The essence of sport will forever be a question of performance, of breaking down barriers. As it claims an ever increasing role in our society, sport must be able to respond, as the world around it evolves. That’s why the third edition of Global Sports Forum Barcelona (GSFB) has answered to the crucial question: “Sport: What’s next?”
And what actually is next? Which are the trends sports is facing? The answer is: more entertainment + more innovation + more marketing + more values + more power. Let’s take a closer look to each of these new trends.
More entertainment. Sport is a major vehicle for entertainment. Jacques Séguéla (below), Vice-president and Chief Creative Officer of the Havas Group, pointed out that sport is all about passion and excitement: “The show is what makes people dream. Sporting events are the most followed events in the world: much more than show business, politics or economics.” Athletes themselves are also seeing their status evolve. There is no longer a distinct line between sport and entertainment – today sports stars are celebrities on a par with the greatest movie stars.
More innovations. With the development of social networks, athletes, clubs, sports entities and sports brands in general can and should move closer to their fans. “Facebook is of interest to brands and athletes because it is a superb tool for measuring emotional impact on fans. Thanks to Facebook, passion became social”, explains Christian Hernandez (below) from Facebook. Legendary Séguéla is also fascinated by the impact and importance of social media: “We’re living through a revolution [...] The media has become social media and that is fantastic.”
Social media provoke dialog and intimate relationship between sports stars and their fans. Jonah Lomu, former All Black, explains: “My fans always want to know more and I think it’s perfectly normal to give them what they want.”
Sport follows trends and vice versa. Developments in sport have an impact upon society, and more and more people get involved in sport thanks to these innovations. How can we forget what Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympic athletics champion, said on the subject: “When I put my prosthetic legs on, it’s just like you putting on your shoes. I have never felt handicapped.”
More marketing. Decade ago brands were simply clients of sport, but have become its veritable partners. We have moved on from the era of sponsorship through interest to an era of sponsorship through necessity. The idea is to consider sports fans as consumers and to fulfil their demands. Sportspeople themselves are also becoming brands. Take Li Ning, a former gymnast, carrier of the Olympic flame in 2008, and currently head of China’s first equipment manufacturer, a symbol of the progress made in developing countries. (Sports) marketing has become one of the most important drivers of the sports industry and sport itself.
More values. Everyone is searching to give their life meaning. This is why the 21st century will be about social responsibility. More and more brands, institutions and sportspeople (Didier Drogba for example; above) are looking to get involved.
Sport can also be an educational and development tool for creating a better world. Examples of FIFA, International Olympic Committee (IOC) and many others sports bodies and institutions are proving has been putting this idea into practice with great success thanks to a variety of different programmes. Many athletes as well have decided to put their fame to good use by supporting various good causes. Athletes are role models and have the power to change mentalities, or at least to give back a bit of what sport brings them. “Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Sport is capable of changing the world’. When all sportspeople have understood that, we will be on the right track,” admits Raí (below), former Brazilian international football player and founder of Gol de Letra.
More power. The voice of sport has got louder: so loud that it can no longer be ignored. And the good news is that, thanks to the values of sport, this voice will only increase in volume in the years to come. Everywhere, in all walks of civil society, in everyday life, sport unites the different classes, creates winners, heroes and role models, and evokes profound group emotions. Sport has real power for development and is the medicine of tomorrow.
And to go even further: “Why not imagine that, one day, the Minister for Sport for a country could be more influential than the Minister of Defence? Usain Bolt could be Governor of Jamaica, Michael Jordan a presenter on CBS, Roger Federer could be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and Sebastian Coe could be Prime Minister of Great Britain…” concluded Lucien Boyer (below), Commissioner of the GSFB.
All photos by: Global Sports Forum