While most of Europe and some football fans around the world were watching the Euro 2020 competition, Cristiano Renaldo with one move changed the focus. Not only did the focus change, it brought people other people who really couldn’t care less about football into the conversation of the tournament that was playing out in front of us.
While the world was watching, Ronaldo hid the Coca Cola bottles that are strategically placed in the camera shot to out of the viewing area. It caused a stir of conversation and a twitter storm. People saw it as a big eff you move to the big unhealthy corporations that sell sugar filled drinks and pay big money to place their products in such events and in front of the many viewers.
In fact, it is reported that Coca Cola’s market value fell around four billion over the next twenty four hours. People were delighted that with just one move, Ronaldo could have such a strong impact on the huge corporate giant that is Coca Cola. While I was probably more interested in and enjoying watching the football and in seeing how far the England national team would go, I did find the conversations that ensued pertinent.
Aside from the economic impact that Ronaldo’s snub so to speak had in the market, the other topic brought forward in the discussion was the concept of product placement. Companies like Coca Cola intentionally put their product next to sporting events so that people subconsciously connect the dots and will see the product as less unhealthy than it really is. Putting it next to some of the healthiest and fit football stars creates the image that all that sugar won’t have such a bad effect on one’s fitness and body. In fact, it would go further and allow people to think that if they can drink it, so can I. Once again, the connection between fitness and sports is made.
This interconnection is made not by the individual, but by the commentators who are arguing how fed up they are of companies doing this sort of thing with product placement. They argue that the psychology and the placement of these products is deceitful and dangerous. I even heard one commentator talk about how putting such a product next to fitness i.e. the football, should be illegal. While this may be true, I want to point out, controversially maybe, that sport isn’t fitness.
There is a conflation of industries that needs to be discussed here. It needs to be discussed because this in itself is product placement. Sport is competition where individuals or teams compete with each other to win and that’s it. Fitness is just a by-product of the main occasion. While yes fitness plays a huge role especially today in how well the competitors perform, it is not the intention of the occasion or the main principle behind it.
Conversely, sport can be used to achieve fitness, but it’s not necessarily the most effective or optimized way to reach ones fitness goals. Fitness is also about healthy living, self-work and improvement physically and mentally which is different to sport and the underlying factors of its industry.
Of course I have and always will encourage people to use sport to help them with their fitness especially if that’s what they enjoy and gets them to be physically active. But there is also a different appreciation in sport that is not inherently fitness. I know that when I play a game of football, yes it’s decent cardio, but that’s not actually why I’m playing. I’m playing it to enjoy the game.
Conflating the two can be detrimental to the overall understanding of health and fitness as well as wellness. Many sports stars go on to lose their fitness after they retire because they were only keeping it up while they had to for the game. I used to play a lot of football as a kid and still ended up being extremely overweight in my early teens. There is also the thought process that comes from this conflation that is whatever they say goes which again I believe is in of itself disingenuous. Not to mention the emphasis of each of the two industries. There is synergy but ultimately, they are two different industries which have two different underlying purposes.