As I cheered on an Irishman, walking down an Irish 18th to collect the Claret Jug at The Open on Sunday (21st July), I began to reflect on just how extraordinary the summer has been for British sport already.
Nothing can beat the topsy turvey action and excitement (not words normally associated with cricket) of an exceptional World Cup: with the marvellous combination of a draw leading to a Super Over (who had ever heard of one of those? Not even Aggers!) after an astonishing 47 matches; moments of drama which, if scripted, would have been dismissed as too unlikely to be believed, and of course, the icing on the cake- the rarest of things, an English triumph!
Even before that, we had heard the Lionesses roar from France (even if they only came home with pride- forgive the pun- and not a trophy), and latterly we have seen the Roses blossom in Liverpool. Although again, England didn’t quite fulfil their promise, but netball was the winner with greater than ever media coverage and matches played in front of a packed Vitality Arena. Although my advice to Liz Nicholl would be to ensure greater terrestrial coverage from Cape Town. The quality of the athleticism (and physicality) was exceptional, but my daughters (21 and 25 and both sporty) were not even aware of it. Liz, don’t let the Lionesses eat your lunch!
As society becomes ever-more fragmented and self-absorbed, fuelled by the power of social media, it seems that the unique unpredictability and shared emotional drama of sport will usher in a golden age for our athletes.
So what do venues, arenas and host cities (for now we need to consider the place of ‘sportscapes’ rather than sport being restricted to a seat-bound physical space) need to do to capitalise on this opportunity?
The answer, amongst other things, but mainly, is to keep pace with technological innovation- which is the driving force behind fan engagement, safety, security and revenue generation. Even overlay, to some extent.
Easier said than done of course, as the pace of change is eye-watering and as someone quoted at a conference recently ‘technology is a journey without a destination’.
I can at least offer a starting point for the appropriate level of investment as, for high profile, small businesses like most of sports event rights holders, it is as dangerous to over-spend on technology as it is to under-spend.
Here are my 6 top tips:
See you there.
Andy Rice, COO, Major Events International