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Current Trends in Sports Administration

With the global sports world growing almost as quickly as it changes, the importance of sports administration professionals adjusting to athlete and spectator trends has never been higher.

The sports landscape has changed significantly since the pandemic shut down organized competition for a year. Administrative roles require professionals to keep up or find themselves left behind.

The online Master of Science in Sports Administration — General program at Southeastern Oklahoma State University prepares students for various upper-level roles in the field, including professional, college and high school athletics, along with those in sports facilities, management and marketing.

Although there are numerous trends in sports across the globe, here are some of the biggest ones for sports administration professionals to watch:


The most significant change to the sports world over the last decade is probably the emergence of electronic sports (esports), a byproduct of the internet age that has grown like wildfire. The industry is expected to surpass $2.5 billion in revenue in 2023.

Nowadays, many colleges field esports teams that compete in video games against teams from other schools. Live audiences flock to the major gaming competitions held in stadiums worldwide, opening the sports door to a broader audience.

The esports craze will likely only grow as player and fan experiences evolve with technology. Even the National Basketball Association (NBA) has an esports league, with each real team having a cyber equivalent, so professional leagues are also taking notice of the esports boom.

Women’s Sports

Although it took a while for the world to value and support women’s sports, this industry plays a significant role across the global landscape. For example, in 2019, the FIFA Women’s World Cup was a massive success, breaking ticket sales and television audience records.

A few months later, before the pandemic hit, the Women’s T20 Cricket World Cup also destroyed records with 1.1 billion video views, the largest audience to ever watch women’s cricket. The final between Australia and India drew 1.2 million viewers and more than 86,000 spectators.

More recently, the WNBA playoffs enjoyed its highest television ratings in 20 years, with an average of 439,000 viewers through the first 19 postseason games. Game 1 of the Finals between Connecticut and Las Vegas drew 555,000 viewers.

These trends suggest a burgeoning market that could produce massive returns in the coming years as women’s sports continue to gain traction.

Fan Experience

Appeasing fans and improving their overall experience has been important to sports administrators for decades, but they now incorporate analytics, legalized betting, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and immersive experiences to elevate sports fandom.

Analytics have made their way into pretty much every sport under the sun. For example, in baseball, the game is often dictated by computers making decisions for on-field managers. But analytics in measuring fan experience and trends can be enormously beneficial to administrators.

In addition to the typical giveaways of bobbleheads, T-shirts or foam fingers at games, fans can access NFTs by scanning a QR code in their programs or on the video board. As a result, NFTs have boosted the world of sports collectibles.

The legality of professional sports betting is now up to each state since the Supreme Court overturned the national ban in 2018. Since then, nearly two-thirds of states have approved some form of sports betting. In the coming years, betting on a live event at the host venue will likely continue to grow in popularity.

The three biggest entities on the ground floor of legal sports gambling — DraftKings, BetMGM and FanDuel — have become commonplace terms over the last few years. Although it seems more of a stretch to see gambling at the collegiate level, the professional market should continue to increase as more states will likely approve it.

Social Media Influencers

Although influencers come from every walk of life, celebrity athletes are among some of the most successful social media marketers, which can greatly benefit a product and an organization.

Fans who want to learn more about the lives of their favorite athletes are flocking to TikTok, Instagram and Twitter to follow them. In addition to sharing personal details about themselves, athletes can promote a product and, more importantly for sports administrators, draw additional fan interest.

Even if casual sports fans don’t attend a game in person, reading about a favorite athlete might prompt them to watch online or purchase collectibles and team gear. The possibilities are endless.

There’s little doubt that more trends will emerge as the sports world evolves. No matter what happens, an advanced degree that prepares graduates to take on sports administration and management roles is essential for professionals who want to stay up to date with the modern demands of the industry.

Learn more about Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s online Master of Science in Sports Administration — General program.

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