'crown jewel' sporting events
The importance of maintaining free-to-air major events amongst the growing social media network and exclusive service platforms.
10th January 2020
For the first time for over twenty years a new sporting event has been included into the 'crown jewels' of protected sporting events. The Summer and Winter Paralympic Games have been included in this category giving them 'Group A event' status, which means offering equitable costs for the live rights to free-to-air broadcasters. The Paralympic Games joins a list of events which includes the Olympic Games, The Grand National and the Wimbledon grand finals. (Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/disability-sport/51238375)
Does this inclusion really make any difference in today's society, where the behaviour of potential audiences has changed from viewing shorter content via social media sites, or satisfying their viewing needs through subscription based platforms?
What this gesture does show is the importance and acceptance of value that these sporting events provide for the public. The inspirational moments, values and ambitions that they can convey can provide lasting legacies to the younger generation and unite people under a common passion.
It is easy to just dismiss the importance of broadcasted live events on TV, when so many other businesses are providing exclusive services for special events or programmes. The speed at which you can also access results and video footage of recent sporting moments or news through social media sites can almost take away the need to rely on 'live' televised content. Preserving the rights for the public to easily access moments of history that are generated by these events through the television still remains important regardless of influences from other sources.
The bigger significance this raises is equality and the fact that disability sports are getting the recognition it deserves and to the same level as what has been normal from other events. The endeavours that these athletes put themselves through should be admired and celebrated equally and with the same emphasis. It can also identify the need apply this towards the coverage women's events have on television. I hope that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport make the correct steps after their consultations to include women's equivalents of men's events already established on this A-list. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-adds-paralympic-games-to-listed-events-regime).
Do we also need to consider the inclusion of Youth Olympics Games into this category? Although not as established as the prime events featured on the list, it is an event that is providing a platform for the younger generation of athletes to develop in an elite sporting environment. Should this be accessible on televised channels so it can be recognised by a wider audience or keep its youthful way in delivering content through online networks?
After over twenty years of no change this is a positive step in the right direction for the start of this decade; to showcase diverse sporting moments which can elevate the recognition they have amongst audiences.
Host city momentum
An observation on the strategic direction host nations take to generation lasting momentum from events.
21st May 2019
For countries who want to host major events they have to think ahead well into the future. An eager spectator hoping to get tickets for an event 6 months away may seem a long time for them but in order to have these events that attract interest could involve years of strategic development. Host city planning takes many years of preparation to put bids together and obtain money from the government. If they have this support then it becomes even more important to justify decisions and establish a good case be the host, not only to create economic benefits and generate profits but to also give momentum to that city/country for the image it wants to create for itself.
This insight has come after my observations over the last couple of weeks, and could of been a well planned and executed strategy to provide a platform for regeneration, sporting engagement and to encourage tourism for that country. I am not stating this is actually what happened, I just find it fascinating how things can come together like this and provide a good legacy platform.
The country I am referring to is the Netherlands. I know there has been interest to secure events by this country for a while, as previously they were looking to host an edition of the European Games. Up until now and from a general outside view, nothing standout had happened there. Recently they were awarded the Invictus Games in 2020 and is such a great event and scale to build upon going forward and providing the momentum to showcase what this host country can achieve. They are also part of the Euro 2020 hosting three group matches and one round 16 match.
It was only in the recent week or so that I started to see a pattern when it was also announced that Formula 1 will be returning to the Netherlands after 35 years. 2020 is starting to look very busy for them!
The bookies favourite and eventual winner of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest was also the Netherlands with a song that already had an international following with multi-million views on Youtube. Was this a clever strategy by the Netherlands to have an already strong song for the best chance to win the contest and adding to its impressive event portfolio for 2020 or just coincidence they managed to win?
Regardless of knowing the correct answer to that question, the Netherlands has built momentum for itself in 2020 by having so many big events with a strong following. It now has the potential to use these as a platform to showcase the country and attract international interest socially, economically and politically which can hopefully provide lasting benefits.
Many hosts nations are looking to achieve this and it is only by looking further ahead to the next event cycle, or even the one after that, or for some instances beyond that to acquire events and create a strategic direction. Despite the many years of planning events can finish quite quickly and the thoughts can also quickly change to the next event around the corner, so having just the one is not as good as having more that sustains those benefits over a longer period. It seems like 2020 is the Netherlands time and it will be interesting to see how the events are delivered but also thinking of the wider aspects for the country and how they benefit from the momentum they generate.
will cryptocurrency be introduced at the olympics?
Can Blockchain technology make the stresses of international visits by tourists at major events easier?
15th October 2018
Many of us have not heard about it yet or on the diversity of cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin. Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technologies are slowly establishing themselves in the financial and commercial sector to solve ageing problems in a growing technological world. These products may soon be taking over regular payment methods as we move further away towards a cashless society.
For those attending major events in a foreign country there can be the stresses of ensuring you have enough funds to support your trip. It can also put a lot of strain on foreign exchanges in the host nation from the influx of visitors from all over the world. Language barriers may also create problems when trying to make these transactions.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics is already a technological advanced country and is looking into introducing products to aid the spectator/athlete experience by using robots to assist with translation and luggage.
What Ripple does, the company behind the Blockchain technology enabling seamless payment experiences is providing a platform where transactions can be made between banks in seconds, converting funds if required into other currencies. Depending on the size of the payment this can take a long time using traditional methods or be expensive where you actual lose a lot of value performing the exchange, especially on smaller personal payments.
Using more cost effective solutions or even direct payments using cryptocurrency instead of foreign currencies could make the overall process easier.
This can also have a benefit for the Organising Committee if it needs to make international payments to foreign contractors/suppliers who have been given the tender for a service delivery for certain Games operations. This idea has certainly encouraged the external community of XRP (Ripple's cyrptocurrency that is the tool for instant payments methods through RippleNet) to start a petition to make XRP the official cryptocurrency of the Games:
It's intention was to gain 500 signatures but has grown rapidly and at the time of writing this article the number has reached 13,000 signatures. This is definitely an exciting time for cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technologies as if adopted by an Organising Committee for a major games can revolutionise the payments methods for an organisation and the spectator experience.
Breaking new grounds at major events
How generational trends are shaping the future for participating sports at major events.
14th October 2018
There has been many new sport competitions added to a major event schedule over its editions but not one that has captured my attention than during the current Youth Olympic Games being held in Buenos Aires. Breaking or what we best know as break dancing has been included into the event for the first time and has included an innovative way to compete for a medal.
The Youth Olympic Games not only gives the younger generation who are unable to qualify for the Olympics the opportunity to experience what it might be like for them to take part in the future, but also showcases the sports that are trending in this generation and becoming the sports for future major events.
With the emergence of E Sports and Drone Racing we are crossing the boundaries of our perceptions of sports and who we call an Athlete. As technology is more prominent in youth culture its understandable how this integration seems a natural progression.
What Breaking has done has introduced a modern dance sport to the mainstream sport competition and has also uniquely and for the first time ever made initial qualification for the event an online process:
What makes Breaking a strong contender for future acceptance into the sporting scene is its field of play can be held in natural locations of the host nation. As we can see from the Youth Olympics is that it can attract a crowd and can be hosted in inner city locations that can put the spectator close to the action giving a great sense of participation with those taking part.
I do feel that there will be a progression in introducing more unique and less known modern sports into event schedules. Not only does this sparks interests from something new but continues to encourage the younger generation into sports through keeping up with trends. Introducing technology with online qualification processes certainly provides wider accessibility for hopeful individuals to realise their dream.
NFL International Series
The Logistics of Overseas Games
13th October 2018
Efficient logistics planning and operations is about knowledge and preparation, ensuring there are already solutions to the unforeseeable circumstances that may occur during the process. As the NFL returns to the UK this week for its first game in the international series of the 2018/19 season I thought I would return to this article I wrote a few years ago to identify what is involved in playing an NFL game overseas. In the 2015/16 season the New York Jets left no stone upturned as described by Ben Shpigel in The New York Times:
Will the 11 months of planning for a team to spend about 65 hours overseas be the hindrance to fully support a UK NFL franchise?
At the moment the UK hosts three regular season NFL matches and like the previous year the 80,000 tickets per game at Wembley stadium have all sold out. With a partnership already established with Tottenham Hotspur Football Club it is clear there is interest and popularity to make this a more prosperous venture.
However is the popularity of the games only relevant to the fact that only a few games are played in the UK rather than 16 if a permanent team was based here. Thomas Barrabi expands on this in his article in the International Business Times:
Are teams also making allowances for the extensive logistical planning in attending overseas games as it is still considered more of a novelty to them? The success of the Jacksonville Jaguars increase in sponsorships as identified in Thomas Barrabi's article can justify the time and effort it takes to bring a team over to the UK. What is clear though is that the management of logistics operations to play international games that are on par with matches played back in the United States are having positive impacts to teams and the development of the NFL internationally. If a logistical framework can be set up that is sustainable and practical within the constraints of an NFL season then an international team would become more viable in the future.