Have you ever wondered why festivals dedicated to sports aren’t more of a thing? Sure, we’ve already got tailgate parties before events, viewing parties, training days (that fans can watch), sports bars, and attending the events themselves. But the sports industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry — Why not try to capitalize on it further by creating another way that fans can engage with their favorite sports?

Additionally, the internet has allowed for many more opportunities for fans to engage with their favorite sports and players. For example, a huge college basketball fan could follow his favorite players on social media, watch bonus commentary on YouTube, read up on advanced statistics and trends for betting on games, and discuss his predictions with other fans on message boards. 

Now fans can further engage with what they love — they also have the option to attend festivals specifically dedicated to their favorite sports. Here are just a few of the ways sports festivals are uniting specific areas of the sports industry for the ultimate fan festivals:

Combining Sports and Music

Currently, one way that sports festivals are seeing success is by combining them with music festivals. For example, Air + Style, which takes place in Los Angeles, brings together snowboarding, music, food, and art for one massive event. Snowboarding fans can watch the competitions and indulge in their love for the sport while meeting other fans, enjoying food and art, and checking out the music scene.

But this concept could be expanded far beyond snowboarding, and it could be done with pretty much any sport. And the ideas for what a sports and music festival could be like are extensive. For example, a basketball music fest could get select players from the NBA or NCAA basketball to form “fantasy” teams and play a few special events for fans during the run of the festival. Fans could also meet their favorite players (similar to attending comic con events) and place predictions on how they think their favorite teams or players will perform. As for music, the lineup could feature basketball stars who also rap or sing, or even up-and-coming hip hop and R&B artists.

Photo by Austin Neill

Sports Participation

Entrepreneur Richard Brandson is drawing inspiration from events like Coachella for his new business plan: global sports festivals. His venture, called Virgin Sport, will combine food, music, and sports participation. So it’s not so much watching professional athletes competing or meeting your idols, but instead actually participating in the sports you love to watch. This type of event might include track and field events in addition to fitness classes like yoga or cycling, and it will be designed to please sports fans of all ages and backgrounds so that everyone can participate — similar to going to a music festival.

A lot of sports fans don’t want to just watch their favorite sports — they also want to play them, but they don’t always have the means to do so. So a sports festival of this design could be huge. There are already global mud runs and obstacle course events that are massively popular. So why not take it a step further? In addition to those types of offerings, there could also be track and field sports or other team sports like basketball or hockey. There could be casual-but-serious competitions where players could compete for a prize. Organizers should anticipate that nonprofessional beginners and other types of sports enthusiasts in these festivals need safety precaution protocols in place to safely participate. Having a supply of kinesiology tapes is incredibly useful during sports festivals especially if the manufacturers are one of the major brands that support these kinds of events.Then, add in a music lineup, food, and other attractions like art or gaming. eSports are huge, so these types of sports festivals could also capitalize on that and offer mini-tournaments for fans. The possibilities are seemingly endless!

What is a festival but an event of celebration? Major sports leagues around the world are always looking for new ways to get fans more engaged with their favorite sports. Creating festivals dedicated to specific sports or sectors of the sports industry could be a great, new way to entertain and engage fans, and many businesses are starting to realize this. So the question for now is: How long until these festivals really take off?