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Bulls & Bears: The sports world has shown remarkable resilience in the face of COVID-19


Opinion: In general, however, the sports industry has been remarkably resilient in making its way through the closures, restrictions and list challenges presented by the coronavirus in its various forms – particularly the most recently in connection with the highly contagious Omicron variant.

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Bulls of the week

Last week’s cancellation of the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships is arguably the low point of the COVID-19 pandemic to date, financially and emotionally. This is at least true from a Canadian stakeholder perspective, where even the loss of an entire CFL season in 2020 seemed more understandable given the circumstances at the time and the door-to-door business of the. three-a-side football in Canada.


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In general, however, the sports industry has been remarkably resilient in navigating its way through the stops, restrictions and roster challenges presented by the coronavirus in its various forms – particularly the most recently in relation to the variant. highly contagious from Omicron.

The five major North American sports leagues have each found a way to crown champions. It’s been two years of championing the NHL, NBA, MLB and MLS, even though the first time in 2020 was in so-called “bubbles” with no fans in the stands.

Throughout the process, professional sport has reaffirmed the unparalleled strength of its communication platforms. Leagues and teams – and, for the most part, individual players – have been admirable in the public advocacy and messages they have supported.


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The most optimistic franchises have been those that elevated their digital, social and virtual media games, further expanding their existing leadership positions by ensuring a constant supply of compelling content and fan engagement.

Yet perhaps the biggest winners in the sports sector have been those who cornered the market during the pandemic. The meteoric rise in collectibles and collectible cards over the past two years is just one example of what has happened when fans have spent more time at home and online, looking for ‘an escape from the daily onslaught of the number of cases and health orders.

It remains to be seen how far NFTs will go after COVID, but digital collectibles could very well be part of the legacy of the pandemic.


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Sports betting could be another of the forward-looking forces helping sports leagues, franchises and owners recoup some of the losses they suffered during the pandemic. The combination of legalized single event betting and mobile betting clearly increases the volume of money invested in sports and it will only increase over time as kiosks and betting houses populate the market, including in stadiums and arenas across North America.

Watch for betting to play an important role in creating new virtual experiences that will only be more urgent in the months and years to come. Think metaverse.

Add in direct-to-consumer merchandising, an explosion in team clothing, steady growth in streaming, and the rise of new platforms like the juggernaut that is Amazon and no one should expect a significant contraction in the value of sports business and COVID. sports teams.


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Bear of the week

For all of its stubborn strength in the face of COVID-19, there is no doubt that the sports industry has been among the hardest hit in North America and around the world.

The business of sport – like the business of business and the business of life works best in a climate of certainty. Yet, as we have seen with the resurgence of the fourth wave of the virus via the spread of Omicron, predictability is not a defining feature of the pandemic. The aforementioned cancellation of the World Juniors is something we wouldn’t have seen coming at this time last week. Yet here we are: no World Juniors, postponements galore in the NHL, and no NHL players at the Beijing 2022 Olympics next month.

Tom Mayenknecht, Director of Marketing Communications and Sports Commentator, is Director of Emblematica Brand Builders and host of The Sport Market on BNN Bloomberg Radio 1410 and TSN Radio nationally. Follow Mayenknecht on: twitter.com/TheSportMarket

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