How a league rooted in the fantastical is surviving the phenomenon of inflated expectations

At the PSFK 2016 conference in New York, Nick Horbaczewski introduced the audience to the new sport of drone racing. Poised to be the “Formula 1 of Drone Racing” with a global circuit of pilots racing at high speeds in exotic locations, it’s no surprise that USA Today called the Drone Racing League (DRL) the “Sport of the Future.” All that hype is precisely the problem. “Similar to technology,” Horbaczewski explains, “unrealistic headwinds create an unrealistic set of expectations about what sports are going to be like.” Because everyone comes in with their own preconceived notions of what drone racing should be, based movies, books, and other cultural influences, Horbaczewski warns that the “sport of the future might be killed by the past.”

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