma said, which has led the National Basketball Association to seek expansion into Europe and the National Football League to start sending players abroad.

Thoma, a faculty member at the College since 1989, pointed to the fact that the NBA website, for the first time, had more hits from outside the United States than it did domestically. He credited the Dream Team for diffusing basketball internationally. "It did a lot for selling basketball around the world," Thoma said.

Including a particular sport in the Olympics also jump-starts the market. "Equipment dealers have a field day," Thoma said, pointing out marketers know that once a sport catches on, its players must have the equipment.

The Olympics also helps kindle community interest, which Thoma said leads to nation building. "The Olympics is a great way to say:  Look at me now!'" Thoma said, adding that it's an effective way for countries to show how they've rebuilt. He mentioned Afghanistan and Iraq joining the International Olympic Committee as examples.

The Faculty Lecture is presented each year, allowing a member of the Mount Union College faculty to give a special lecture relating interesting or important developments in his or her own field or explore matters of general concern to the faculty.

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