Why this matters
Brian David Johnson is a Professor of Practice at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society, and a Futurist and Fellow at Frost & Sullivan, a visionary innovation company that’s focused on growth. He also works with governments, militaries, trade organizations, and startups to help them envision their future.
I'm a sports fan. This pandemic has shown us clearly how important athletics are to people all over the world. It doesn’t matter if you are an athlete or spectator the absence of sports these last few months have been hard. From the Olympics to professional sports, from amateur leagues to youth athletics; sports are an important part not only of our society but also what it means to be human. Sports entertain us. They give us something to be passionate about. They help to mold our children into healthy adults. And when we witness an amazing play or unbelievable feat it can remind us just how awesome human beings can be. This is precisely the reason why we must start thinking about future threats to athletics today.
As this nation and the world begins to emerge and reopen, we know that there will be risks. NASCAR and Germany’s Bundesliga soccer league restarted in May with stringent safety guidelines to stem the spread of the Coronavirus. With many professional sports teams and well-funded athletics programs preparing to restart all eyes are on safety. Some have started hiring pathologists and taking precautions to keep their athletes and spectators safe. Threats to the future of sports are wide-ranging; affecting facilities, training, recruitment.
How will we need to adjust current stadiums and arenas to ensure spectators are safe? How can new venues be COVID-19 safe? How will athletes train in the future and what will those facilities be like?
These questions are incredibly important, but they should not be our only concern. Perhaps more importantly we should ask: What about the plans for your local t-ball team? How will youth soccer come back? How do we make K-12 athletics programs safe so that parents will allow their children to become the athlete of tomorrow?
The Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University recently conducted a poll asking parents about youth athletics in a COVID-19 world. When asked, ”Do you think the inability to play sports has caused your child stress or anxiety?” 72% said Yes with only 28% answering No. 62% of these parents said they would not be allowing their children to participate in organized sports when the programs restarted due to concerns of catching coronavirus.
As an industry, we need to come together to answer these questions and solve the coming problems. If we fail to rise to this occasion we will see a lost generation of athletes. Young athletes without the benefit of coaching and training. Young minds without the comradery and excitement of sports.
Threatcasting is a process used by global corporations and the United States military to look out into the future and identify possible threats to a specific area, industry, or organization. By identifying these threats early we can then work to prevent or lessen their effects. The sports and athletics industry and participants need to come together today and start threatcasting for the future.
If we don’t do this we risk a lost generation of athletes. We must begin threatcasting the future of Athletics today so that we can ensure its safety and so that it may thrive tomorrow.
COVID-19 is the rival no one in sport could game plan for. As many live events remain at a standstill and the world keeps adapting, how is sport resetting upon its staggered returns?