Sports Business Games and the Third revolution in sports
The fate of all existing sports depends largely on whether they are included in the golden list of the Olympic disciplines. That list gets continuously updated in accordance with requirements of the International Olympic Committee which comes to that that the game must be popular with the general public. In order to get a sense of what lies at the core of the public interest in sports and look ahead at what expects sports tomorrow, it is crucial to understand the roots and trends in the evolution of the sports movement.
Elvin Toffler, an eminent US sociologist, referring to the fundamental importance of the mode of production, identifies three major civilizations in the history of mankind, generated by three global technological revolutions: Agrarian, Industrial and Informational. According to Toffler, they caused truly revolutionary changes in all domains of human activity and shaped new social rules that ultimately determine the type of new society, its culture and modus vivendi.
It was also natural for people throughout history to try to define a model worker who would epitomize each of these civilizations, to identify the specific skills and abilities of each era that would offer an advantage in the competition for survival, and to test the limits of what is possible. The result was the emergence of sports games that, being a part of culture, underwent revolutionary changes together with the rest of society as each civilization generated new kinds of sports.
The main productive force of the ten-thousand-year Agrarian Civilization were the people, that did hard physical work and occasionally waged wars. It is therefore not surprising that the agrarian era saw a flourishing cult of physical prowess and individual excellence. It was in the times of the Agrarian Civilization that humanity witnessed the First Sports Revolution, resulting in the emergence of sports like the track and field athletics, weight-lifting, and various individual martial arts. It was to them that the Olympic motto, citius, altius, fortius (‘faster, higher, stronger’), referred.
The industrial revolution took place some three hundred years ago. The key producers of that civilization were industrial workers, the proletariat. Hard physical work was taken over by machines while the people were supposed to be capable to accurately perform coordinated actions. The reflection of those changes was emergence in industrialized countries of various team sports. That was the Second Sports Revolution. Its icon is football, and it is not accidental that it arose in Great Britain, the leader of the industrialized world at that time. Team sports are certain to dominate in the near future until another revolution takes place in sports and the sports of the Informational Civilization gain popularity.
In 1956, the number of white-collar workers in the United States for the first time exceeded the number of industrial workers. To denote the new class of producers, a new term – cognitariat (derived from ‘cognition’ and patterned on ‘proletariat’) – was coined in recent years. The emergence of this new force on the international arena, populating the entire civilized space, particularly mega cities, and technoparks, symbolizes the advent of the new Informational Civilization. It is characterized by profound knowledge, an intensive exchange of information and effective management. The world is currently making a transition from a two-tier structure to three tiers, with the agrarian economies at the bottom, the smoke-stake economies in the middle and the knowledge-based economies at the top.
Presumably the driving force behind the Informational Civilization will be competition among different knowledge strategies. Special attention should therefore be paid to Intellectual Sports like chess, go, renju, etc. However, they all go back to the Agrarian Civilization, and reflect its characteristics – closeness of information and individual prowess – in their forms of playing. The informational revolution in intellectual sports has yet to happen. In order to make radical changes in the public attitude, it is important to understand what matters to potential viewers, who are involved in the Informational Civilization, and their employers.
Modern companies compete first of all in informational field. At the same time each of the employees must not only process huge amounts of information but also be clearly aware of his place in a complex system. It is therefore not surprising that professional training in the form of Business Games has been so popular in recent years. It is generally recognized as the most effective type of professional training, and the developed countries are already spending billions of dollars on it. Modern Business Games reflect the essence of the Informational Civilization, i.e., profound knowledge, a high degree of communicability, and, as a result, openness of information and an intensive information exchange, which is precisely what makes possible a quantum leap in generating new knowledge and new technologies. To date, thousands of such games have already been developed for various domains of human activity.
However, Business Games have a serious flaw: all of them are narrowly specialized and rigidly tied to short-term professional knowledge and technologies, and it considerably restricts the limits of their attractiveness. For the same reason, they are unacceptable in the system of general education (school and university) where there is an urgent need to supplement curricula with a new system of social rules in the form of universal training of constructive communication and effective management.
Thus, it is necessary to get away from the specific knowledge and technologies while maintaining the key characteristics of the Informational Civilization. The following rule may be formulated: the usefulness of any game depends on the relevance of social relations that it reproduces; the less dependent it is on the technological achievements of the moment, the longer it will remain in existence.
That is why the Industrial Civilization favors not games involving machines (which would seem logical at first sight) but football, hockey and basketball. It can therefore be assumed that the most popular games of the Informational Civilization will not involve artificial means of contest like computers. Because the sport is exactly demonstration of human abilities. At the same time, there should also be continuity of civilizations. In football, high value is placed on individual skills, and the ability to run fast and jump high; the sports of the Informational Civilization may preserve the basic elements of earlier sports. That brings us back to Intellectual Sports.
It would thus appear that new sports epitomizing the Informational Civilization may be expected to emerge at the juncture of the existing Intellectual Sports (chess, go, renju, etc.) and Business Games. Those must be Sports Business Games. To address this issue, I developed a Scenario that transforms Intellectual Sports into a spectacular Team Business Game. Its key elements are unlimited opportunities for communication and several new rules that dramatically broadens the information field of the game, shapes a completely new structure of teams and creates conditions for the implementation of methods of contest that are relevant to the modern world. The obvious benefit of the scenario is that, on the one hand, it is completely corresponds to the requirements of Informational Civilization while, on the other hand, preserving understandable and broadly familiar elements of Intellectual Sports: boards, pieces, their location and the rules of movement. The first example of new Sports Business Games is Business Chess. It may start a Third revolution in sports. The only question is where and when the revolution is going to take place.