It is common to confuse sports image with sports marketing, so I decided to write these lines to explain the difference between them.
In recent years, we have witnessed the grown of new specialities. 50 years ago there were a few degrees and students chose four or five options only.
Nowadays, technological development and new media are emerging leading us to explore new specialties and get more significant differentiators.
This is how sports image has come up. Not to compete, rebut or refute other specialities, is available to enhance knowledge and provide better content to media and their audiences.
Image is a specialty released in 1960. In the beginning, people seen it with eyes of curiosity but now it a essential skill with enormous importance in any field, and in sports, there is no exception.
Let’s review contents. Commentators are constantly saying during a match that a team has a good or poor image. More than a simple result, people are paying attention in temperamental behaviors from athletes, and how critical situations been solved for the good of the club, country or a sport.
And that is just the essence of sports image: people is perceiving how athletes are behaving in the field and out of it and how true are this image with what they do, act and what their body language is communicating.
An example: people think “Chicharito” Hernández has a better sports image than Cuauhtemoc Blanco. It’s just perception. I think both of them have a highly effective sports image.
Many people love and others hate Jose Mourinho. The same case happens with Pep Guardiola, Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi. It is just perception.
Sports image is BEFORE and marketing sports is AFTER the life of an athlete. It is similar to hire an exceptionally talented player -image- and how the promoter sells him -marketing-.
More athletes link to brands. In England, Wayne Rooney was the “image” of Coke Zero´s ads, but finally the company ended up their relation with him and hired Chicharito Hernández because he was the best athlete that represents the values of the brand.
That is why athletes need to develop an effective sports image strategy, define their personality and know the limits and scope of their temperament, abilities to talk with media and relationship with fans knowing which messages are sending their body language.
In summary, sports image is a puzzle which pieces must assemble well to communicate a total positive perception. These pieces are:
1. Athletic abilities
2. Communication skills
4. Personal style and look
7. Body language
8. Public exposure
If one of these elements is weak, sports image will not be solid and could disappear quickly even if marketing campaigns are successful.