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Volume 25 No. 85
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World Congress Panel Discusses Future Of Sports Business

Panelists identified lacrosse, esports and soccer as sports to keep an eye on down the line
Photo: Tony Florez

The future of sports business was the focus of the opening panel at Day 2 of the '18 CAA World Congress of Sports, as execs looked at what is on the horizon for issues like technology and data analytics, gambling and growth sports.

PUSHING FORWARD IN COLLEGE: SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey mentioned early adoption of technology as one area that will improve the fan experience, particularly ways to more directly involve fans. CAA Football co-Head Jimmy Sexton noted that some of his older coaching clients are concerned about adopting new analytics and data. Sexton: “It’s changing so fast, you have to have your head on a swivel.” Sankey also said he foresees the rising salaries for college coaches slowing down, but is not sure how or when. Sankey: “There is an end. What causes that end? At some point there is a resource issue.” 

NEXT BIG THING: Sankey mentioned lacrosse as a hot sport in the college space, but seemed less bullish on esports. Sankey: “The naming of ‘esports’ is interesting. It’s a great marketing technique.” Outgoing Soccer United Marketing President Kathy Carter and AEG Worldwide President & CEO Dan Beckerman were bullish on soccer as a growth area, particularly around MLS and a potential FIFA World Cup in North America in ’26. 

PLACE YOUR BETS: IBM North America Sports & Entertainment Lead Shannon Miller noted that casinos have led the way for years on data. Miller: “If you want something that’s going to pull the sports world forward in terms of data and analytics, (sports gambling) will accelerate it faster than almost anything we’ve talked about.” Beckerman noted the gaming discussion came up at the MLS BOG meeting on Tuesday. Beckerman: “You can’t have the talk about engagement with talking about gambling because there is a relationship between those two, and I think the leagues and the teams have a decision to make about what role, if any, they want to play with that ecosystem.”