They say the show must go on, the same must be said for the live sports industry. But what will the new normal be?
Make no mistake, this is a defining moment, the implications of which we’ll be living with for years, probably decades.
We’re all waiting for the medical and science community to do their work and report back. And no one has a crystal ball that produces an absolutely clear picture of the future.
Regardless, here are some things that are true:
1. The Importance of Sports
Sports impacts us economically, culturally, and socially. We’ve taken it for granted or argue over attempts to quantify its importance. Even those who have no interest in sporst can see and feel the impact of its absence. The roots in communities are broad and deep.
2. Cities that host are under appreciated
Early industry conversation has been about the second level impacts on sports rights holders’ relationship with broadcasters and sponsors. Don’t forget that government money drives the sports economy.
The single biggest contributor to the sports economy is the public sectors. They pay out tens of billions of dollars every year globally via city and national governments which pay hosting fees and associated costs to put on major events.
3. Sports event markets are oversupplied
It’s an uncomfortable truth, and there will be a shakeout in the event sector. The calendar will definitely be different in the near future. The market will reassess which events really matter and those which are ‘nice to have’.
4. Huge losses
Across the event sector, small and medium sized supply businesses will simply cease to exist. People will suffer real hardship at every level regardless of government assistance. We must stay interconnected and be a community to help in any way we can.
5. Economics are not fair
There will be fallout with events that do not deserve to go under vanishing. Others will survive, or even thrive. Success and failure will be unpredictable. We would like to think things will roll out in a logical way but the reality is probably closer to messy chaos.
6. There will be inequality in the levels of suffering
Those with the right mindset will realize that there are opportunities. That is how North American capitalism works, it is jungle law. As businesses fail, their assets will be feasted upon by others.
There will be those whose careers will be made over the next few months. There will be some very undervalued events, relationships, rights and brands going for a song.
7. Radical will become mainstream
Virtual sports events, esports, and remote fans are already winning. Some of the stuff we have been talking about as ‘future gazing’ will make real commercial sense for the first time.
8. Governments will make mistakes
Government money is the engine of the event sector. Economic fluidity depends on it. Those in charge of the public purse are expected to allocate funds to try to help.
This process is inexact, unfair, cannot account for every contingency, and will make some of us angry. Who will they choose to bail out, who will they leave alone?
9. It takes time to build trust
Certain rights holders enjoy long-term relationships with their host cities. Broadcasters and commercial partners have reaped broad and real mutual benefit for years, even decades. These relationships will be tested.
10. Again – sport is important
It is true that we’re in uncharted territory, and there are few precedents to compare to where we are today. If anything, our experience has taught us that global sport is a resilient, endlessly creative and supportive community.
At some point in the future we will say we got through this.