SportsEvents is edited for those who plan tournaments or other sports events.
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www.sportseventsmagazine.com March 2017 29 the fall of 1870, explorers traveling down the Firehole River in what was soon to become the state of Wyoming happened across a bril- liant eruption of sparkling water — a spectacular geyser. While the eruptions appeared at first to be somewhat erratic, they soon realized that the sprays were both highly predictable and unfailing. Though the geyser wasn't the tallest or largest they'd discovered, it was certainly the most dependable. They named the geyser Old Faithful. Like Old Faithful, our industry has proven to be remarkably dependable. This is our 12th year to research and report on the state of the industry for the sports event market in the United States. Through those years, we've tracked the industry through boom years for the U.S. economy (2006 – 2008), bust years (the "Great Recession" of 2009 – 2010) and the recovery years that followed. And, as we have reported on numerous occa- sions, while it is not the country's largest travel sector, sports tourism has proven to be the most reliable and dependable —the Old Faithful of travel sectors. Yet while the business of sports tour- ism continues to generate unfailingly positive results, it is raging with con- tradictory data that leads many to look forward with more "cautious" optimism than we've measured in recent years. On the one hand, industry studies show that fewer people are playing sports, a trend that has continued for several years. On the other hand, we're producing a steady stream of new events and generating more revenue than ever. To add to the contradictory data, the trend toward sports specialization continues, further limiting the number of athletes crossing over from sport to sport. Somehow, so to speak, the water level continues to rise even as the tide recedes. How can these conflicting data points coincide? Clearly many throughout the industry are raising the question, as for the first time in years there is a genuine air of concern and cautiousness in the responses to our industrywide research. One might think that our optimism would be at an all-time high, consider- ing that consumer spending is reaching record levels and consumer confidence has surpassed pre-recession highs of 2007 (according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis). Numerous industry leaders suggest that we may be stretching the envelope for industry growth unless one key sta- tistic improves: participation, the num- ber of people playing organized sports on a regular basis, which is a number that continues to fall. If we don't grow the number of peo- ple playing sports (our customer base), we will eventually "hit the wall" if we continue to expect a relatively stable athlete base to spend more money and participate more often in an increasing number of events. Increasing the num- ber of sports participants, at all levels and age groups, is the one issue that our whole industry must get behind. We discussed these topics and oth- ers at length with Don Schumacher, longtime industry leader and retiring executive director of the National Association of Sports Commission. "It's getting to the point that all of us need to be concerned about the kind of sports participation that's taking place ► t SPECIAL Feature In ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY BY TALTY O'CONNOR SPORTSEVENTS PUBLISHER