How sports celebrities shape sports and industries

Sunbears
3 min readJul 19, 2023
Chinese fans happy to see Lionel Messi at Beijing Workers Stadium (Photo: Goal.com)

Would your passion for these sports remain if there were no more LeBron James in basketball or Lionel Messi in football remain?

There’s no denying that many people are no less passionate about sports stars than about the sport itself. Take current football legend Lionel Messi for example, who travelled to China in June this year to represent Argentina in an international football invitational match against Australia at the Workers’ Stadium in Beijing. The match was an unprecedented hit in the Chinese sports world; not only was it hard to get a ticket to watch the game live, but it also set China’s social media and news sites ablaze. Tens of thousands of fans lined up outside the stadium all night in 40-degree heat, holding up their blue and white striped jerseys, just to see Lionel Messi in person.

“I don’t see any yellow jerseys anywhere,” Australia coach Graham Arnold said before the match. “I hope Lionel Messi gets a small share of the jersey sales because I’ve never seen so many Argentina No 10 jerseys in my life.”

What’s even more exaggerated is that a frantic young fan rushed into the stadium past security guards and briefly embraced Messi during the match’s second half.

The young invader’s hugging moment with Lionel Messi (Photo: Sina Toutiao News)

So, with such a high level of social attention, in what ways do sports celebrities influence sports and related industries?

Endorsements and Sponsorships

Sports stars are a popular choice for brands and companies to make a name for themselves. With their global reach and fan base, these athletes become powerful brand ambassadors, endorsing products and services. Is Cristiano Ronaldo in Armani proof that Armani is the standard for successful men? Do you favour Uniqlo because of Federer’s endorsement when shopping for tennis clothing? The influence of sports celebrities has led to soaring sales and caused a stir in the industry. 📈

Inspiring the Next Generation

Sports celebrities are more than just exceptional athletes — they are role models who inspire millions of young fans. When kids witness their favourite athletes pushing boundaries and displaying grit and determination, it fuels their own passion for sports. This inspiration often translates into increased participation in sports at grassroots levels, fostering the development of future champions. 🌟

Sports Tourism and Global Exposure

The arrival of sports celebrities in different regions can ignite a wave of sports tourism. Their presence attracts fans from far and wide, driving revenue for host cities and creating a vibrant atmosphere. Guo Wenjie, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Commerce, said, “Messi’s appearance at the Workers’ Stadium drove ticket revenues to over 100 million yuan.”

Just imagine the excitement of witnessing your idol in action! This global exposure also boosts a city or country’s reputation, attracting investment and opportunities for growth. 🌆

Social Media Influence

Sports celebrities are now closer to their fans than ever, thanks to the power of social media. Through platforms like Instagram and Twitter, they connect directly with millions of followers, giving them a glimpse into their personal lives and sharing their thoughts. This direct interaction strengthens the bond between athletes and fans while also providing a platform to promote causes, products, and initiatives they care about. 📲

However, it’s important to strike a balance. While sports celebrities inspire and entertain, it’s crucial to remember that they are humans too, with their own challenges and limitations. It’s essential to respect their privacy and maintain a healthy perspective, focusing on their positive impact on the world of sports and beyond. 💙

So, next time you witness a sports celebrity in action or find yourself inspired by their incredible journey, take a moment to appreciate the significant influence they hold. Their endorsements, inspiration, and global exposure contribute to the growth of industries and the love for sports worldwide. Let’s continue to celebrate and support our sports icons as they continue to shape the world we live in! 🌎🏆

Reference List

South China Morning Post (2023) Chinese fans give Lionel Messi rockstar welcome ahead of Argentina v Australia friendly in Beijing. https://www.scmp.com/sport/football/article/3223634/chinese-fans-give-lionel-messi-rockstar-welcome-ahead-argentina-v-australia-friendly-beijing?module=perpetual_scroll_0&pgtype=article&campaign=3223634

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Sunbears

Driven by our passion for sports, we have made it our goal to contribute to the development of the sports world. // 私たちはスポーツへの情熱を胸に、スポーツ界の発展に貢献することを目標としています。