The Frog in the Frying Pan – New World Thinking to Tackle the Future of Sport 

by Jun 6, 2022Elite Sport, Most Popular, News

You’ve all heard the one about the frog in the frying pan right?  

You know the one – the frog jumps into a frying pan full of lukewarm water and kicks back, very comfortable in their surroundings. All the while not realising the small, incremental changes on the burner and subtle increases in temperature before it’s too late – the water is boiling – and so too is Kermit.  

Too late to escape, our hero of the story has gone from drinking pina colada’s one minute to being just another French delicacy the next, all because he didn’t recognise the changing forces bubbling away underneath him. 

So, pondered Playbk Sports North American COO Rick Burton, are we the frog? Or the fire? And what type of thinking is required to move sporting teams to being global, digitised products using technology to drive revenue and engage more often with fans? 

Playbk’s inaugural in person event – A New Paradigm: Driving Fan Avidity & Revenue Through EdTech – posed those questions, and more, as more than 15 sporting organisations from around the country gathered in North Melbourne to explore the intersection of technology, content, education and sport and how to think about leveraging these areas differently. 

So back to the frog. The premise of this story is that change is afoot.  

Cryptocurrency brands are sponsoring teams and stadiums, non-fungible tokens are making their mark as a new form or merchandise and we have the impending reality of 6G technology, virtual reality, augmented reality and machine learning that will create more personalised and engaging experiences than ever before. 

So, the question might be – what is the temperature in our frying pan? And are we adapting to the technology tidal wave that is already here?  

With a focus on the booming EdTech and SportsTech sectors (worth a combined almost $60 billion by 2025), the days agenda explored global examples of how sport is expanding into these sectors to drive new revenue streams and engage fans, more often, in more meaningful ways. 

An economy that is global, digital and 24/7/365 provided the lens for attendees to consider how their sporting organisation can, and should be, a global brand. With the world’s biggest sporting brands stamping their footprint on markets well outside their own traditional ‘territory’, Burton challenged the notion that Australian sports should only focus on a domestic audience.  

Indeed, if sporting properties are not thinking of their brand as global (and what levers to pull to build this global brand) they may already be going the way of the dodo. 

How teams work with their players, coaches and administration to develop engaging, entertaining content that can be easily accessed and monetised is not a theory quickly solved. However, what we do know is that the brands and intellectual property that sit in the ‘four walls’ of these teams is undervalued, a commodity often gone to waste or utilised in old world fan engagement activations like one-off school visits. 

Larissa Matthou from the Gold Coast SUNS perfectly captured the opportunities available when quizzed about this after the event.

“The IP we have within our business already (physios, dieticians) is really interesting to our fan base and being able to bring that information, that we kind of take for granted, and broadcast it to a wider audience (is an untapped commodity).” 

Larissa Matthou
Consumer and Community Engagement Managers at Gold Coast SUNS

Burton challenged the audience to start the thinking process now. How can teams use their people and technology to engage more fans and drive revenue? What does revenue look like? Micro-transactions? Sponsorship of new assets? The data play? B2B or B2C? Something else entirely? 

To add to the intrigue – where is this revenue coming from? The same old postcodes sport has relied on for an eternity?  

Or new, global postcodes as athletes, administrators, students, mums, dads and everyone in between learn from the very best of Australian sport through world class learning content delivered through a club owned digital asset? 

Steven Gatt from Netball Victoria pondered the potential to harness the profile of their star import from Malawi (Mwai Kumwenda) to grow a global Vixens brand.

“Rick opened my mind to the opportunity to get that (Vixens) brand out there, and you never know who might be out there watching.” 

Steven Gatt
Chief Executive Officer at Netball Victoria

A New Paradigm provided that rare opportunity for the brightest thinkers in sport to lift their eyes from the in-season operations and consider what their role is in futureproofing their organisation. With the goal of provoking thought and challenging current assumptions, Burton’s keynote address left those in the room curious and contemplating how the intersection of education (or ‘edutainment’), technology and sport might just be the new world remedy to some old world problems. 

We’ll leave the final word to our keynote speaker, Playbk’s own Rick Burton, on what the day and perhaps the future is all about. 

“We’re trying to empower everyone. We can send our products out worldwide, so instead of saying we’ve only got 28 million there’s not enough of us, when we’ve got great content and great ideas, we just need to share them with the world.” 

Rick Burton, COO at Playbk Sports

A global solution to a local problem. 


For media enquires, please contact Playbk Sports on [email protected] or via our Contact Us page

About Playbk Sports

The best way for sport to commercialise online learning.

Playbk Sports makes delivering online learning simple and effective with dynamic technology, immersive custom and white-label courses, and – of course – unbeatable fan engagement.

Playbk works with your team by harnessing your logo, players, coaches and administrators and uses the power of those ‘brands’ to create learning opportunities that clubs can commercialise.

As SportsTech trailblazers, Playbk fuses online learning and fan engagement – at scale.

Playbk’s full-stack digital approach provides strategy, portal design and development, marketing and technology solutions that seamlessly work within and uplift existing business functions.  

Playbk continues to focus on innovative solutions for organisations across elite sport, education and not-for-profits to connect with fans in authentic and meaningful ways.  

At Playbk, we create experiences that people remember


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