Expect the Unexpected
Sport Industry Insight
The modern world is facing an unprecedented crisis.
The logistic entanglement of the current intertwined global economy is a perfectly developed environment for a virus to spread and no one knew it (actually, Bill Gates did but we will leave that story for another occasion). The chances of going from point A to point Z in less than 20 hours and bring along a deadly disease are as high as they could be.
These are undoubtedly anomalous and unpredictable times.
The changes brought upon society in the last few months have been life changing and full of challenges. In Europe alone around 200 000 people lost their lives and 800 000 lost their livelihood as some industries were put on pause.
Sport was one of them.
Games, tournaments and even the Olympics were cancelled or postponed and, for something that was so ever-present in our lives, it revealed itself to be very fragile.
For a student trying to present himself to the job market and get into an already close-minded industry that is now not only that but on hold, is pretty much a Superman task. At some point someone should have given us, children of the world, a heads about this right?
Nonetheless, we work with what we got. This is a common mentality within the Portuguese population. We are very scrappy and tend to do our best when the odds are against us.
The athletic culture of the country is pretty much centred around football (or soccer in the United States). It is all there is. As soon as I was born a “cold war” began, with both sides of the family constantly pitching their football teams, eager for me to choose a side to support (to this day my grandfather is disappointed that I did not choose Sporting Lisbon!).
The rivalry between the top clubs is unmatched and taken very seriously. The pub talk is immense and nurtured by the media, as they prefer to headline a story about a transfer rumour than to highlight a gold medal in any other sport.
As a kid no one wanted to be a runner or a boxer, we wanted to follow our idols and be footballers. There is no real incentive for an athlete to be anything else. This does not allow for much quality in other departments and makes the country culturally one dimensional.
The job market tends to reflect the country’s culture. Most jobs are in football and highly coveted which for us, future generation of sports managers, is pretty limiting. Most of those do not even have an open hiring process! Actually, 72% of jobs are not advertised. The hiring process is an inverted pyramid where only a small percentage of the opportunities available get to the bottom, most of them are filled somewhere in between with recommendations from trusted sources or targeted hires that fulfil the company’s needs at that point in time. Employer branding and networking are the current waves of recruiting and are key tools in today’s corporate world.
Which raises the question: where does meritocracy come in?
Some might think it is unfair at some point but that is the reality so work your hardest, be ready to fail and establish good relationships.
The desire to get involved in sports in the first place is usually more affective than rational. During my time in sport sales I was used to seeing clearly overqualified kids, who could probably get a job anywhere else being paid twice as much, applying for Sales Assistant jobs receiving minimal wage! How crazy is that? And when I say overqualified, I mean people with master’s degrees in mechanical engineering, medical school students and even people who worked steady “9 to 5” jobs, giving it all up to start over and pursuit a career in sporting retail. Why?! And do not give me wrong here, I have been there and done that, but on paper it does not seem like the best decision.
This is the perfect example of the effect sport has on people. It gets to a point where they are willing to risk everything for a chance at an entry level job folding clothes in a store if it means being in contact with what they love.
Although, since the pandemic hit, personal and financial security became a way more valuable asset. So, in the end, follow your dreams but tread lightly and take calculated risks.
With the current state of the world and with no definitive solution in sight, the need to adapt emerges. Not only for people but for companies as well.
Most clubs indulged in massive pay cuts with the depravation of key revenues and had governmental help to fulfil their credit duties. A range of other companies and activities active in the sports sector have been severely impacted, from suppliers, broadcasters, and event organisers, to manufacturers and sellers of sports equipment.
Equally, sports media outlets, especially newspapers, have suffered a huge decrease in their sales since there are no competitions to report on. Advertising revenues have also dried up across the media sector, with most revenues now being absorbed by general news outlets. As for online betting websites, most of them were brought to a close and had a nearly 100% decrease in their revenue.
In the attempt of resuming normality new challenges arise:
How to rebuild relationships with partners? How to resume operations while expecting a new outbreak? How to incorporate social media as a monetizable asset? How do you scale investments without compromising core businesses? Is reinvention a necessity?
It is time to recover and rethink.
For every negative there is a positive, opportunities such as eSports are drawing attention, getting a chance to connect everyone, and accelerate evolution in a deemed stale industry. What was once a pointless hobby might be now set to become a permanent trend.
Also, remote work is now a well established reality. Some new projects that bring added value are starting to burst into the scene and I did not want to miss it.
That is why I applied for SportIn Global. If there is one thing I know is a motivated person is worth for two and I am thrilled to be part of the team. It feels good to know you are contributing to something you believe in.
The world should have known to expect the best and prepare for the worst.