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Volume 20 No. 46
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Forty Under 40: How is your generation changing the sports industry?

We asked each of the Forty Under 40:

How is your generation changing the sports industry?

Seth Bacon: Technology is forcing us to think of new ways to distribute content and engage with customers. Dramatic shifts in the media landscape used to be few and far between, now they must be anticipated and planned for constantly.

Derek Belch: We are so addicted to our devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) that sports teams and broadcast networks are fighting an uphill battle for our attention in an increasingly fast-moving, 24/7 world. The last five years, for example, have seen fundamental changes in the way games are presented to viewers — a barrage of statistical information thrown at the viewer whenever possible — and how sports networks present content to fans — fewer highlights and more opinion, more attention given to athlete social media pages, 24/7 news cycle. It’s fascinating to see how this generation has influenced the decisions of media and team executives and what changes are coming down the road as a result of a digital generation.

Ilan Ben-Hanan: We’re the bridge between “linear first” and “digital first” consumption.

Jimmy Bruns: Bringing the action and personalities closer to fans than ever before, through not only technology but also through smart live events.

Lisa Campos: Our generation is recognizing that women can be leaders in sports and have provided more women with opportunities in the industry.

Daniel Cherry III: I believe my generation is the most critical generation because we must act as business bridge builders and cultural translators between tech-savvy Generations Y and Z and the current power brokers in sports, many of whom are baby boomers who may not truly understand the seismic shift that is underway in live sports and entertainment. It is our duty to lead the way toward an innovative and more entertaining future for sports fans that generates new revenue streams for teams and leagues.

Jason Cohen: Our generation recognizes the immense power of sport [and is] just beginning to harness it for social and technological change.

Sakiya Daniel: Challenging conformity and looking beyond the traditional sports marketing landscape for great people and innovative ideas.

Will Dean: There is a massive shift toward small group participation in all sports. Being a fan means something very different [than] 15 years ago.

Rob DeAngelis: We have embraced technology as a massive resource and tool, and have become adept at pitching sports opportunities to the technology companies themselves.

Bill Fagan: We are more data driven today than our industry has ever been.

Cole Gahagan: Using analytics and insight applied across many businesses.

Rocky Harris: My generation is not accepting the status quo, so we are willing to take risks and try new approaches for solving problems. I firmly believe that this mindset and the grit of my generation will be complemented by the tech-savvy and idealistic millennials to completely transform the sports industry.

Jeff Ianello: How this generation consumes content is vastly different than those generations prior to it. It changes the necessary value proposition for properties to be successful.

Martin Jarmond: Our generation is facilitating the shift in power to the consumer. The voice of student athletes and consumers is more powerful than it’s ever been.

Katherine Johnson: My female generation is changing it, but we need more of us at the top. We think about things differently and we raise different issues in the board room.

Nick Kelly: Digital/social becoming more important than traditional media.

Elena Klau: They’re redefining what it means to be a sport. If you look at the research that is coming out of gaming and the way millennials are perceiving gaming as a “sport,” it looks much different than any other generation which impacts the way we view the potential of gaming moving forward. Moreover, millennials are changing the way we approach management of team sports. When you look at Theo Epstein and his teams or the way a hedge fund-minded management team reinvented the Warriors — a data-driven approach used to be perceived as a lark, but it’s proving to be the 6th man on the court, (or whatever the right analogy is for the sport you look at). It truly is optimizing our industry, in the way we manage, play, and market sports.

Brandon Lloyd: In a single word, data. Every aspect of the industry is being affected by data; we are in the early innings on the business side.

J.B. Lockhart: My generation is impatient and easily distracted (we have some good qualities as well). To capture our attention, the sports industry needs to create experiences and products that are immersive, interactive, personalized, and available across all platforms.

Olek Loewenstein: Technology is rapidly changing how sports are played, athletes behave/what they mean, media is consumed. The rate at which all these things are evolving truly amazes me. And I believe the younger generations have a better understanding of all these factors.

Matthew Nussbaum: The connection between fans and this generation of athletes has been revolutionized by first-person storytelling via social media and forums like Derek Jeter’s The Players’ Tribune.

David Oxfeld: We are consuming sports differently, which changes all parts of the industry and jobs in it.

Dan Parise: We’re more focused on content distribution and less focused on channel.

Anthony Perez: We are challenging old paradigms and pushing the industry to evolve in new ways.

Ashwin Puri: Integrating technology, data and science into what we do every day. As these all evolve, so do our jobs.

Alex Radetsky: Media is changing and we’re changing along with it. But even in a digital age, it’s important to follow with things like personal follow-ups, and handwritten letters. Those things still make a big difference in an age where everyone’s texting.

Ann Rodriguez: Creating integrated fan experiences across physical and digital environments. Leading properties to think and act like an “always on,” 365-day-a-year consumer brand. There is no offseason for pro teams and leagues now.

Jeffrey Roth: Startups and emerging technologies that are shaking up media and entertainment broadly while having a profound impact on sports.

Connor Schell: By breaking down all the walls.

Brandon Schneider: My generation is changing the sports industry by using technology and data and analytics to continuously innovate. We are also in the process of facilitating the incredible evolution of the esports industry.

Vishal Shah: In addition to being consumers, we are also creators, sharers, influencers with a healthy expectation of ease, utility, and emotion around sports experiences … industry is evolving as a result.

Gretchen Sheirr: I think our generation has helped to continue to push the door open for women to not only see a career in sports as a possibility, but to also thrive and reach new heights.

Tobias Sherman: Using technology to innovate new ways for fans to engage and consume.

Justin Toman: We’re embracing social media and thinking of it as a primary marketing vehicle.

Jeremy Walls: We are embracing technological innovation and social media/new content, which is changing the fan experience in and out of our stadiums and arenas.

Danny White: I think the next generation of athletic directors are bringing a more focused approach to fan engagement and revenue generation to the position than, perhaps, ever before. In my opinion, the business model of college athletics will continue to grow more closely in line with professional sports. At UCF, we are aggressively moving toward a revenue model that looks very similar to that side of the house in a professional front office.

Chip Wile: Bridging the traditional sports enthusiast and the younger demographic by creating environments where both generations enjoy a great event experience.

Mike Zabik: How people consume content is fundamentally changing sports, media, and entertainment and we’re watching it closely. It’s also why we believe that the final frontier that still holds value to fans/consumers is the live event experience. On Location provides those types of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Tim Zue: We’re finally starting to take advantage of the unbelievable amount of data that’s available to us — and employing it to enhance the fan experience, forge deeper connections with our most passionate and loyal fans, and improve upon our sales and marketing efforts.