The wicked curveball of COVID-19 has toppled the entire world into uncertainty. Looking at the sports industry, the immediate impact of the virus seems to be significant. Instead of a swift downfall in business and income, it is the uncertainty (both in terms of how to continue business as usual and how to plan for the future) that is the virus’s contribution to this industry.
At this immediate stage, the majority of focus for sports managers is going toward attempting to clear the unpredictability using concrete data. Although it is unknown right now when professional leagues will finish, some sports managers are playing a calculated game of developing tight but feasible schedules to carry out all remaining games. Even though these quick, analytical responses are well-advised during the short term, the future of sports for the most part, still remains up in the air.
Like many other industries, the sports industry has been thrust into strengthening its human and technological resources. Going forward, both will need to complement one another. Sports managers will have to up their coordination with sponsors, national associations, agents and other sporting events worldwide when it comes to sports broadcasting. Technology is their only friend in this time when fans are stuck at home; greater direct communication with fans using social media is needed to keep their interest warm. Also, managers are finding themselves needing to increase their own networking efforts in order to better understand competitors’ business strategy and in some cases, joining competitors to present a united front and reduce the negative impacts on the future of sports.
Virtual team management is another change propelled by the virus and this is being seen as a change for the better. Although this has traditionally been done in-person, sports managers are increasingly seeing the abundant value offered by team management software. Sports technology and data are helping managers understand their athletes and competitors better; while the centralized collaboration functionalities are making managers’ lives easier through efficient information exchange/storage. Finally, some software solutions are moving beyond these core offerings to enable managers to stay ahead of the game. This is done by learning from past game insights and deciding future strategy; a task that is all the more necessary going forward.
Although much is unclear about the new nature of sports management once we emerge from social distancing, some behavioural and technological shifts will be here to stay. Better communication with industry stakeholders, deeper relationships with fans and a healthy mix of virtual/in-person team management are only a few of those.