Competitions define the highest level of achievement, and exist in every major sport. Football has the SUPER BOWL; soccer has the THE WORLD CUP. The most prestigious competitions attract global media coverage and huge SPONSORSHIP deals.
Although the Oxford and Cambridge rowing race in London, England, has been running since 1829, organized sporting competitions began to develop in the late 19th century. The English Football Association Cup in soccer began in 1872. The first American National Baseball League began in 1876.
Competitions become famous when they have continued for many years and have an exciting history filled with sports legends. Over time they attract loyalty and respect from fans. Some competitions have sponsorship deals and as a result receive publicity from advertisers and broadcasters.
First held in 1930, the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Associations) World Cup is the most important tournament for national soccer teams. It is held every four years and has grown from just 11 teams in 1930 to 32 teams in 2002.
There are seats for around one million people at a modern World Cup, and it now attracts more than 60 billion television viewers around the world. This means that, on average, every person on the planet watches ten games. The 1950 final in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, saw the biggest attendance at any soccer game in history—more than 200,000 people.
Brazil has won five World Cups (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002). Two nations have won three titles each—Italy (1934, 1938, 1982) and Germany (1954, 1974, 1990). Uruguay (1930, 1950) and Argentina (1978, 1986) have each won it twice, and England (1966) and France (1998) have won once each.
The Super Bowl is the biggest event in the American sporting year. It is a single game between the winners of the NFL (National Football League) and the winners of the AFL (American Football League) to decide the national champion.
The NFL was started in 1920 and was the only national football league until the AFL began in 1960. In 1967, the two leagues merged for a single end-of-season playoff between the two champions. The first Super Bowl was won by Wisconsin’s Green Bay Packers, who beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35–10.
The two most successful teams are the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers, who have each won five Super Bowls. The Pittsburgh Steelers have won four, and the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins three each. Fans support their teams by wearing hats, t-shirts, and even face paints in the team’s colors.
Big sporting events need lots of money to organize, promote, and pay prize money and salaries. Companies pay competition organizers, venues, teams, and individual sports stars to display their logos and advertising. Sponsors also use their connections with sports stars to promote their brands in the media in general.
The biggest personal sponsorship deals are with the clothing firm Nike. US golfer Tiger Woods has a deal worth $125 million over five years, and basketball star LeBron James is receiving $90 million over seven years. Nike also has the biggest deal with a team—sponsoring Brazil’s soccer team for $100 million.
Many organizations now design their events to attract sponsors and TV audiences. In the US, basketball introduced a rule called the 24-second shot—a team has to shoot within 24 seconds of getting the ball. This increased the pace and excitement of the game, and made it more appealing to TV broadcasters.