Sports have drawn people together to cheer for their heroes for as long as there has been a record of human activity. Sports have been seen to rival religion in the power to unify diverse populations, and in some cases have sparked positive social movements that carry over to the worlds of business and government.
Sports are timeless, yet with each generation, new technology and social dynamics have changed and intensified how we experience sports. In the past 50 years, we have seen many radical changes — broadcast television and cable, credit cards, salary caps, player unions, integration, globalization of the fanbase, shared revenue agreements, and $100 million player contracts.
The changes on the horizon will likely be even more disruptive.
For this project, we assembled a brain trust of futurists and experts to gaze into the next 25 years. Some of the underlying trends are undeniable. Medical advances are allowing us to alter the bodies of athletes. The computing power of smartphones doubles every 18 months. The appetite for sports is nearly insatiable — fans expect all-access passes into the clubhouse and into the boardroom.
Change is coming fast. But how these trends intersect, and what our industry will look like as a result, is far from obvious.
Discussing the future of our industry can be anxiety-provoking, simply because so much seems uncertain. No one wants to bet on the wrong trend. This project serves to remind us that the future is inherently fun — fun to debate, to contemplate, and to imagine. Some of these futurists’ predictions will come true, and more of them likely won’t. Our goal isn’t to assert one version of the future over another; our goal in publishing this report is to ignite your thinking and to help us as an industry take charge of the conversation.
No futurist knows exactly what will happen next for our industry, but historians will someday write our chapter. Twenty-five years from now, we want the next generation to look back at this time and appreciate the groundwork we laid for them.
Jeremy M. Jacobs
Chairman of Delaware North
Owner of the Boston Bruins