Presented by: Robert Rogerson, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Partnership Legacy Research Co-ordinator


I’m going to you get you to cast your minds back to 1970 when we held in Scotland our first Commonwealth Games. At that time, it was very innovative, technologically, and in some aspects captured the creativity of the cultural economy. Whilst nowadays we might not say it was very innovative, the Edinburgh Games had a number of firsts. It was the first time that they used metric measurements, requiring considerable new technology, to change the measurement systems that had been in place for decades. Secondly, it was the first time that photo finish technology had been used to separate finishers, allowing us to identify when individuals actually crossed the line, and the timing of it, providing almost instantly and with certainty opportunities to identify winners. And thirdly, perhaps of biggest interest to us here, it was the first time that there was a logo attached to the games, giving rise to brand and copyright issues associated with the Commonwealth Games.

Move on forty odd years to think about 2012 and 2014, and now in the digital age some of these issues are re-emerging. But there are also new opportunities perhaps to challenge these and to think about ways to explore how brand, technology, copyright interact with the public, and how new business models related to sport are emerging in and around venues.

I’m going to take the cases of London 2012 Olympics and the US Superbowl 2012 as examples of how in the digital age, new approaches to copyright and business models are being associated with mega sporting events. These two examples illustrate the extent to which sponsorship and commercial partnerships shape the way in which sporting activity is being protected and in turn how challenges to such legal controls are re-defining information use and dissemination. Take for example the control over ways in which imagery of London 2012 logo was enforced to protect the brand (including removal of merchandise and retailers who used it illegally) and yet the same authorities inability to avoid the logo being portrayed in digital imagery and messaging across the world. Or the attempt to limit the type of photographs and video imagery that was sent electronically from the London 2012 venues, when anyone could – and many did – use readily accessible technology to send videos globally on social media websites!

Just imagine how useful this would be if we could capture the thoughts, experiences, emotions of those present at a major sporting event.

Whereas copyright and business models have to date looked to manage the outward movement of information from sporting venues, at the Superbowl last year, more messaging, more texts and more data was sent into the venue than sent from it. Some of this was ‘managed’ to offer supportive information on available services, to give insights into the sport itself, and to help crown movement. But much of it was ‘chat’ undirected and unmanaged which offers a potentially rich insight into the experiences of the crowd. Just imagine how useful this would be if we could capture the thoughts, experiences, emotions of those present at a major sporting event– not just academic way offering for the first time, live experiential insights into emotions and experiences, but also in a commercial sense to allow tailored provisions of services!

Could this happen at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 in Glasgow? We might get a glimpse of such a new future, and the development of new business models around this. There are of course risks as we don’t know yet, deals haven’t not yet been signed, but there are some opportunities to explore and change some of the practices that will be in place. And if these did happen, a whole new approach to sporting events as business opportunities based on experiences could happen. Whereas in 1970 the Commonwealth Games was focused on sporting achievement, perhaps 2014 will be more about seeing ‘firsts’ in new commercial and digital ways.

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