Identity and Sports Marketing in Africa: A General Review

Chijindu Okpalaoka1, *, Keziah Olaniyi1
1 Department of Business Administration, Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria

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© 2022 Okpalaoka and Olaniyi

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Business Administration, Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria; E-mail:



Sports marketing is distinct from other consumer products, and that producers of sport experience cannot foresee the outcome, certain events are unpredictable, and results are unknown.


The study purpose was to examine and review identity and sports marketing in Africa.


The study used qualitative data and relevant literature reviews, using past literally works and secondary data.


The study showed that the distinction between personal and social identity is frequently misleading, hiding both the parallels and linkages between two ostensibly different levels of identity. Moreover, the sports sector has the potential to contribute to Africa's industrial prosperity significantly. Findings of these results related to personal (self) and social identity and other practical implications are discussed.


The study concluded that positive self-identity helps African athletes to have a positive image about themselves which enhances their sporting performance, thereby leading to sporting progress in Africa.

Keywords: Personal identity, Social identity, Sports marketing, Consumer products, Procedures, Sports sector.


“Who are you?” is one of the most critical questions that most individuals would ever face. It is a question we might ask of ourselves and others. People, society, and classes cannot confront it. At times, we may specifically examine the following: who are we? and who am I? Nevertheless, the question is indirectly addressed to a variety of mental and societal developments like the choices people make, the objectives they follow, individuals’ feelings and responses, our personal associations, our welcoming or unreceptive actions towards various groups of people, and lastly our own cognitive and emotional well-being. Identity research is fundamentally concerned with how people and organizations respond to the question Who am I [1] the conscious or unconscious gist of their responses (self-concentration), mental or sociological methods used in achieving, sustaining, and occasionally reviewing such responses (self-mechanisms), or individual and interpersonal significance of these contents and functions.

Given the complexity of the subject, it is not unexpected that identity theory and research expand well beyond the boundaries of education and psychology. Numerous disciplines have placed a premium on identity, including ideology [2], social sciences [1], humanities [3], moral philosophy [4], liberal arts [5], and psychoanalytic theory [6].

Identity conceptualizations differ significantly inside and across fields, making the concept of identity appear difficult. It is seen in different ways, such as “homogeneous” or “plural,” “actual” or “fabricated,” “fixed” or “dynamic,” “private” and “public,” and some other ways that frequently appear to oppose one another [1]. As a result, several scholars argued that any effort at amalgamating would be futile [7] or that the concept of “identification” is overly widely significant [8]. In contrast to these ideas, we argue that it is via an examination of these apparent conflicts that some of the most intriguing and possibly consequential questions concerning identity emerge: How can we understand identities as undivided, consistent, and genuine when they are also dynamic and formed? And what would it entail to characterize identity as individual and social at the same time?

This research aims to examine and review identity and sports marketing in Africa


2.1. The Contrast between Self and Social

A psychologist may discover the importance of distinguishing between private (individual) and group identities among the first things a psychologist may find. This is intuitively appealing, given that an individual is not synonymous with society. Moreover, it corresponds to a wider trend in modern perspectives regarding personality or group identity as antagonistic forces [9]. However, closer examination reveals a blurring of the conceptual boundary between identity and culture. Self-identity, is it private or communal? and social identity, is it public or private?

According to one instinctive explanation, self and societal identity refer to distinct groups of individuality material [10], notably described social identity as that aspect of a person’s participation in a social group and the significance and psychological importance associated with that engagement.

By extension, although not explicitly mentioned in Tajfel's definition, self-identity may remain the aspect of self-discovery formed from people’s information regarding different types of self-attributes. Thus, personal (self) and social uniqueness are distinct classes of identity in this perspective [11]. As we explore later, research and theory inside the cultural identity paradigms make content distinctions between personal and social identity challenges. Only a popular assessment of a particular component of self-content as public or private causes it to be so—and this interpretation may also be very context-dependent. Insignificant qualities such as a person's choice of painting between two very similar painters can serve as a means for social identification and relationships under proper conditions [12]. Therefore, as logical as it might appear, categorizing some parts of identity as personal and others as social does not appear to be viable.

Furthermore, one could argue for a separation between the processes of self and social identity. According to this perspective, societal character is common not because of its substance but because it is considered situated throughout interpersonal relationships and social discourse among individuals, rather than within the intrapersonal activities of individuals [13]. Nonetheless, we suggested that the convergence of events at these several levels confers significance to identity development. Much traditional theory of social identity is based on intrapersonal processes [14]. Many research and ideas bear witness to the significance of personal, social, and cultural processes in forming individuals' self-concepts [15]. Hence, identity development and maintenance involve psychological factors, social interaction, and broader socio-cultural procedures. Thus, focusing exclusively on one of these levels results in a rationalistic and shallow perspective of the importance of identity.

We discussed the ramifications of understanding identities as inextricably self and social, not just in their meaning but by how they are generated, sustained, and transformed periodically. Although theorists within the literature of identity tend to focus on individual and public contents and self-or community development, we assert that the construct's psychological and community nature provides the concept with its most considerable theoretical potential. A strategic perspective that considers this multiplicity could communicate to scholars and academics in all marketing disciplines.

2.2. Self-Content

The majority of scholars agree that self-elements are extensive and varied, stretching well beyond the confines of an individual's physical body. According to a study [16], concept of what he called “Me” was an early expression of this situation:

In the broadest sense imaginable, a person’s self is the totality of his being, not just his physique and psychological abilities, but his outfit, home, wife, children, ancestors and friends, his reputation, achievements, fields, horses, boat and money accounts. Every one of these activities elicits the same feelings in him. Should they grow and thrive, he feels victorious; if they fade and pass away, he feels defeated; not the same level for each object, but in a similar manner for all. Identification may now be used to refer to the psychological process outlined here. Numerous studies have directly examined how people connect with themselves through their cognitive and emotional qualities and significant relationships, communities, physical items, and locations, leading to the notion of an ideal self [17].

2.3. The Broader Self: Both Human and Organizational

We discussed research demonstrating how individuals identify with significant others, teams, tangible objects, and locations. This is not an entire list or classification scheme but this shows the scope of what might be called self-gratification. These characteristics are called features of a protracted personality, as they transcend the individual's figure and mental aspects. Nevertheless, what grants them cognitive significance is that individuals perceive them subjectively, identifying with them as part of identity or as part of their response to the question, who are you? Hence, far, is it distinct from self-awareness? it is simply because such portions of the extended self are so intimately linked and mentally compatible with one's self-esteem that they are so significant.

2.4. Recognition of Relationships

Aron and colleagues conducted substantial research on the notion that significant others can be regarded as part of oneself. A study published a series of tests demonstrating that intimate people were considered interchangeably with individuality during resource allocation, recollection, and response tasks [18]. Additionally, the degree of individualistic alignment of close associations is significantly connected with perceptions of intimacy and anticipated relationship quality after some period [19]. The integration of someone else (ISE) in the self-scale [20] is a visual assessment of identity overlap that is currently frequently employed in close relationships research [21].

While this approach is focused on particular interactions, some other research has looked at personal characteristics in the proclivity to perceive intimate connections as significant and explanatory. A study [22] created the Interactional Self-Construal scale to assess these propensities, which includes aspects such as our relations that are a significant reflection of who we are. As a whole, our close relationships have minimal bearing on how we feel about ourselves. However, this dimension had a weak correlation with affiliated allies. ISE measured the actual amount which people considered others when making critical life decisions, and the extent to which people were viewed as receptive in dyadic interactions [22]. Additionally, more excellent achievers possessed more comprehensive cognitive representations of intimate friendships and a stronger retention of relational data [23].

2.5. Proof of Identity within a Group

The notion that organizations and society have a significant role in identity is broadly investigated in communities. While this is not always the case, a central premise of social identity theory is that group identity processes operate in some way analogously connecting distinct self-evaluation methods. Sometimes people try to positively see themselves as superior to others on the magnitudes that matter to them, they will seek to be in clusters on which they find favorably distinct from noteworthy outgroups with valuable aspects of assessment [14]. An abundance of studies backs up this forecast. Individuals protect their personas against attacks on their self-worth and self-integrity [24]. As has been the case with individual connections, people vary in their degree of identification with the group they belong to. Also, multiple social identification measures have been created to capture the numerous ways a person may feel connected to their society [25]. Furthermore, scholars have tried to disentangle various aspects of collectivism, including ego, collective obligation, and confidence [26]. There is currently no consensus over which models should be favored, and this is further muddled by vagueness concerning the different definitions of identification.

Moreover, some of the posited dimensions, like shared confidence and inner circle equality, may be viewed as associates of identification than as mechanisms. Thus, dimensions that may be much more easily integrated into the theoretical field of proof of identity are frequently seen as distinct constructions. For instance, the notion of self-union was defined here as an instinctual sense of singleness within clusters and occasionally quantified using a pictographic measure got from the ISE scale. It is theoretically central to the proof of identity concept defined here; which is empirically characterized using a different frameworks [27].


This section made use of qualitative data and relevant literature reviews, using past literally works and secondary data, which are outlined below;

3.1. The Unique Self: Personal and Social

Unfortunately, not all components of identity transcend so easily beyond an individual's physical borders. Can we thus consider a person's physical or psychological qualities to be intimate rather than social? Psychologists have frequently emphasized biological or cognitive continuity as possible grounds for determining an individual's identity. However, such criteria are debated [18]. Indeed, the physical body, particularly the nerves, is the locus of subjective reality, including the self-concept. Nevertheless, the perceived values and activities of a person's physical and psychological features are less social than the previously stated identity categories.

3.2. Mental Characteristics

Although humans are inextricably linked to social identity, personal attributes such as cerebral talent or behavioral inclinations are regarded solely as unique components of identity? This appears troublesome, as mental characteristics are definite, understood, and cherished socially with cultural standards and social categories. Culturally, specific notions of intelligence vary [28], and normative performance on IQ (intelligent quotient) tests has shifted drastically across generations in modern Western nations [29], resulting in periodic modifications to the grading of conventional IQ measures [18]. Thus, labeling oneself clever makes sense only within the confines of a specific socio-cultural value system and a comparison context that varies over time, even within civilizations. Additionally, intelligence judgments can serve as a basis for social categorization and group formation in educational settings and adult life. Thus, “intelligence” is a social identification position inside a specific socio-cultural frame of reference as much as it is a unique quality.

Numerous personality qualities are essentially social, describing how a person interacts with people: one cannot be truthful, friendly, harsh, forceful, or even autonomous without someone with whom to be fair, caring, unpleasant, aggressive, or impartial. Personal attributes are also inextricably related to identity groups, as they provide meaning for gender, ethnicity, nationality, age, profession, and a variety of societal classes [13]. As we explored, individuals may adopt features linked with significant social types due to stereotyping and social validation processes [15]. Through a process called self-anchoring, an individual can also project their self-perceived personality traits onto the social categories to which they belong [30]. In summary, personal qualities, like any other part of identity, are inextricably social.

3.3. The Physical Body

Instead of emphasizing the body as a location of subjectivity, socio-cultural study has frequently placed a premium on common gist and human purposes as a thing. Physical traits are a significant information source that individuals use to describe themselves and people of an established common gender, race, and ethnic groups [31]. In most societies, sex differences play a significant role in how individuals are classified and thus supposed to act. Specific attributes, such as melanin pigment in many contemporary cultures, may also play a role in social classification, while extra physical features are given no weight. Hence, the body is a critical component of group identity.

The body and communal identity are inextricably linked: Individuals classified as belonging to a given society may be anticipated to exhibit bodily qualities related to such groups. For instance, individuals in today's Western nations are frequently required to conform to ideal standards of 'female' and male looks, which are incorporated into the dominant societal notions of men and women's sex characteristics. Comparisons between self-appearance and overall confidence can be very high, and a longitudinal study has established a significant impact on self-worth concerns regarding confidence in female teenagers [32]. Notably, there is compelling evidence that body image problems have socio-cultural origins. Social comparisons contribute to body dissatisfaction, particularly in response to media pictures that present unrealistic and frequently digitally altered appearance standards [33]. Initially, these procedures were observed in female youth and adults, particularly concerning a socio-cultural model of women appeal [34]. Still, similar procedure have been observed in little girls concerning the slim ideal [35] and in men confronted with a muscular contextual model of masculinity [36]. As a result, body image is closely related to both individual self-esteem and group identity.

3.4. Examining the Diversity of Identity-Related Content

By now, it should be clear that any effort to categorize the substance of personal and social identities is difficult to sustain in practice. Individual contents, such as physical characteristics, personality traits, and personal experiences, derive great importance from societal connotations, particularly their relationship with community groups. On the other hand, so-called socio-cultural contents like associations and cluster affiliations increase the significance with which people identify with them. Additional facets, like physical goods and location, appear to fall beyond the “personal-social” distinction and are frequently left out of scholarly discourse regarding identity.

3.5. Mechanisms of Identification

Along with an emphasis on distinct types of information, philosophical background on individuality emphasize various kinds of identity-building methods, conceptualizing identity at specific interpretation levels [37]. Different theories in industrial/organizational psychology vary in their emphasis on individual psychological processes [38], interpersonal social responsibility [39], and broader socio-cultural and geographical processes [18]. Consequently, scholars may describe identity as self or social, depending on the methods they believe are very critical to self-development. However, focusing exclusively on processes taking place at one level provides a highly incomplete and potentially reductionist picture of how personas are produced, sustained, and modified through time.

Satisfactory explanations of identity building must ponder on the interaction of individual, relational, group, and social developments occurring over time. This necessitates the integration of ideas gained from disparate theoretical views [37].

We attempted to map out some crucial elements for such an analysis in the following paragraphs. We argued that identity development begins with a specific social and ancient backgrounds. Within this environment, building one's identity entails bargaining one's image with significant persons through social interactions. These interpersonal changing aspects are augmented by psychosocial developments centered on the fulfillment of fundamental identity goals. Peer pressure and self-categorization techniques establish an individual's identity, which can change over time and in reaction to changing settings. When considered collectively, these numerous processes and dynamics assist in explaining why identities tend toward stability and how they might change.

3.6. Self-Awareness that is Both Reflexive and Symbolic

Developing identity is highly dependent on mans' ability for reflexive consciousness. Numerous creatures exhibit fundamental aspects of self-and other awareness (e.g., recognizing oneself in mirrors and predicting what others will do), but humankind has vibrant symbols of themselves [38]. Men portray themselves not only as things but also as metaphysical, symbolic conceptions and categories rooted in language and communication. Although symbolism consciousness is language-dependent, it cannot exist in isolation. Indeed, it is believed that the capacity for symbolic self-awareness originated mainly for social reasons, as it supports adaptive purposes related to group cooperation and togetherness [40]. Therefore, the self-concept is inherently social from an evolutionary standpoint.


4.1. Sports Marketing

As a theoretical concept, sports marketing has a plethora of perplexing choices. Academics have disagreed with what sports marketing is [41]. Particular literature gives the idea that sports marketing is synonymous with sports sponsorship. However, there is uncertainty about whether a distinct sport-related marketing mix applies or whether sports marketing is a subset of fundamental marketing, such as marketing and sales. Additionally, there is no agreement on the precise terminology for sport (singular) or sports (plural) marketing, complicating the matter further. A study contend that “sports marketing” tends to portray the business as a jumble of disorganized segments devoid of a commodity [42]. Thus, the subjunctive tense is recommended, as all sport components should be viewed as a single unit.

Another study coined the first definition of sport(s) marketing, stating that it encompassed the actions of industrial and consumer product and service salespeople who frequently used sport as a promotional vehicle for their (non-sport related) services and goods [43]. Although the concept that sports marketing promotes a company's image or products/services through sports is oversimplified, it reveals why some management manuals, strategists, and business policymakers conflate sports marketing with sports sponsorship.

4.2. Sports Marketing in Africa

It is unclear whether any academic journal has published data on the African sports sector's size, extent, and characteristics; however, some data about the South African sport industry is accessible. The sports industry in this country is highly lucrative: it provided more than a billion dollars to its economy in 2000, employed directly over 30 000 people, capped sports spectator expenditure at $80 million, and exceeded $200 million in business expenses through direct sponsorship and indirect sponsorship assistance like sales promotion. Nearly 2 million South Africans actively play football, while roughly 9 million of the population watch their favorite teams compete, making it the country's most extensive sporting activity. Sports marketing as a scientific topic of study has not yet made it to the top tier in Africa. There is scant evidence of studies on sports marketing and sponsorship management in Africa. Furthermore, a study [44] found that the Nigerian government is the only owner and funder of sports. As a result, there is little competition when it comes to marketing sports as a product, especially when it comes to the four Ps of the sports market mix: product, price, promotion, and place.

Finally, since very few African schools offer sports marketing training, and marketing students are not exposed to this topic of study, this research is therefore timely and vital.


We have suggested that individual and social identity can be frequently misleading, hiding both parallels and linkages amongst two ostensibly different identity levels. According to studies on behavioral psychology research, cognitive factors of identity and societal activities of self, and support can shape one another. This explains how identities can be perceived as genuine, coherent, and constant, even though they are manufactured, diverse, and dynamic. Moreover, the sports sector has the potential to contribute to Africa's industrial prosperity significantly. It was consequently unfortunate that Germany was given the 2006 Soccer World Cup. If South Africa had won the championship, the Southern African region and the entire African continent would have benefited economically and financially during that period.


This article discussed identity, the various aspect of identity and sports marketing in Africa, using qualitative data, secondary data, literature reviews and relevant literally works. The manuscript was limited in empirical nature and other geographical aspects, and future studies or research should be carried out in these domains.


From the Vision 2030 blueprint, Africa can learn how to build a model for effective sports marketing. In addition to relaxing people, sports and recreation also give people the chance to do physical activities for fun and health, through organized competitions and events, while at the same time helping to solve and deal with social problems through positive engagement.

When used correctly, sports, recreation, and entertainment programs can help people get to know each other and be more tolerant, which can help reduce tension and start conversations. Furthermore, if used well, sports can help people make more money and lessen the burden on the poor.


Not applicable.




The authors declare no conflict of interest, financial or otherwise.


I want to thank Azubuike Okpalaoka for funding this research.


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