- Arts & Literature
- Science & Technology
By Matthew Handley
Sport and politics are separate and to invest a political responsibility upon sport is to give it concerns which are not its own. There is a difference between sport and money though, perhaps a thin one as every aspect of each sport is now digested by the
masses in the manner of any commercial product or performance, but still a difference. So when the question over whether Formula One should race in Bahrain comes up, as it will every year until we get bored of this particular crusade, the question is not one of responsibility but of purpose and how sports function.
Formula One is above all else a business, with competitors and teams alike looking to make profit as much as win. Obviously by winning a team can increase profit, as demonstrated by those street stalls in every European city which stock (possibly fake) Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United shirts. Bahrain, and indeed much of the Middle East, is a new market for the sport and is there to be exploited. Sport, after all, is global so a Grand Prix in Bahrain, a football world cup in Qatar and an Olympic Games in China allow larger numbers to watch the competition and play host to events.
How much of this is orientated towards sport though? There are no Bahraini drivers in Formula One, as far as I know no technicians even. To what extent is the race driven by the competitive event of sport? Very little. Instead the race is a profit making event, taking place not because the drivers need to race in Bahrain but because the corporation needs to earn money. In other words sport is supplanted by business.
A parallel can be drawn with African football, which after years of investment has still not produced a genuine world class team. Even a World Cup has not begun to end the corruption and embezzlement which dominates African Football Association s and prevents the sport from becoming truly successful. Money is instead the goal and the end for everyone involved.
More so than football Formula One goes where the money is, and this means races in countries which are less than friendly with human rights and democracy. If the issue was sports, the competitive event in which anyone can participate, there would be no problem, but the real driving force (I’ve waited for that pun) is money, and once a sport becomes business it must accept other responsibilities.
I’m not saying sport should, and even could, operate as an ideal entity without financial concerns. However it is clear that Formula One in Bahrain is not in any way motivated by the competitive sport. Above all else the race went ahead because of money – the event took second place compared to the financial gains. Sport, then, is no longer the adequate word. Formula One is in the entertainment industry and exists to make money. As a result it functions with the money in mind, a sad truth of the modern world.