Going All in on AI

Examining the Value Proposition of and Integration Challenges With One Branch of Artificial Intelligence in Sport Management


  • Michael L. Naraine Brock University
  • Liz Wanless Ohio University




big data, innovation, digital sport, automation, natural language processing


The sport industry has become increasingly more complex with the expanse of digital technology such as fiber optic internet access, 5G wireless communication, and blockchain, just to name a few. These advancements have shifted the amount and variety of data produced and available for analysis by sport organizations. Yet, sport organization front offices remain well behind other industry segments (e.g., retail, communications) in regard to handling, processing, and analyzing the volume and variety of data to advance business objectives. In this brief, we introduce the notion of artificial intelligence (AI) to sport management. While AI, as a concept, has been discussed for more than 50 years, this article provides a definition and overview of its historical trajectory for sport managers. Concurrently, the article also identifies the value proposition for AI capability, notably the natural language processing across four customer-centered domains: 1) listening to the public narrative, 2) automating the sales process, 3) computerized consumer content, and 4) self-operating service. Integration challenges are also addressed for sport organizations as they seek to increase their digital competence, achieve competitive advantage through technical innovations, and ultimately become more efficient in a data-driven world.

Author Biographies

Michael L. Naraine, Brock University

Michael L. Naraine, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Sport Management at Brock University and is also an honorary adjunct at La Trobe University in Victoria, Australia. His research interest is in the area of digital sport management and marketing, examining the strategy, fan engagement, and analytics related to new developments in the sport business landscape.

Liz Wanless, Ohio University

Liz Wanless, EdD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Sports Administration at Ohio University. Her research interests include advanced analytics application to various aspects of sport organization operations, including customer relationship management, athletic fundraising, player health, and the use and diffusion of natural language processing (NLP) in the sport industry. In addition, she has conducted invited workshops explaining artificial intelligence applications and impacts for sport.


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