Economics and Sports Media
In Africa, sports may be the key to fostering the economy and entrepreneurship, and to raising public health consciousness because of the attention it receives from the media and its popularity among youth. Health programs targeting African youths, which also indirectly support economic development and entrepreneurship, cannot succeed without a good strategy of communication throughout the media. Media on sporting events can transmit more than just messages about who won or lost to people in Senegal, West Africa.
Generally, the Senegalese are sports fans and consider their fitness and athleticism very important. Soccer has been a popular sport in Senegal since the 2002 World Cup tournament. For instance, during the 2006 African Cup in Bamako, Mali, adolescents in Dakar, as the heat of the day eased, took over the sandy streets of the city and turned them into soccer fields. Yet, in spite of soccer’s recent popularity in Senegal and throughout West Africa, wrestling is also a common traditional sport in many countries, including Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Nigeria, and Niger. In Senegal, wrestling is deeply rooted in the nation’s history and culture. Wrestling is perceived as the only sport developed independently of Western culture. The practice of wrestling, once a local rural harvest celebration, has now become a national event witnessed by most Senegalese.
Over the last decade, the media in Senegal have started to cover wrestling which now ranks as the most popular sport in Senegal. Moreover, the sport has become even more competitive and professional. A selection of excellent young wrestlers, called Espoir (Hope) among youths, promote individual entrepreneurship, economic development, and in fact, discourage clandestine emigration. Wrestling, though cultural and folkloric, is now central to social progress driving huge business groups. Thanks to the media, wrestling has become so popular that politicians, private industries, NGOs and business groups want to see their names, logos, and advertisements being sold on the wrestling field. Sponsoring makes one wonder whether wrestling is a sports or a business. This paper will present the role of sponsorship and the media in wrestling, in promoting public health and in economic development in Senegal today.