Webinar: The Sports Industry Skills Gap

By Matt Winkler, Master’s in Sports Analytics and Management Program Director

In a recent webinar, online Master’s in Sports Analytics and Management Program Director, Matt Winkler, highlights the skills gap in the sports industry, the “Third Wave,” and the online program.

The following is a partial transcript of the archived presentation, which can be viewed in full here.

How “The Third Wave” Tackles the Sports Industry Skills Gap

MATT WINKLER: I'm here to talk a little bit about this new area, having come from the MIT Sports Analytics Conference where I served as a panel.

We're entering the third kind of generation of sports industry. First generation was really about stadium and events and really were about just the major markets. Secondly, the industry was about TV and expansion of franchises around the country and even global audiences. And, now, we're in the third wave where we're you've got to be much more strategic and tactical in how you are engaging. Everyone now needs to think about a global, strategy.

We need to think differently about who our audience can be and quantify that. And then think about the technology that's involved in that. And then the analytics. Technology is providing such a richer data now on fans, on the industry itself, on stadiums, on digital platforms, and then certainly on how we make business decisions. But then I think we're all familiar with the analytics of how we make sports decisions on the field with the movie Moneyball and now the NBA is seeing this revolution.

Data-driven decisions are paramount now in the sports industry. You're talking about billion dollar entities that just can't make decisions on a whim, or just deal with the dichotomy of wins and losses. They need to be much smarter than that and ahead of it. And that's what analytics provides. So technology, well, we're always going to be talking about this. But, now, there seems to be this breakthrough in engaging in technology as the sole platform for engagement. And so this technology is changing e-sports and fantasy sports and virtual reality but also how the games are delivered to fans and consumers. Now, we can pretty much all watch it all our mobile phones. And that's really powerful.

With evolving technology — now we can create new platforms that may not go through a basic satellite or cable. Now there's something called the “over the top.” And that means you're broadcasting without cable or satellite. You're going right over the internet and delivering it that way on Facebook Live or Periscope. And, boy, is that disrupting the lives of broadcast executives and TV folks because that Facebook Live and Periscope component really, really changes the dynamic. My students, right now, are doing projects using those platforms to disrupt the industry.

Online MS in Sports Analytics & Management Program and Courses

The sample courses in the online MS in Sports Analytics and Management are targeting these new areas of the industry. Strategic global management requires a whole new skill set in understanding global as an audience but also diversity and inclusion.

Sports Analytics & Social Engagement — that's that new paradigm that we've been talking about. This engagement component is just so important right now. Every sports conference I go to — that's all we hear about. That course is going on right now and there are some really dynamic discussions going on there.

Digital Enterprises in Sports - Here you start understanding enterprises from the inside out — figuring out strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, understanding how they're brought to market, how they are developed, how can you do research, and more. So that gets to that entity of creating your own new thing.

Sports Technology & Innovation – this course really gets into the new areas of the industry including e-sports, fantasy sports, and virtual reality. And then innovation — innovation is this thing we hear a lot about that maybe isn't practiced enough. Here you get to practice. Make practical use of that by engaging in innovative activities and understanding the model for what those are.

Digital Enterprises in Sports- If consumers are using =these enterprises that are engaging in the space, then one, it's never been more plentiful to create an enterprise that can engage in sports industry. But, also, you can invent your own with an app, or an algorithm, or some kind of new entity and bring it right to market. You can license things now and bring it to market on your own. And that's really changed the game and it's something our students are doing now; researching licensing. Because there are just so many more categories of sponsorship. Not to mention just different categories of technology and enterprises that people can get involved in with more of an entrepreneurial spirit. So, we think that's a part of this “third wave” as well. And it's happening faster and broader than we could ever imagine.

Capstone  – This course wraps up all the elements you've learned in a document that at the end says, “I can do this.” And if I'm an employer, or an organization, or a partner, or so forth, and you can say, “I can do this for you,” it may be the most powerful mission statement you can make.“

Online Sports Management Program Projects

One of the projects consists of you being named the new minister of sport in the United States. How do you affect the World Cup and Olympic bids that are eminent for the upcoming World Cup and Olympics? You get to do a deep dive on understanding stakeholders and understanding planning.

Another project we have is one where you invent your own new digital enterprise in the industry and build it out using an outline that students are taught so that it meets what's actually going on out in the sports industry. And there are some other areas that we look at that are technology-specific in how fantasy sports business and e-sports business can really maximize their digital exposure. And e-sports is an industry that everyone seems to be getting involved in the sports industry. Now, when I say everyone, I mean the owners and media companies are investing in e-sports teams.

In another project we develop our own e-sports team, and really kind of real, marketable categories for each. We then define it by the analytics that measure each of those. The cycle of strategy, activation, execution, and measurement — that four-spoke component is really valuable. So, that's how decisions are made today — it’s really strategy and then measurement.

The Future of the Sports Industry

It's such a really exciting time in the sports industry because all these new areas have opened up to impact. Again, 10, 15, 20 years ago it was just teams, and events, and selling tickets. It's a whole new game now.

I just used another sports analogy. And isn't it great that now, with the level that distance education is now, and online learning, and how much of a richer experience it is. But, now, we have students from all over the world who don't have to travel and don't have to change their lives.

So, I couldn't have imagined this 10 years ago. And so I couldn't imagine things 10 years from now. But, you know, the program we're building will be lockstep with whatever those changes are. And it has the spirit to keep moving with the industry and extending the new elements of it. Most importantly making it a critical part of not just our curriculum and our content, but certainly, again, our goal is to make an impact on the industry. And there's a lot of key industry people who have influenced program and the new areas of the sports industry that it affects.

Additional Resources

Career Outlook

Advisory Council Plays Crucial Role in American University’s MS in Sports Analytics and Management Curriculum

An Open Introduction to the Online Master's in Sports Analytics and Management

National Master’s in Sports Management Career Projections

To learn more about American University’s online Master of Science in Sports Analytics and Management and your future career path, request more information or call us toll free at 855-725-7614.