Recent global developments such as the pandemic, extreme weather and growing polarization will definitively change the playing field for sports. How and why we play sports is determined by these external factors which, at first glance, have nothing to do with sports. Why? Because our quality of life and the stress levels in our daily lives, are factors that have a significant influence on how and why we play sports.

In this blog we have a look at the implications for the sport industry and the choices we can make today as a sector in response to this evolution.

What does "stress-in-the-society" mean for sport and how can we adjust the rules of the game?

From our future trends research for Sport Flanders, we know that stress in a society will influence sport. Because of the pandemic in combination with the consequences of climate change (extreme droughts, forest fires, floods, migration flows, growing polarization, transportal disruptions and production chains ...) we can expect that today and in the future more people will experience more stress in their daily lives than roughly 5 years ago.


How does it impact our sports behaviour? What effects could we expect?

People who have experienced more stress since the pandemic, may have started to exercise more. Others may have given up completely because they have too many other things on their mind.

Some may now choose more consciously for sports that are known to reduce stress, such as yoga, walking, cycling in nature,... . Or they choose sports where they can let off steam or go to extremes, such as combat sports and extreme sports.

Do we perhaps also see more and more intense emotions at sports competitions (athletes succumb to the pressure, supporters and players quickly clash, emotional interviews, etc.)? Are the releases from a victory or the frustrations of a setback greater for the athlete and the spectators?

In other words, we could see a shift in the types of sports practiced, the number of athletes, the profile of the athlete, the motivation to practice sports, the time spent on sports and also the value of sports to society in the coming years.

If we are aware of this shift, then we can help steer this shift by making the right decisions today. How can we use sport to do our part in the pursuit of a healthy and cohesive society?

What choices can we make?

  • Do we choose to put all our effort into (the promotion of) sports because sports can channel this additional stress in our society or do we choose to reduce the support for sports because there are other priorities?
  • Do we choose to put extra effort into sports experience and fair sports to give extreme emotions a place in society? Or do we take repressive measures to deal with fights, unfortunate statements and confrontations that get out of hand?
  • Do we choose to invest in sports and exercise for prevention, to make people more resilient and to increase the chances of healthy and happy citizens and a cohesive society? Or do we choose only the reactive approach and solve the problems as they arise?

Forecasting the future and identifying possible implications of external events are crucial for any sector, company or organisation. Do you have all the external factors that could affect your sector mapped out? And have you already thought about what this could mean for your organisation or company? Reach out, and we’re happy to make your organisation ready for this new era.