I’m a member of Generation Z (GenZ) and apparently, I’m going to change the world (particularly in sports).
According to the experts, my addiction to mobile devices, short attention span, minimalism, love for video games, and increased education has a profound impact on where the future is headed.
I feel as if those describe me and my peers fairly well.
But just like stereotypes, there is usually more below the surface.
GenZ is the digital generation.
Let’s Dive In 👇
Who is GenZ?
GenZ, sometimes called I-Gen, is the generation born between 1996 and 2010.
According to Bloomberg, GenZ makes up 32% of the world population in 2020 (making it the largest generation).
And there’s good news…
GenZ likes sports!
Our generation is currently entering the labor market and is starting to spend money.
Some sports organizations and companies are prepared for the changes this generation will bring — many are lagging behind.
A few things to keep in mind…
Sports have been around for thousands of years and are the greatest entertainment known to humanity.
At the end of the day…
Sports are entertainment.
In the past, we watched losers get sacrificed, Romans fight to the death, and basketball being played by plumbers who smoked cigarettes at halftime.
It’s come a LONG way, but is evolving rapidly…
Here’s what we’re seeing.
How GenZ Will Impact Sports
GenZ is different from millennials when it comes to sports.
Traditional sports are becoming less popular
GenZ is not into traditional sports as much as past generations.
For a few reasons:
- take up too much of their time
- not enough active involvement
We’re already seeing the impacts of this…
Youth participation rates in many traditional sports are showing a steady decline.
Mainstream is fading out — alternative is in.
GenZ are global citizens connected with each other 24/7 through their smartphones.
If they see something niche or trendy, they’ll jump on it.
Having fun is more important than winning. GenZ believes a sport has to be social (they want to feel involved).
I think the rise of pickleball is a great example of this.
Social, competitive, skill-oriented, and fairly easy on the body (unless you dive for whiffle balls as I do).
These sports often are fast, exciting, and reflect the core characteristics of GenZ.
So let’s very briefly elaborate on these so-called new sports.
GenZ likes sports that:
- require a certain skillset but don’t have to be super competitive
- can be done together with friends (often outdoors)
- paddleboarding, triathlons, CrossFit, pickleball, rock climbing, mountain biking, esports, sailing, etc
There’s certainly some irony here…
The more digitized the world becomes, the more GenZ craves in-person social interactions.
And honestly, it makes sense.
Many of us work remotely, play video games online, and interact with others on our phones.
This leaves a massive gap with no human-to-human interactions — so sports/exercise are the perfect gateways to this.
It’s also why…
Most of the main TV networks are experiencing a decline in the number of viewers.
GenZ also hates getting bombarded with advertisements (we see it all day on social media already).
So where are we headed?
It’s about giving GenZ what they want.
We still love sports, but in a different way.
Here are some things leagues, teams, and companies can do to win over GenZ.
Our attention spans suck — so creating entertainment is more important than ever before.
We don’t just want to see a touchdown — we want to hear the players talking after the play, see them celebrating, and get a bunch of different angles.
GenZ loves technology, data, and unique video solutions.
Technology is there to help the sport:
- more objective results (video refereeing)
- development of the game (stats, data, AI, etc).
Stadiums need to be more social while also having the latest technologies.
GenZ doesn’t want to wait in line, but they do want to hang out in a lounge and bet with others.
Social Media and Influencers
Most of us average 6 hours a day on social media.
We like to follow people, not brands.
GenZ trusts people, not companies or brands.
Everything should feel personable – which is why we’ve seen the rise of creator platforms.
Teams should focus more on the stars in the game rather than on their teams as a whole.
We also like highlights and borderline goofy content (sports should be competitive, but also fun and entertaining).
Let Us Participate
We’re so used to fantasy sports and video games where we control the teams and make the decisions.
We want involvement.
Let us have some decision-making power (even if it’s over small things).
Reach us Beyond TV
TV will continue to lose market share to streaming.
The race toward who will be the Netflix of sports will definitely gain traction in the coming years.
Video and content production is crucial (also a good business to be in).
GenZ only wants to pay for the content they watch (not for 500 random channels we’ll never touch).
And don’t forget to be global — soccer and basketball have perfected this.
I’m a member of GenZ…
Here are some of my scrambled thoughts about the future of sports and what I want as a fan.
My Sports Views (GenZ Member)
*These are my opinions and might not encompass GenZ as a whole (although I would argue many of them do).
- I prefer going to sporting events over watching them at home — but only under certain circumstances.
You won’t catch me at an event if the weather is crappy or the seats suck (I’d prefer to watch on my flat screen at that point).
Plus, TV timeouts are ridiculous anymore. In-person football games are about 5% action and 95% watching huddles.
- Most sports are too slow and boring for me. You won’t catch me watching traditional baseball (however I would watch the Savannah Bananas).
- I still root for the Steelers and Penguins (and probably always will), but in all other sports I cheer for players.
Basketball was my first love, but I could care less about watching teams. I watch because there’s an exciting player(s) — HS, college, pro.
- I like fantasy sports (and know I would enjoy sports betting if I started), as there is something cool about making money off of the games you’re watching.
- I could care less about a physical autograph from an athlete. But, owning their digital NFT autograph that also grants me access to them and the upside potential (whether monetarily or through the community) is intriguing to me.
NFTs are a new membership model that allows creators/athletes to make money with their audience, and not from them.
Read that again. ^^^
- I enjoy NFL RedZone because it allows me to cut out the fluff and only see the action-packed highlights.
- I get 99% of my sports news from Twitter and TikTok.
- I don’t really care about the training routines of athletes, but I am intrigued by their off-field business moves.
- I enjoy video games as they enable me to stay connected with friends from all over the world.
I’m not into the whole esports thing as I play video games for social activity, not a competitive one — although I do believe it’s going to be a top 5 sport in the next decade.
- Enhanced safety rules are great for the players but bad for the game (less entertaining).
I still find myself going back on YouTube and watching “biggest NFL hits” and “best hockey fights”.
The less violent traditional sports become….the faster esports is going to gain traction. (not saying this is good or bad, but it’s the reality)
Traditional sports are not out — but they do need to adjust for the younger generations.
This article only touched on GenZ…
Generation Alpha (2010-today) is a completely different story.
Sports are innovating faster than ever before and this has brought forth an array of things:
- talented individuals
- hundreds of startups
- athlete empowerment
- elevated valuations across the board
- and tons of opportunities for individuals
I wrote this from my perspective (GenZ male born in 1998) who only remembers a life with smartphones, computers, social media, and Dude Perfect as sports entertainment.
I’m generously curious about what you believe.
Fun times are ahead.