Monday, November 20, 2017

Why We Watch

It's common knowledge among our friends and family that I am the sports person, and my husband is not. He loves to play sports, and particularly loves outdoor activities such as camping, hunting and mountain biking, but traditional team sports, even though he wrestled and played football in high school (and was really good)...not his thing! A running joke in our house goes something like this: When Stan is asked about sports at any gathering, his response is usually "I don't know, ask my wife!" Kind of a funny way of punching stereotypes in the face.

But, last night, Stan asked me a question, in all seriousness, after we watched about 3 minutes of the Broncos getting their butts kicked, yet again, by the Bengals of all teams! (I can say that, I'm from the 'Nati). 

Here was the question: Why do you watch when you know what's going to happen? 

My simple answer was "hope". Not the grander scale of hope in life, but hope as in wishful thinking. Bengals fans, and now Bronco fans, are just hoping the tide will change. Grant it, the Bronco fans are relatively new to this feeling, but as a Bengals fan growing up, or better yet, Browns fans, there is something inside that thinks maybe this player, this game, this season might be different. 

His follow-up questions were fair. "But if you know they are going to lose, what's the point?", and "People let it ruin their day when their team loses, despite knowing that's likely the outcome." And of course, there may have been a comment about wasting time in there too. :)

But the more I thought about this, I thought about culture, tradition, social networks and emotions.

Hang with me here, but I grew up in the Midwest, where sports - college and pro - are king. We set our watches by it, never missed a game, and cheered, despite PERPETUAL disappointment. I am old enough to remember when the Reds swept the A's in 4 games in the 1990 World Series, however.
I idolized Larkin!

Stan grew up in rural Colorado. College sports is not nearly as big here - I know CU and CSU fans, but face the truth! Plus he grew up in an environment where the mountains were his playground. There is a saying here in Colorado "The mountains are calling, and I must go!" Playing, versus watching, was paramount, whether recreation or sport.

For me, the emotion, the fun of rivalries, the not knowing, the opportunity to see people use their God-given abilities, the sponsor trends/new technology/etc. etc., these are the things I love about watching sports. 

Growing up, it was just what we did. What we talked about. What we bonded over. What we emulated. Not right or wrong. It just was. 

My point here is everyone's upbringing and environment is different. Being raised as a traditional team sports junkie, I'm grateful my 5 year old loves to mountain bike and just accompanied Stan on getting their first buck together. I do ascribe to the belief that doing is much more valuable than watching, no matter what the activity, but balance is key. 
Bring on the jerky!

It boils down to creating memories, no matter what they look like, or how you define it. And, part of the fun is learning what others enjoy and why. I'm grateful for a husband who respects my passions and has interest enough to understand. And I'm grateful he at least agreed to sign the contract pledging this allegiance to the Ohio State Buckeyes upon marrying into our family. 

It's OSU/xICHIGAN week (Go Bucks!). But most importantly, it's Thanksgiving, and if we give it just a few minutes, I bet we can all think of an impressive list of things we can be thankful for in our own lives.

This is Stoll on Sports. Remember, it's not joy that makes us thankful. It's gratitude that makes us joyful! Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

No better time than now!

In the spirit of celebrating successes, I'm going to share a blog I wrote for Healthy Mesa County just a couple weeks ago. The numbers changed slightly (we ended with 565 registrants!), but the moral holds true...set your eyes on something you think is beyond your ability then GO GET IT! Whether sports, career, fitness, education, or any other aspect of your life, the greatest rewards lie after the greatest challenge. Harsh truth, I know.

In my September Healthy Mesa County blog, I touched on my feelings regarding the special place we live and work, and our unparalleled quality of life. One way we can enjoy what our community has to offer is through the plethora of amazing events that take place across Mesa County on any given day.

I’m going to give you clues to see if you can name a certain event in the Grand Valley. This event has been around since the 1990s. It has been voted one of the most beautiful events of its kind. It has also been voted one of the most challenging events of its kind (we’ll circle back to this point). This event is local and 100% of proceeds benefit a local non-profit and student athlete scholarships. Last clue, it used to be held “gate to gate” on the Monument, but now it’s a full 26.2 miles.

If you guessed the US Bank Rim Rock Run, you are correct!

The Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission (GGJSC) and Colorado Mesa University Track & Field and Cross Country programs are only one week way from hosting the US Bank Rim Rock Marathon on November 4th. The event, has an interesting history in the Grand Valley, one our organizations hope to continue into the future for a variety of reasons.

Lets take a quick minute to dive into why.

In 2013, when the GGJSC first got involved, the event consisted of approximately 140 participants. It grew to more than 400 by 2016. As I type, the current registration count is a whopping 505! (we ended with 565) I’m not a math person, but I think that’s around a 260% growth in 4 years! Here’s the kicker…we spent zero dollars marketing it in 2017. Yes, that is correct, ZERO.

I believe the event has grown for a variety of reasons, including  because our product is great. You can’t pick a better course than over Rim Rock Drive. We strived to make it a community event in downtown Fruita with a beer garden, vendors, live music and more. We listened to our customers and added a half marathon option (good idea, as 386 of those 505 are registered for the half), and good ol’ word of mouth marketing has spread our message for us.
Colorado National Monument (Courtesy: Visit Grand Junction)

Here are the facts from our current registration. We have participants from three countries (USA, UK and Romania) and 31 states. More than 35% of participants are between the ages of 30 and 39. Two thirds of all participants are females. A standard measure of distance in the tourism world is 50 mile radius, and at that mark, 70% are non-locals (meaning they plan to travel more than 50 miles to participate) and 30% are considered locals (reside within a 50 mile radius). Each participation brings an average of 2.5 spectators.

So what does this mean?

From an economic impact perspective, we love to see the high non-local participation numbers. Participants – and those who come with them – bring much appreciated “new money” into our economy through taxes derived from staying in our hotels, dining in our restaurants and visiting our attractions. In an ideal world, they even make plans to return! Industry statistics from the National Association of Sports Commissions say that for a market of our size, each visitor spends between $168 and $221 per day. Our goal with non-local participants is to welcome them with Western Slope hospitality.
Courtesy: Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Often sports commission stop right there. Not the case with us. Although we love the non-local participation, the 30% local participation number, is bothersome to me. I want our sports commission to provide opportunities for local participation just as importantly as non-local participation.

Yes, the Rim Rock is challenging, BUT, I have seen every running level finish both the half and the full. My fondest Rim Rock memory is of a woman who walked the entire marathon – her first – and crossed the finish line with her two kids and husband by her side in tears of joy.

If you didn’t register for our event or others this year, that’s certainly fine. However, if you’ve been considering setting a goal to participate in the Rim Rock or any other, let me encourage you that there is no better time than now. There are so many wonderful events in our community and great resources such as Healthy Mesa County, running clubs, the CMU Kinesiology Lab, and others that can help you plan and encourage you along the way.

Remember the old quote from Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” Who knows, you may be the one crossing the finish line proving to yourself that you CAN do the unimaginable!

Check out more at the Finish Area for the US Bank Rim Rock Run in Downtown Fruita’s Circle Park on Saturday, November 4th from 10am to 3pm. (Thanks to those who joined us!)

So, put away your phone - yes, like place it on a table and walk into another room! - and spend a few quiet minutes in solitude thinking about that wild inner ambition you have. Enlist some encouraging friends to help, take the first step, enjoy the process, and go remind yourself just how awesome you truly are!

This is Stoll on Sports.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

For the Love of Sports!

Happy post-Game 7 haze! Before we jump into this week's musings, I did not forget about the challenge I threw out last week: develop a personal mission statement.

I went back and did some digging to when I first started - and apparently never completed - this task.

Lesson 1: If you start a personal mission statement and never finish it, you can all but guarantee you won't live by it! (See Zig quote below).

So, after giving myself a little grace, I dove back in. Probably 15 versions later, I still don't know if I'm 100% satisfied with the outcome. But it is way closer than when I started last week (it's a process, right?). Here it is:
My personal mission statement is to use my skills and talents as God desires to positively impact the people and world around me. 

To me, this encompasses making the most of where I am at any given point - work, home, etc., and realizing my gifts can be used in all those settings, if I have the courage to use them.

I hope you took some time to work on your personal mission statement as well. As Zig Ziglar said "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time."

Switching gears now, DID ANYONE WATCH THAT WORLD SERIES?! What an awesome series featuring two great ball teams.

Houston Astros Clinched the World Series in last night's Game 7
I must admit, for a doctoral sport management student, I watch very minimal sports anymore. Maybe because I'm a full-time student, executive director, mother and wife, and maybe because in order to watch Game 7 my husband literally had to climb on the roof and move our antenna. Can you say stone age? When we moved to the country, we nixed cable or satellite. I know, we're cord cutting rebels without a cause!

Despite not being glued to the TV every game like I used to be (I think my husband has implemented a secret 10-year master plan to ween me from my sports obsession...and it's working), during this time being laid up, I've gotten to watch the Buckeye's amazing come-from-behind win over Penn State and 5 or 6 World Series games.

Now follow me for a second here, because I know there are lots of broken-hearted Dodger fans across America this morning, as there were Penn State fans on Saturday afternoon.
Celebration at the Shoe when OSU knocked off PSU

But isn't that what sports are all about? It's like community. It's the diversity and differences in all of us that make it unique. If everyone rooted for the same team, there would be no point. It would be like watching the Harlem Globetrotters day in and day out.

It's because of our different preferences that we get rivalries, anxiety and a little friendly trash-talking from friends on social media.

In sport academia, James and Funk (2006) proposed the psychological continuum model in which individuals move from aware of a team, to attracted, then attached and ultimately form an allegiance. We all started to follow a team or individual player somewhere, at sometime.
Psychological Continuum Model (Funk & James, 2006)

But, the fun doesn't end because my team or your team won. Sports can be symbolic for a community, too. With all Houston has been through these last few months with Hurricane Harvey, sports can provide the glimmer of hope, a distraction, a common bond, that transcends circumstances in a community.

Just like the Red Sox winning the World Series after the Boston Marathon bombing, or the Saints winning the Super Bowl after Hurricane Katrina, the motivation to win grows even stronger. Here is a great Washington Post article highlighting this affect.

Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune
To me, this is what makes sports so endearing. Sure, there are always the scandals, greedy athletes and unethical controversies that spark up in competitive sports. But such as with any competitive and financially driven industry. I'm in no way condoning these actions, merely suggesting that we must make a decision to find, and stand behind the good. The whole baby and bathwater cliche applies nicely here.

Some days our favorite teams and players win, some days they lose, but the broader impact on the world in which we live is why I love sports. After all, let's not forget, right now in the city of Houston - just like in other places across the nation and world - there are still people reeling from tragedy, long after the rest of the world has unfortunately moved on.