What Is The Future Of Sports?

A couple of months ago, I attended a conference for my job that inspired nothing but yawns from me before I went. How wrong I was! The topic ended up being fascinating. It was essentially about how Millennials (those born between 1982 and 2000) will shape the workforce in the coming years. It also went into how they will mesh and clash with my Baby-Boom Generation, along with Generation X.

Although I found it fascinating as it applied to what I do for a living, I found the topic to be frightening as it applied to sports, motor racing and more specifically – the Verizon IndyCar Series. Based on what was discussed, sports in general do not hold the fascination of the upcoming generation that they did when I was in my youth.

When I was growing up, there was nothing that garnered bragging rights more than attending a major sporting event. Whether it was attending the Indianapolis 500 every year as a kid, a Tennessee Vols football game, a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game, the Liberty Bowl or even a pre-season NFL game played in Memphis in the early seventies – nothing elicited envy from my friends than attending a sporting event live and in person.

So many things were different back then. Televised sports as a medium was unrecognizable compared to now. There was no ESPN. There were no Superstations. There were a handful of bowl games and the NCAA tournament was an afterthought compared to what it is today. We got to watch one Major League Baseball game per week and one…maybe two college football games per week. To see your team on television was a big deal, so seeing it in person was sometimes considered the chance of a lifetime.

Obviously, that is no longer the case. Sports has approached, if not passed, the point of saturation. On any night or weekend, viewers can take their pick of a variety of sports offerings. The price of tickets has put attending many events completely out of reach. Throw in the fact that huge HDTV’s, DVR’s and surround sound systems make the at-home viewing experience better than ever. That is one of the theories as to why attendance is down across the board at all sporting events.

But getting back to the conference I attended, the lecturers that hailed from the Washington DC area went into great detail about what makes the Millennials tick along with what didn’t. For years, we parents scoffed as we watched our kids play soccer or T-ball as the officials did not keep score and when the event was over – everyone got a trophy, ribbon or some sort of recognition simply for participating. We all laughed at how they are going to have a rude awakening as adults.

Well guess what? It has come true to some extent, but it is also believed that their outlook on life will eventually become the norm in society. The Millennials that have entered adulthood have let it be known that they find competition repugnant. They have grown up thinking that there should be no winners and losers. We should all take part in the success of the team and we should share that success with everyone.

Sports and sporting events are looked upon as evil and archaic, because they celebrate winners and ridicule losers. The new generation likens an NFL game to ancient times and gladiators, where spectators cheered as competitors died. I am not writing this to pass judgment on this way of thinking, although if you know me – you know how I personally feel. Instead, I am exploring this outlook to bring attention to what sports properties will have to contend with in the not-so-distant future.

Another trait of Millennials is that they care about the planet and are very conscious of the environment. They look upon the lifestyle of the Baby Boomer as frivolous and wasteful as well as doing damage to the world in which we live. While my generation looked at cars with awe and amazement, while growing up – the upcoming generation sees the automobile as a necessary evil and one where we should try to minimize our usage. Millennials feel better about themselves by catching a bus or some other form of mass transit. My generation felt best when we were able to speed to our destination, while finding the closest possible parking space.

There are many other traits of the Millennials that have me totally baffled, but for our purposes – the loathing of competition and the hatred of the automobile are the two that does not spell a bright future for auto racing.

For years, we have all been beating our heads against the wall figuring out ways to cultivate new fans for the Verizon IndyCar Series. For some bizarre reason we thought that the movie Driven was going to increase ratings and attendance. In retrospect, it may have run fans off. More recently, Turbo was tabbed as the way to harness kids attention so that we could groom them to be the savior of IndyCar.

Gimmicks have been tried and abandoned. Tracks now play music over the loud-speakers while cars are on the track. Concerts before or after the race are more heavily promoted than the race itself. All of these things are done with the idea of cultivating future fans.

But after attending that conference that revealed a way of thinking that is so foreign to me it’s scary – I’m now wondering if all bets are off. Anything that was perceived as normal when I was in my twenties, or when my parents were in their twenties is now out the window. This conference was to let us know that all bets are off in the workplace going forward. Self-satisfaction through hard work is scoffed at and replaced by improving your self-esteem.

But the other foreign concepts of getting rid of a competitive atmosphere and vilifying the automobile is just as hard to swallow. To quote George C. Scott from the movie Patton when asked about wonder weapons of the future that didn’t require soldiers– “…My God, I don’t see the wonder in them. Killing without heroics? Nothing is glorified? Nothing is reaffirmed? No heroes? No cowards? No troops? No Generals? Only those that are left alive and those that are left…dead. I’m glad I won’t live to see it.” Not that I’m advocating war for entertainment, but striving to win and be better than your opponent is the fabric of our society. It is what makes all sports great.

It is also what makes motor racing great. Not to be morbid, but part of the allure of racing is that these drivers do what they do knowing that if they or their competitors make the slightest mistake, it could have fatal consequences. It’s seeing these drivers excel at what they do in spite of the consequences that so many of us find fascinating. But apparently, the new way of thinking is that all sports are an evil waste of time and auto racing is the most evil of them all because it also harms our planet in their eyes.

This conference was presented with no real agenda in mind other than to point out the differences of all three generations in the workplace and how to find any common ground in order to work together. They pointed out that Boomers and Millennials make up the greatest portion in the workplace while Gen-X brings up the rear. Obviously the Millennials aren’t going anywhere soon, but the boomers will still make up some of the workplace for the next fifteen to twenty years. The theme was for Boomers and Millennials to figure out how to get along.

But sports properties from IndyCar and NASCAR, all the way to the behemoth that is the NFL need to take note that the future holds a challenge that may be unbeatable. Unless there is a reversal in the thinking of today’s teens and twenty-somethings, sports of any kind may find it tough going inn the next couple of decades.

We worry everyday about the direction of the Verizon IndyCar Series, and for good reason. But we never think twice about the future of the NFL. But all things come to an end. Remember that in the thirties, the two biggest sports in the US were boxing and horse-racing. Today they are both considered obscure niche sports at best. Those of us that remember the glory days of the Indianapolis 500 in the ‘60s, find it hard to fathom that the general public no longer cares. Baseball has seen a rapid decline in the last few decades to where it hardly gets a look from anyone under the age of forty. Might the mighty suffer the same fate in the next twenty-five years? It’s hard to imagine, but who would’ve thought these other examples would be where they are today?

So what solution am I proposing? None, because there isn’t one. It is the natural ebb and flow of our society. Do I like the trend where things are going? Of course not, but I can’t do a thing about it. I can either be a curmudgeon and tell the world to get off my lawn or I can deal with it as best as possible. I’m not trying to be negative at all, but I’m concerned about what the future may hold.

At my current age of fifty-six, I’d like to think I have about thirty more years or so left in me. My question is – where will sports be at that time? I’m even more curious about the fate of the Indianapolis 500. Will it last another thirty years? Probably, but maybe not much more past then – not if the message from this conference is true. To quote General Patton – I’m glad I won’t live to see it.

George Phillips

32 Responses to “What Is The Future Of Sports?”

  1. Doug gardner Says:

    George, Unfortunately this is true with my kids as well. They love to go to Colts games, they will go to the 500 with me, but it is more to go to an event. The racing does not entertain them for the entity. My daughter seems to enjoy the racing more while my son lives and dies with the NFL. However, that is it for sports with them. Both find NASCAR repugnant and fake. They appreciate the local Indiana drivers, but that was due to Sprints and Migets. MIllenials will be the death of Auto Racing as we know it. The stadium Rally cars and those things will survive. I am also affraid the Olympic Games will die in favor of the X-games. The olympics have started to incorporate those sports to cultivate the younger fan. There must have been some solar burst of radiation to cause this phenomenon.

  2. I don’t see any problem of motorsports get a niche sport. As a Millenial, I understand that everything now tends to be a niche (music, arts, even food), and this couldn’t be different with sports. It’s up to INDYCAR to know how to deal with it.

    • I was going to say exactly this. As a Millennial myself I find that the things I enjoy are quite niche, but then so is everything. There are a few exceptions such as Premier League soccer (I’m from England) but even they are not commanding the attentions of over 50% of the population beyond reading the scores and current standings on the news. There is a perception that certain things are mainstream, like soccer, pop music, headline TV shows, but they are simply the modal value, not the mean.

      I don’t totally buy the perception that my generation sees cars and motor racing as evil things. For the most part, people’s first objections are simply that they don’t like it, don’t get it, don’t see the point of it. Few have ever said to me “Formula 1? Isn’t that killing the planet?” There is also a way through this perception of motor sport in the form of Formula E. I am only somewhat of a car lover and betray my generational identity when I say that Gordon Murray’s T25 excites me as much as the McLaren P1. I thought it was exciting that new London buses would feature KERS technology. FE has been a bit of a let-down for me on the technology side but as the series grows and freedoms are allowed I’m sure it’ll become just as exciting as Le Mans Prototypes in that aspect.

      Anyway, my main point really is that in the future almost everything will be a niche. In a way it’s the logical conclusion to a world getting ever smaller and more integrated, with its diversities being exposed to more and more people. The challenge will be to reconcile your sports series with the realities of that. Some will not survive on their own or at all. Other sports have had to adapt and for the most part seem to have adapted well, at least to the point of survival. IndyCar is already a niche within a niche. The challenge for IndyCar – let’s face it, already a niche within a niche – is how to transition from the age where TV and attendance drives a sport to one where a TV is used merely to better watch a streamed broadcast on, watched by people with new and different concerns. I think IndyCar 2018 is a golden opportunity to shape IndyCar into something for the future but since most current fans have different world views to the potential fans that will exist in the future I don’t see it happening this time around. Maybe in 2024 IndyCar will be the American Formula E, or very close to it with hybrid systems being backed up by small inline-four turbos. That might sound scary to some but if it ensures its survival, I’m all for it. Rather that than nothing.

  3. I work with a lot of the younger millennials. They are different in that they expect everything NOW. Big job, big car, instant success. Many have been indoctrinated with the whole environmental religion but like most things some are more fanatical than others. They like to approach projects as a group, and learn that way too, rather than individually.

    But I am of the belief still that reality will hit them in the face, as it does anybody. They will not always remain like they are.

    No sport in America was bigger than baseball in the first quarter of the 20th century. Along with boxing and horse racing. Baseball and horse racing are still my two favorite sports with the NFL a distant and declining third. Political correctness will kill the NFL long before the millennials.

    Never forget that the Indy 500 almost died a couple of times. As sports have become more institutionalized, it has become less likely that they will disappear anytime soon. I think the 500 is safe as long as drivers are willing to drive in the race. The millennials are not yet a lost cause!

  4. Mark Wick Says:

    I still remember the looks of astonishment on the faces of the few people with whom I shared my belief that within my lifetime there would be no Indianapolis 500 and that IMS would no longer exist.
    That was back in the early to mid 1980s, when I lived for the month of May and my time at the track photographing the action.
    A big influence in my life was “Star Trek” and the writings of Arthur C. Clark.
    As you have written George, the conference you attended simply showed you and other attendees that life changes.

  5. billytheskink Says:

    First, I am going to eschew the term “Millenials” for the rest of this post because I despise it, using instead “Generation Y”, which was once a more popular term for my generation. Generation Y sounds like an alt-rock band that you go out of your way to avoid listening to. The M-word sounds like an alt-rock band that you would go out of your way to avoid listening to but can’t because you have a very good friend who is way to into them…

    I do not think the gist of this conference is incorrect, but I do think it used very broad generalizations about Generation Y attitudes to greatly exaggerate the impact such attitudes will have on the culture at large.

    You touched on this some George, and indyracingfan discussed it further in the comments above, but I’ll restate it. Fragmentation is the real threat to the current cultural position of sports (and media, and baby names, and so on). This fragmentation is somewhat a result of the differing attitudes and interests of Generation Y, but much more the result of the current and expanding ability to communicate and create via the internet. People’s interests are still shaped by their environment, but now their environment is larger and easier (cheaper and faster) to explore than ever.

    Some Gen Y-ers don’t like competition, perhaps much more than in previous generations, but they also have (and are using) so many more outlets for their competitive desires than ever before. Whether it is video games, following a “niche” sport, etc… fragmentation all but guarantees that a smaller percentage of them will find the competitions that previous generations enjoyed interesting.

    Some Gen Y-ers abhor cars and their environmental impact, perhaps much more than in previous generations, but they also have unprecedented access to work and entertainment options that do not require their physical presence to be moved. People have an increasing amount of freedom without the need for transportation. More freedom = fragmented interests.

    These are challenges that racing and all sports must rise to and face. They are not easy to answer, but I do not see a decline into irrelevancy as inevitable (possible, sure) nor even likely for many sports. Also, who plays music over the PA while cars are on the track? They need to be hunted down…

    • I think that the media world (not just sports) needs to get out of this 1970’s era neilsen system of measuring their popularity. As more and more people “cut the cord”, the media companies need to figure out how to a) measure their true popularity and b) get their product out on the platform that people are using more and more. Cable television is on the decline, but it is still the number one focus of media and advertisers.

  6. As bad as it sounds, I believe this new generation thoughts to be true. Unfortunately, it will be the demise of this country also. Our country was at it’s strongest years ago with “The Greatest Generation” at it’s highest. As that generation passes on, our values and vision have continued to digress. Strong leadership is needed, but not seen in the future, especially now in D.C. I pray daily for my grandchildren, hopefully they have the opportunity to live as free men and women, as we have. But as a person who does not own a “Debit Card”, who writes a check for cash, more than once have been told by my kids as being “old school”, there is a place and a need for our beliefs. I just hope the new generation recognizes it before it is too late.

    • I agree with jhall14. The demise is already in full effect. It starts in D.C. trickles down. What drives me absolutely crazy however is the notion that the automobile is destroying the environment. There are very few countries in the world like the United States and Europe that or at least making an effort attain 0 emissions. China, India and third world couldn’t care less about the environment. Cars are almost at zero omissions now and have never been better. This comes from racing by the way. The whole environmentalist movement it’s a sheer brainwashing if this generation and its intent is exactly that. Endoctrination has been churning for quite some time. This whole philosophy that cars are bad is just an evolotion of environmental b.s. If the millennial’s think that formula E is the answer then we may as well just hang it up now.

  7. Donald McElvain Says:

    “Self-satisfaction through hard work is scoffed at and replaced by improving your self-esteem.” True. Look no further than Washington D.C. Not only is the U.S. circling the drain, look at the whole world.

    “I pray daily for my grandchildren . . . I just hope the new generation recognizes it before it is too late.” Yes, couldn’t agree more.

  8. All bets are really off once the cable is cut and the internet becomes the mode for watching television. My thinking, though, is that racing will be fine and the kids get it. While coaching my son’s 1st and 2nd grade basketball team we had a game where we were getting blown out. They didn’t keep score (that passive “no winners or loser” mentality at work, but my kids knew they were getting beat and they weren’t happy. I, on the other hand, was very proud of my young team for not liking getting beat. My son always wants to win and he is now 15.

    By the way, my son plays fantasy IndyCar and his team came in second last year (his driver Hinch had a tough year). He was very dissapointed. I think I will play this year, too, because he had a blast throughout the season.

  9. I think that we need to get past generalizations of my generation (born in 1985) from people of a different for a moment and look at the big picture. It’s not about Generation Y, or Millenials, or whatever the heck I am being afraid of competition, or wanting everything right now, it’s about choice. Before the internet, and sattelite TV, the choice of viewing and entertainment was fairly limited. People who grew up with the limited choices became fans of the things they were able to watch, and in this case there was a lot of sports on. Nowadays there is so much else out there to watch, sports have found themselves not only competing against other sports, but competing against netflix, the internet and hundreds of specialty channels. There are plenty of sports fans of my generation who don’t watch the games on conventional TV, nor can afford to pay the insane ticket prices to go to see them live, so they follow them using other methods. Once sports figure out how to bring their rating system out of the archaic nielsen system and make tickets as affordable as they once were they may just find that they have a lot more fans in this generation than they thought they did.

    • Well stated. I got rid of cable and now watch most events on internet connected TV. I miss little and what I may miss is on YouTube in a few days anyway.

      • Phil Kaiser Says:

        Hey Ron, isn’t your internet coming into your house through a… wait for it… cable? Unless I’m wrong (and I often am) there isn’t “over-the-air” internet yet.

        See, I passed on the Grumpy Flakes this morning and went straight for the “Sarcasm Souffle`!” Hahahahaha!

        Phil Kaiser

    • billytheskink Says:

      I don’t think the stubbornly continued use of old measures of media popularity (AC Nielsen, Billboard charts, etc.) is the problem so much as a prominent symptom.
      The problem is that the media producers (sports, news, music, etc.) are not yet entirely sure how to make money in the internet’s instantaneous and unrestrained environment… at least not the money they were making in the old media environment.

      Unless and until they can make comparable money via new media, media producers (Indycar included) are going to milk the old for all they can.

      • I don’t really think that media producers have any excuses anymore, this is not exactly new technology here. Online streaming has been a thing for a number of years now, it’s just that the cable companies are desperate to hang on to their antiquated models and blame people of my generation for not using their old technology. It’s not that millenials are not interested in the content, it is that we are not interested in consuming it on an outdated platform. The progress of technology will not stop, whoever can keep up will thrive, those who can’t will fall by the wayside.

        • billytheskink Says:

          I’m not disagreeing with your assessment of technology’s march and the monumental changes in media consumption that are either happening or inevitable. What I was trying to illustrate is the squeeze that media producers are increasingly finding themselves in, needing distribution in new media to remain relevant while struggling to match the revenues they did (and in some cases still do) receive through old media. If and when that is solved, media producers will most definitely embrace new media.

          Old media ABC and NBCSN pay Indycar for the rights to broadcast its races. How does Indycar maintain or grow that revenue using new media? I don’t think the powers that be know the answer to that question, I know I don’t.

          • How about offering live streaming (including the commercials) on Indycar.com and adding the number of people who stream that content to the TV ratings when setting ad rates? Calculating how many people are streaming content from a particular site is not difficult to do, way easier than getting accurate TV ratings.

  10. I may try to deliberately stay out of touch so I am not really sure exactly what a “Millennial” is other than a really bad former Microsoft operating system. (No disrespect intended for those of you who may indeed be Millennials.)

    I can’t recall any information gained at one of those job related conferences that has stood the test of time, at least for me. A professor once told me that a consultant is simply someone from out of town, perhaps Boston.

    So I am not going to spend much (any?) time worrying about what sports will be popular in the future. I think I can say for certain, however, that all the cheerleaders, sideline reporters, and race car driver’s girlfriends and wives will be attractive ladies so there is that to look forward to.

    I used to think that grown men running around in shorts kicking a ball was kind of wimpy, but soccer is popular with my grandchildren so apparently I was wrong about that. As that noted poet Bo Diddley once said: “Let the kids dance………cause they only got once chance.”

  11. the popularity of automobile racing (for 50 or 60 years) was a direct result of the invention and development of the automobile. people worked on their own cars and were delighted to push the boundaries of the technology or watch others who did.

    it’s different now. cars have gone from being fantastical wonders to refrigerators–as long as it works we don’t think much about it. they’re just that thing to get us somewhere without having to think much about it.

    so automobile racing as a major sport exists only in the memories of us senior citizens and has about as much relevance for younger people as transistor radios or typewriters. So it will never be the same but racing (and the Indy 500) will be around long after I’m gone and you just never know when it might regain popularity in some fashion. I guess that’s we Indycar fans are obsessed with finding the magical route to making Indycar popular.

    Having said all that, I’m really looking forward to the next couple of years and I’m optimistic that Indycar will achieve slow but steady growth over that time.

    Happy New Year George!

  12. This topic sounds like a Colin Cowherd rant…being born late 1981, I suppose I am a Millenail. I was brought up in a school district that made us feel special just because we graduated HS in the year 2000. My parents were conservative when I was growing up and that trumped what I learned in school. I could compartmentalize pretty easily. I have learned enough through life experience to see the working wold is a “what do you bring to the table” kind of world. I went to Law School so I could bring something to the table. I have to learn to be more of a “shark” or learn to cope with less than my parents. The world is not black and white but there is a gray area of success and failure. Not everyone suceeds and telling them they will instead of teaching them how has been a big mistake.

  13. It occurred to me today and other times also that there are some pretty damn smart folks who comment here. I don’t include myself in that assessment of course.

  14. Interesting. I don’t feel like the country is circling the drain, first of all. Second, my kids (born in the 1990s) don’t vilify or hate cars. Both want better cars than the have right now (which wouldn’t take much) and are working toward that goal. They both get the connection between work and job and new car and don’t expect the car fairy or anyone else to just give them one. But, they tend to view cars in a less romantic, more utilitarian way. It’s about getting from point A to point B in the style and comfort they want. The car is just a machine that delivers the benefit they want. Mainly, as others have mentioned, there’s a crap-ton of competition for everyone’s time and energy out there today, and my daughters grew up with that crap-ton of competition, and sports just loses the competition. It’s all about more competition (MERICA!!) for their attention. If racing or football or whatever wants to thrive, they gotta compete for time and attention. As for the alleged lack of competitive drive in Millennials — which predictably sets off a chorus of “our country is DOOOMMMMED” — I’m not worried. Perhaps they are less competitive than their hyper-competitive Boomer and Y parents. A little more concern that the whole team succeeds rather than just an individual isn’t a bad thing.

    • Phil Kaiser Says:

      Okay Bill, we now know what you feel, now let’s read what you THINK, which I perceive is part of this country’s problem as a whole: too much FEELING and not enough THINKING goin’ on out there!

      If you don’t see our country “circling the drain” you must not be paying close attention to national politics, which is fine I suppose.

      I think the United States NEEDS more competitive people if we are to protect this fabulous experiment called FREEDOM from the ultra-competitive religious nutbags all around the world who want to destroy us precisely BECAUSE we became so successful and powerful due to our innate freedom, competitiveness and wonder!

      Thank you George, for letting me state my opinion on your fabulous forum!

      Phil Kaiser

  15. Speaking for the younger fans (since I’m 22) I think the “Millennials are killing this country” theme is a little played out. Now I will admit I live in Southwest Michigan, so the demographics and culture here are different than in New York, LA, Texas, or Orlando. I know for a fact that a ton of people I know and am friends with have traveled to Detroit for the Red Wings, Tigers, Pistons, and Lions. Living in Michigan we also have a very vibrant college sports scene with three schools (Western Michigan University, Central Michigan University, and Michigan State) making a bowl game for football. WMU, MSU, and of course University of Michigan made March Madness. Tons of people went to those games. When the Manchester U Vs. Real Madrid game sold out at the Big House in Ann Arbor, I’m pretty sure there were a few people under 25 there as well. I don’t watch a ton of stick and ball sports, but all of my friends do. ESPN or Fox Sports are almost always on. Bars where I live also have sports on basically 24/7. The more of a “college bar” something is, the more sports are on. So the whole “Millennials hate sports thing is a little overblown.”

    “Millennials find competition repungent,” “Millennials don’t like cars,” and other such sweeping generalizations may have a small kernel of truth or insight in them, but they certainly do not tell the whole story, or even most of it. I would argue that there are certainly demographic and cultural issues which could harm auto racing, but framing it as “Millennials” is a huge disservice to both younger people and auto racing. Yeah, younger people are maybe a little less into cars than people in their 50’s, but that doesn’t mean everyone hates cars. Would Forza 5 be one of the top selling Xbox One games if “Millennials just don’t like cars?” Sure some younger people don’t get drivers licenses, but more do. On that issue the divide is more cultural, and more Urban Vs. Rural, than about Millennials. Besides while Boxing and Horse Racing aren’t as popular today as they were in the past, way more people know those two sports today than Indycar, and they still are both a big deal. If Indycar got on that level, I think all of us would be happy. If anything, the fracturing of culture and entertainment COULD be a good thing for Indycar, IF they play their cards right. If people have more options for sports, it means that perhaps people who have never heard of Indycar will pick it up and not just focus on one or two sports.

    Not to get too political, but I take great issue with saying “Millennials don’t understand work.” Excuse me? I know a ton of people who are working hard. Whether they are in college, graduated and working, or working in construction, in factories, in retail, or as waiters or bar tenders. And it’s frankly insulting to here false truisms like “Millennials want everything handed to them” repeated as if it is a Scientific fact.

    Obviously there are generational and cultural differences, but that’s how things have been since the beginning of time. Read about Ancient Greece and Rome. They worried about the younger generation “not understanding.” During the Enlightenment there were a ton of traditionalists who complained society was collapsing and traditional values were being lost. Even in the alleged high point of American Society (1950s) people worried about the fact that “young people weren’t turning out right. Don’t believe me? Watch the movie Twelve Angry Men. There is quite a bit of discussion and angst in that particular movie about this subject. Somehow America is still here, with less drug use and teen pregnancy than the early 1990’s to boot. While occasionally the dire views on the future are justified (Cicero/Cato), most of the time they are not.

    I would even argue that the death of TV is rather overblown as well. Sure some revenue and ratings are down, but interest, budgets, and quality of television is very high right now. There is change, but there’s also continuity.

    What should racing do? Be exciting, and be accessible. I don’t think TV is dead. But what is not going to cut it is not being accessible. I don’t think Indycar HAS to have online race streaming, but at the same time if it’s hard to watch Indycar and easy to watch the World Cup, March Madness, and the Olympics, guess what people (of all ages) are going to watch. Better apps, better websites, better coverage, and better ways to view all would help. And I will argue this forever, but I really think using something like the X-Games or Supercross as the basis for marketing would be a wise move for both Indycar and NASCAR. You can insert your own comment about fuel mileage and/or 5 cars on the lead lap at Texas here. Also, you can love ESPN or you can hate them, but getting more Indycar on sportscenter would be worth a field full of DW-12′ in gold. Which might be what it would cost to make that happen.

    • You make some good points. In my office the most productive and easy to work with are the younger folks who aren’t so ultra competitive. The younger workers tend to be more focused on getting the job done right as a unit as opposed to the Gen X’ers and boomers who tend to try to stand out and only end up grenading parts of the work.

    • Thanks for taking the time to offer your perspective. My love of racing comes from my Dad who grew up on a farm near Climax, Michigan. He liked anything fast and was a bit of a terror on local roads, though there was little traffic then. He even drove the family tractor flat out. It must be a SW Michigan thing.

  16. I’ve seen a lot of change just in my short time. I am one of these Millennials, born in ’85. Obviously I’m not the traditional fan, as IndyCar and basketball are my two favorite sports.

    I could see a significant decline in auto racing later in my lifetime, in fact we are already seeing it with the Formula E series. My best friend who is of the same age, works for the Andretti team in Formula E, and I can tell how much he enjoys it.

    I don’t think it will ever completely go away during the next 50 years, but I do think it will change dramatically over that period of time.

    • What I meant in my second paragraph was that the Formula E series is already a product of today’s culture trying to better protect our planet from today’s and yester year’s cars.

  17. DZ-groundedeffects Says:

    Many great a valid points all around here and a fantastic discussion that revolves around the core of Indycar racing, or a myriad of other sports/entertainment options, or most any business in general.

    As a ‘Gen X-er’, I find I’m tending to agree with most of what ‘Gen-Y/Millenials’ have said here (sorry George). However the very essence of the matter seems to be simply thus:

    For Indycar to survive it must:
    – supply a product/service that people in the target market(s) demand,
    – do so in a manner that is easiest for them to receive.

    How does one discover that?
    Research, Research, Research, AND listening to the demand of the ultimate end user – THE VIEWER.

    My crazy/insane/future-hunch for the last several years, and especially in light of the near-fatal automotive industry downturn, is that there is only one way for Indycar to survive: as a stage/venue, to play out the dramas of evolving future tech, future energy, and mobility technology laboratories.

    Allow that drama to be seen by as many as possible in as many formats as possible. Really it’s no different that in 1910, just give entrants the freedom to create radical solutions to future mobility vehicles. How’s that for good, old-fashioned competition?

    No League, No ‘Franchises’, just open competitions in a variety of venues.

    Keep the rules simple: The first one to move a specified, rolling vehicular mass, which fits within the parameters of a specified volume of space, using a fixed amount of energy, a fixed distance, the fastest, wins.

    How interesting to see what the world’s energy and mobility engineers would do with such freedom. I know I’d love to see what they come up with and how they perform. I’d pay money to see it in fact. I find myself more and more attracted to looking toward the future, not grazing over remnants of the past.

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