The year 2020 will be engraved in the memory of every individual around the world for many years to come. Change is a constant, but 2020 was a year of extraordinary change as well as challenges. Commerce, education, professional services, health services, tourism industry, sports industry etc. are creating war rooms to keep the ‘lights on’ to fight the COVID-19 impact. The world is combating health as well as an economic pandemic. It is impacting trillions of dollars of revenues.

The role of sport in modern society is a continuous social experiment in which mankind shows it’s potential.  We see an accumulation and improvement of human capital expanding its potential at every step of the individual and sport as they grow. Within the spectrum of sport, we also see those performing developmental, educational, patriotic, and communicative functions to find the edge which sets them apart and transforms them within their sport.

Sports throughout history integrates and coordinates individuals and social groups helping the nation to develop as well.  The sport system is directly connected with the sub-systems of health, science, culture, upbringing and education. It is a foundation for development in many cultures.  Sport has a significant impact on the socio-economic and political processes of any modern society. It provides a large impact on key areas of social life and brings nations, various cultures, and individuals under one roof.

Now we are living at a time with Covid19 where our lives are disrupted.  Our common place lives have disappeared to curtail the spread of the disease. The necessary social and physical distancing measures, the lockdown of business, schools and overall social life have been detrimental.  Many regular aspects of life including sport and physical activity have literally disappeared. This has also resulted in the closure of gyms, stadiums, pools, dance and fitness studios, physiotherapy centers, parks and playgrounds.  How we took for pleasures for granted…

With the beginning of the year, what can we look forward to in 2021?

Global sports sponsorship spending is expected to fall somewhere between 35% to 50%.  Live attendances will mostly be canceled for the most part and sports-related media revenue generation is expected to drop.  The sports industry that was will never be the same again, but that doesn’t mean this is all for the worse.

As various nations are transitioning to a post-lockdown world, the sports industry is committing them to create a “better normal”.  There are several different ways organizations are looking to do this.  This includes better broadcasts as well as safer live event planning (along with Covid guidelines).  It is also opening better prospects for partnerships and looking for improvement in experiences for fans.  The hope is to create better all-round entertainment and engagement.  There will be a greater focus by governments to use sporting events to unite their citizens.

The global lockdown has unintentionally sped up many things we projected from live sports, broadcasters, and the athletes themselves.  Players like Lebron James and Neymar asked fans to join them in online home challenges.  The International Table Tennis Federation called on fans of the sport to submit videos of them to stitch together the world’s longest rally.  Juventus used the stop in play to reach out to fans in China and grew its base of Chinese fans exponentially.

This activity has set a new bar for initiating direct-to-consumer communication.  It is the breaking of the fourth wall by creating interesting opportunities for brands and sponsors to be part of direct conversations with fans.  Those who embrace this and create programming around this new normal will thrive better in the new normal.

The shut down on traditional sports have given rise to Esports and the gaming industry. Korean Esports team T1, which is represented by SPORTFIVE, penned deals with BMW, Samsung, Nike and Logitech all within three months.  Esports may have benefited more than any other growing entity in the world.  It was like adding an excellent to its fire growth.  Talk of it in the Olympics in the future has already surfaced with serious thought during this past year due to Covid19.

Governments are trying to jumpstart their economy and what’s better than sports and live events? Sports events can be a great marketing play to get countries under a positive spotlight.  You need to look no further than the millions upon millions spent to host a World Cup where the world comes and sees a “version” of what the country has the potential of being.  It plays into various matters including tourism, investment in infrastructure, and their “hope” in rebuilding the nation’s economy. There is the great potential between leagues, venue operators, sporting authorities to put on sports and events if they focused on COVID-19 guidelines, national spirit, and keep fans engaged.

People are social beings and they crave to go out to attend live sporting events and entertainment. Anyone who has been in a full stadium for sport or entertainment understands this at a visceral level.  It can be expected that sports and entertainment could be even bigger than it was.  This is not just in terms of fans attendance, but in overall interest, engagement and production.

As we start to have growing confidence to return to live events stadiums should start equipping their infrastructure to deliver enhanced fan experiences. Event owners can continue to look at ways to implement augmented and virtual reality on the ground with simultaneous live streams on social channels.  These actions will help to supplement the live experience and to reach larger audiences.  We have taken note at Pro-Am Beach Soccer and will have many of these at our own events in 2021, Covid permitting…

Sport is a remarkable force that can unite nations all over the world. The coming out of Covid19 will definitely not be easy task.  But the innovations and new realities of socialization in a Post-Covid era will definitely take it to the next level. Sports will come back stronger than ever. We just have to hold on a bit longer, hope for the best, and take the steps now to be ready for the new era of interaction and taking events to a different place for fan experience than has ever been done before.  May it come sooner than later…

 

Written: Shannon Martis

Edited: Tighe O’Sullivan

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