The global COVID 19 pandemic turned the sports world on its head. The sports industry faced new challenges in how to reach a sports consumer without a product to offer, and sports fans, most of whom were not impressed with “Tiger King”, were faced with the challenge of what to watch in their now abundant, sports-free spare time.
The answer came, as it did for most audience segments, in the form of streaming services. For example, Netflix and its timely release of the Michael Jordan documentary. Offering sports fans the ability to at least relive sports if new games were off the table for a while. One such network, Apple TV, scored a major victory for sports fans and entertainment fans alike with “Ted Lasso” played by Jason Sudeikis.
“Ted Lasso,” the show and the character, were inspired by a skit produced by NBC Sports after it took over from Fox Sports as the broadcast network for English Premier League football. From Lasso’s optimism, to the inspiring underdog story line; and the many great characters and their development, the series has certainly caught on in popularity, gaining a global audience with many loyal viewers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. At the recent Emmy awards, the show garnered 7 awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series.
As the pandemic stretches into its third year, sport managers are working to identify the meaning, purpose, and organization of sports in the future based on the changing collective decisions of society. We are now seeing that a sport manager may need to engage differently with the sport consumer in terms of its electronic media (i.e., E-sports and fantasy sports) and technology advances such as watching games virtually.
The demographic changes we have seen with Ted Lasso (“football without pads on?”) certainly may play a role in where our next global sports consumer comes from. A recent survey found American youth were more likely to be able to identify soccer star, Lionel Messi, than some of the top sports stars in the traditionally popular sports in the United States like football, basketball, and baseball. Major League Soccer (MLS), the International Champions Cup, a pre-season exhibition series played in the United States, and other sport organizations understood that the popularity of “futbol” was reaching the United States.
Sport organizations know they need to continue to find ways to understand their consumers. These efforts will rely on developing a better relationship with their fans by understanding their needs, wants and desires. For example, the Los Angeles Dodgers has a large fan base that speaks Spanish as its first language in the household. A sport manager wishing to improve their resume may need to address changing demographics by learning a second language. Many executives in these organizations will look for employees who can adapt to the changing global dynamic.
One EKU Online student who has taken advantage of the global approach to sport is graduating senior, Raphael Meyeroff. Raphael did his online coursework and internship in Germany working on promotions and social media for the Berlin Thunder, a professional football team in the newly created European League of Football (ELF).
Raphael approached his internship the same way Ted Lasso approached his job on the TV show. Raphael noted, “for an internship, trust is the most important aspect. Trust is something that takes time. It may be hard to generate that trust in the short period of an internship, but you have to give everything to show your boss or internship supervisor that you’re 100% committed to the project. You have to ask for projects to work on. Be active and show everyone that they can count on you.”
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