Future of Sports

Src: USA Today

A report consulting leading futurists presents a picture of what professional sports might be like in the next 25 years. Predictions are made in three increments (1-5 years, 5-10 years, 10-25 years), but the editors stress that the report only describes a possible future, not a most likely scenario. It is intended to be a conversation starter, and should not be read as a high-confidence forecast. The report covers eleven facets of the industry, including facilities, venues, players, fans, etc. The report was commissioned by the operator of a global food service and hospitality company and owner of a major professional team.

The full report is available for free, but here are highlights by chapter:


1-5 years: genetic screening
5-10 years: genetic enhancements
10-25 years: natural & enhanced athletes

“Safe and detectable drugs that boost key physiological factors to specific, pre-determined amounts will be legal and will level the playing field for all. Success will be determined more by character, teamwork, strategy, and the mental edge than by the genetic lottery. In this sense, sports will become a purer test than we have today.”

The carefully managed genetic enhancements might allow for:
increased red blood cell count for better oxygen delivery
stamina increased 60%
muscle mass doubled
pain pathways blocked
skeletal density increased

Enhanced athletes and natural athletes might compete in separate leagues, with the leagues meeting in championship games between natural and enhanced players.

All players will also be enhanced by courts/fields that increase performance.


1-5 years: demand for data flow (via smart phones, etc)
5-10 years: video advances
10-25 years: urban integration

Video walls in stadium architecture; on-field holographic replays, glasses-free 3D tech in luxury boxes; VR rides in the stadium for fans.

Smaller stadium footprints, enabled by self-driving self-parking cars and high-speed mass transit, allow stadiums to be built in city centers; modular/adaptable construction for variety of events; variety of fan areas.

More alcohol sales (enabled by driverless cars, mass transit); more security cameras, facial recognition.


1-5 years: the death of one-size-fits-all broadcasting (variety of consump options; Google likely buys rights for a major league)
5-10 years: divergence (news content comes from leagues, franchises, players, fans)
10-25 years: the convergence (fans re-integrate content from various sources and share)

Major networks lose control over content (to leagues, players, franchises, fans).
Influence of network commentators and journalists wanes due to social media access.
Major online platform (probably Google) buys multiyear broadcast rights for a league.

Fans access content from many sources all at once.
Fans integrate these streams into seamless, coherent, personalized viewing experiences.
Watch a game via VR headset from the perspective of your favorite player.

E-Sports and Fantasy Sports

1-5 years: talent ecosystem emerges
5-10 years: better controllers
10-25 years: indistinguishable remote and in-person gameplay

Celebrity gamers challenge traditional sports stars for adulation.
Pro sports leagues embrace gaming.
Talent eco-systems supporting esports (coaches, high school teams, ranking, etc).
Hand-held controllers replaced by body movement and sensors.
Tactile feedback interfaces and AR/VR enable remote play.

The Fan

1-5 years: increasingly responsive
5-10 years: fan-recorded content
10-25 years: increased fan input (extension of 1-5yr forecast above – more strategy decisions, like scouting)

Forced crowdsourcing of critical decisions, like whether to fire a player or coach after a scandal.

When every fan is wearing a high-quality video device, fans become a prime source for broadcast and replay material.

Team-designated ombudsmen will represent fans in major team decisions, and complex algorithms will predict fan reactions.

Extreme Adventure Sports

1-5 years: extreme sports league
5-10 years: robot experiments
10-25 years: sports zones

Extreme sports will adapt a more formalized competition format.

Robot trials will be run before humans perform to improve safety. Later, robotic exoskeletons and self-powered body suits further reduce injuries and death.

Designated competition areas in national wilderness areas.

Payments and Ticketing

1-5 years: move to digital
5-10 years: paper tickets go away (Apple establishes its own banking technology)
10-25 years: end of the line (no standing in lines for anything)

Leagues with their own digital currencies (probably NOT based on Bitcoin).

Seats chosen based on social media contacts, and social goals (families together, singles together, etc).

Fanbase Economics

1-5years: women’s sports apparel expansion
5-10 years: job displacement
10-25 years: increased displacement of low-end workforce

Marketing focuses more on upper-mid-class women as mid-class wealth wanes.

As more fans are priced out of live games, “third venues” emerge. AR enables life-size replays up close in 3D theatrical venues

The Future of Sports.” Josh McHugh, Po Bronson, Ethan Watters (editors). September 2015. Delaware North.

Singularity University (Paul Saffo, Salim Ismail, Aaron Frank), Kamran Rosen (reporting and research), Gary Bettman, Wendy Selig, Ted Leonsis, Future Cities Lab, Clay Coffey, Luke Bronson, Blaise Zerega, SF Elite Academy, Rick Abramson, Amy Latimer, Todd Merry, Chuck Moran, John Wentzell, Garrett Law, Peter White, Roger Noll, Mark Charles, Margaret Johnson

For background on the motivation for the report, see:
Bruins owner spearheads report on what sports will look like in 25 years.” Erik Brady. January 26, 2016. USA Today.


Many of the ideas above are echoed in a May 2015 article from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In particular we’re already seeing line-optimization, seat-optimization, on-demand on-device replays, big growth in digital tickets, women and children as a key demographic.

Five Trends Shaping the Future of Sports.” Ian Chipman. May 2015. Stanford Graduate School of Business

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Posted by cc on February 5, 2016 at 10:34 pm | comment count

Issue 28: 2050 – Nautilus

Issue 28: 2050 – Nautilus

Some interesting thought pieces in this recent special issue from Nautilus. An astrobiologist interviews a sci-fi writer about the next 300 years of civilization. There’s a brief history of war (and peace) games. An argument that human intelligence and AI will co-evolve. Not much

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Posted by on October 16, 2015 at 12:32 am | comment count

2030 Injury Scenarios

Quantitative injury rate forecasts have been somewhat scarce (short of Pardee’s long-range fatality forecasts to 2100). During the search, I came across the previously mentioned Institute for Alternative Futures’ Public Health Scenarios 2030. Here’s expected scenario from their “Injury Prevention Driver Forecasts”:

  • Technological innovations in design and monitoring – and decreased public tolerance – reduce unintentional injury rates for certain types of injuries
  • Rates of violence continue to be closely tied to poverty, race, education, and geography
  • Some innovative programs prove successful locally but are leadership-dependent and unsustainable
  • Injury-related fatalities decrease but injury-related costs – including long-term care and benefits – rise due to inadequate focus on primary prevention
  • Political and cultural opposition to a population-based approach hinders the most effective local policies from being embraced on a nationwide level

Src: “Injury Prevention Driver Forecasts.” 2014. Institute for Alternative Futures.

Public Health Scenarios 2030

I’ve been looking for illness-related forecasts and historic statistics for the last couple days. After looking through so much quantitative data (my roundup is here), it’s interesting to finish out the research with a look at some scenarios.

The Institute for Alternative Futures (co-founded by Alvin Toffler in 1977), has a series called Public Health 2030. The “Chronic Disease Driver Forecasts” is of particular interest.


Forecast Summaries

Expectable: Chronic disease epidemic continues its upward trajectory
• Tobacco use and cancer incidence rates drop
• Aging yields higher rates of dementia and prostate and breast cancer
• Highest-risk populations cannot access new treatments for chronic disease
• Behavioral health programs show varied success/failure rates
• Primary prevention efforts are met by various obstacles, including legal and public relations battles
• About 48 percent (171 million) of U.S. residents live with one or more chronic conditions, i.e., 2% or
30 million people more since 2010
• National health spending accounts for 22 percent of GDP (compared to 18 percent in 2010)

Challenging: Chronic disease epidemic escalates
• Improved access to care leads to substantial increase in diagnosed chronic diseases. Widespread
provider shortages and inconsistent quality of self-management support fail to effectively control
and prevent chronic disease
• A major economic downturn worsens psychological and behavioral health; smoking, obesity, heart
disease, cancers, and diabetes become more prevalent among both youth and elders
• Health disparities increase and low-income and minority groups are blamed for their health
problems and scapegoated for overburdening the health care system
• Some communities experience successes in improving behavioral and community health, but most
struggle to replicate this success
• Over half the U.S. population lives with one or more chronic conditions, and all states have obesity
rates above 50 percent
• Cuts in Medicare and Medicaid reduce health spending to 17 percent of GDP as many in the U.S.
forego care

Aspirational: Widespread conquering and prevention of chronic disease
• Communities address social determinants of health, prevention, and behavioral health; Community
Centered Health Homes are prominent
• Accountable Care Communities (ACCs) expand on the idea of the Accountable Care Organization
(ACO) to coordinate across a range of sectors, including employment, housing, transportation, and
• “My code is your code”: apps are tailored and reworked to engage the public in promoting personal
and community wellbeing among neighbors and localities; widespread use of personalized health
informatics, games, and digital agents to assess and change behavior
• People and groups increasingly advocate for healthier community environments
• Less than 40 percent of the U.S. population is living with one or more chronic conditions

Src: “Chronic Disease Driver Forecasts.” 2014. Institute for Alternative Futures. 

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Posted by on September 26, 2015 at 12:05 am | comment count

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