We all know the challenges that face youth sports: Higher costs are threatening to put organized sports out of reach for many families. I’ve seen it in my own household, where our 8-year-old son has already participated in organized baseball, soccer and now—his latest obsession—taekwondo. At each step, considerable costs, a perceived lack of fun and/or new rules that have changed the way teams are organized (soccer as a prime example) have caused us to pivot.
As John Conroy explores in our cover story, while some statistics show cause for increasing concern about participation rates, other figures point to hope for the future. Some entities, USA Hockey among them, seem to be finding winning formulas to keep kids engaged and having fun, a situation that certainly could be inspiring for other sports organizations.
Of course, the very nature of sports is in flux. The rise of esports continues, with our Q&A highlighting a prime example of that shift. Chris Overholt just left his position as CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee to lead the new Toronto Defiant team in the Overwatch League. Read why he made the leap in our interview.
And as our tech column notes, it’s not just athletes and executives who are seeing shifts when it comes to sports. The very nature of being a spectator is undergoing a massive change, with companies like Xperiel leading the way in making attendance at a live event a more interactive experience. And when we say interactive, remember that sports wagering will play an ever larger role in that equation moving forward.
Change, of course, can be a good or bad thing depending on your perspective. But those in the sports-event industry need to be aware of these shifts in order to make their own adjustments. We hope this issue gives you some food for thought on all those fronts.