New Sport:Old Sport. The Decade of Client Focused Sport is Here.

New Sport:Old Sport. The Decade of Client Focused Sport is Here.


As the new decade starts, it is time to face the realities of the sports experience around the world.

The last decade, saw the most significant changes in society, in learning, in education, in technology and in social change that the world has experienced.

And, in general, sport has not kept pace with the extent or speed of the changes.

New Sport: Old Sport. The Decade of Client Focused Sport is Here.

Old Sport…why it is failing:

Several Olympic sports are failing world wide. Look at your own sport…at the numbers of registered athletes…and the numbers of sustainable, successful amateur Clubs…are numbers increasing or decreasing?

In many of the mainstream “traditional” Olympic sports like swimming, gymnastics, rowing, track and field and cycling numbers are in decline.


If the numbers of registered participants and Clubs in your sport are decreasing, chances are you are continuing to offer the same old sporting product and waiting for the market to change and buy what you are selling….a sales strategy only embraced by people who want to fail.

Your product is wrong.

The New Era: The Decade of Client Focused Sport.

Welcome to the new era for sport: the decade of Client Focused Sport.

What is Client Focused Sport?

It is listening to your clients – i.e. the children and parents who you want to be part of your sport and providing them with the sporting product they want.

This is a major challenge for all sport and something all sporting organisations are struggling to get their heads around.

In the past, when a kid or a parent said “I want to join your swimming club or rowing club or athletics club”  you offered them your product.

“Here is our sport. You need to come ten times a week and start dreaming about being an Olympic Champion – take it or leave it”.

You immediately put them into your athlete development pathway with the assumption that every kid who walked through the front door wanted to get to the top.

And, in the past where sporting experience choices were limited and information about sporting experiences difficult to find, many “took it” and accepted whatever the sport was prepared to offer.

Now, kids and parents have multiple sporting experience choices available.

They have an unlimited amount of information on sporting experiences available on the Internet. And…most importantly, research continues to tell us that not every child wants to be an Olympic Champion. Some just want to keep fit, learn some new things, have fun with friends and participate in an enjoyable sporting activity.

Increasingly, to sports who offer inflexible, performance focused, one size fits all sporting products, kids and parents are “leaving it”.

Who owns sport? NOT Sport!

There is a popularly held myth about sport around the world. That “sport”, (as in sporting organisations, national federations and other sporting bodies), owns sport.

Sport is not owned by sport.

It is own by the clients of the sport – the kids, the parents, the grandparents, the athletes – the people who make the decision about which sports experience to buy and what they want from that experience.

Again – this is heresy to the sporting federations but like it or not, you do not own your sport any more: your clients do.

Band-aids don’t work on gaping wounds:

In the sports where numbers of registered participants and Clubs are decreasing, they are in panic mode.

They are holding crisis meetings and brain storming meetings and innovations meetings and “let’s think outside the box” meetings trying to come up with ways of turning things around.

And for the most part the solutions these meetings come up with are nothing but band-aids..which are totally ineffective when you are dealing with “gaping wounds”.

“Let’s have face painting and inflatable jumping castles for the kids”

“Let’s put on a disco after the competition to keep the kids entertained

“Let’s develop some kind of “kid’s club” where kids get hats and stickers and coloring books with special sports characters on them”.

“Let’s offer little prizes like movie tickets and gift vouchers for kids who perform well in competition”

“Let’s have a coffee place for parents to sit and relax while the kids are training and competing”.


None of them work (or if they do it is for a very very short time) because none of the address the real problem.

Your product is wrong. The only reason you feel the need to think outside the box is that your box is broken and you need a new box.

McDonald’s Thinking:

Regardless of what you think about their food, their business practices, their ingredients etc etc you have to admire McDonald’s ability to understand their clients needs and respond to them.

The survival of McDonald’s depends on their ability to listen to their clients, respond to their needs and do it very very well.

Imagine where McDonald’s would be today if they had not responded to their clients calls for “lighter and healthier” menu items, to “cafe” style experiences, to having “drive throughs” for busy customers…..they would be Mc-Bankrupt and Mc-History!

Now look at your own sport.

Do you listen – really listen to your clients?

Do you respond to their needs?

Or do you hold “think outside the box” meetings, come up with ideas that you “think” your clients need and then try to sell your ideas to them.

It is time to change…but to change in response to the needs of your clients.

See my next Post “New Sport…what is it, how to make it work in your sport and why it will succeed”.


Wayne Goldsmith


  • Marcel Posted January 3, 2011 4:33 am

    Dear Mr Goldsmith,

    This insight is of all ages. Whether you are succesfull as an association, a club or individual it depends on how much you are able to adapt to changes in society.

    You will ony be able to adapt to changes when you truly listen to your audience and stay open minded.

    If you take a closer look to succesfull sportsmen (male and female), they all take measures out of de ordinary which distinguish them from the “Big Crowd” or “Mob”.

    So my shout is : Adapt and take the measures needed to make those adaptation within your association or club !

    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted January 7, 2011 8:37 am

      Thanks Marcel.

      I believe the days of “take or it leave it” sport are over and that those coaches, clubs and sports who want to succeed must listen to and respond to their clients – i.e. kids and parents.

      Thanks again,


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