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Sporting David vs Covid Goliath

In order to understand the impact of Covid-19 on Live Sporting events and how the road to recovery may look like, Anil Singh, MD of Procam International shares his thoughts with us.

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Anil Singh, MD, Procam International

With social distancing and stay-at-home becoming the new normal, the Live Sporting events industry has suffered a massive loss.

In the absence of any short term cure for this pandemic, experts say that it will take a few more months for any semblance of normalcy to return as far as sporting activities are concerned. Which in turn means stressful time for sports IP owners, brands and sporting fans.

In order to understand the impact of Covid-19 on Live Sporting events and how the road to recovery may look like, Anil Singh, MD of Procam International shares his thoughts in this exclusive interview.

Will there be any long term impact to Sport/Sporting Events due to Covid 19.

This is truly a Million Dollar question. Every single day pundits flood us with hundreds of predictions and opinions, all in good faith of course, but unfortunately we end up making a hazy picture hazier. 

The time has come for us to grab the bull by its horns and address the 8000 pound gorilla in the room with knowledge and logic that we all possess. Sport is not rocket science even though Covid 19 maybe, for now. What we collectively need to do is to build a predictive model for the next 12 months based on hardcore facts. 

Equally important is to be clear on the three main objectives - Clarity hence knowledge, invaluable time needed to seek shelter from an oncoming tsunami, and finally for all those with and in power i.e. Governments, Federations, Sponsors, Networks, Media etc to lend a shoulder wherever possible. 

FACTS:

(1) For Sport to return as we know it, we would need to get ahead of the virus which is either through mass testing (including (a)symptomatics, contact tracing and quarantining) or a vaccine available globally. 

(2) Sport and the economy are umbilically connected.

(3) Even if the situation improves dramatically, the Business of Sport cannot survive in an environment termed ‘the new normal’ for a multitude of reasons. Too long to get into, but I will touch upon them in my next article.

(4) Only a vaccine distributed globally will allow the business of Sport to return to the way it was, and that according to scientists is at least 6 months away. 

(5) Clear focus on technology to lessen the impact and stay connected.

(6) The vulnerability of Sport’s top 3 Generals namely Tourism,the hospitality industry and airlines. Hence we have to unite as one, in spirit and substance. 

(7) Finally, Sport will emerge stronger than ever before. 

Will this pandemic change the protocols of Live Sporting events in any way? 

Till we find a vaccine, the protocols would be turned inside out. To begin with fans would not be permitted to attend. Teams, support staff, TV crew, officials, maintenance, transportation, photographers and security would need to be quarantined prior and post each match. 

In your view, will brands downplay their activations in the post Covid era? 

On the contrary brands will engage with renewed vigour and enthusiasm, how can they not. They have witnessed the most powerful display ever of human courage, strength, resilience and sacrifice. I can assure you they will engage with a bigger sense of empathy, morality and purpose. 

How can brands that rely heavily on sport try to stay connected with players and the fan base in the wake of Live Event cancellations?

Same as what they should have been doing earlier. Brands and players individually or together always need to support their communities in every way possible, especially at a time of crisis. Fans turn to their heroes as symbols of hope and courage, that role can never be ignored.  Everyone wants to be heard and if they could donate that little extra time to listen and respond, the world would heal much faster. 

Do you think marketers will shift sponsorships to virtual sports and esports if the impact of the pandemic lasts for long?

No not really. Sponsorships never deliver if they are force fitted. Brands have to be relevant and integrate seamlessly within the fabric of the Event. Brands for sure will divert additional resources towards digital amplification, but that is only because they are already an integral part of the on ground sponsorship. 

Will Covid-19 redefine the dynamics of sporting contracts where unforeseen situations like the current pandemic would be addressed more seriously?

For sure and with diligence. Premiums will increase c'est la vie. What would be interesting would be to wait and watch how the leading insurers and re-insurers respond to the industry claims. I’m sure many contracts would have included the word epidemic / pandemic in their FM clause. 



For feedback and suggestions, please write to: Hailmary.anil@procam.in or Tweet @anilprocam




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