Can technology spot a future sporting great better than a traditional talent scout? WeSportUs Founder and former French track and field champion Latif Adéothy explains how a social network could level the sports playing field.
Scouts nearly scuppered Messi’s chances. It is hard to imagine that Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, or even Michael Jordan almost missed out on becoming professional athletes. Why? Because they didn’t meet the stereotypical physical criteria sought by the talent scouts of their day. Fortunately, they persevered and ended up meeting recruiters who saw their talent and gave them a chance.
Sport has been slow to bring the technology revolution to its talent detection systems, so many talented young athletes are being missed. How many young sportspeople miss out on their destiny? Do we have any idea how much potential is never seen, let alone turned down like Messi first was?
This was the inspiration for WeSportUs. We think a sporting social network could disrupt the current unfair system and decentralise the process, making it fairer and more equitable; evening out the financial inequalities that exist between sports federations. How? By combining the best of social networks and blockchain to make the process less random.
Stop a detection process that is too random
Athletes of all stripes can struggle to get on the recruiters’ radar and scouts can be overwhelmed by the amount of talent to spot across the globe! It is impossible to follow all the meetings, games and championships in your sport. And the opportunities for detection decrease when we move away from Western countries to focus on African or South American talent; two continents on which sport is king, and a means of escape.
I experienced this experience myself during a stay in Abidjan, a city on the southern Atlantic coast of Côte d’Ivoire, in West Africa. While jogging, I came across a group of young footballers who, with sandals on their feet, were playing on a field that looked more like a potato field than Wembley Stadium. I joined them for a little game. The result? We lost 10-0! The opposing team had a young player who scored eight goals, but he had never set foot in a training centre. He clearly had a raw talent, but is unlikely ever to be spotted due to a lack of resources and visibility. This young player probably had the talent to build a better future for himself, but had no access to traditional talent spotting channels. How can we make the process less random for athletes like this?
Blockchain and social networks can be a winning duo in talent spotting
New technologies can overcome the shortcomings of the current system by decentralising the detection of talent through a democratic and meritocratic principle. It’s a bottom-up approach, based on the concept of the wisdom of the crowd: the more potential detectors there are, capable of identifying real talent, the greater the audience it will have, and the more likely that talent will be developed. We think technology could help collective intelligence take precedence over individual knowledge.
But here too, it is difficult to stand out from the crowd. More than 600,000 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every day and Instagram already has more than 1 billion users around the world.
This is where tools as powerful like blockchain come into play. It offers the technical means to monitor talent. A true social network, it means we can spot talent whether it’s playing in the street, local parks, training centre or even at a professional club. A blockchain/social network mix could place technology at the service of the people. It could create value and promote equal opportunities through five fundamental values: transparency, traceability, equal opportunity, alignment of interests and connecting the community.
So what else do we need?
Ethics and transparency as talent-spotting drivers
There is an urgent need to put athletes, coaches and fans back at the centre of talent spotting processes. To bring their passion back to the heart of the global sports community, which has too often been denigrated by corruption and doping scandals. Social networks can then take on their full meaning and we can move from a narcissistic vision to a holistic approach, taking on the role of revealing talent and creating a meritocracy. By integrating blockchain and social network technology we can create a world where every sportsperson from the four corners of the earth has the same chance; whatever the distance, whatever their means, location, age or size.
Fans will also be able to become patrons using new technology. Imagine that you are the one who finds and develops this talent and that you could be rewarded for your participation. This is what the combination of blockchain and digital in the sports field will allow. It should be possible to create a democratic social network, capable of uniting a committed community around a common objective: to bring out the sporting talent of tomorrow.
As champions continue to move crowds, unleash passions and inspire dreams in and out of stadiums, the world of sport needs a new impetus to reconcile ethics and business. It needs to harness technology for good. What if blockchain and social networks can stimulate a new momentum like this and never miss another talented young athlete? This is our vision.
By Latif Adéoth