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“The Nuclear Bomb that will Change College Sports Forever” by Phillip Stutts

“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”

I’m reminded of this Eric Hoffer quote every time I think about the racket of amateur sports under the National Collegiate Athletic Association — better known as the NCAA.

Intercollegiate athletics is about to drastically change. It’s a disruption that will fundamentally change everything you know about college sports — in particular, football and basketball.

In fact, just this week the NCAA got a massive wake-up call when the first domino fell.

What happened?

California governor, Gavin Newsom lit the fuse on the nuclear bomb of college athletic amateurism by signing a bill into law that will allow student athletes to hire agents and make money on their “name, image and likeness”. In essence, college athletes in California will soon (in January 2023) sign endorsement deals.

If you want to get into the weeds of this story, you can watch my ESPN interview with Paul Finebaum here.

How big of a deal is this new law?

Think about the bill signing ceremony optics for a second — Governor Newsom did not sign the bill into law in the state capitol or in the Governor’s office (as is typical), but on Lebron James’s HBO show, The Shop — see this brilliant PR move in this clip from the show.

I understand that it’s a cliché to say that everything in the world is being “disrupted” — but if it’s true, who cares. The fact is that our certainty in life — our work, our relationships, etc. — everything we know in the world is crumbling before us, and “disruption” doesn’t care if you want to ignore it.

The disruption occurring now with college athletics should be a wake-up call to you and your business.

The reason why?

Disruption doesn’t stop. It won’t stop with one, and there is never just one consequence. Over 10,000 economic disruptions are coming in the next 10 years and you have the advantage of planning for it — and if you don’t, you’ll find yourself dead in the water.

It reminds me of another industry that should be quaking in its boots due to a “movement” that is disrupting their model — the timeshare travel industry.

Weird transition right? Stick with me here …

I recently spoke to some of the largest timeshare company C-Suite executives in the country. They were an amazing group of people and with the economy roaring in this 11-year bull market, they are all currently making money and doing great.

If you dig into their business model, you can see storm clouds ahead on the front-end and back-end of their business. On the front-end, travel booking apps like Airbnb, HomeAway and Inspirato are making it more convenient to travel anywhere in the world at a reasonable cost, without the hassle of shared ownership.

But that’s not the biggest disruptor for them. It’s the back-end of the timeshare industry that could spell its downfall. Currently, there are several disruptive adversarial companies that have taken the political marketing approach — using comparative advertising to attack the timeshare business.

What are these adversarial companies doing exactly?

Well, they created a “movement” by running national TV ads imploring dissatisfied timeshare owners to cancel their ownership “safely, legally, forever.” (And they are targeting the largest age demographic for timeshare ownership — which is over 50.)

So, young consumers aren’t buying timeshare vacation properties, and now their top demo (over 50) is being aggressively targeted to get out of timeshare ownership with a “movement” styled marketing strategy.

Would you say the timeshare industry is the disruptor or being disrupted? Now flip the question back to you, is your company or industry being disrupted or being the disruptor?

I’ve only given you two disruptions in this post — get ready for 10,000+ more soon.

You have to remember, disruption doesn’t care what you think or want. And disruption in your business (or marketing), doesn’t care about you either.

This all leads me back to the NCAA.

I am a University of Alabama alum. College football has been a fundamental part of my life for 40+ years. It’s a 13–15 week obsession every year. It sometimes determines my happiness (winning!) or depressive state (losing). I love that college football is not professionalized.

But like I keep saying — disruption doesn’t care.

A long time ago, intercollegiate athletics and its amateurism model was considered a “movement”. Then the NCAA made it into a billion-dollar business, which eventually degenerated into a “racket” (where everyone makes money except the athletes that create the wealth).

If you are paying attention, professionalizing student athletes is clearly now in the “movement” zone … and the NCAA as we know it is crumbling before our eyes.

Here’s what you can take from this:

  1. Where is your company or industry in the “movement, business, racket” cycle? If it’s moved into a “racket”, be prepared for the pending disruption. And believe me, there will be 1st, 2nd and 3rd order consequences that will change everything you know. It’s inevitable.
  2. If you know that your job, company or industry will be disrupted in the future, ask yourself a simple question — Are you going to allow yourself to be disrupted or will you be the disruptor (remember, the disruptor creates the “movement”)? Honestly answering this simple question might just determine your fate.

Phillip

P.S. — Ryan Holiday is an incredible author of best-selling books like “Ego is the Enemy” and “Obstacle is the Way.” Holiday once gave me some incredible advice on my book that changed the trajectory of its success. This guy gets it. I want to tell you that his new book “Stillness is the Key” is revolutionary. You must pick it up HERE. What makes Holiday so effective is that he is an outlier — a disruptor. You will learn a lot from him. Go buy his new book.

P.P.S. —  If you know of a friend or a colleague that would enjoy my bi-weekly updates about incredibly cool, funny and idiotic marketing ideas, please have them email me (ps@phillipstutts.com) or sign up below:

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