The future of sports

Students got a chance to connect with professionals in the sports industry at the annual Ted Rogers Sports Conference on March 24.

Held in Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre, the conference’s three panels brought together a diverse line of sport industry professionals including business executives and athletes to discuss current topics relating to the industry. Topics for the panels were The State of Professional Sports in Canada, Athlete Funding and Endorsements, and The Future of Digital Sports Media.

Moderated by Ryerson journalism alumna and the social media lead for CBC Sports and CBC Olympics, Monika Platek, The Future of Digital Sports Media panel focused on the changes in how sports are digitally consumed and where that industry is heading.

Dale Hooper, senior vice president of marketing and insights for Rogers Media. Photo by Sarah Beach.

Dale Hooper, senior vice president of marketing and insights for Rogers Media. Photo by Sarah Beach.

Tom Anselmi, former chief operating officer and president for MLSE said that current innovations in fan interaction are just “the tip of the iceberg”.

“It’s literally changing right in front of our eyes,” said Anselmi.

Chris Hebb, former senior vice president of content and communication for MLSE, recalls when Leafs TV started to steam online. It included a chat room component, which fans used to interact with each other when the feed was down.

“You can engage not only with the sport, not only with the athlete, but with each other,” said Hebb.

The importance of providing interesting, interactive content in sports media has become paramount. It’s because of this that Jonathan Savage, senior vice president of product for smartphone app theScore, said his company strives to create a highly interactive, user-first mobile sports experience.

The future of digital sports media is to engage with fans, according to Dale Hooper, senior vice president of marketing and insights for Rogers Media.

“It’s about brand and putting the consumer first,” said Hooper.

With regards to the future, Platek brought up the possibility of wearable technology such as Google Glass and Pivothead to live stream games from a point of view – like the referee’s, for example. Savage believes that this is the direction digital sports media will be heading towards.

“I can’t imagine this not being in broadcasting eventually, seeing the game from that angle,” said Savage.

The Ted Rogers Sports Conference is the second of two sports industry events presented by the Ryerson Sports and Business Association (RSBA). Last November, the RSBA held a Sport CEO Summit, an industry networking night.

Rubina Mangat, a third-year Ryerson accounting and human resources student and president of the RSBA, said the Ted Rogers Sports Conference is a chance for students to learn more about the direction that the sports industry is heading towards and build connections with professionals.

This year’s conference focused on milestones in sports industry and its ongoing development. The group wanted to embrace different sports and bring in more women because, as Mangat pointed out, the industry is generally male-dominated.

“We want to provide an opportunity for students that they wouldn’t have otherwise to learn from their peers and professionals,” said Mangat.

Photos by Sarah Beach.