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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Economy hurt world of sports




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In the past weeks, major economic officials have been saying the global financial crisis might finally be over. 


In a recent speech, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that ""prospects for a return to growth in the near term appear good"" and that the world's economies should start recovering from the worst financial mess since the Great Depression soon. 


While this is great news for just about everyone, it's especially reassuring for sports fans.


OK, that might sound just a little insensitive considering the terrible effects this economy has had on people around the world. But as someone who has been able to avoid the worst effects of the recession in the past couple of years–layoffs, foreclosures, and all that jazz–seeing sports around the world hit hard by the crisis has made me nervous. 


Now that the worst of this crisis is  likely over, we can hopefully start enjoying the sports we love instead of worrying about whether or not they'll be around for another season. 


One of my favorite sports, Formula 1 racing, was left reeling by the slump. 


F1 fans have received a lesson in economics over the past two years, as we have learned that racing extremely advanced cars in exotic locations all around the world is a bit expensive. Teams regularly spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year developing and preparing their cars to race at the highest level, and try to make money through sponsorship from companies. 


In a sport where most of the teams are owned by car companies and quite a few of them are sponsored by banks, a financial meltdown coupled with a major decrease in consumer spending was a recipe for disaster. 

Even in the best of economic times, the conventional wisdom held that the best way to become a millionaire in F1 was to start out a billionaire. 


Now, teams had to decide how they could cut costs while remaining competitive. Some made layoffs to their teams, cutting staff like engineers at their factories. Others reduced how much they tested cars before the season started, and a couple folded entirely. 


The Super Aguri team, a subsidiary of Honda, left F1 a few races into the 2008 season, while Honda completely left the sport later that year and BMW have said they will disband their team once the 2009 season is done. The high costs of competing in Formula 1 led to disagreements that almost resulted in the sport splitting into two series earlier in the year. 

And it hasn't just been sports like F1 that are affected. 


Teams across sports have bragged about lowering ticket prices and attracting fans in the recession, and keeping a high football season ticket renewal rate was a point of pride for the UW athletic department. Behind all of this is the desperate need to keep fans spending money on their favorite teams despite the general trend of most consumers to hold onto their cash. 


If the experts' predictions are correct and we really are getting out of this financial mess, it's great news for fans that have spent the past year wondering how their favorite sports will be hurt by the crisis. 


I realize that, when people have been struggling to make ends meet, it might sound cold to say that the best part of the recession coming to an end is that my sports won't be in trouble anymore. But we as fans want to be able to forget about problems like financial meltdowns when we watch sports.


A long list of sports writers have talked about how the troubles of our daily lives can melt away when we watch a game, and though it might seem corny it's definitely true. At their core, sports is entertainment meant to relax us and take our minds off of those problems.


When I sit down on a Sunday afternoon and watch a Formula 1 race, I don't want to think about whether Toyota's profit margins will keep them from competing next year, or if the Royal Bank of Scotland will ever bring back its sponsorship money and keep teams afloat.


Assuming Ben Bernanke is right, soon I won't have to. 


Think Nico picked the least important reason to be excited for an economic recovery? E-mail him at 





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