India urged to embrace sporting professionals

Professional passion: Dr Mike Rayner speaks to audiences in India

 

India needs to embrace a new way of thinking about sport if it is to ride the wave of rich economic returns.

According to British sports management expert Dr Mike Rayner, India risks losing the happy ending of its huge popularity, including its ability to attract global superstars in football and cricket, by not seeing the big picture and investing in sports management expertise.

Evidence suggests sport, as a recognised independent industry, has the potential to contribute 1-5 per cent of India’s GDP. To put this in context, globally, in 2017, sport was estimated to be worth between £340-435 billion pounds.

Dr Rayner, a sports scientist at the UK’s University of Portsmouth, was visiting India as part of a British Council-funded trip.

He said: “In India, sport is not recognised as an independent economic sector – the harsh reality is parts have been hived off or are looked after by different umbrella organisations under their corporate social responsibility banner.

“It’s overdue for India to embrace sports management, to recognise sport as its own sector.”

Recent sporting infrastructure initiatives in India, such as the establishment of the Indian Premier League (cricket), Hockey India League, Indian Badminton League, Pro Kabaddi League, and the Indian Super League (football) are changing the face and the global identity of Indian sports.

The rise of sports has also brought a rapid rise in advertising, as local and international companies target this lucrative underdeveloped market. Buying television and marketing rights to large sporting events – a regular occurrence in India – have provided ample business opportunities and huge revenue.

“India is witnessing a boom that will benefit the sports business in the years to come.

“With a high growth economy and an ever-growing middle class with disposable income and leisure time, together with rapid growth in TV-owning households and a strong passion for sports, there is high potential for further growth.”

These new initiatives demand professional human capital to speed up and sustain growth, and the harsh reality, Dr Rayner said, is that there are very few quality professional sports managers available in the country.

“Government initiatives to make India a sporting superpower will not be realised without suitably qualified sports management professionals.”

Sports management encompasses a wide range of skills and takes in everything from sponsorship and clothing, to negotiating television rights and developing sports medicine. The University offers short professional courses to help meet such needs.

“Unless the country tackles this skills shortage, it is at risk of the market crashing, and of losing the benefits good management across the sector could bring.”

Dr Rayner’s visit to India was part of the ‘Great Talk’ series where 12 UK academics are invited to promote UK science and education and explore possibilities for academic partnerships.

He visited Amity University and Hansraj College, and the University of Delhi, both in New Delhi, and the International Institute of Sports Management and The National Academy of Sports Management, both in Mumbai.

Dr Rayner’s new book, Rugby Union and Professionalisation: Elite Player Perspectives, published by Routledge, is out now.

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