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Back to News 13/03/2018

The new state of the sports economy

The transformation of sports over the years has been dramatic and incredible. Athletes have completely changed how they compete and what it means to be involved with sports. People everywhere are striving to be their best selves physically, and they are working to accomplish this goal in various ways. That’s why fitness is the main vector of industry growth throughout the sports world.

Many people do this by running, doing CrossFit, playing different sports or by participating in a variety of extreme physical activities. As sports become more popular on an individual basis, more and more people are starting to join in on the fun of competing when it comes to their chosen sport.

You are the center of sports

Not that long ago, sports were mostly consumed by watching them — either by attending an event in person or on television. However, that’s becoming the case less and less. Today, individuals are often at the center of their own sports world. They compete against themselves as they pursue their personal fitness goals. The objective is to stay fit, not to win a game. It doesn’t mean that games disappear, they will always be around, but they’ve reached a certain maturity, whereas personal-fitness is rapidly growing.

In fact, it’s one of the number one growing sports in the United States and Europe, and is quickly growing in Asia as well. That’s why fitness sports are the number one diver in the sports industry throughout the world.

Sports and social media

Today, rather than performing for a crowd or to win a trophy, people are performing for themselves and sharing their results on social media. They do this on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms and share videos and selfies. Now, they are the ones being watched as opposed to them watching others.

People also utilize technology to push themselves more than ever before. Instead of simply playing a game and seeing who won, people are now monitoring their distance, calories burned, heart rate and other things through Apple Watches, Fitbits and other watch-like devices. These results can easily be posted on social media as well, increasing the different ways that people can show others how they are performing.

They feel the need to stay fit all of the time. People become competitive and train harder based on the photos and videos of other people working out. Given their fast-paced lives many people live today, it’s also really important they are as healthy as possible. Missing work isn’t an option for them. This need to perform has begun to intersect all areas of life and blurred the lines with music, culture and other areas.

Is CrossFit a dance or a workout? How about Zumba or Barre classes? At the end of the day, these things don’t need to be put into separate categories.

Standards are gone when it comes to sports

This new performance attitude and self-focused fitness has really altered the landscape of the sports industry. Standards are gone and there a no more norms.

Sports companies used to just have to sponsor athletes in order to promote their products, but today, they need to reach the consumer directly.

A prime example of this is Nike, as they have almost entirely abandoned promoting their products to clients through traditional ads. They want to show consumers directly how their products can benefit people's’ lifestyles. They centre their advertisements on fostering community, identity and what matters to their customers. Similarly, Adidas opened an enormous pop-up store in Shanghai that allows them to directly engage with their customers. The store’s goal is to allow customers to experience their product — not to sell them anything.

What all this means is that sports are growing more and more complex and making money through sports is no longer black and white. Instead, it takes serious creativity and ingenuity to navigate the sports economy, something that will take time, energy, and good teachers to develop.

A great way to get a leg up is through emlyon business school and their MSc in Sports Industry Management. There’s so much information out there that we can’t actually understand sports until after we’ve had comprehensive training on how to do that in the modern era of sports. The sports economy is only going to get more complex, so it’s important to start looking at sports from a new angle and imagine what the industry will look like in the future. Anyone who doesn’t will likely be left behind.

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