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Family ACC Is Happy Now, But More Challenges Are Ahead

There’s no way to be sure about the future of either technology or sports but John Swofford has done about a good a job as anyone could hope for.

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Texas Rangers v. New York Yankees
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 25: John Swofford, ACC Commissioner (C) addresses the media during a press conference to announce the New Era Pinstripe Bowl's multi-year partnership with the Atlantic Coast Conference at Yankee Stadium on June 25, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City.
Photo by Jason Szenes/Getty Images

John Swofford said the best thing about the ACC meetings was that they were normal.

No concerns about expansion or realignment or any of the stuff that has roiled college athletics for the last several decade or so.

Everyone seems pretty happy with the ACC’s position and it seems that Swofford was the right man in the right place at the right time.

The conference still trails the Big Ten and the SEC in revenue but the ACC Network comes online in two years and that is expected to change things and perhaps considerably.

And it doesn’t hurt that the ACC won national titles in football and basketball. Both will bring in extra money.

Just as realignment completely changed college sports, there is a realignment coming in how sports are covered and experienced and, perhaps, even what we think of as sports.

ESPN, as you know, rose to great heights on the backs of cable bundles where, whether you wanted to or not, you got the Mothership.

It’s going to be really hard to maintain that as cultural and technological forces change the marketplace.

Still, people want to see sports and things like AR and VR could open up compelling new experiences.

Of course there’s no guarantee that that means college sports either or, for that matter, pro sports as we know them.

Unbeknownst to many people, but surely not ESPN, ESports are growing and are already scaling up to compete with traditional sports. It’s not hard to imagine a future where kids are far more interested in those games than ones we watch now.

In other words, change may not come simply from unbundling and technological innovations that alter how we see traditional sports. ESPN could be the classic victim of disruption.

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