• Nigel Rushman

Why Doesn’t Sport Act Like the Big Business It Is?


Our work crosses the divide (and I do see it as a divide) between Sport and Large Enterprise. We work with both. The difference is marked.


Large Enterprises study the way their business works — in depth. Sport seems to be very parochial for such a big and international business or industry. Insular, cut off from mainstream best business practice, playing catch up with the Global enterprises that are slowly and inevitably swallowing sport up. Well swallowing the valuable bits anyway.


Media businesses and Tech Cos — which are more or less the same thing nowadays, are eyeing the eyeballs that Sport generates. The consumer numbers and emotional connections are very appealing to them as they build their user bases and consequently their value.


So why don’t sports learn to capitalise on their own value? Why is there such disparity in the sponsorship sales of say Formula One and the Champions League?


Why don’t Sports Governing bodies and Federations seek to understand the inherent values that they can build and devise Strategies and Plans to meet their challenges and opportunities.


Whilst a few are run almost like businesses, the enterprises around sports are the ones that will clean up. They have strategies and plans, they are accountable to their shareholders and are able to hold the senior executives to account. That drives professionalism. Sports however are left to wallow in archaic organisational structures mostly unfit for the purpose of running a Global enterprise with only the most general of market forces to bear on them which they manage to ignore or not understand.

The most profitable businesses in sport are mostly those that come into sport from the ‘Real World’. They see the vast opportunities that Sport offers, they move in and reap the rewards. They deserve to.

The Sport Business needs to up its game before it is outpaced and overun by real business. The cracks are showing and sports governing bodies are looking ever more incompetent.

I am an advocate of using specialists to run events for instance but there and in the way sports are run they seem to live in a bubble, their own ‘sports’ universe. This leads to poor management and the late adoption of processes and methodologies designed in the last century.

“A business designed for success in the last century is destined to fail in this century.”

Thats a famous quote but so appropriate for the sports business.


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Please feel free to comment — disagree or agree whatever. I think its a discussion and issue that needs more attention.