Achieving Authentic Fan Engagement Through Sports Management

Authenticity is key to any market segment, global sports included. Online sports management education tells us, if you’re going to market towards a particular group of individuals, if you’re going to segment a given group, then you have to ensure that you’re doing it authentically. If you are coming at it from a marketing perspective and you’re throwing out a message that you think only they will understand from your own perspective, not only are you going to be in danger of not properly communicating with this segment, but you could be in danger of perhaps offending this group. A famous example or a series of examples used within sports management education, speaks of an incident perhaps about 10 or 15 years ago, where they had the whole concept of “shrink it and pink it.” This was a group of male marketers who just assumed that female consumers would like anything small and pink. Without interacting with this segment, they just made it smaller and they made it pink, assuming that female sports fans would like any given product that was small and pink. As we know, that’s not the truth. All female consumers are definitely not all the same and they’re not all going to prefer anything that is small and/or pink. Not only are you not properly communicating with this given segment, but, in fact, you could be in danger of offending them. A lot of females were up in arms over these “shrink it and pink it campaigns.” It was the idea that, “They don’t get me, and this is in fact the opposite of what I like. If you’ve shown, on a continual basis, to not understand my preferences, then why would I want to continually consume with you in the future if it’s been clearly understood that you don’t understand me.”

Analyzing Sports Analytics via Sports Management Education

Global sports analytics is integrating the new data and information that exists today in abundant form into different decision processes, be it for on the field of play or in the C-suite for the sales and marketing team. Today, sports analytics is so critical to decision processes. We have an explosion of information because of different data-capture devices and technologies that are out there. Anyone who’s going to work in the sports environment today or in sports management needs to understand how to incorporate that information into decision processes. One of the things sports analytics does is it helps increase the probability of a successful decision. Business is all about making decision after decision to drive revenue, to reduce costs, to get the best players on the field. When you look at it that way, you realize that you can’t just do that all from instincts and intuition. Instincts and intuition count for something, but also you’ve got to be able to employ data and information to generate insights. Our online Sports Management Education course looks deeper into understanding sports analytics and its relationship to sports management.

Athletics Should Bring Us Together, Not Separate Us

Sports can serve as one of the best areas to be able to boost self-confidence and to develop a sense of self-worth that can last a lifetime. Granted, this requires a strong support system and a safe space to fail. You need to have someone there who’s going to be constructively critical when you’re making mistakes but also make it clear that they believe in your ability to improve. Without that, sports run the risk of becoming a venue for developing a fear of failure, especially if someone is all over you, beating you down every time you do something wrong. Sports are a great platform to reflect on and also reinforce issues of equality in society. When we have categories in a sport that separate people based on age, or weight, or gender, we may be making statements about the way people should be separated in the world. Ultimately, it should be all about fairness. If we don’t have categories that promote fairness, then why should we have categories at all? As an example, there are certain sports where women compete just as strongly as men, whether it be sailing, or equestrian, or ultra-distance swimming or running. However, sometimes in these sporting events, men and women are still separated. This is simply a relic of historic sexism. And if there are changes to be made that can be better reflective of an inclusive culture, then we should make those changes. It may be time that we don’t think about gender in the biological or traditional sense, but we instead think of it as the way that an individual chooses to identify. When it comes to creating categories for track and field, it should be based on things that are more specific. If we have the technology to determine how biology influences one’s ability to compete at different levels, then perhaps that should be the standard for how we separate people into different categories. Generally, when we think about sports, we think of them as being a great avenue to improving health and fitness—and this is true. But in certain ways, it can also cross a line. One example of this is either adults pushing themselves too hard or children getting pushed too hard, and they end up developing injuries from overuse. Another issue that’s occurring today is this popular notion of self-quantification. When people are all wearing Apple watches and Fitbits all the time, it can potentially lead to losing the notion of what it means to be fit and healthy. Instead, we’re chalking up our value to a number. This can be a problem, but if we’re able to separate ourselves from these arbitrary quantifications of our steps, our heart rate, and these competitions and put the emphasis back on just getting out there to play, be physical, and connect with other individuals, we will be better off as people. Keeping this in check is something that we as a society really need to keep an eye on as technology becomes more and more pervasive. Online sports management education allows you to learn more about the impact of technology on athletics, as well as concepts regarding sports management and global sports. It’s also a convenient, effective way to gain your sports management education.

Bandwidth Speed and Sports Data

One of the really important developments in sports technology and innovation is 5G wireless bandwidth. This allows for exciting new aspects of sports management that can be learned in sports management education or online sports management education. Think of it this way: Fifth-generation wireless is like a 100-lane highway. It’s able to move mounds of data faster than you ever dreamed before. It’s dramatically faster than 4G. For example, a movie that would have taken six minutes to download in 4G could now be downloaded in less than 10 seconds in 5G. The better news is that it only consumes 10% of the battery power that 4G would consume for downloading that movie. This network speed affects IoT, Internet of Things, which is essentially wired devices that connect to the internet. When we have a 5G network, we’re able to move the information and data that comes from wireless, wearable devices so quickly that it can be delivered to not only the coach on the sidelines who’s watching and evaluating the players practice, but also directly to the fans because of the bandwidth capability. The impact this could have on global sports is astronomical. It’s an exciting time when we’re beginning to see all sorts of data and information about what’s going on in the field of play, and it’s really largely made responsible by the combination of wireless devices, the Internet of Things, and the 5G network.

Benefits of Kids Sports Participation

Sports can be a valuable developmental tool for youth. Many young people today in the US and all over the world participate in sports. Of course, it has physical health benefits. It gets our young people off the couch, out of the house, and engaging in physical activity. In the long run, it can do many positive things, including mitigating insurance costs and health care costs over the long term. Self Esteem Building Beyond all that, it does a lot more. It does something within the individual themselves, perhaps building self-esteem. Also, teaching what it’s like to be part of something bigger than yourself. Particularly in team sports, that comes through loud and clear. There are many ways in which sports can play a key role in youth development. However, it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes parents can be overzealous, and essentially hijack the sport from their child, which changes the context. Parents can become obsessed with the possibility of their kid becoming a star athlete in their community, or in college, and maybe one day professionally. But the chance of that kid making it all the way to the professional level is probably lower than 1% for most sports. So what is the product of these parents putting so much pressure on their kids to perform for such an unrealistic goal? We see kids losing interest in the sport before they even get to middle school, certainly before they get to high school. Participation Dropping Participation rates are dropping because there’s so much focus on those few star performers. Then, even with that pool of star performers, how many of them are going to make it? Not a lot. We have this system that tells kids at an early age to focus on one sport, whether it’s baseball, basketball, or football, to make sure they’re good enough when it comes time to play at the professional level if they ever actually get there. Then what happens? They end up hurting themselves before they even get to a serious level, before they even get to high school. They blow out their shoulder by pitching too much. They’ve had too many cumulative concussions by getting hit repeatedly on the football field, or they burn out emotionally. Sports Management Should Put the Focus Back on Kids Having Fun It’s not fun anymore. What happens to kids when the fun is taken out of this forum that’s designed for their emotional growth and for their social world? They abandon it. They don’t want to do it anymore. We need to make sure we can take the power away from parents and give it back to the kids. We need to ask, “What is this about”? It’s about the kids. It’s not about your dreams, mom and dad, which are unrealistic and unfair.

Diversity and Inclusion is Needed Everywhere, Even in Sports

The incredible visibility of global sports creates an unprecedented platform to start really important conversations about things like racism and homophobia. To win gold medals for one’s country and still feel like a second-class citizen is the bitter paradox facing many colored Americans. “Because we were black athletes, what we were supposed to do is run real fast and go home, smile, get pats on the back, and still be relegated to second-class living,” says Tommie Smith. Tommie Smith sets a new world record in the 200 meters with John Carlos taking the bronze. “And I’m supposed to stand up there and look at the flag,” Smith continues, “put my hand over my heart, saying how proud I am because the flags are representing me. I don’t think so, because it did not. So when the national anthem started playing, I was not looking at the ground. I was saying the Lord’s prayer, my head bowed, and my fist went up in the air.” He went on to say, “I wore black gloves to represent social power or black power. I wore socks. No shoes represented poverty. I wore a black scarf around my neck to symbolize the lynching, the hangings that black folks went through while building this country.” In 1968, when John Carlos and Tommie Smith took the platform at the Olympic games and chose to raise a gloved fist in protest, they were taking a chance that they might never be able to compete at the highest level again. That sacrifice made a conversation happen across the world, which still echoes today. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the star-spangled banner, he was putting his career on the line to get a conversation started about police brutality. Kaepernick says, “A lot of things that are unjust, people aren’t being held accountable for. And that’s something that needs to change. One specifically is police brutality. There are people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable. Cops are getting paid leave for killing people. That’s not right.” People are questioning whether this was the right venue for it, whether it’s possible to still appreciate America and be a patriot, and kneel for the national anthem. I don’t think Colin has anything against America, per se. He has an issue with what’s happening in America. This is the kind of conversation that’s getting started, and sports are an extraordinary venue to make this happen. In the Sochi winter games, there was this question that a lot of athletes had to ask themselves; whether they would go to compete in a country that has laws that are explicitly homophobic and discriminatory against people who identify as gay. There were some athletes who chose not to participate, which is one form of protest. There were some who chose to go but chose to be very openly supportive, either as allies or as people who were gay themselves, in a forum that would be hostile to them – which is another way to take a stand. There’s no better location to get these conversations started because so many people are watching. Many middle schoolers in the US, Tanzania, or India, who had no idea about the kinds of policies that exist in Russia, were then exposed to it and having conversations about their own policies at home that may or may not be explicitly discriminatory. Sports management education, as well as online sports management education, have the task of including these difficult and controversial conversations to push sports management and sports (as a whole) in the right direction.

Effective Marketing To Target and Keep Sports Fans

The sports ecosystem is not at all what it used to be. It’s not just about owners, players, teams, clubs, and franchises and how they fit into a community. It’s much more about how the community and everything that it’s involved in fits with the sports franchise and its players and owners. We live in a time where the power of global sports makes them matter so much to people that companies, organizations, and institutions — entities that we would never have considered connected in the past — are now connected. All of a sudden, architectural firms are being called on to build new and different stadiums. Engineering firms certainly have their hands in sports management. They’re partnering with ownerships, and the teams add player representation, along with convention and visitors’ bureaus, mayors’ offices, the municipalities, and local nonprofit organizations that serve the community to change people’s lives in different ways. The power of sports and sports-led development create this ecosystem that is really about what we all know and are all searching for: community. We just talked about the ecosystem in sports. It’s complex. There’s no doubt about that. It’s a fun business to be in, but it’s an expensive business to be in. Many professionals are associated with it, and the ownership of sports franchises, the leagues, and the people that serve within sports management are changing all the time. What I have seen over my career — and something you need to keep in mind in your sports management education — is that evolution in sports is something that we can expect. You can’t always expect to make a profit. You can’t always expect to win. But you can expect that sports is going to evolve, and it’ll evolve quickly. Fans are obviously hugely important to a sport organization, and it is so much easier to keep a current fan than it is to develop a new one. So, organizations need to be able to use the data they have about their current customers, not only to keep them but also to move them up the ladder so that they go from being what we would call a light user to a medium user to a heavy user. The goal is always to get that fan more engaged with the team. That’s going to help the team in the long run. The fact that the teams have so much data that they can use to specifically target fans for specific tickets or packages means that the fans are going to get more out of this experience as well, because they’re not just the targets of mass marketing. It helps them to feel a deeper connection to the organization when there is that level of personalization. As online sports management education emphasizes, it’s really important for teams to be able to segment their consumers. In doing so, they can take this segment and market specific products or packages to people who fall into this category, versus something different for this other group of fans. All the data that organizations now have about their fans is great for being able to develop those segments and also understanding that sometimes a consumer might not stay in the same segment. If we have them here, but we’re moving them up the ladder of going from a light user to a medium user to a heavy user, then they’re going to also maybe fall into a different category or a different segment as their consumption patterns change.

Ethical Challenges in Sports Management

How do we decide what’s doping and what’s not? What constitutes a fair preparation or a fair piece of new technology versus something that is unfair or is considered cheating? There are a number of people who are naturally more talented at sport. Why should it be any more fair or reasonable for me to play in the same league as someone like LeBron James when his natural talent is so much greater than for me to decide to take some substance that might improve my performance? Why is that any less fair or more of a form of cheating? Ethics in Global Sports All sports have to make decisions about the kinds of technology and the kinds of preparation that align with the essence of that sport. They consider what preserves and promotes the kind of displays and exhibitions of talent and skills that are essential to that sport itself. So beyond biology, we have these questions about what constitutes fairness or the kinds of technology that can be used in sports? Online sports management education programs examine these vital questions in an ever-evolving global sports platform. Sports management education analyzes these ethics questions and works to level the playing field for athletes to train with acceptable enhancement and technology at all stages. Assistive Technology For example, when someone is going to run a race, should they be able to compete against somebody who doesn’t have complete legs and is using carbon fiber blades to actually run? This is a question that came up as a result of Oscar Pistorius, who was a dominant champion in the Paralympics. He didn’t win all the time, but he won enough to make him question whether he should be able to compete against typical able-bodied people. This sparked debate among sports fans in deciding whether this would be a valid form of preparation, a valid kind of technology to use-in lieu of shoes. Questions came down to things like how quickly could he turn his legs over as opposed to a regular runner, and is this fair or unfair in terms of the advantage he would get? What about the kinds of cramps that other runners have to suffer in their lower legs, which he wouldn’t get? Does he generate more power with each placement of his blades than a person in regular shoes? It’s not an easy question to answer, but it comes down to the qualities of the sport that we’re trying to protect or preserve. Does this technology support those qualities? Specialized Sporting Equipment People thought that it would be impossible to break the two-hour marathon for years and years. Nike took this as a challenge and designed the Vaporfly Elite shoe. They believed that if these shoes were worn by one of their elite runners they would enable them to break the two-hour mark. The specialized shoes generated tons of media attention and interest. Some of the greatest runners of all time, including Kipchoge, put on the shoes and set out to break the record. Using this technology, with specifically placed bubbles, extra spring, and even a carbon fiber spoon in the bottom of those shoes to create more energy, they achieved greater results than previously possible. The whole Breaking2 campaign was pretty awesome. But was that the marathon in a traditional sense? When we think about it, Kipchoge was running a completely flat course during that trial. He was wearing these hyperspecialized shoes, and the conditions–the location and weather–were perfect for breathing, and he ran 25 seconds over two hours. Even with specialized equipment, he still didn’t even achieve the goal. This failure doesn’t mean it’s not possible, but it means that in even these optimal conditions it’s still pretty hard. We have to question, do those conditions align with the spirit of a marathon? No way. If he had run that, there would have been controversy if he had run the marathon in under two hours. Many would have said he ran a hyperspecialized fantasy version of the marathon. Many would have argued that it was more of an exhibition than a sport. Consider athletes who are training to qualify for Boston: If they are running a race that has too much net downhill, they’re not going to be able to qualify because that’s not a certified course for Boston. Meanwhile, other courses must have a certain amount of hills because that’s a requirement of courses designed to meet the standards of a marathon. Thus, while breaking two hours using the Vaporfly Elite is pretty cool, it’s an exhibition. It’s not a true marathon.

Evolution of Athletics From Fun to Business

In the late 1800s, around the beginning of organized sports management, but before it became a business, it didn’t matter if you won or lost, it was all about how you played the game. When someone said, you were a good sport, they were talking more about your sportsmanship than abilities. This spoke to the way you conducted yourself as a gentleman or lady, to your ability to be a good citizen rather than a good third baseman. Then, athletics was associated with class and behavior. Not with winning or losing or athletic excellence but how you understood and demonstrated fairness and decorum. In the mid-1800s, the idea of Manifest Destiny became wildly popular. This phrase was a philosophical belief that the United States should continue to move westward and establish and conquer over all the land and all the indigenous peoples of those lands. And because of those actions, there were wars, civil wars, wars with other countries: Mexico, Spain, even the Native Americans. The West was proclaimed “won,” and then there was nothing left to take, no more wars to wage, nothing more to conquer. The 1890s were known as the Gay Nineties. Not gay as in sexual orientation, but gay meaning grand, jolly, and wonderful. The economy was good, there was gold and cattle, and everyone had lots of money, and there was plenty of land for all the colonizers. And during this time, the president of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt felt like the nation had gone soft. He believed the United States had forgotten what it meant to be a leading nation. He decided then that athleticism would be viewed as preparation for war. This is when athletics started to become serious. And the military academies and best colleges in the US wanted to produce the best athletes. So academies like West Point began to focus on creating better athletes to prove they have the best teams because winning became everything. Because if you won, you proved you were prepared for war. But with the focus being on winning at all costs, it wasn’t too long until cheating started to pervade organized collegiate athletics. As teams became desperate to win, cheating and fixing games became more commonplace. The more gambling and game-fixing that happened the more people realized they could monetize and turn leagues and sports management education into a professional enterprise. In an effort to police the monetization of the up-and-coming enterprises of professional teams Teddy Roosevelt created the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Although this ended up being just a body with very little ability to enforce anything. As things started to professionalize the public became enthralled with organized sports that the corruption was abundant. The commercial zeitgeist was portraying an overlord economically, monopolies and great wealth ran everything. There was no income tax and no reward for those who were actually doing all the work, the athletes. So they brought a case all the way to the US Supreme Court. This case regarding the earliest of leagues, Major League Baseball, faced overwhelming societal pressure to stop the illegal monopolies. The Sherman Antitrust Act was the prevailing law and ruled that baseball was indeed a monopoly but not the kind that the Sherman Antitrust Act was meant to protect against. Although the monopoly was interstate in nature for obvious reasons being teams had formed in nearly every city and every state, the language used stated the monopoly was local in nature and exempt from antitrust laws. This ruling gave birth to the mindset in America that sports somehow differ, that they were sacrosanct and are able to abide by different rules based solely on their cultural significance. Global sports management clung to romantic notions of sportsmanship while exploiting the commercial realities of that romantic notion. And this conflict still continues today, all four major professional leagues enjoy antitrust protections, whether completely, in the case of baseball, Supreme Court-sanctioned or statutory and in part for the other leagues. Brendan Parent reinforces the power sports have in the industry with his statement that, “It has become one of the most dominant industry forces in the world because of its universal appeal. It is woven into the fabric of every community across the globe.” Making it a driving force for economies everywhere, he goes on to explain, “…When a sports organization pops up in a particular region, it draws attention from people who live in that region, and the government from other industries to create partnerships, collaborations.” So the teams bring an influx of attention and interest to a certain area and then are expected to give back to these new partners in meaningful ways. This reinforces the power these organizations hold. The universal appeal draws companies in with opportunities for sponsorships and affiliations to draw more interest in the product they’re trying to sell. Using a town’s favorite players or teams and being able to capitalize on viewership and Global Sports fandom equals profit for these companies and local economies. There’s also the ability to profit from televising and hosting sporting events that adds fuel to the universal sports power draw. All of this leads back to the universal appreciation for what athletics are. There are examples of organized games being played all the way back in Aztec and Mayan communities; organized gaming has always been a way to perhaps escape from the trials and tribulations of life, enhance community, and build teamwork. There is not a single corner of this globe that hasn’t been touched by it in some way. And that fact is what makes it so marketable, but only recently has professional athleticism become a mega multibillion-dollar global industry. From online sports management education to million-dollar franchise deals, competing athletically has evolved over the years from a simple pastime every human can enjoy to a multimillion dollar global mega industry, held sacred by the masses.

Exploring Analytics in Online Sports Management Education

One of the important areas of sports and sports management analytics for off the field that’s really interesting is this whole area of return on investment for a sponsorship or partnership with a consumer product brand. Teams now are being pressed pretty hard in leagues to justify why they want x-million dollars or x-hundred-thousand dollars in sponsorship fees for a consumer brand to be affiliated with them. Oftentimes they’re giving them signage at the arena live or stadium. They’re giving them broadcast advertising in their telecast of their games. They’re perhaps including them on their website for the team or the league. You’re constantly hearing these brands asking, “Why am I paying $700,000? Why am I paying $4.5 million?” It’s really incumbent upon global sports organizations to use this data that’s at their disposal. They have access to such data as demographic data and behavioral data, including the frequency of returning to a website or how long you are staying on each page of the website. In sports management education we talked about eye tracking. There’s also eye tracking for stadium signage and all sorts of data capture devices that are monitoring the interaction or the behavior of the fan with the sponsor’s brand. One of the things that sports organizations are doing, particularly with new sponsors that they’re acquiring, is they’re trying to measure, pre and post, the affinity toward the brand by their fans. To put it in perspective, let’s say a certain football team wants to bring in a sponsor. They might do a survey and ask their fan base all across the market how they feel about the sponsor’s brand. Are they buyers of that sponsor’s brand, users of it, et cetera? Then, when they bring the sponsor in one year later, they can do the same survey again and hopefully show them that the purchase intent of the consumer, the fan, has gone up because of their affiliation with the sports team.