Bhubaneswar: Tata Steel organised a panel discussion to discuss ‘Career in Sports Management: Demand, Opportunities amidst a booming Global Sports Industry’. The panelists for the webinar included Ashley Fernandes, Chairman, Xavier Emlyon Business School and its Centre of Excellence in Sports Management; Prof. Dr. Michel Desbordes, Professor at University Paris Saclay, Prof. Somesh K Mathur, Professor in the Department of Economic Sciences, IIT Kanpur; Harendra Singh, Former Indian International Hockey Player, Ex-Coach of Indian National Hockey Team; Vijay Lancy Mascarenhas, Founder-CEO, The Badminton Professionals, and Current World Champion in Badminton Men’s Doubles 40+; and Karan Singh, CEO, Funngage. Rajiv Seth, Project Director, NTHA Odisha, and Diksha Tiwari, Consulting Senior Associate Editor, My City Links Magazine, co-moderated the discussion.
Sports is rapidly evolving in India and sports management as a career is also booming thanks to the growing reach of sports. Indians earlier only knew few sports like Cricket, Hockey, Tennis, and few running games. But, in the last few decades, thanks to internet and emergence to DTH, every household now has a sports enthusiast and many more other games are being played, watched and followed. We are now seeing sports gaining momentum and gaining more attention from not just metros and urban set-ups but smaller cities as well. The discussion threw light on the future of the sports management in the country. It also touched upon its challenges and opportunities.
Ashley Fernandes said: “A Sportsperson should understand the passion behind the business and a normal student should understand passion behind the sports. Sports is now entertainment, and entertainment means revenue. Therefore, we should understand rules of the revenue. Fortunately, or unfortunately, sports is a business and the way it is approached is very result oriented. E-sports is gaining popularity as well now and has been included in our curriculum and it develops different set of skills and knowledge. In terms of business, e-sports in big and will get bigger.”
Prof. Dr. Michel Desbordes said: “Sports Management is now a big market. There is a huge demand for coaching, equipment, game management and athlete management. We need people with good education and professional training who understands the game deeply along with the knowledge of marketing the game on all platforms to the right audience. There is a lot of scope for E-sports which can be a new way to explore classical sports.”
Prof. Somesh K Mathur said: “It is a great idea where sports bodies can hire companies into talent management, infrastructure along with marketing research. We need a professional approach where a sports companies can hire the service of representatives who come with required experience and coach winning teams. Sports management as an industry has huge prospects as India is developing its sports infrastructure and is aspiring to establish itself on global platforms. We are full of young talent who needs specialised training and facilities to compete with international athletes. North East has so much of talent to tap on. We need a scientific approach to locate talent and train them.”
Harendra Singh said: “Sports management exposure to existing coaches gives them the platform for theoretical knowledge and analytical skill to study the nuances of how the skill works vis-a-vis otherwise. This also develops one’s speed of learning and ability to learn at depth.”
Vijay Lancy Mascarenhas said: “A typical sportsperson has a different mindset. It doesn’t mean you should do sports management course to become a manager. It depends on a person if the person is open-minded and willing to learn on the job. If you understand the sport well and lack understanding of the business mechanics then doing a sports management course is a good idea. Unfortunately, sports cannot be understood or taught online. The recent pandemic has posed multiple challenges in coaching and training of athletes. But, this is the best time to study and understand the economics of the game if anyone is interested in sports management.”
Karan Singh said: “All of our best players have a Godfather; therefore, we need to remove the element of chance. It is more about the ecosystem and opportunities for the grassroots athletes. With internet penetrating across the country, it is becoming much more apparent. Even the understanding of sports, passion for the game is great, but how will you manage it and pivot it to revenue generation is the critical question. I see sports into two parts – playing communities (amateur and professional) and second is institutions who manage these players (school, institutes, and academies). Once you are selected it becomes easy. Majority of people leave because of lack of support guidance, money etc.”
With new formats of the game emerging each day and now the increasing popularity of E-Sports, sports management surely has a promising future.
Sports has been integral to Tata Steel’s philosophy of nation building. In India, Tata Steel as a corporate, spearheads the promotion of sports through its relentless and constant encouragement to professional sportspersons, amateurs, and its own employees to pursue sports and excel. Tata Steel has been consistently involved in creating and nurturing professional sportspersons through its academies and grassroots feeder centres.