The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted sports participation among children and amateurs and there must be efforts by national federations and team owners of sports leagues to sustain it, former India cricketer Jatin Paranjpe said on Thursday in a webinar — organised by e4mwebinar — that discussed the ‘market’ of sports after the pandemic.
Paranjpe, who participated in the webinar as the CEO of Khelo More, a digital sports brand, pointed out the growth of sports as an industry and the financial well-being of it was connected to grassroots and amateur-level sports, and that amateur coaches leaving their pursuit due to the pandemic did not bode well for sports as an industry in the long term.
“You don’t have enough cricket coaches, you don’t enough quality cricket coaches, you don’t have enough football coaches, you don’t have enough basketball coaches; if COVID-19 makes current coaches leave coaching then your graph on the supply side would go down,” he said.
The government would have a role to play in facilitating this participation, felt Paranjpe. He said, “India is the youngest country in the world. A lot of kids are playing sports across the ecosystem. Only 0.001 percent of them play for India. The rest can be involved in sports coaching and operations and other things, so this is the time for sports to take a leap and try and be recognised, and get an industry status. A lot of funneling will happen with just that one move from the government.”
With brands and industries suffering financially due to the current scenario, Amit Verma, VP-Marketing, Havell’s, an electronic appliances brand, said there would be an overall lukewarm response to advertisement opportunities in sports in the near future. “Fans want to [engage in live action], but what is the magnitude where investors want to invest [in sports] today? If I make an apple-to-apple comparison, the investment I [made] a year back, on the same property, will I do that now? Nobody will be ready to do that,” he said.
In this scenario, he felt investors would only bet on avenues such as ‘performance marketing’.
Vinit Karnik, Business Head, Entertainment, Sports and Live Events, was optimistic of a quick change in the dull scenario at present. He felt if the IPL is held in a few months, investors will start to invest again, as they would also need advertising to sell their products. Satish Menon, CEO, Kings XI Punjab, pointed out a few brands and industries were already profiting during this lockdown period, and that the current “disruption” was temporary.
Yet, Menon felt it would be a “different market” in sports in the future.
“I firmly believe as the partners working with us that IPL is one of the best platforms to be in. Every brand has its own time-frame; every category has its own space. For example, even in a dull market, there are brands which need presence in some form or the other, or an increased share of voice. We’re constantly tracking the market and we know for a fact that there are brands and categories which are going to do very well in the coming months. They will ride out the COVID-19 pandemic, and will definitely come on top of it,” Menon said.
The panelists also discussed, among other things, the importance of improving technology within sports and new ways to engage consumers.