Merging the physical and virtual worlds
The sports business on its way into the metaverse
Watching your favourite club’s match together with friends, even though they are all scattered around the world? Even be able to attend a major sporting event from home? This and more will be possible in the Metaverse in the future.
Put simply, it is the creation of a virtual reality: the metaverse. At the latest with the vision presented by facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in October 2021, this topic is being discussed intensively. There is not yet a universally valid definition for the metaverse, but basically it is about a virtual space in which users can communicate and interact.
In general, this should not be about a demarcation from reality. On the contrary: the physical and virtual worlds are merged here. An important idea behind the concept of the metaverse: It is not supposed to be controlled by anyone. Moreover, currencies or objects, for example, can be transferred from one part of the metaverse to the next.
It will still take some time before a sophisticated metaverse is available, but the cross-platform free-to-play game Fortnite has been showing for some years now how the whole thing could look and function. There, users can meet friends in the virtual world or experience concerts of ” real” artists.
Brooklyn Nets become first US sports franchise to dive into Metaverse
Looking at the sports industry, not much may change in the short term. But: In a few years, it will be important not to have missed the first important steps of this development. Otherwise, an entire generation of fans could even be lost, as Andrea Agnelli, president of the Italian football club Juventus Turin, says: “40 percent of young people aged 15 to 24 have no interest in football. We need a competition that is able to counteract this and we need to turn the virtual into the real.
The first sports clubs and sporting events have already dived into the metaverse. In the USA, the Brooklyn Nets from the NBA were the first team to present their “Netaverse”. This is an innovative video system that develops lifelike 3D renderings in just a few seconds. With this, the basketball franchise from New York wants to offer its fans a futuristic option to experience the world of the NBA via virtual reality.
Another example: The organisers of the Australian Open have launched a partnership with the 3D platform Decentraland for the first tennis Grand Slam tournament of the year. This allows users to walk through Melbourne Park from their couch at home and even follow the matches in the large Rod Laver Arena.
With the Metaverse, the solution of geographical and physical barriers opens up new and versatile possibilities for the sports world to make events more intensively experienceable. However, in order for this to work on a level that appeals to all sides, the technical foundations must also be created. Communication must not be time-delayed so that as many people as possible can be there synchronously. The more realistic the metaverse shall be, the greater the bandwidth of data processing must be. Only when these prerequisites are met will the sports industry be able to dip more than a toe into the large pool of metaverse. However, the possibilities already visible on the horizon in and with the Metaverse are without a doubt fascinating, full of opportunities and forward-looking.