Shaun Alexander is the star running back for the Seattle Seahawks. He is the only player in NFL history to record 15 or more touchdowns in five consecutive seasons and is one of only two players to record 10 or more rushing touchdowns in five consecutive seasons. In 2006, he received two ESPY awards—NFL Player of the Year and Record-Breaking Performance. In 2005, he was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player and led the Seahawks to the Super Bowl. Married with three young daughters, he received a marketing degree from the University of Alabama and has significant involvement in charity and foundation work. Because of his perspective, talent, and leadership, we thought Alexander would be a great person to tell us about the future of sports.
An International Unifier
The power of sports lies in its ability to bring together large groups of people from societies all over the world. Overall, we'll be looking more and more at international stars as heroes and hold athletes from different countries in the same light as homegrown U.S. athletes. Currently, athletes like Ichiro Suzuki and Yao Ming are helping to further bridge this gap and blur the international lines of competition. As we have more global influences, and more commonalities, sports will become a greater unifier. Sports bridge language barriers, age barriers, and cultural barriers, and will continue to do this even more so in the coming years as people look for ways to connect with countries around the world.
We've already seen this with the growth of soccer. And I think that with the hype and popularity surrounding David Beckham and the Galaxy, the trend in soccer will continue to increase greatly in the States, and American teams will continue to improve. I also think the LA sports market will continue to expand and add more professional teams. And it wouldn't surprise me if American football became an Olympic sport as well.
On a more local level, I think that leagues will change in that they will have much stricter guidelines in terms of regulations and punishments on players and officials gambling. We'll want our sports to be more wholesome and clean—just about the game.
Branding Tomorrow's Athlete
I also think we'll see a rise in the popularity of professional women's sports, both to watch and to participate in. This is going to see a lot of growth. It's great to see young women really participating in sports at younger ages and to see great role models on a professional level. I think 10 years from now, there will be an even stronger clear professional path for women in sports.
As for professional athletes, talent alone will not be enough to make athletes successful on the highest level in sport. Fans will want more. They'll want athletes to dominate their sport but also be well-rounded, well-spoken people. The wild bad-boy athlete model is phasing out, as fans want to relate to their athletes. Athletes will need to be smarter, more educated, and think more like business owners. They'll need to think of themselves as brands. Athletes will better understand the economics and business of the game. The athletes of the future will have to be better behaved, more like role models, and more in charge of their future. Today's fans expect it, and future athletes will know that to be successful, their performance off the playing field will be almost as important as on.
A Changing Sports Experience