The Future of Sports and Sport Business Management

The future of sports will probably look very different from today’s sports industry. USA Today anticipates the development of smart stadiums with hologram displays, video walls, social media follower-based seating, and virtual reality applications. Players will compete not only in physical spaces but also in virtual environments.

A sport business manager sits at an office desk while holding a basketball.

The growing popularity of video games has given rise to esports, a circuit of gaming competitions that now draws more than 300 hundred million fans worldwide, according to a report from Newzoo. As USA Today notes, companies are investing large sums in esports platforms, such as Amazon’s $970 million purchase of the video game livestreaming service Twitch. Esports competitions are also attracting major investment: According to the Esports Observer, the largest esports spend of 2018 was a prize pool of $41.26 million for the Dota 2 competition in Vancouver, Canada — an event that has been dubbed the “Super Bowl of esports.”

If you’re interested in becoming a sport business manager, you should not only be aware of these industry changes but also how to use them to benefit the athletes and teams they represent. Earning an online sport business management degree can help you learn the important skills and strategies to help organizations succeed in the future of sports.

How the Professional Sports Landscape Is Changing

Shifts in the sports industry are impacting athletes, team owners, fans, and society in general. Tech-driven advances in training and coaching introduce new methods of performance enhancement. Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and other new technologies will enhance the sports-viewing experience for fans, bringing them closer to sports stars and giving them new insights into the games they love.

Technology’s Impact on Athletes and Their Sports

Technology is having a profound impact on how fans view sports and how athletes prepare for competition. For example, according to a Deloitte article, the “integration of augmented and virtual reality is transforming the customer experience” by creating a greater sense of closeness to an athlete or game. At the same time, according to a VR Focus article, sports teams can utilize VR for training in the following disciplines: “spatial awareness (which re-creates match moments from every angle), high density (a series of match moments in a short space of time), decision-making, and high pressure (simulating match situations).” Recently, U.S. Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin won a gold medal at the Winter Olympics in giant slalom — an event for which she prepared, in part, by using VR technology to simulate the course.

The Rise of Esports

The growing world of esports may be virtual, but the money made is real. For example, Forbes estimates that Cloud9 — the world’s most valuable esports competition team and company — is worth $310 million. According to Forbes, esports revenues hit $906 million in 2018 and are projected to reach $1.65 billion in annual revenue by 2021. Increased realism and a growing fan base may catapult esports to the top of the professional sports industry. Enhancements such as VR and AR technologies will make playing esports and viewing future stars of the sport more exciting and engaging, which may attract more esports participants and spectators.

New Ways Athletes Engage Directly with Fans

As social media platforms and other tech applications continue to facilitate communication, professional athletes may focus more on connecting directly with their fans. As iABM points out, fans are already watching and supporting their favorite athletes online, as well as digitally buying event tickets and sports-related goods. Future stars of sports will play important roles in driving online marketing and other social media outreach efforts across multiple platforms. This “direct-to-fan” model has far-reaching implications for athletes, sport management representatives, leagues, and fans.

How to Acquire the Skills That Sport Business Managers Need

Just as digital technologies are transforming many industries, the business of sport management now leverages sales and data analytics, sponsorship development, and brand building via merchandising and licensing. Sport business managers must have a relevant skill set to promote future stars of sports using social media and other avenues.

Develop Skills for Success

Sport business managers interact with the athletes and teams they represent in addition to interested business parties, such as the media and affiliate sports-related companies. To be effective in the world of sports and business, managers need to be skilled in interpersonal communication, strategic planning, organization, and marketing.

Earn a Sport Business Management Degree

One way to build this skill set is through a degree program that equips students with knowledge of industry processes and experience in relevant fields — such as business administration, marketing, health, accounting, and business management.

Maryville University’s online bachelor’s degree in sport business management, for example, comprises core business courses, Rawlings sport business management core courses, concentration-specific courses, and general electives. The program, which offers concentrations in results-centered sales and sport data analytics, aims to instill confidence in students preparing for a career promoting sports and to make them excited about the possibilities of such a career.

Break Tradition to Excel in the Future of Sports

There has never been a more exciting time for a career in sport management. Both established and new sports are thriving, expanding, and offering new ways to entertain and enthuse fan bases. Maryville University is breaking from traditional curriculum design by creating courses in tandem with industry leaders such as Rawlings, a sports equipment manufacturer. Partnerships with these businesses demonstrate Maryville University’s dedication to keeping in step with the changing landscape of sports. Learn more about the online sport business management degree program today.


Deloitte, “2019 Sports Industry Game-Changers”

Entertainment Software Association, Industry Facts

The Esports Observer, “The 10 Biggest Esports of 2018 by Total Prize Pool”

Forbes, “The World’s Most Valuable Esports Companies”

iABM, “5 Bold Predictions About the Future of Sports Business”

Maryville University, Rawlings Sport Business Management Online Bachelor’s Degree

Newzoo, “Global Esports Economy Will Reach $905.6 Million in 2018 as Brand Investment Grows by 48%”

USA Today, “What Could the World of Sports Look Like in 25 Years?”

VR Focus, “Does VR Have the Potential to Improve Athletic Performance?”

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