Turkey, clearly has a proud and longstanding history with sports and sports enthusiasm. Sports, as a cultural access point in fact is written into the Turkish constitution, as an aspect of cultural and personal growth goals for the entire nation.
Turkey is one of the rare countries in the world which has an article related to sports in her Constitution. Article 59 of the Constitution says, "The State takes measures to develop the physical and mental health of Turkish citizens of all ages and encourages the spread of sports among the masses. The State protects successful athletes." In recent years, with investments made in the field of sports, scientific research and the increase in importance placed by the State on sports policy, sports in Turkey became a well-liked and interesting event both as a performance sport and for the utilization of free time. Activities are continuing for sports, which became an essential passion and a way of life in the developed countries of the world, to take the place it deserves in Turkey just before the twenty-first century as an important social activity. With this objective, sports engaged in by the masses are encouraged, that is one of the basic components of raising a physically and mentally healthy society, the concentration is being directed at all the areas of Olympic sports rather than on a single branch, the predominance of the state is being decreased while the contribution of the private sector is increased and measures are being taken for the rational utilization of the facilities. Furthermore, the Confederation of Turkish Amateur Sports Clubs, and numerous associations and foundations are among voluntary sports organizations.
Galatasaray Football (Soccer) Team celebrating the UEFA cup Championship in 1999-2000 season
The current trend in Turkey, supported by the state is for the development of competitive athletes, in both team and individual Olympic sports. Traditional state support and massive individual sports enthusiasm has also led to a significant number of private clubs and organizations, supporting football/soccer and other sports. This participation begins with the very young and continues to a professional adult competitive level and is highly ingrained in the culture of the nation.
Sport in Turkey is being encouraged and supported by the state and sports clubs are given financial aid. The main targets of the sports policy of the state are to increase the number of athletes, to attain superior successes at international sports competitions, to prepare suitable sports environment for encouraging and providing for every individual at every age to engage in sports activities. Large sports facilities and investments in Turkey are realized by the state to a great extent. However, an important increase in the number of sports facilities of sports clubs and private organizations can be mentioned with the start of the development of the perception of sponsorship and marketing of sports in recent years. Of the total 2,574 sport facilities in Turkey, 261 belong to the private sector.
State supported events and clubs pepper the nation, in addition to private clubs, which often receive support and sponsorship from the state authority, the highest of which is the Directorate General of Youth and Sports, a subsidiary annexed to the Prime Ministry.
The Directorate General, which was established in 1938, has provincial directorates that perform its services in 81 provinces. A total of 6,499 personnel are working for the central and provincial organization of the Directorate General. Referees, provincial representatives, coaches, observers, etc. also undertake voluntary duties at the organization.
Again the stress of the state officiated and supported programs is to support Olympic sports, while others are included as national interest in them waxes and wanes.
Within the structure of the Directorate General, there are, currently, 37 sports federations. These are Marksmanship and Hunting, Track and Field, Basketball, Horseback Riding, Bicycling, Boxing, Badminton, Ice Sports, Billiards, Bridge, Gymnastics, Mountaineering, Fencing, Wrestling, Golf, Weightlifting, Handball, Scouting, Judo, Karate, Skiing, Rowing, Table Tennis, Archery, Automobile Sports, Underwater and Water Skiing, Chess, Tennis, Taekwon-do, Volleyball, Body building, Swimming, Sailing, Handicapped, Universities, Traditional Sports Branches and Sports-for-All. The Turkish Soccer Federation became autonomous in 1992. Furthermore, certain sports are performed within the structure of sports clubs or by citizens in spite of there not being federations for these sports in Turkey.
The national and regional governments are highly involved in the development of sports in Turkey and in fact the goals and standards of the sports programs in Turkey are decided on and developed annually by the Prime Minister in the form of Sports Education Plans, at the bequest of needs and requests coming from national and provincial Directorates of Youth and Sports as well as other leaders and stakeholders in the sports systems, both private and public.
The most important goal of the Directorate General of Youth and Sports is to provide that citizens of all ages engage in sports for the development of their physical and mental health. Furthermore, handicapped citizens are supported and encouraged by the state to engage in sports and to participate in sports activities.
A profile of sports clubs information states that the organizations both private and public stress mass participation in sports, on the fields and in the seats for the sake of personal and cultural development. "The perception of mass sports and widespread sports is accepted as the most important component for the development of competitive sports in Turkey."
Those who are engaged in performance sports in Turkey participate in the sports activities within the structure of the 6,169 Sports Clubs. Galatasaray, Fenerbahce, Be-ikta?, Efes Pilsen, ulker, Eczac-ba?
, Vak-fbank, Tofa?, Enka, Neta? And Arcelik are among the major Sports Clubs. A great majority of the sports clubs concentrate on soccer. Furthermore, there are individually licensed athletes who do not belong to any sports club and engage in sports and participate in competitions. The number of licensed sportsmen in Turkey is 176.906.
The statistic shared above is actually a very old statistic as the current, 2008 information offered by the Directorate General of Youth and Sports at the opening of the Beijing summer Olympics noted that the actual number of licensed sportsmen is about 2.5 million and climbing.
Pointing to Turkey's extremely young population, Atalay [Youth and Sports General Director 2008] said: "We have diversified our numbers of licensed athletes, bringing the number up to 2.5 million from around 400,000. But when you look at the general panorama in terms of our population, we still have a ways to go. Our goal is to have 10 million licensed athletes in the next decade. In fact, in a nation of 70 million, with more than half of being youth, this number should reach 20 or 30 million. When we reach these numbers, we will take our place as one of the top five nations in the Olympic Games and we will come away with the most medals of any nation."
The national sports demographic is in fact diverse and growing daily, in turkey, which is essential to growth in marketing and support of retail sports industry outlets, of which there are many. For the most part Turkey, among all the nations in the region simply has a feeling of "sports" in the air.
Table 2 Sportsmen According to Their Branches 2006
Branches Sportsman Referee Honorary Trainer Permanent Trainer in Staff
Sports for everybody
Tae kwon do
Ski and Sliding
Resource: Samsun Provincial Presidency of Directorate General Youth and Sports
The above table shows the number of licensed sportsmen, for just the governorship of Samsun, but it representative of the demographic of many regional areas, in the nation, with the exception of the fact that locals bordering water ways and ports of call have higher numbers of water sports enthusiasts and participants.
Sports are in fact so important in Turkey that some nationally and internationally recognized businesses; consider sports sponsorship and support to be a consummate aspect of corporate social responsibility and support clubs and sports of interest to the nation, even when their actual business directives are completely different in nature. In one example of this Turk Tele Kom, a leader in telecommunications technology expresses its support for the cultural directive of personal and cultural growth by supporting and helping to train 6,000 licensed sportsmen and women who participate in volleyball.
Although soccer is the most popular sport in Turkey, basketball, volleyball, handball, track-and-field and wrestling (which is considered as the ancestral sport) are also popular. Furthermore, important international successes have been attained in weightlifting, boxing, taekwon-do, judo and archery in recent years.
A total of 1,275 medals, with 398 of them gold, were won in international competitions in the period between 1999-2000 (May). The sports branch which obtained the greatest international success was wrestling with 231 medals. Furthermore, 5 world, 14 European, 2 Balkan and 250 Turkish records were broken in five categories in 1999. Turkey obtained her first Olympic Championship with Ya-ar Erkan in wrestling…
Furthermore, the Confederation of Turkish Amateur Sports Clubs, and numerous associations and foundations are among voluntary sports organizations.
As Richard Polidoro and Uriel Simri (1996) write, " Most of the athletes participating in the Games of 676 BC probably came from various Peloponnesian districts and had a relatively short distance to travel. Some participants, however, may have traveled from communities located outside the immediate vicinity. Under the sacred truce, or ekecheiria, the athletes, officials, and spectators were guaranteed safe passage to and from Olympia." Another important factor to note
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