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The World Is Changing. How Can The Sports Industry Change With It?

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Learn how location and safety regulations will affect your decision making 

Over the past few months, we’ve all experienced significant changes in our personal and professional life. For the sports industry, disruption has come in the form of cancelled or postponed events, suspended or rescheduled competitions. Not to mention the revenue losses for a number of sports leagues and clubs. The ramifications are wide-ranging, from mundane considerations about the competition to potentially serious financial consequences. This includes athletes, teams, leagues, organizations, and the tens of thousands of people who work at sporting events. Nevertheless, many are managing to reinvent themselves and resist this crisis, and have come together to face it. This article will focus on the impact to a $160 billion sports world that has gone dark and the trends that are emerging amidst the disruption.

It appears that we may not be “going back to how it was before”. Meaning that to adapt to the disruption, we will need to know what factors we are dealing with. Experts note that decisions on when to reopen—and the level of precautions taken—ultimately may fall on business owners and where they are located. Associations like the NBA reopened training facilities, but only in states that began to relax their stay-at-home orders. The move still may not allow team practices, but players will soon be able to use the facilities.

Also, organizations and facilities will likely have to implement universal and regular testing, temperature checks, enhanced sanitation practices, and physical distancing requirements as we transition back into work and play. Knowing what your state’s regulations are will let you know how much time you have before opening your doors. More importantly, it will allow you to plan for your new normal. 

Innovation amidst the panic: What sports providers are doing now. 

  1. Consider virtual sports competitions… but think about it strategically.

Formula 1 launched an F1 eSports Virtual Grand Prix, NBA faced each other on NBA 2K20 competing on Twitch, and German Bundesliga launched a virtual tournament on FIFA 20. Many companies and organizations are starting to take their competitions and classes online. It is clear that it is an environment in which we can all participate. However, think about how you can tailor a virtual platform to complement your services. For example, moving to smaller group sizes during classes or training. This has been shown to increase camaraderie, accountability, and success for individuals in the group. When individuals exercise in a group, they establish relationships and make friends, which helps to increase adherence to the program. In turn, this will mean better business for your organization. 

  1. Shift the focus to learning and growth opportunities. 

Less than four in 10 youth coaches have been trained in the past year. Coaching doesn’t start on the field or in the gym. Hence it might be a good time to consider if educational tools for your coaches or trainers fit into your service strategy by providing value to your clients and athletes. Some national organizations have created platforms to provide coaching tools which promote social and emotional learning for parents, coaches, athletes, and leaders. Even if you’ve been trained previously, online courses like these can provide a great refresher. This will ultimately set you apart amongst your competitors with the gained experience and competitive knowledge. 

  1. You’re not alone. Join forces with those around you. 

Leagues & Associations

Now more than ever, maintaining and building relationships within the sports industry will be essential. Connect with other organizations in your community to share resources or networking opportunities. You will realize that you are trying to solve the same problems and promote the same goals, and can benefit from the collective measures during the crisis. Clubs, leagues, and facilities have teamed up to form various means of local support systems in their respective local communities. With objectives to keep kids playing sports during this time of uncertainty. Resources are in abundance, where one can find informal discussions on day to day topics such as refunds, changing reopening dates with fully-fledged blogs and websites sharing internal resources and data, and Slack channels to ask questions.

Coaches & Athletes 

There are a great deal of emotions in losing sports. During this time, coaches and trainers can still do what they do best: coach. By training them through methods like mental toughness, you will not only stay connected to your clients and athletes during this time, you will also help them to cope as effectively as possible with the crisis. You could also consider focusing on performance reviews and goal setting. How many times have you reached the end of a class or season and felt like there was not enough time to discuss development objectives? With these tools, your clients and athletes will respond in positive and constructive ways. They will be ready more than ever before to get back into the swing of things. 

Business Owners & Clients 

Recruitment and registration strategy will be top of mind for business owners as restrictions loosen. It’s very likely that when games do return, fewer athletes and sports go-ers will be registered for games, classes, and events. This could create significant financial challenges for sports providers, so staying connected to clients will be critical. Think outside the box when it comes to interacting with your clients. Like providing incentives for them to return once things are normal. For some business owners, this has meant using discounted prices, promotions, or gift cards—which puts money immediately into their hands and creating incentive for the client to return down the road.

Venture capitalists like GIFTforward, have created a non-profit initiative to help owners in the restaurant industry sell over $10,000+ in gift cards since they launched. As we all take a pause during this shutdown, more than ever, there’s an opportunity for your organization to appeal to your consumers in new and creative ways.

For more information on how your organization can navigate the effects of COVID-19, view our resources and articles here: 


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Our mission is to play, learn and enjoy sports activities anywhere, at anytime, by connecting people and amateur sports providers all over the world.

We want to create opportunities for people to participate in local sports services, and events, while helping community organizations prosper and grow.

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