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Introducing the Future of Sport Institute (FoSI)

By Kwame Agyemang Ph.D., Director, Future of Sport Institute

In the aftermath of a turbulent 2020, the sport industry is experiencing noteworthy change and transformation. Gen Z fandom. Private equity funds. Investor interests in women’s sports. Immersive fan experiences. Addressing long-standing injustices. Digital innovation. These trends (and more) are disrupting the status quo and fundamentally altering the industry as we’ve known it.

To illustrate, according to a 2022 survey conducted by the New York Times, only 23 percent of Gen Z identify as sport fans. More recently, investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is thought to be posing a real threat to Europe’s domination of international club football. Meanwhile, a recent Nielsen study indicated that sport consumers want the industry to lessen its all-out pursuit of financial goals to commit to social change. Indeed, in communities and countries around the globe, people are playing, consuming, and engaging with sport in new ways.

These major shifts in the global sport landscape are challenging executives and managers to lead and manage differently than what they’re traditionally used to. Yet, for many organizations, several questions remain. For example, how might sport organizations harness emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to revolutionize how people experience sport? How can leaders build sport organizations that balance social purpose and profit? How can we continue the momentum seen in the growth of women’s sports? And more broadly speaking, what disruptions are here to stay, and what shifts can we anticipate in the future?

The Future of Sport Institute (FoSI) was launched to provide a research-based platform to answer these types of questions and more. Global in scope, the Institute will draw on the expertise of University of Kentucky (UK) Sport Leadership faculty and affiliated members across UK and around the world. Together, we will provide leaders and members of the sport community with novel ideas and practices concerning how they and their organizations approach the forces that are disrupting sport.

As FoSI evolves, it will naturally add to its list of research themes. During this initial phase, the Institute will focus on:

  • Emerging sport economies
  • Sport organizations creating a more just and equitable world
  • Growing women’s sport
  • Name, image, and likeness (NIL) in college athletics

Ideally, our aim is to serve as the go-to hub for industry stakeholders that maintain an interest in the future of sport, and we are excited for what lies ahead!