From amateur to pro
All sports in their origins begin in an amateur way, with the intention of simply having fun with friends, but it is enough that a group of people take the game seriously so that it is no longer just for fun but even to be able to make a living from playing it. The interesting question is what is needed for a sport to become professional, that is, for athletes to be able to generate income by playing it.
For a sport to become professional, possibly one of the most important characteristics it must have is the number of spectators who are interested in watching the athletes compete because this is what makes the sponsor decide to invest in this sector or not.
That is to say, as long as there is a significant audience that would like to watch a sport, it will reach its consumers. The more people watch a sport, the more brands will fight for its elite athletes, and it is impressive how certain companies always repeat themselves among the best, and even some have managed to relate the name of an athlete with a brand or vice versa, as is the case of Nike (NYSE: NIKE) with Michael Jordan or in my case when I think of Rolex, the tennis player Roger Federer comes to mind.
But something very interesting that has been happening is the increase in viewership in other sports, such as eSports, where certain games have achieved a number of views that exceed several of the traditional sports. For example, in the case of League of Legends in the final of the World Cup 2021 achieved a peak of 73 million viewers, increasing by 60% of the audience compared to the final of 2020.
This has made big brands want to sponsor clubs such as Monster (NASDAQ: MNST) or BMW (BATS: BMW) in the G2 eSports club. Another example of sports that has been gaining millions of viewers is the case of drone racing, which, thanks to the Drone Racing League (DRL), which is broadcast by ESPN, has gained major sponsors. Such is the case of the contract with the cryptocurrency Algorand (ALGO), for 100 million dollars and in turn, provides tickets to competitions and other collectibles in NFT format. As well as a partnership with online betting platform Draftkings (NASDAQ: DKNG). For non-traditional sports, there is nothing better than a non-traditional sponsor.
It could be said that this great growth of this industry has made that part of the new generations no longer interested in being the next Messi or Lebron James, but rather they want to be “Faker” (the Messi of League of Legends), so this can generate several discussions between parents and children, where the clash of generations is more noticeable.
Although these new sports are here to stay, there are still some questions that I personally am very intrigued to know what will happen. Will the millennials and centennials who grew up watching video game competitions continue to do so as adults? Or if the time will come when eSports and drone racing will become an activity accepted by society as a traditional sport.