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[Herald Interview] ‘Time to nurture game changers in sports industry’

Korea has become a sports powerhouse in terms of athletes’ performance, but it has made little progress in cultivating the sports industry.

“The nation’s sports industry is still in an infant stage. Most firms in this sector (except a small pool of conglomerates) suffer from a lack of strategy and resources,” Choi Joon-seo, a professor of the sports industry and management department at Hanyang University, said in a recent interview with The Korea Herald.

He pointed out the local industry’s structural weakness, with sports-related firms having fewer than five employees on average.

“It is time to nurture game changers to bring the nation’s sports industry up to the next level,” he said.

For this, Hanyang University will open the government-sponsored talent development program for the sports industry, dubbed the Sport DeMerS Program, early next year for both bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

DeMerS, a newly coined term, is short for design, merchandising and sales.
Professor Choi Joon-seo
Professor Choi Joon-seo

“I expect the program, aimed at cultivating qualified sports marketing and sales managers, will contribute to the development of a new value-added industry,” the sports marketing professional-turned-professor said.

According to a report issued by PricewaterhouseCoopers, a U.S.-based management consulting firm, in 2011, the revenue of the global sports market ― including sponsorships, gate revenues for sporting events, sales of media rights and merchandising ― will rise at a compound annual growth rate of 3.7 percent from $121.4 billion in 2000 to $145.3 billion in 2015.

Riding on the growth potential, the government has stepped up the development of Korea’s sports industry. Last year, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism unveiled a five-year development plan for the sports market. Under the road map, the ministry will capitalize on creating information technology-driven sports markets, expanding demand for sports and related products, and incubating sports industry start-ups.

“I expect graduates of the Sport DeMerS Program will bring changes and innovation to the sports industry in transition,” Choi said, adding that some of them could fill important roles at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.

Choi has dedicated himself to enhancing the sports market with hands-on experiences in this sector. Before entering academia, he worked for multinational companies with strong leadership in sports marketing such as Nike and Coca-Cola. He also founded and ran Hoochoo.com, an online information provider and community site for sports fans.

By Seo Jee-yeon (jyseo@heraldcorp.com)
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