By Carles Cantó
The sports industry accounts for around 1.5% of the global GDP. In some countries – for example, China, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar – it is a strategic driver of growth, from a social angle as well as an economic perspective. The sports arena consists of a variety of “pieces” that, when put together, constitute the sports business ecosystem.
The pieces of the sports business ecosystem puzzle include: athletes, teams/clubs, federations, events, leagues/competitions/events, cities/countries, venues, investors, media, marketing agencies and consultancy firms, headhunters, sports technology and innovations companies, travel agencies, sports apparel companies, fantasy and betting, sports academies, sports business training programmes, law firms specialised in sports, etc.
ESADE decided to include a ten-session “Sports Business Management” subject as part of its Full Time MBA. In the fourth session, for example, sponsorship is discussed at length so that students fully understand that this concept goes beyond brand visibility. In the fifth session, students learn how venues can generate revenue in innovative ways that go beyond the ticketing revenue stream. In the seventh session, “servuction” is introduced as a tool for better design and planning of sporting events. The eighth session summarises the main innovations in the sports industry over the last ten years and presents a vision for the future (augmented reality, new ways to invest in the industry, big data, learning machines, e-sports, etc.).
As part of The ESADE MBA programme, the subject is designed to provide students with the necessary framework to understand the reality of the sports business ecosystem. It shows how all the pieces are linked and enables students to envision what the sports industry will look like in the coming years. It also includes a group project that students must present before a panel of judges consisting of several sports industry executives. The subject, which includes substantial contributions from my colleague Keegan Pierce, also presents a unique opportunity to interact with, and learn from, a select group of guest speakers. The students enjoy on-campus (or Skype-enabled) guest appearances by high-profile speakers from major companies, clubs and leagues in the sports industry. These speakers include David Abrutyn (Bruin Sports Capital), Miguel Galvarriato (MotoGP driver agent), Claudia Blasi (Rafa Nadal Foundation), Ignacio Mestre (FC Barcelona), Ferran Soriano (City Football Group), David Molina (Mastercard), William Mannarelli (FC Barcelona), Jesús Bueno (NBA), Enric Rojas (IMG Media), Greg Lalas (MLS), Ludivine Roosebeke (Paris 2024), Pau Serracanta (Dorna), Sebastián Lancestremère (Microsoft), Neel Shah (DSK Shivajians FC), Trevor Dalglish (Chalk) and José Luis Marcó (Seeliger & Conde).