The authors develop a theory of human capital ecosystems and argue that sport markets are human capital ecosystems. After analyzing the emerging U.S. rugby market, the authors demonstrate that league executives conceived of the rugby market as an ecosystem organized around investing in and capturing value from athlete human capital. League executives focused on developing aspirational value: a shared value proposition that all rugby actors benefited from. League executives saw other rugby leagues as complements rather than competitors, which contradicts current sport business theories, but is consistent with an ecosystem view. However, although league executives agreed on the need for a human capital ecosystem, they had different visions of how the ecosystem should be created. Each league pursued a different strategy and had different objectives. The authors argue that all sport markets are human capital ecosystems, and they use the theory to distinguish between emerging sport markets and established sport markets.
- Athlete development
- Nonmajor professional leagues