What could the world of sports look like in 25 years?

Sports concessionaire Delaware North has released a report called ‘The Future of Sports.’ USA TODAY Sports reporter Erik Brady spoke with chairman Jeremy Jacobs, his CEO sons, and three editors of the report about what we can expect.
USA TODAY

The “Future of Sports” is a 50-page document that imagines what’s ahead in the industry over the next 25 years. These are not so much predictions of what will happen as working versions of what could happen — provocative prognostications based on interviews with academics and futurists, all subject to inevitable revision as Father Time throws his customary curve balls.

FULL REPORT: The Future of Sports

 

The Stadium

– Advances in ultra-lightweight carbon fiber allow morphing of buildings and roofs.

– Self-driving, self-parking cars free up lots of space from what used to be parking lots.

– Smaller footprint of stadiums allow them to be built in city centers and be big part of city life.

– Turf football fields are designed to help receivers hit 22-plus mph on their routes.

– Spring-loaded, carbon-fiber basketball floors are designed to add six inches to vertical leaps.

The Athlete

– Athletes are allowed to use genetic enhancements for injury prevention and safety.

– As medical patients enjoy benefits of these new treatments, stigma begins to disappear.

– Rules begin to allow athletes to use performance enhancers up to predetermined, safe levels.

– The line between artificial and natural body parts blurs as science learns to rebuild humans.

– Enhanced athletes and natural athletes will compete in separate leagues, like amateur and pros.

– Separate leagues meet in championship games between natural humans and ones perfected in labs.

Broadcasting

– Major networks are boxed out as leagues, players, franchises and fans become content kings

– Influence of network commentators and journalists wanes as fans get access to players by social media

– Major online platform (likely Google) buys multi-year broadcast rights for a major sports league

– The word ‘broadcast’ disappears from lexicon as fans access content from many sources all at once

– Fans begin to integrate these streams into seamless, coherent and personalized viewing experiences

– Watch a game through virtual reality headset from perspective of your favorite quarterback

e-sports

– As e-sports increase in popularity and realism, celebrity gamers challenge traditional sports stars for adulation

–  Pro sports leagues that embrace gaming stand to foster more allegiance for their leagues, teams and players

– Talent ecosystems emerge with coaches, high school and college teams, ranked amateurs and fulltime pros

– Game-play sensors leave handheld controllers behind; control now by every limb and even facial expressions

– Remote and in-person play indistinguishable thanks to tactile feedback interfaces and virtual/augmented reality

– Participation in sports, now implicitly including e-sports, soars to its highest percentage of humanity in history

Future shock

– Some futurists predict robots and kiosks replacing some workers and driverless cars replacing others

– Sports marketing evolves to focus more on upper-middleclass women as middleclass wealth wanes

– More franchises establish women’s teams, not so much for revenue as for the good of the brand

– As more fans are priced out of attending live games, ‘third venues’ emerge as go-to spaces

– These will be the 21st Century’s family-friendly versions of tricked-out, tech-savvy sports bars

– Augmented reality will include life-sized replays up close in fully realized 3D in theater-sized venues

Source: The Future of Sports

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