When I arrived as a new faculty member in Kentucky 10 years ago, there was one thing I was often told when it came to sports in the Midwest, “Nobody cares about any sports other than basketball or football.” This sentiment was something often expressed in class and in discussions with friends. When it came to English Premier League (EPL) Soccer and Formula 1 racing, there was not even a chance you would meet a person who watched these sports, let alone expect to have an in-class discussion on either of them.
Soccer’s Popularity Increases
Thanks to the popular TV series, “Ted Lasso,” the success of the US Women’s National Team, and the explosion of Major League Soccer (MLS) franchises, it is safe to say that soccer or “European football” has found its way into American sporting interest. Close to 240,000 people in the United States participate in the EPL fantasy league. Numbers like this are staggering considering 10 years ago, soccer had very few fans in the U.S.
Interest in F1 Racing Also on the Rise
I recently experienced another phenomenon when I had the opportunity to go my first Indy 500. This was a great experience to witness quality sporting event management in person. In addition, the race itself was incredible to witness. The speeds and noise of the cars were indescribable.
A few days later, at a sporting goods store, one of the employees mentioned that they were a big race car fan. I told them that I had gone to my first Indy 500. Much to my surprise, the employee said they had forgotten that it was on because earlier that day they had woken up to watch Monaco Grand Prix.
What “Ted Lasso” has done for soccer, it appears the popular Netflix series “Drive to Survive,” has done for Formula 1 racing (F1). Data from mediaplaynews.com showed 1/3 of Netflix viewers became fans of F1 racing after watching the series because they understood it more and felt more engaged with it.
The short length of F1 races is also a benefit in today’s competition for live sporting event viewership. The smaller time commitment coupled with viewers’ short attention spans presents a very positive combination. While the four major men’s professional sports leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL) fight for the attention span of 3-to-4-hour events, EPL and Formula 1 enjoy 2-hour broadcasts not requiring their consumers to spend all day watching one event. The increase in popularity of F1 racing is apparent when you look at the viewership. According to Forbes, the current F1 season is averaging 1.4 million viewers per race, up 49% over the 2021 season average.
EKU’s Sport Management Program Adapts with Consumer Interests
One of the great things about the EKU online sport management program is that as sport consumer interests change, so does our curriculum. When you are engaging with EKU sport management faculty, they are often on top of the latest trends. The required sport management internship gives students the opportunity to gain experience in any area that interests them and matches their career goals. This means that if students want to do an internship with college sports or professional sports, we are happy to work with them. If they want to pursue something new and different, we have that for them too.
Many EKU students have pursued internships with professional and college sports in the United States, however, there have been students who have taken greater advantage of the flexibility of the internship. As a result, our students have pursed internships in different places around the country and the world. Students have done internships in Spain, Austria, and Germany. Whether it is the more traditional popular sports or the changing sports interests, EKU sport management is open to students pursuing internships anywhere they have an interest.
Interested in studying the evolving world of sport management?
Earn your online bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university that has been an online education leader for more than 15 years. Our flexible, online format provides students the ability to complete coursework and assignments according to their schedule.
Complete the form to learn more about how EKU Online’s sport management program can help advance your career.
About the Author
Dr. Joel Cormier, coordinator of the online sport management program and an associate professor of Exercise and Sport Science at EKU. He is particularly interested in academic integrity in college sports, athlete development, and organizational effectiveness. His book, Hockey (Mid)night in Kentucky: a coach’s guide and memoire was recently published.