Professionalization in sports
In the early days sport was only government funded, not market oriented like in the 21st century. Some excellent athletes quit at the height of their careers because they were uncertain about life post retirement. The situation began to change in the United States. The Americans created around the period of the industrial revolution their typical American sports with their own rules, like Baseball, American football, Basketball and Volleyball.

The popularity of these sports increased drastically after World War II. American Football stadiums with capacities of more than 50.000 spectators were built and the media published the matches. Especially universities made lots of money, and they saw this as a profit making business. American Football was more popular than baseball, and the annual Super Bowl became the most important sport event of the United States. In 1991 the top 20 most watched TV-programs had nine games of the Super Bowl competition. The professionalization (or professionalism) of sports has encouraged the emergence of a sports management market and business-structured systems.

In this modern era, an era with enormous developments in sport, there are lots of sport organizations dealing with common organizational problems. Unfortunately there are quite some sport organizations re-inventing the wheel over and over again, where it concerns professionalization.

But what is professionalization?
Who is a professional? What attributes constitute professional status? It seems that sport organizations and people involved in sports use the same terminology, with different (personal) definitions, based on different perceptions. A profession is a special kind of occupation. Professionalization or Professionalism refers to the orientations and actions of sport organizations. According to Warrior (2002), professional development is the process whereby all individuals within an organization improve their competencies.

The author Bayle defines professionalization as “the technical management of dossiers and the actions delegated to permanent staff: salaried staff, staff made available by the State or volunteers with time and specific competencies”

It can be concluded that there is no global accepted definition for professionalization in sports. There are different key factors or indicators, which are accepted to be an essential part of the professional level of a sports organization. I would like to mention five indicators selected, which could be used in order to classify sports organizations, with regards to their professional status.

The indicators chosen are:
. Quality
. Performance
. Efficiency
4. Human Resources
5. Good Governance

Each of these can be divided in different aspects to analyze separately. Detailed analyses are available via following the links to the indicators above. Be sure to visit the Proactive Think Tank or regularly as we add new thoughts on the indicators.

This article is part of the thesis written by Remco Tevreden, as part of the international program MEMOS (Executive Masters in Sports Organisation Management) and has kindly been made available to Proactive by Remco and Sportential (