As a passionate sports fan and marketer, it makes sense to me that the two would go together. In my previous blog, I discussed how marketers are using the Internet of Things (IoT) to appeal to fans, but there is also much more marketers do to connect with sports fans. Sports marketers are realizing the important role fans can play when it comes to athletes, sports teams, and merchandise.

I’ve identified some of the top ways fans are becoming more directly involved with marketing in sports. Whether it’s something a marketer is encouraging directly or a fan or athlete is taking the initiative themselves, there are many more ways for fans to connect with the teams and athletes they love.

Viewership is more interactive

Before the Internet of Things (IoT), fans watched games on television and discussed it amongst themselves. Now, technology makes it possible for viewers to directly interact with sports in various ways. Whether or not they’re home, fans can tune in on other devices or make sure their television is recording a game. Fans can send messages during games that are often shown on the screen and they can vote for their favorite teams or engage in activities like Fantasy Football.

Athletes have a strong off-field media presence

Athletes have gone beyond simply playing for their specific team; they now have a strong off-field presence as well. Brands often choose athletes as ambassadors for their companies and sponsor them, usually giving them money and merchandise. Many athletes directly interact with their fans. Companies and sports teams know that getting players to interact with their fans is a great way to market the sports industry and specific teams. If fans know they have the chance to connect with their favorite athletes, it increases fan loyalty.

Brands are moving beyond sponsorships

Brands have also played a huge role in sports, from soft drink companies sponsoring specific teams to individual athletes advertising a type of clothing or product. Now, brands are starting to take an ownership role by hosting championships, owning teams, or becoming major financiers of entire sports. These types of roles allow brands to connect with fans, whether they’re a fan of the sport or the brand.

Fans are taking over commentary

Thanks to sports marketing and new technology being used in the industry, fans can take over commentary and provide their opinions and insight on a national, and sometimes international, platform. Using social media allows fans to comment on sporting events in real time and share their observations with other fans. Being able to directly interact with each other, sport networks, and sometimes athletes is a huge encouragement for sports fans to stay interested and involved.