There’s a new phenomenon in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the sports industry. Professional athletes are becoming aware of their potential as leaders of new businesses and we see each time more examples of athletes converting into executives.
And this is not only a consequence of athletes trying to fill their free time once they retire from the professional landscape of competitive sports but rather, they’re starting to venture into the creation of businesses while they’re still performing at the very top level.
We’re entering the era of the athlete entrepreneur and there are a couple of personalities leading with their example.
Lebron James is one of the best examples of an athlete performing at the very top level of a sports organization such as the NBA while being committed to his entrepreneurial activities.
Lebron is a 4 times NBA champion with 3 different franchises and is considered one of the best basketball players of all time. He has consistently appeared for almost 20 years of his career in the top-rated odds of sports betting platforms like SBO where users can not only vote for every game he takes part in, but also bet in a vast array of markets such as predictions of the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, or the NBA Finals MVP. Lebron has been a safe bet and even more profitable when signing up for one of the many welcome bonuses that bookmakers offer.
His sports career alone would make him capable of living from his commercial agreements until the end of his life. But James is paving the way for athletes to see that their lives can be more than just winning a big salary from their performances or having a collection of Nike shoes with their name on them.
These are some of the principal activities driven by Lebron James:
- He’s the main shareholder of Spring Hill Entertainment, an entertainment company valued at 725 million dollars.
- He was designated the main partner in Fenway Sports Group, owners of English football team Liverpool FC, the MLB franchise Boston Red Sox, and the Roush Fenway Racing team.
- Spring Hill will produce content for Nike athletes and is venturing into the metaverse alongside Epic Games, one of the biggest video game developers in the world (creators of Fortnite). The new Space Jam movie was also pushed forward by Spring Hill.
- Lebron James was the producer of Brazilian football star, Neymar, Netflix miniseries.
- Among other small businesses, he owns a pizza franchise, a tequila brand, and a nutritional supplements company.
And just like Lebron James, other figures like Serena Williams, Tom Brady, Roger Federer, or Gerard Pique are among the main exponents of the athlete-executive figure.
Pique, a Spanish football player for FC Barcelona is currently leading one of the most ambitious projects in sports entertainment with his agency, Kosmos. After attending a master’s degree in entertainment business and sport at Harvard in 2017, he created a company that manages sports content, broadcasting rights, and commercial assets such as the Davis Cup in tennis. He dared to change the format of one of the most legendary tournaments on the tennis circuit, but more than this, he keeps battling against Spanish media to justify his entrepreneurial activities.
Football in Europe remains a conservative industry, with football federations carrying work ethics and ways of doing that date from decades ago. Pique has been heavily criticized for supposedly not focusing on his sporting career and sports media blame any bad performances on his business activities.
But Pique has already proven that he’s one more professional athlete that has prepared himself to be performing inside of the pitch as well as outside.
He belongs now to the group of entrepreneur athletes that we mentioned before. Serena Williams with her venture fund, Tom Brady with his NFT platform venture, Roger Federer with the organization of his own tennis tournament, the Laver Cup, and many others along that are showing a great example for fellow athletes.
Of course, professional athletes start from a spot of privilege as their salaries allow them to have sufficient funds to invest. But as before most of them trusted their money to other partners or asset managers, now they’re taking the responsibility of managing their own capital. And this has proved to be even more profitable for many of them.