Consumer demand prioritizing model promotion in sport

Dr.Sc.Psych., Professor V.B. Myakonkov1
PhD, Associate Professor Т.V. Kopylova2
1Lesgaft National State University of Physical Education, Sport and Health, St. Petersburg 
2Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, St. Petersburg

Keywords: sports, consumer values of sports, sports evolution in social world, social functions of sports, criteria of sport status, sport as socially important phenomenon.

Background. Modern sports may be viewed as a multisided socially important phenomenon and a special field for human activity that gives a strongest impetus to the social infrastructure development policies and practices of every nation. The role of sports in the modern world is on the rise due to their toolkits of influence on the decision-making process in the political and economic domains being expanded. To better analyse and understand the modern roles of sports, it may be pertinent to consider the sports evolution in the social context.

Nowadays sports may be described as a unique phenomenon that consolidates nations by the positive national ideas and the relevant values. Modern sports are highly appealing for any social strata including politicians, scientists, psychologists, educators, doctors, managers, marketing analysts, lawyers, artists etc., with the key role in the sector being naturally played by the competing athletes. Modern sports are also critical for the young people’s culturing process as they are central for the sports-driven personality socialising process.

Modern sports have evolved into a powerful communication tools of high influence on a variety of cultural determinants since they are a part of the modern industry of entertainments in fact. Their growing popularity facilitates growth of the sport goods manufacturing industry and the relevant sales markets catering for the consumer interests and preferences.

Objective of the study was to analyze and give theoretical grounds for the consumer values of modern sports viewed as a socially important phenomenon.

Study results and discussion. To better analyse and understand the modern roles of sports, it may be pertinent to consider evolution of sports in the social context. The sports evolution is closely connected with the social evolution being its integral part. Historically, evolution of sports may be classified into the following stages or periods.

First is the ancient period of evolution. Ancient Greek sports system was established in the VIII-IV centuries B.C. with the physical education process of those days being designed to train a warrior and develop the necessary physical qualities including strength, dexterity, speed and endurance [1, p.13].

Second is the medieval period when the sport competitions were driven by the applied combat, ritual and/or theatrical goals and priorities, with a special role played by the combat physical training system for the nobility and gentry which reached its peak in the period of highly developed feudalism when military conflicts and battles were common [1, p.22-25].

Tournaments of nobility were popular at that time being viewed as the physical training and applied combat/ physical fitness tests; later on their entertainment and recreation aspects came to the forefront when the events were timed to holydays; and it largely implied their goals and motivations being modified with the relevant changes in the mission of competitions. The goals of the competitive events increasingly prioritised the self-expression and self-assertion associated with public acknowledgement, popularity and the relevant financial, social and other gains rather than the high competitive accomplishments as such.

Third is the latest period with its bourgeois relationship being established as a determinant of the social development process, with a fast growth of science and technologies forming a basis for the commercial system building processes on the whole and the sports commercialization processes in particular. The commercialization processes at that time, on the one hand, opened up new opportunities for profitable financial investments and, on the other hand, secured the sporting events being increasingly popular as a sort of commercial product of professional sporting activity.

Sport models have been in progress the world over in the late XX century with the relevant national and multilateral sport unions and federations being formed to control and manage football, gymnastics, track and field sports, rowing, swimming and other sport disciplines. These sport associations were formed to harmonise the rules of competitions on the national, continental and international scales. The sports globalisation process established favourable conditions for the idea of Olympic Games being revived by French aristocrat Pierre de Coubertin. He and his supporters and followers come up with the key principles and ideals for the new socially sensitive sport model considering sports rather as a humanistic product than purely competitive events in different disciplines.

Fourth is the modern time since the early XX century till now, with the modern sports development agenda largely determined by the global political, economic and social processes. The First and Second World War periods deserve being mentioned separately in this context as the times when the global sport movement was slowed down. The period was also affected by Russia and some other European countries opting for the socialist development model with its ideological sports development doctrine considering sports as a battle stage for two social systems with the win in whatever sport discipline viewed as a proof of the social system advantages. Furthermore, the period included: new conditions for the mass sports with the relevant industry of sporting goods and services being established; and progress of professional sports in their modern interpretation as a special form of labour designed to generate profits from the competitive sport events and the relevant entertainments.

This period is also characterised by the fast growth of power and influence of the transnational companies active and interested, among other things, in the sports development sector for the profit-making purposes. On the other hand, the growing national identification associated with the growing numbers of newly independent states in the late XX century was among the factors for the growth of competitiveness in the global sports and their growing popularity, with a special interest of the public to the annual international championships and Olympic Games. Many nations have showed increasing interest to the commercial aspects of the global sport movement and progress and have contested for the right to host Olympic Games and other top-ranking sport events fully appreciating their political, social and commercial benefits.

Criteria that determine the status of sports in one or another social-economic system may be listed as follows: qualification of the national teams for the Olympic Games; national competitive accomplishments; mass sports development stage; profits generated by the national competitive sports; availability and efficiency of the national sports control agency; professional sports development stage; costs claimed by the elite athletic training systems; and the services offered to the sport product consumers.

Values may be classified in the relevant philosophical terms with the group of the world outlook related universals. We would define herein values as the social phenomena positively rated by the relevant social entities (individuals, social groups and nation on the whole) and viewed as meaningful, important, encouraging and appealing elements that are supported, developed and inherited by one generation from the other. Values may be also defined as characteristic of certain people’s perceptions of the ideal world and ideal humans.

The notion of culture may be viewed as closely related to the notion of value since culture is commonly interpreted as a set of values and ideal goals attainable by the nation, social groups or individuals. In addition, values may be defined as reference points to rate one or another event. Therefore it may be said that values set a framework for the people’s intentions and actions i.e. provide standards to rate the desired and actual accomplishments [5, p.67-71]. This is why values may be also viewed as both the constituents of individual cognitive system and elements of its motivations and needs.

Main contribution to the values-driven research approach development process was made by the leading national researchers including M.S. Kagan, L.I. Lubysheva, V.A. Yadov and A.G. Zdravomyslov. As noted by L.I. Lubysheva, further progress of the modern Olympic movement is associated with the value of sports as a factor of social integration and global consolidation being on the rise [3, p.101]. The core idea of the personality disposition theory by V.A. Yadov is that a personality tends to develop a complicated system of dispositions that largely regulate the individual behaviour and actions [2].  

Based on the values-prioritizing approaches of the leading social analysts, we would make a special emphasis on a personality being considered as a consumer driven by the relevant consumer values. Deserve mentioning in this context are the core values that urge a consumer to:

  • Satisfy his/her needs by the relevant sport products being selected and consumed;
  • Obtain timely and sufficient information on the sport product;
  • Emotionally engage in and support the relevant product-dictated behavioural model;
  • Support the national idea and policies to advance the popular mass sports;
  • Effectively interact with the other subjects to the commercial relationship in the sports sector; etc.

As far as the modern sports are concerned as the socially meaningful phenomenon, the following core values need to be highlighted in our opinion:

  • Olympic values dominated by the fair competitive process to identify the champions from among the elite athletes;
  • Moral values that imply the relevant moral rules and standards being observed;
  • Aesthetic values that imply pleasure from the beauty of competitive shows;
  • Cultural values that imply the relevant sustainable behavioural models being formed; and
  • Material values that imply the sport products being created and consumed.

Generally modern sports make it possible to cater for the relevant consumer values since they are commonly perceived nowadays as an integrated (higher-level) social value and, hence, determine the hierarchy of values in the relevant social domain.

Conclusion. Consumer values of the modern sports are largely based on the relevant world-outlook-shaping universals and may be viewed as both the constituents of individual cognitive system and elements of the relevant individual motivations and needs. Foreign and national research communities presently tend to differently interpret the essence of the notion and offer different classifications for its elements. We believe it is important to give a special priority to the consumer role in the sports sector and the relevant consumer values in this context.


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The study offers an integrated approach to perception of modern sports as a socially important phenomenon. The approach is based on a retrospective analysis of the global sports progress and the sport culture contribution to the social and economic development worldwide within the certain evolutionary stages. Further philosophical analyses of the modern sports sector may help define the modern sports on the whole and their specific disciplines in particular as independent research subjects, with a special attention given to the metaphysical and axiological status of sports and the relevant internal and external factors of influence on the consumer demand and behavioural models in the sports sector. We offered a set of criteria to define the status of modern sports in the socio-economic system with a special emphasis on a functionality-based approach to the sports; and developed on this basis a classification of the social functions of sports. The philosophical and sociological approaches to the studies of modern sports make it possible to identify their consumer values in the modern world. Based on the available approaches to classification of the modern sport values, we give a key role to those of them that are the most important for a consumer personality and, hence, the most influential on the consumer behaviours in the sports sector.