Sports in Colombia – an untapped industry

Despite the Coldeportes efforts, Rafael Villegas, a journalist with over 40 years of experience in sports media, insists that in Colombia there is a kind of "management myopia" which has prevented the development of the sports industry.

At the conference “The sports boom in Colombia,” experts presented their views on the sports industry in Colombia, its challenges, and its opportunities. Although coming from different environments, the guests agreed it is necessary to train specialized sports administrators, equipped with the interdisciplinary tools to encourage our country’s athletes, and for the country to become a continental force.

According to Tirso Zorro, Coordinator of Coldeportes Conventional Olympic Performance, a month after Mariana Pajón won the first BMX Olympic gold in the 2012 Olympics, the National Games organizers were forced to cancel the female competition in this discipline due to lack of participants. Today, however, the sport is growing exponentially in number of participants, medals obtained, and even, sponsorships.

The happy ending of female BMX, although yet to be seen, is not the same for the majority of sports in Colombia.  Sports are struggling to survive in a country that despite having hundreds of talented athletes does not have the financial, journalistic, and political muscle seen in other countries, worldwide powerhouses.

How to explain the fact that, today, there are not enough resources to have a soccer school in Bogotá? How to explain why “Millonarios” had to capitalize their stock with a foreign company to cover their debts?

The above is just one of the scenarios of the most popular sport in Colombia; not to mention the difficulties Lacrosse, volleyball, or even basketball players have in obtaining space for their workouts, sponsors, media coverage, and generate social impact.

For Rafael Villegas, a sports journalist with more than 40 years of experience, the problem is “management myopia.” According to Villegas, in Colombia, we are unwilling to understand sports are a product, like any other, and must be developed with a clear strategy. This strategy should include each of the dynamics impacting the sports world, the same way Coca-Cola develops a strategy comprising legislative, financial, advertising, social, and economic issues.

In this order of ideas, it is necessary to begin training sports administrators, with the necessary tools to effectively influence the development of the industry, which is growing, but, for the moment, wasted in Colombia. Undoubtedly, a sports administrator must be a professional who knows the world of sports, the technicalities and challenges, to generate successful high-impact sports projects, from interdisciplinary training.

The Externado de Colombia University and the Finance, Government and International Relations Faculty offer a “Certification in Sports Management”  in which participants can acquire administrative, legal, marketing, and journalistic tools, among others, to develop a particular product; a sports product.