The gig economy in the sports industry

One of the things that will change the workforce in 5 years is the “gig economy”. It is all about working with different projects instead of one full-time job. Your next coach or sports marketer might stay with you for 6 months and then move further. Even though the gig economy is new to many sports clubs and workers in the sports industry, a lot of them have understood that they need to work differently in the near future to keep up with the fast-paced technological developments. In this article, we will go through the concept of the gig economy, the benefits for an employer, the trends for the labor market and the hottest jobs right now.

The gig economy at The World Economic Forum

At The World Economic Forum’s inaugural Pioneers of Change Summit where innovative leaders and entrepreneurs from around the world showcase their solutions, build meaningful connections and inspire change across the Forum’s diverse multistakeholder communities, four things were mentioned as changes of how we work in 5 years. One of these is the “gig economy”.

What is the gig economy?

The gig economy is quite similar to what we are used to calling freelancing, it’s basically the idea that the old economy was one of freelancing. Back in the days, people had their full-time jobs but every now and then they did some freelancing jobs. The new economy and ways of working, gig economy provide a platform for ad hoc tasks to be completed by freelance workers but instead of having a full-time job, freelancing is the new full-time job.

There are more and more opportunities now through new platforms for people to engage in freelancer work at every type of scale except the sports industry. These new platforms and opportunities can be done once a day, once a week.

The gig economy in the sports industry

How would it look like? If you would work within the gig economy you could continuously be shifting between employers, let’s say, working for a few hours for IOC, then switching to UEFA, then doing maybe a few hours for FIBA or Bayern Munich (this could obviously be within national sports organizations too).

Entrepreneurs in the sports industry

Being a gig economy worker could actually look like the life as an entrepreneur. You need to drive where you think you are going to find more work. We know people do what we call multi-homing, they switch between platforms. But at the same time, we see an attempt to try to streamline and create a more consistent vision of where things are going.

However, looking at the former freelancing setup working full-time and then freelance every now and then, the gig economy has now turned into more of a passion. People who joined the gig economy started to supplement their income. Maybe they added one more shift or tried to pay for their vacation, but actually more people are realizing that they actually enjoy it and enjoy the flexibility that comes with it. So, the question is if we will see more gig workers in the sports industry in the near future since the passion for sports is a common thing within the sports sector.

The growth of the gig economy in the sports industry

The European project, ESSA-Sport that was concluded in October 2019, with research aimed to create a debate within the sector on the key issues of skills and workforce development, contained some interesting insights about entrepreneurship. Even though the labor market in the European sports industry is mostly built up with employed staff there is another way to work too. With a comparison between 2011 and 2018, the labor market in the sports industry saw a rise in self-employed people. Taking into consideration this growth, we could expect a change with more gig workers in the sports industry in the coming 5 years too.

The sports labor market in Europe 2011
Employed: 81.8%
Self-Employed: 18.2%

The sports labor market in Europe 2018
Employed: 79.2%
Self-Employed: 20.8%


From another study made by the Boston Consulting Group, The New Freelancers – Tapping Talent in the Gig Economy, the use of gig economy platforms has increased quite a lot, especially in some bigger countries and economics. There is still a huge majority who use the gig economy as their secondary income however more and more are adopting the life as a gig worker as a primary income source.

Future of work, sports industry, sports club, gig economy
Image: Boston Consulting Group

Two things you need to know about the gig economy right now

The World Economic Forum mentions two things you might know about the gig economy.

First, that it’s big. In 2019, roughly one-in-10 workers in the UK earned a living in the gig economy. In the US, the equivalent figure was an estimated 8%. According to the World Economic Forum, there was a pan-African survey 2019 that showed that 1.3% of adult Africans now earn money from gig economy platforms (the online companies that provide the work). More and more statistics show that there is an increase all over the world working in this way.

Second, the World Economic Forum mentions that the jobs being created are not necessarily of good quality. There are several struggles for workers due to the way that the platform’s work is organised. There seem to be a number of undesirable outcomes for workers – who can suffer from low pay, wage theft, precariousness, dangerous working conditions and discrimination. Not only that the working condition could seem horrible, when any of these issues arise, platforms simply tend to point to the fact that they aren’t responsible. They tend instead to present themselves as a simple intermediary rather than an entity that has the ability to shape actual on-the-ground working conditions.

The benefits of the gig economy

What we mentioned earlier in the article gig workers didn’t only work for the necessity of earning enough money for the vacation, workers also realized the great benefits the gig economy offers with tremendous flexibility for workers and employers.

For employers, this is a benefit because it gives them flexibility and it allows them to have more workers working fewer hours, and it protects them from having to provide health insurance or higher rates of pay.

The gig economy offers more or less agility to employers that must adapt to unexpected challenges every now and then and it also provides freedom to workers who want flexible and remote work arrangements. Embracing this working style can help employers and freelancers to succeed in the future of work, no matter where or when that happens.

Is your sports club ready for the gig economy?

According to The World Economic Forum’s inaugural Pioneers of Change Summit, one of the things that will change the workforce in 5 years is the ”gig economy”, where innovative leaders and entrepreneurs from around the world showcase their solutions, build meaningful connections and inspire change across the Forum’s diverse multistakeholder communities. Another change for the next 5 years is “Remotopia, head over here to learn more about if your sports club is part of “Remotopia”?

As a sports club finding great talent could be a challenge, especially if the club is a small sports club. Most sports clubs in the Nordic sports industry are volunteer-driven which makes it even harder to find great talent. Everyone in a local sports club volunteers their time to make sure sports activities can be provided in the neighborhood or in the city they live in. However, time is always a big challenge in the sports industry.

What if a sports club could bring in a freelancer for a limited time helping them in the most stressful period of the season. This would of course be a cost but looking at the outcome of getting in another person could actually become an investment for the club. If you are limited to only spend 5 hours work, you will only be able to gain x amount of revenue, however, getting additional 5 hours could mean a bigger revenue for the club.

Another way to think about the benefits of the gig economy in the sports industry is when you applied and received funds for a new development project from your municipality or sports federation. When this happens you will always need to add a project manager to handle this new project. This is also an example of freelancers in the sports industry, working for a limited time.

Still not sure if this would suit your sports club? A good example of onboarding a new colleague or freelancer is to know what tasks should be done, what expectations your club has and what resources and time the potential colleague or freelancer has. With clear objectives and job descriptions, less time will be spent on onboarding and more time on developing the sports club and its revenues.

So is your sports club ready for the gig economy?

Find great people in the sports industry with a gig job

The gig economy is perfect for the sports industry for ad hoc tasks to be completed when time is not an option. And time is our biggest opponent in the sports labor market. If you feel that you and your sports club are stressed out or you are in need of getting more tasks done, let us know.

If you need help finding your next hire and want help finding a great future employee no matter if it is remote or not, Sportidealisten can help you. We know that finding the best candidates and sports job isn’t as easy as in many other industries and it takes a lot of time. That is why we are changing this, a niched platform where you can only find candidates and jobs from the sports industry.

Do you want to recruit in a smart way? Are you part of a growing sports organization and want to be part of our platform? We have daily new sports job seekers. Join today by posting a sports job free of charge.


Is your sports club part of “Remotopia”? Check out here

1 thought on “The gig economy in the sports industry”

Leave a comment