The 10 most innovative companies in sports of 2023

Fast Company

If you’re lucky enough to score a ticket to catch a Savannah Bananas baseball game at the team’s 4,000-seat Grayson Stadium—the waiting list for a home game is now half a million people deep—you might see a player step up to home plate wearing 10-foot stilts or swinging a flaming bat. And the guy in the banana-yellow Mad Hatter getup dancing atop the dugout? That’s the team’s owner, Jesse Cole. The team, which has more than four million TikTok followers, once competed in the Coastal Plain League, but dropped out last year to pursue its version of sports-based entertainment via exhibition matches. “We’re a circus that happens to have a ball game break out in the middle of it,” says Savannah Bananas director of entertainment Zack Frongillo. “We spend zero dollars on marketing. Our social media promotes our brand, which drives ticket sales, which drives merchandise.”

Not every team is quite so focused on content at the expense of competition, but the quest to engage fans at every turn is fueling innovation throughout sports organizations. Athletes Unlimited is rewriting the rules for professional sports. It features women’s leagues in softball, volleyball, lacrosse, and basketball where there are no team owners. Instead, teams are reshuffled weekly, injecting an element of pickup-ball spontaneity into elite-level competition. At the end of each season, the leagues crown individual champions based on overall season-long stats, and athletes share in the profits.

Read the full article in Fast Company.