Advantages and disadvantages of the sports industry: are you made for it?

Do you dream of becoming a world famous footballer or a top cricketer? Do you like the atmosphere when a goal is scored or someone scores a great run? Well, no one knows this exhilarating feeling better than Colin Downey, one of England’s sporting greats. Colin has worked in the sports industry for over fifty years and has refereed 2335 football matches including the FA Challenge Cup Final and the FA Vase Cup Final (both held at Wembley Stadium). So, there really is no one better to explain the pros and cons of today’s sports industry and how it has changed.

Like everyone else, Colin had to start somewhere and remembers “playing football in the park with his older brother”. Colin has had his own hugely successful career and he has some advice for young people looking to join the sports industry. It’s as simple as “work hard, train hard and follow the advice of the coaching staff”. However, this positive advice must also be accompanied by a stern warning, namely that “many are rejected by the age of eleven or twelve”, which is of course “heartbreaking”. So, is everyone made for this industry, or just an elite?

Colin, who has been a respected figure in the sports industry for many years, has seen many changes, one of the biggest being a huge increase in dues paid to those “elite few”. He saw a huge ‘change in the big money being poured into the highest levels of the game’ and blamed it on ‘TV having far too much influence in professional football’. The Premier League earns £1.5 billion from domestic TV rights alone, not to mention sponsorship and commercial deals. Colin believes these values ​​are “ridiculously excessive”, especially after seeing the devastation wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic. This begs the question; does the elite deserve all that money? Yes, a professional footballer’s schedule is exhausting, but what about NHS staff saving lives on minimum wage? Where are the billions spent on them?

While it is obvious that there are negatives in the sports industry, there is certainly never a shortage of positives that can come from a career in sports. “Sports have changed [Colin’s] life”, football taking him to many different countries. He has “officiated at Wembley Stadium three times – twice in front of 100,000 spectators”, and he says he could not have done it without the “help and support of his family”. Family is a huge part of sport, whether it’s blood relatives or simply being supporters of the same team, there’s no doubt that there is a proudly nurtured family spirit within the sports industry. With the sense of community within the sports industry, it seems anything is possible.

Recently, it has become clear what can go wrong when this community breaks down, including the recent rise in racism within the football community. In football in particular, the news has reported that racism is on the rise. As Colin says, “Racism in any form is unacceptable,” and recent action in the sports industry has helped to highlight that. With many sports men and women taking a knee before starting a game, this, along with the power of the media, has dramatically increased awareness of this extremely important topic. However, is awareness sufficient? If fan abuse wasn’t enough, it’s become clear that abuse can come from just about anywhere, including those on the pitch. Now players seen committing acts of racial abuse must be banned for five matches. Is it right ? Abuse motivated by racism is not acceptable in any area of ​​society and can be punished by law in most cases. So is a temporary ban on sport enough? Will he be too weak to teach racist players a lesson? Or could it go too far and ruin their career? Either way, Colin feels racism is “disrespectful” and “unacceptable” in the sports industry and goes against everything sports stands for.

It’s clear that sport has a huge impact on the lives of so many in our community, from ‘kicking a ball in the park’ to ‘umpiring at Wembley Stadium’, Colin, as well as gaining wisdom and knowledge of all things. -sport, has also made “lots of friends for life” – not to mention “opportunities to stay young!” Obviously, sport has had a tremendously positive impact on Colin’s life, but it’s no secret that sport can also be a source of injustice and inequality for many others. Many measures are currently being taken by the FA and the cricket associations to combat this war on the sport’s core values, including the FA’s Kick It Out campaign.

So, do you want to dive straight into the world of football or try your hand at a cricketing career? Or do you prefer to stay away from the “boos” and “hisses” that come with a successful career in the sports industry? Do you have what it takes to weather the turbulence of a life of successes and failures?