Profitable business opportunities in the sports industry

Sixty to 100 years ago, the idea of sports sparked little or no interest, let alone was it considered  entertainment, except of course for the few athletes participating in the sports themselves. But today, sports have become so popular in the world that the industry can safely provide for the needs of the people and corporations involved. While some people believe that this growth is owing to the glamorous popularity of the biggest sports stars, others believe it is a result of the achievements made by amateur athletes at the grass-root, which in turn translates to successes at the topmost level.

In Nigeria, it was seen as a cast-away pool for persons who could not cope academically or were just lazy for brain work. Fast forward to a golden jubilee of years, and the story has diametrically turned. Sports have become one of the mainstay sources of entertainment in the world, sparking interest from people in all works of life.

With many people now investing interest in sports, this piece aims to show that sports lovers need not get entertained alone but earn money from it as well. If you love and are passionate about sports, why should you not profit from that love and passion?

The need to profit from sports is even more apt as entrepreneurs now lead the world’s economy.  Business opportunities in sports abound in ventures such as making supplies, local manufacturing, retailing wears and unique designs etc. You do not need to be an amateur or professional athlete to profit from sports and become a successful sportspreneur.

Maybe you don’t like sports but by having a keen eye for business, you can get yourself into the various business opportunities the sporting industry provides for individuals, partnerships and companies. Sport is a veritable field for growing income and investment, whether short-term, medium term or long-term. With the appropriate counsel, one can direct their funds to suitable sectors depending on one’s choice of investment-cum-returns plan.

Below is an array of profitable businesses that can be undertaken in the sports sector, depending on the business interest and the capital available. The list however is not exhaustive.

Sports tournament financing: One of the veritable business opportunities sports presents is the organising of sporting events/tournaments. A sport event/tournament as the name implies is an organised contest between two or more persons, teams or groups, usually for a prize, whether tangible or intangible. There are avalanches of games in sports that a tournament can be organised for; it could be in the sport of basketball, football, golf, volleyball, table tennis, cycling, paintball, lawn tennis, athletics, etc.

A person or an organisation can choose a particular sport that it considers popular in a particular area, usually with a sizable population, and organise a tournament in that sport. The fact that it is a popular sport means there will be no shortage of participants. The popularity will also draw a marketing premium, thus making it attractive for sponsorships and advertising.

Sports photography/videography: Another viable business prospect in the sports industry is sports photography/videography. Anyone interested in this area of sports business can start a venture dedicated to capturing photos and videos of sporting activities. The idea is to capture moments of a particular sporting event, tournament or match of an athlete or a team, as the case may be.

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The sports photographer/videographer can be engaged or have an arrangement with a particular team to cover their activities, matches, and participation in tournaments for their gallery (both online and physical). Or the photographer/videographer can operate as a freelancer covering individual athletes and teams during their sporting activities, from the grass-root teams, athletes to amateur and professional teams. These events are organised at the local government, state to national and international levels. The aim is to build a reputation as the storehouse of memorable moments of athletes and teams participating in sporting activities.

The display of early beginnings and grass root photographs/videos in the autobiography of many retired sports athletes shows  how important sports photographs/videos, especially the ones taken ‘in the time of humble beginnings,’ are in telling the story of sporting teams and athletes.

Sport retail store: We have seen many stores in neighbourhoods, localities and markets that specialise solely in selling sports items and equipment. Some are dedicated to selling items, wear and equipment for a particular sport such as football, basketball, swimming, esports or gaming etc. The business entails selling sports-related essentials such as jerseys, branded suits, shirts, shoes, footballs, swimwear, rackets and kits. The retailer can begin by importing and buying from manufacturers or suppliers and then retailing them. Sports products retailing is one of the easiest ways to earn sustainable income.  While it is less expensive to begin, the business has a high ceiling for expansion. The retailer can expand and grow to -selling of other sports equipment such as nets, balls, synthetic grass cover, natural sporting grass plants, floor finishing products of pitches and courts for different games.

The rise in the popularity of sports has created a growing market for sporting goods world over, including in Nigeria. No doubt, there has been an upsurge in the number of people who follow club football in Nigeria, and this followership is limited to foreign leagues, mainly in Europe.  This has seen a rise in the demand for club jerseys, track suits and branded shirts. In the coming months and years, with the stability the Nigeria Professional Football League is enjoying, its followership is bound to rise and this will in turn influence the demand for wears, shoes etc of the local teams.

Sports training centres: One can start or open a specialised sports training centre. Whether it is called a gym, training or sport fitness centre, the aim is not to open the usual centre for general fitness for all but a sports gym, training or fitness centre. Depending on the capital available, you can have specialised equipment in the gym or training centres for different sports, ranging from football, basketball, boxing, swimming to other field and track events.

Many sports teams are in need of gyms or training centres with specialised equipment suitable for their sport. To get this sort of patronage, one might need to advertise to the various teams through their managers or coaches.

However, there will be lots of patronage, especially from grass-root teams in ones’ locality whose facilities might not have the necessary equipment for fitness training and exercises to keep its players/athletes in good shape.

Recreational/fitness parks: Imagine a park where you can have your morning workouts, with lavatories for you to bath and change, a café section to have your breakfast before heading to  your business for the day; Imagine returning to the park in the evening to watch, play games and read different sports materials. Won’t that be lovely? This is the target of this sports business idea. Creating a one-stop fitness centre where people can jog, work out, play different sports like football, basketball, handball, volleyball, boxing, have light meals, lots of fruit drinks, and  viewing screens to watch games. .

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No doubt, to execute this idea, one will require substantial capital; however, finding investors or partners to launch the business is key to establishing it. In order to make profits, the recreational/fitness parks will charge access fees, introduce membership subscriptions and serve as venues for tournaments and competitions. Just like the other sport business ideas, knowing the popular and trending sports around one’s neighbourhood is key to succeeding at this business idea.

Sports research & writing company: Are you a sports lover in academics or with a passion for research? You too can earn money from the sports industry by specialising in research, data gathering and analysis for sports federations, companies, and teams; preparing scripts for documentaries and writing biographies for sports personalities.

The need for data, especially in sports, is at an upward surge.  Developing expertise in this area can place one in a pivotal position to work for sports organisations, whether sporting teams or competition organisers. Furthermore, developing research and biography writing expertise can place one in a prime position to many sports personalities, especially those at the twilight or dawn of their career. This area of sports is much in demand as sports personalities are beginning to realise how much revenue their off-the-pitch life can add to their earnings. As a writer once wrote, this business area is pretty much green and is open for professional researchers and biographers.

Sports physiotherapist & masseurs: If you are a physiotherapist, masseur and love sports, there is a space for you to earn income from sports as well. The focus of a physiotherapist and masseur is to provide movement and exercise therapy for injured muscles, joints, and bones geared toward recovery for a person.

It is possible to earn good income from these services to athletes, sports teams and organisations. However, the physiotherapist or masseur will have to become knowledgeable about specific injuries and special needs for athletes.

Sports media outlets: As the sub-heading implies, a sports media outlet dedicated to sports reporting, sports analysis, sports research and documentation of sports statistics is a viable business opportunity. This could be a blog site, website, simple magazines (in online and paper formats), newspaper (virtual and physical) or with available capital, a radio station or television station. Other forms can be developing a sports media app, or  a  channel or account  on social media platforms like youtube, facebook, instagram, and twitter.   One can also explore creating a sports podcast. There are no shortages of media and electronic platforms that allow one to float one’s convenient outlet based on available resources and market feasibility.

Talent scouting: Generally, in sports, especially team sports, every team seeks to bring in quality talents to improve their squads, whether the talents ply their trade with other competing teams or they are young talents sourced at the grass-root hoping and ready to make their big step up. The need has created a market for persons who can easily go around, spot and recommend talented athletes to these teams.  These persons are known as scouts. They attend games, events, tournaments/competitions and help simplify the process of talent movement from one team to another. Every sport has its talent scouts. In football, they are called intermediaries and their activities are regulated by the FIFA regulations in working with intermediaries. Indeed talent scouting is a business spinning with money and if as a talent scout, one is  able to discover a world class talent in a sport like  football or basketball or any other sport, one is  likely to swim in cash.

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Sports academy: This business is ordinarily capital-intensive because of the expenditures needed to keep the academy running smoothly. There are also costs associated with travelling for tournaments, feeding and many more. However, it is possible to make good earnings by starting and maintaining a sports academy. Starting and maintaining a football academy in Nigeria can be rewarding, moneywise. This is because football, which is the worlds’ most popular sport, is also the number one thriving sport in Nigeria. Of course, academies for sports like basketball, volleyball, track sports and others can also succeed, but generally, football is more rewarding for now. In an academy, young talents are managed closely to develop their potential and enhance their chances of becoming successful professional athletes in the long run.

Sports coaching: Professionals, amateurs and grass-root talents all need consistent coaching to enable them keep fit and grow better in their abilities. This is why there is no sport without a coach. The opportunities for coaching abound in every sport, but the question is, are you technically knowledgeable and determined enough to coach? If you have experience in any sports, you may share that knowledge in coaching. You don’t need to build an academy to offer coaching services.

PR and sports marketing: One can start a Public Relations firm or company exclusively focused on the sports industry. PR is responsible for the public image of the sports team, its players and administrators. The PR firm can also focus on a particular player.

Marketing which is closely related to PR plays a pivotal role in sports. It is the link between the sports brand with the fans, and advertising/investment brands. All are aimed at promoting the events, games and tournaments that the sports teams are involved in order to maximise revenue. To succeed in the promotion business, one must demonstrate practical knowledge of the sport being promoted and marketed and target a specific audience. The results should make the teams attractive to fans and corporate brands for support and patronage.

Sports health coach: This is a growing field in the sports business world. The need to control weight, manage stress and improve general energies have made the sports health coaching field relevant and needed. You can start a health coaching consulting in sports, provided you have the basic health training and be available for teams, individuals and corporations for a fee. The health package covers dieting, cardio exercises, aerobics and even yoga. There is a growing market because of the general surge in unhealthy and hazardous eating habits.

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