More Sports, Yet Less Sports: The Looming Thing In Athletics

Over the last two days, we’ve had completely opposite news in sports.

❶ Loyola Marymount University announced they’re cutting 6 sports due to “pending rulings on student-athletes as employees and NIL”.

❷ Billionaire Peter Thiel invested in an event to challenge the Olympics, The Enhanced Games.

promo for the enhanced games

So while LMU is dropping sports, The Enhanced Games is opening up additional opportunities (with their drug-testing-free league).

Let’s Dive In 👇

Total Number of Sports

According to the World Sports Encyclopaedia, there are over 8,000 indigenous sports played across the globe.

But what activities constitute a sport?

According to the Oxford Dictionary — “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or a team competes against another or others for entertainment

It comes down to three requirements:

  1. physical exertion or skill
  2. competition between players or teams
  3. and a defined set of rules that the competition has to follow

There will always be some gray areas about what is considered a sport — such as hunting, esports, and ostrich racing.

ostrich racing image portraying strange sports

Additional Stats:

  • 200 sports: are recognized through an international governing body
  • 32 sports: will be at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games
  • 24 sports: compete across the NCAA’s three divisions
  • 7 sports: are considered major in North America (basketball, football, ice hockey, soccer, golf, tennis, baseball).

Interestingly, 14 sports leagues did over $1B in revenue last year.

Compared to technology, 11 private companies currently do more than $1B in revenue a year.

private companies that do $1B in revenue

And when looking at this graph you’ll pick up a few things:

  • Fanatics and Epic Games are considered sports-niche companies
  • Databricks is an intelligence platform that has a handful of clients in sports
  • Bytedance (parent company of TikTok) has been influential in sports
  • Most of these companies spend millions in advertising across sports

We inside the industry know of the immense power of sports…outsiders are starting to pay more attention to its power.

Fewer Sports or More Sports

We’re at an interesting time in the industry where there’s a push to have fewer impactful sports while also seeing an influx of more sports in the market.

Fewer Sports

NIL is creating a dynamic where everything from pro to youth sports is being commercialized.

image portraying the money entering youth sports

This creates some questions for different stakeholders…

  1. Will there be more of a focus on revenue-generating sports at colleges?
  2. With life-changing money in sports like basketball, soccer, and football will more parents/athletes choose these if college programs cut other sports?
  3. What happens to Olympic sports?
  4. If a new organization such as The Enhanced Games challenges the Olympics what would that look like?
  5. Where is the blurred line between cyborg and athlete? Elon Musk’s Neuralink is now successfully implemented into the first human.

We’re going through an interesting time in not just sports (but technology as a whole). It’s like a sci-fi movie but real life. Wild.

More Sports

While we may see fewer sports at the college ranks…

The truth is that Millenials/GenZ like more sports than previous generations.

Fans under 34 years old follow an average of 6.3 different sports (with 65 total listed in a recent Nielsen study).

genz sports fan watching content

This is evident in the rapid emergence of alternative leagues and sports over the last few years.

It’s easier than ever to start a new sport, but also increasingly harder to make it mainstream.

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