Sponsorship is a public relations strategy seen in professional sports all the time. But does it have a place in youth amateur sport; if so where should the line be drawn?
In many cases, sponsorship is an important aspect of youth sports, particularly at the the competitive level to help keep costs down. In the case of a British Columbia teen, the sponsorship of her soccer team forced her to choose between the sport she loves and an environmental cause very important to her.
Today’s youth have received a strong message from society – they have the power to create change. So, when a fourteen year old girl’s soccer club announced sponsorship by a company known to utilize open-net fishing practices her opposition was understandable. CBC news quoted the player saying “I believe they cause great harm to the wild salmon, and the wild salmon feed the coast here that I love so much.”
The basic details of the “solution”:
- The elite club offered to return all player fees to the family so the teen could play elsewhere.
- The player stayed with the club since the closest alternative was two hours away.
- The family has been forced to stop their public opposition of the sponsorship.
- The player has been unable to participate in a number of team activities and can’t explain why to her teammates.
Youth sports and the social interaction associated with them has proven to assist in the development of youth. In my opinion, this situation is a major ethical issue. This sponsorship was forced upon a youth and has essentially taken away her right to free speech. Unlike professional athletes, she did not choose this sponsorship and was not given the opportunity to select an association which fit with her personal beliefs and morals.
I’d have to award this decision a red card, I find it simply unacceptable.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. How do you feel about the club forcing a fourteen year old to choose between sport and protecting the environment?