By Dr. Tomi Wahlström |
In this time of change and turbulence caused by the pandemic, natural disasters, social unrest, and political tension, we all need some stress release. Sport has usually provided much needed entertainment and helped with our tensions. Now, however, enjoying sports has become much harder and the current challenges have threatened the entire sports industry. Many teams and leagues have cancelled their seasons and even the Olympics have now been postponed. Mass gatherings are not possible and there is no immediate release in sight. It is easy for people to feel pessimistic. It is easy to think that our favorite pastime is gone. Aspiring sport professionals may feel discouraged to pursue their dreams and athletes may consider other passions.
Humanity and all its expressions have always found ways to survive. Sport is an expression of humanity. It is a manifestation of our competitive spirit and desire to achieve. Sport has been around since the beginning of humanity and will likely survive as long as humans exist. There will always continue to be a need for sport to serve as stress release and entertainment. However, sport will evolve like everything else around us. Many new forms of sports may emerge from this evolution. Some current sports will not be as sustainable as others will in the new normal. The ways we play and enjoy sports will change. For example, esports will almost certainly become a much more mainstream sport. It is possible that, in the future, we will enjoy even more televised sports rather than attend in-person. Stadiums could become venues that allow even better audio and video broadcasting. In boxing, for example, Showtime has been quite successful in broadcasting fights without any audiences present in the arena. Football, baseball, and basketball leagues and teams have played successfully without live audiences. These are just early signs of the evolution that will likely happen. We cannot see yet what the new normal will be because we have just started. We cannot imagine and visualize what we have never experienced before. However, with some hope and positivity, we can change and evolve. We can innovate and find new ways to enjoy sports. There is a future in sports for all of us. We just have to be brave and dare to think differently.
The change is already starting with the home fitness equipment. While gyms may be the victims of this newfound success, fitness itself will survive. In evolution, there will always be winners and losers, so to speak. Some business models will not survive while others will. Sport professionals will almost certainly create new business models to sustain the industry. Sport will find a way. Athletes will find new ways to compete, and teams will find new ways to train. It will all happen one way or another. This is because humanity always finds a way. All expressions of humanity, including arts and literature, have found a way. Sport will too. This is the time for brave new sport professionals to go back to school to learn new models and develop new paradigms. This is the time for entrepreneurial thinking and innovation like never before. This is an opportunity to be part of the new solutions and new trends.
Dr. Tomi Wahlström is the Provost at the United States Sports Academy.