The future of sports will be a nightmarish universe without bundled cable, meaning you will either pay individually for network’s programming or write a hefty check to ESPN (or its logical successor) in order to subsidize its production of league content. It will not be a nightmare for you, the person who does not like sports, but it will be a pain for those of us who will have to remember all those passwords to our WWE, NFL, SEC Network, La Liga, and International Cornhole Championship accounts.
(You, Verge readers, are smart nerds who probably use automated password management. Most sports fans do not.)
It would be fun to say that the NFL will decline as the king of American sports, but even if it does its subscription services will artificially extend its lifespan. There’s already a model for this: MLB, whose online subscription model will keep it alive long after it should have died naturally. Soccer will grow in popularity as fewer children play impact-heavy football. Oh boy, how you’ll have to read a lot of horrible, horrible editorials on that happening.
No matter what happens, the London Jaguars will mark the NFL’s spectacular turning point
No matter what happens, the London Jaguars will mark the NFL’s spectacular turning point, particularly when AFC East teams finally get tired of flying across an ocean to play in the wrong time zone for tens and hundreds of groggy and confused English "fans."
The NBA needs no help, having made inroads into the lucrative international market already. David Stern will continue to guide the league’s fortunes from his hermitic kingdom in the mountains of Canada, healthy and alive on a steady diet of Tim Duncan’s immortal blood marrow.
Performance-enhancing drugs will become less and less of a deal as they, along with most other drugs, get decriminalized and see more sensible, measured use. Ditto for gambling, an activity most other countries handle just fine in coordination with a lively sporting scene. It’ll all happen and people will be shocked and horrified we did it so stupidly for so long.
The Olympics and FIFA are two of the most corrupt, unprincipled, and shadowy organizations on the planet
College athletics will become an open market, shockingly looking a lot like college athletics looks now: a small group of dominant teams paying people to play at their schools in cash. It’s amazing how a lot of legalization merely involves sanctifying what is already happening with a little bit of law, but that’s where it’ll be. Teams will function as little more than branded university properties; players will either take a football-focused curriculum for a degree, or simply work as football players and employees of the university. The concept of the student-athlete, at least at the highest levels of college athletics, will be mercifully dead.
The Olympics and FIFA are two of the most corrupt, unprincipled, and shadowy organizations on the planet. Based on this, I assume both will live forever, and enjoy continued thriving success into the next five centuries.