Sports tourism plays a key role in local economies

“Sports are perennially popular and universally beloved.” “Sports power our world.”

Those quotes came out of a recent forum sponsored by the Madison Area Sports Commission (MASC) entitled “What’s Next for Sports Tourism?” A few other items highlighted in the executive summary of the event:

  • Sports tourism is a recession-resilient industry. The “new normal” for today’s parents is traveling for children’s tournaments.
  • Success comes from a “residents first” guiding philosophy; decisions must take into account local usage first and foremost. Communities can increase their overall desirability to new employees and businesses by building sports venues that serve resident needs, enhancing quality of life.
  • When building community sports venues, bigger isn’t necessarily better. Rather, different is better than bigger.
  • Communities must do their homework: Study competitive markets, consider trends, and learn what other communities are developing regionally to better understand their market potential.

MASC is the arm of the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau that drives visitor volume and spending through bringing sporting events and competitions to the area. In addition to providing economic benefits, MASC has a commitment to providing opportunities for youth to experience the enjoyment and benefits of sports, and be introduced to healthy lifestyle options.

Some trends that were brought out in the meeting:

  • Niche sports (lacrosse, rugby, field hockey) are increasing in participation.
  • Traditional sports participation (soccer, football, baseball) is trending downward.
  • Shooting sports such as archery are increasing in popularity.
  • Success is more likely when facilities are year-round and multipurpose.
  • The Millennial Generation prefers events with a social element. The behaviors of this generation are important to monitor as its members age and become parents, and are likely to have a positive impact on team sports participation.

Here’s a test I often use, and I’ll share it with you now and likely many times in the future: “Do I want the government to take from me the money I’ve earned and use it to______.” Here’s an example of how I use it. I recently read this headline in The Wall Street Journal: “Obama Proposes Rating Colleges to Curb Tuition Costs.” So I ask myself, “Do I want the government to take from me the money I’ve earned and use it to set up a bureaucracy to rate colleges on affordability and graduation rates?” My answer: no, thanks.

Gary Andersen, the new UW football coach, showed why he is becoming popular as a down-to-earth type of guy. At a recent meeting of the Mendota Gridiron Club, Andersen was kidded about his appearances in some recent Toyota commercials. He told the group they could give him all the grief they wanted, “but it couldn’t top what I get from my own children.”



Crowdfunding is a relatively new phenomenon that allows large numbers of people to participate financially in a variety of projects, often artistic endeavors. Payments sent through websites like are generally donations, rather than investments for which a return would be expected. A year ago, for instance, I became a financier of a Broadway show revival when a friend asked me to help out. Okay, so it was just $200, but it did get me VIP seats on opening night, which I couldn’t fit into my schedule. Oh yes, and a CD of the musical, but nothing more.

But now several states, including Wisconsin, are attempting to loosen investment rules so actual business startups can seek investors through crowdsourcing.

So I have to ask myself, “Do I want the government to take from me the money I’ve earned and use it for bureaucracies that attempt to protect unsophisticated investors from bad deals?” My answer: I’d rather contribute to a nonprofit to set up a required seventh grade course called “Understand what ‘let the buyer beware’ means.”

Do you recognize this?

Is it the TRUTH?

Is it FAIR to all concerned?


Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

It’s the incredibly simple, yet practical, Four-Way Test members of Rotary International use as a nonpartisan and nonsectarian ethical guide for personal and professional relationships. As business managers, we could probably use this to test our decisions several times daily.

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