Brendan Flood | Sport has changed and education is vital to its future

Brendan Flood, chairman of the Global Institute of Sport (GIS), University Campus of Football Business (UCFB) and director at Burnley FC, explains how now, more than ever, the global sports industry must innovate to adapt to the global climate, and how specific knowledge and education is central to that

Around the world there hasn’t been one industry that has escaped the impact of Covid-19, and sport is no exception. From the top to the bottom, jobs have been lost, organisations folded and revenue ripped apart. Slowly but surely athletes are returning to the field, but the sports they’ve dedicated their lives to have been changed dramatically. These truly are testing times.

It’s now up to us, the leaders of today, to adapt to this new reality by bringing forward the vision, knowledge and ideas needed that will ultimately lay the foundations for the leaders of tomorrow to continue taking this powerful, transformative and global industry into the future.

No industry survives without forward thinkers and organisations that aren’t afraid to think outside of the box to attract new audiences and investment. Sport has often been at the front of that curve and it’s my belief that it can continue to be so as we all continue to work our way through this unique landscape we currently find ourselves in.

Since the turn of the century, the sports industry has developed on and off the field in ways many of us couldn’t have imagined. Nowhere is that more prevalent than in its commercial appeal to broadcasters and sponsors. As a revenue-generating industry it has sky-rocketed; our audiences are no longer confined to one town or one country – Brooklyn is as key a market as Burnley.

With this in mind I believe that it’s increasingly vital that those working in sport must have the knowledge, skills and adaptability to span continents. With global industry must come lifelong learning and specific education to oversee an ever-changing and fast-paced landscape. The demand for virtual and flexible education is greater than ever too – Covid-19 has highlighted this. We must ensure that individuals and organisations have access to insight from sports leaders around the world instantly online, even for those who prefer to study on location.

My goal when launching UCFB nearly a decade ago was to create the ‘Harvard of Sport’, and I believe with the recent launch of GIS we’re close to realising that. We are ensuring that our network of partners and hub locations across Europe, North America, Asia, the Middle East and Australia are accessible to all of our students, meaning that learning best practices from the leading minds and organisations in the sector is easier than ever.

So whether it’s teaching via the classroom or through experiences and networking, it’s up to us to ensure we continue to push sport and its rich financial, cultural and social benefits on to those who’ll be carrying these responsibilities into the future.

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