Can Sports Help Strengthen The Naira?

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It is common knowledge that our economy greatly depends on crude oil production. It is also common knowledge that the International market price of crude oil has been dwindling since last year.

As a result, people from all walks of life have called on the Nigerian Government to diversify our economy. Many highlighted the need for the labour force to return to Agriculture whilst others have turned to enterpreneurship.

Interestingly, to be the best of my knowledge, no one has thought about sports as a solution to our economic mess. Despite sports being a reflection of life in all ramifications, including enterpreneurship. It is amazing how sports development is underrated in contributing hugely to the economy of our great nation.

“Football is like life.. it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.” – Vince Lombardi (American Football Hall of Famer).

Sports is popular for the entertainment, fun and thrill it affords the followers however many fail to realise that sports is big business – a multi-billion naira industry. John Abbamondi, vice president of the NBA’s Team Marketing & Business Operations division, described sports as “a people business.”

Sports can create jobs for many, generate income and support local, national and international economic development. United Nations Secretary Genearal, Ban Ki-moon, once said, “Sport has become a world language, a common denominator that breaks down all the walls, all the barriers. It is a worldwide industry whose practices can have widespread impact. Most of all, it is a powerful tool for progress and for development.”

There are so many ways sports can contribute to economic development in Nigeria such as:

1. Improving physical, mental and social well-being of the citizenry, which can affect the economy via total factor productivity.

2. It will also enhance income generation through the growth of businesses, entrepreneurship and job creation by fostering innovation and trade of sports-related sales and services. On a wider scale, it will boost international trade and foreign exchange earnings. This is in line with the objectives of the BuyNaijaToGrowTheNaira campaign led by Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, which is expected to get legislative backing from the Nigerian Senate soon.

3. Staging any sporting event, whether at local, national or international level, helps to promote national unity through universal values of fair play, mutual respect and friendship. It also opens doors for the host communities to showcase their rich cultural heritage to the world, making them more attractive for tourists and investors. As a consequence, the reputation of the host country is upgraded.

A fortnight ago, the World witnessed The Super Bowl, America’s sporting showpiece, between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos in Santa Clara, California. It was estimated that about 1.3bn chicken wings were consumed during the event whilst a 30-second advert for the game costs about $4.8m. Just pause and reflect on how these have contributed to the economic development of the host city and the United States at large.

In football, English Premier League (EPL) clubs are renowned for revenue and reportedly spent over £1bn on transfers this season for the first time, according to sports business analysts at Deloitte. However, the Chinese Super League have surprised everyone, outbidding EPL clubs, to emerge as the biggest spenders this January in football transfers.

The Chinese Government have turned their focus to sports as an area to promote economic growth ever since their export-driven economy slowed down. This turnaround started with the Chinese Super League and TV rights for the 2016 to 2020 seasons being sold for £1bn. President Xi has come out and said that by 2025 China wants to have a domestic sports industry worth $850bn (£564bn) so don’t be surprised if/when investors turn their attention to China in the coming years.

The good thing about Sports is that it is accessible to all. Sports help take children off the streets; giving them an avenue to channel their anger and boredom to something productive and educative. This is line with words of Edward Abbe, “The function of football, soccer, basketball and other passion-sports in modern industrial society is the transference of boredom, frustration, anger and rage into socially acceptable forms of combat. A temporary substitute for war; for nationalism; identification with something bigger than the self.”

Nevertheless, Nigerian Government can not do this on their own; they need both indigenous and foreign companies to invest in the development of sports in Nigeria either by sponsoring sports teams or sports events. Sports sponsorship is often adjudged to be the territory of big companies like Globacom, MTN, DSTV etc but small firms can gain a lot by stepping into the ring.

Sports sponsorship is one of the most attractive marketing environment for companies to invest in. Small companies don’t have to break the bank to sponsor a local sports team, stadium, event or kit design. This will afford them plenty of excellent opportunities to market and promote their brand, create valuable goodwill and build their reputation, and develop deeper customer relationships.

However, it is important for companies to note that sports, as a people’s business, is dependent on the consumers – the fans. So all prospective investors ought to think critically and be responsive to the fans’ attitudes before rebranding a sport inorder not to provoke the ire of fans.

Mental Health: A Need For Awareness

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Mental health problems are on meteoric rise across the globe. I read an interesting article which identified mental health disorders as the fifth leading cause of death and disease worldwide. Interestingly, Nigeria, along with China, North Korea and Japan were the four countries mentioned to have low burden of death and disease from mental disorders.

This could be due to the fact that the average Nigerian mind races to madness (psychosis) probably inflicted on a person by haters from his or her village, when mental health is mentioned. Many fail to realise that alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, sleep issues, emotions such as anxiety and depression, levels of stress, self-harming and suicide are all linked to mental health.

As a result, very few Nigerians pay attention to their mental health. Judging with what is happening right now, one can predict that mental health issues of Nigerians, especially the youths will skyrocket in the next five to ten years. And this should be seen as a major public health concern.

Before you start critiquing this; I am yet to research on this so I have no raw data to back my claims hence this is just an opinion, observation or assertion.

Nigerian youths are faced with numerous problems in our country today. From joblessness (unemployment) through relationship/marriage problems to alcohol and drug abuse etc. And these can do serious damage to one’s mental health.

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First, parents put a lot of pressure on their kids to study and become a doctor, engineer or lawyer. Many may lack the abilities and capabilities required to reach the educational goals set by the parents and in the end, become stressed, anxious and depressed or may resort to drug abuse/alcoholism to take the pain away.

Then, if one scales through these hurdles and graduates, one enthusiastically applies for numerous jobs as many believe their job defines them and earns them respect. If unsuccessful after a long search, one may lose confidence and self-esteem.

Unemployment can take a huge toll on a fresh graduate’s pysche. The stages of unemployment are initial shock, depression and finally adjustment. Depression may cause them to isolate themselves from friends and family.

Next, the never-ending pressure on a young Nigerian lady, from family and society, to marry and have a family. Although many claim unfazed, being single may increase the risk of developing mental health problems in adulthood.

Nevertheless, ending a relationship/marriage through separation, divorce or death may also cause an increased risk of mental health disorders. Relationships are hard-work and often drains one’s emotional energy. People may be happier whilst married or in relationship but the effects on mental health once separated by death or divorce may be far worse than being single.

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It is never easy when a relationship/marriage ends. The breakup can trigger negative emotions, such as sadness, hate, disappointment and depression, which one may never recover from. The more break-ups one has, the more his/her mental health  progressively deteriorates.

Emergence of social media hasn’t helped either; it has increased comparison, cyber-bullying, restlessness, glamorization of sex, drugs and alcohol use and crowd mentality amongst the youths to appear cool. People put more pressure on themselves when they see achievements of others thereby elevating their stress levels, anxiety and depression. If they feel they are falling behind, they may make matters worse by turning to drugs or alcohol.

Mental health issues can prevent one from living his/her dream, starting a family or becoming useful to his nation. And this should be treated as a serious health scare. Mental health awareness should be made to safeguard emotional wellbeing of Nigerian youths.

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