If previously the tobacco companies were the top sponsors, today those in the sponsorship game range from financial institutions to oil and gas companies, airlines, IT and telecom firms.
Sponsorship spending in Asia-Pacific last year totalled US$6.4bil and it is no surprise it would rise to US$7.4bil this year.
The countrys largest bank in assets, Malayan Banking Bhd, is the title sponsor for the on-going Malaysian Open 2007. Other sponsors for the annual golf event include Carlsberg, Emirates, Astro, Bursa Malaysia and Acer.
The Open is 45 years old and Maybank became the title sponsor in 2006. It had a five-year contract, with an option for another five years. In return, the event gets 10 hours of live coverage in 68 countries.
Sporting events are viewed as an ideal advertising tool and, being a regional player, Maybanks move into sports sponsorship is viewed as a good platform for its brand positioning.
Earlier, Telekom Malaysia Bhd had sponsored the Le Tour de Langkawi, an international cycling event, and today, it has customers in many countries globally.
CIMB Bhd's sponsorship of Nicol David, the international squash player, has also turned out well. She continues to make Malaysia proud in the global sporting arena. Petronas is ever so popular with its F1 sponsorship.
Besides great advertising, sporting events help corporations build relationships, network, create awareness in highly competitive mass markets and build loyalty.
It is no denying the Government and Malaysias corporate sector are doing a lot for the development of the sports industry in the country. But more really needs to be done.
There are kids out there who cannot afford to buy a racket or even a ball. There are many who have not held a squash racket and many others who cannot buy sports shoes. There are also many fields and courts not maintained,, so nuch talent yet to be discovered, and so many children who need training but have nowhere to go.
It's no point throwing big money into building facilities if they are not maintained and upgraded; there is no need to set up so many sports centres or clubs if the fees are not within the reach of the general public. There is no need to start a programme if there is no follow-through.
It is not just corporates which are taking the lead. Bosses of companies are coming in on an individual basis.
Ahmad Khalif Mustapha Kamal, the son of MK Land boss Tan Sri Mustapha Kamal Abu Bakar, is said to spend some of his Sundays with underprivileged kids, including a few from an estate in Taiping, teaching them golf.
He may have his reasons for doing so, but the fact remains that he is willing to expose these children, who may not be able to afford even a golf ball, to play the game.
It is well and good that corporations are helping in the sports development in the country but a lot boils down to commitment and continuity.
There needs to be a concerted effort, besides a lot of funding, so that young Malaysians can be trained and have access to try out different sporting events. Only then can we create international players like David.