A research team from an Australian university analyzed the experiences and perspectives of sports executives from professional teams, sports governing bodies and sports associations to assess the impact of the pandemic on business practices and lessons learned.
Two key areas stood out above all: digital transformation and new styles of leadership and collaboration. Together, they can design a different future for sport (but I also see a lot of usefulness in the management of any company). Let's see them in detail.
Embrace digital transformation
Sports organizations have proactively and rapidly embraced the role of technology during the pandemic, finding new ways to reimagine the digital content of their channels, and increase remote transmissions.
What once, even for sports clubs, was a strategic competitive advantage (digital) has suddenly become essential for survival.
The pandemic has provided new ways for athletes and coaches to work together and we have found new ways to watch sport, engage in new rituals and interact with teams and athletes.Adam Karg, director of Swinburne's Sport Innovation Research Group
Sponsors and broadcasters have also found new ways to engage fans through digital media and home experiences. Among the things that jumped to the eye was the participation "on video" of the faces of the fans. Paradoxically, this has redefined the role that the presence of the public will also have in the post-pandemic. Different, otherwise “risky” shooting techniques have also been adopted in an attempt to rapidly rethink the digital offer.
What will change: in the future there will also be much more use by sports clubs of data-based practices and technologies. Artificial intelligence and blockchain will help provide a better experience for fans of all sports.
New styles of leadership and collaboration in sport
The collective uncertainty created by COVID-19 has also driven new leadership practices and unprecedented levels of collaboration in an industry known for having fairly granitic hierarchies. This has rapidly evolved the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire sports industry.
The leaders who have performed best are those who are agile, innovative, who have not hesitated to create new rules, to support decision makers in new ways and to adapt quickly to the challenges of remote leadership.
Many sports organizations have responded by embracing new ways of working and communicating, reinventing their products and processes, and overcoming the ingrained views of leadership styles.Dr. Jonathan Robertson, Deakin Business School
The main tool? Collaboration obviously. What else, in a period of forced distance? Leaders and organizations communicated more with each other, shared information, formed and strengthened partnerships.
What will change: The use of these practices opens the door to new systems and procedures, from the management of a “mixed” time at a distance and in presence, to the reorganization of the entire offer in favor of athletes, enthusiasts and fans.
The future of sport
The sports industry will continue to be asked to do more with less. At the end of these new Olympics and continental championships (which are almost a remnant of the "old world") will start with fewer resources. It is useless to deny it.
However, the gradual return of participants and spectators, coupled with vaccination programs and the reopening of borders, offers opportunities for reconstruction. The future will be positive if the lessons learned during this period are put into practice.
The unknowns - As mentioned, so much could be left at stake or lost due to the reduction of resources. It is the beginning of a challenging period for sport: the path of exasperated professionalism could be abandoned for a while, in the direction of a gradual regrowth. Just as the new styles of leadership and collaboration put people back in touch, so too must be done in the relationship with enthusiasts.