How involved should fans be in the sports show?


To attract the attention of the younger generation, some sporting event organizers have introduced participation mechanisms in recent years that can have an impact on the outcome of competitions. a recipe devastating Traveling on the consumption habits and aspirations of Generation Z, but not adapted to all disciplines. Investigation.

“Do we want to approach the future with a nostalgic look? It is our duty to ensure that football remains the world’s most popular sport in the coming decades. […] Gen Z will soon be big enough to pay for their fun. But are we now offering them a product that meets their expectations? We have to offer them exciting competitions. In his speech at the 2021 edition of Think Football, Juventus FC boss Andrea Agnelli lays the groundwork to announce the birth of the “Super League” project a few months later. ” Europe.

The solution envisioned by the Turin leader is based on a closed league and blockbusters created strong divisions within European football, which is enjoyed by fans every week; On the other hand, the observation on the difficulty of turning GenZ viewers into fans is shared by many professionals and observers in the industry. A study conducted by ECA in August 2020, covering 7 key and emerging markets such as the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Poland, Netherlands, India and Brazil, highlighted the decline in interest in football in the 16-24 age group.

It’s not just a football issue. “Many studies, particularly from the United States, show a relative distaste for younger generations to the traditional sports spectacle. Only the NBA seems to be resisting this phenomenon,” said Boris Helleu, Teacher-Researcher at the University of Caen-Normandy. Last January in the New York Times. “We need to do a better job of communication in terms of better emphasizing the idea of ​​being a fan of GenZ,” expressed to Chris Marinak, MLB’s Director of Strategy and Operations, confirmed half a word about his challenges to renewing a few American major league fan bases.

“Involving fans in the realization of sports performance can be seen as a violation of equality”

Boris Helleu – Teacher-Researcher – University of Caen-Normandy

While taking advantage of the inactivity exhibited by traditional players to quickly capture market share, some new competitions seeking to navigate the consumption habits of younger generations have devised participatory mechanisms aimed at directly involving fans in the development of events. This is especially true for the Formula E championship, which introduced the Fan Boost concept in its first season. Followers of the competition are then invited to choose the driver for whom they will give a 5-second power boost during the second part of the race during each E-Prix. The 5 drivers with the most votes will receive this bonus during the event. Since then, other competitions have followed in Formula E’s footsteps by offering participatory mechanisms that influence sports results, such as the Fan-Controlled Football League – a private indoor American football championship that goes so far as to allow fans to choose a tactical plan. composition of teams.

Prioritize participation over participation

Are these tricks intended to give fans the power to influence the course of a sporting event suitable for so-called traditional competitions? “Involving fans in the performance of a sporting performance can be seen as a violation of equality. The result will then be considered truncated. Formula E has succeeded in bringing the Fan Boost principle to life as it is a new competition. This innovation sticks to the positioning of the discipline. But for a more traditional discipline, it is difficult to impose such a system,” analyzes Boris Helleu. “Sports tends to adopt a conservative philosophy. We have had the opportunity to do this during numerous discussions and debates about the introduction of video refereeing in football. Putting groundbreaking innovations into practice can completely undermine the core purpose of sports organizations,” continues the teacher-researcher.

How involved should fans be in the sports show?