Monday, November 26, 2018

Yep, It Takes a Village

Growing up, I remember watching the show The Wonder Years and the iconic song that intro'd each week's episode..."With a little help from my friends" by Joe Cocker. I can still hear that raspy voice welcoming me into the life of Kevin Arnold. Did you know the song was originally written for John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and Ringo sang it? Me neither. Hey, I can barely remember The Wonder Years, alright.
Wholesome family goodness. Photo: 20th Century Fox
Take a minute to let that song play from your glory days...

On the heels of Thanksgiving, moving into the most special time of year, I thought I'd share the most important part of my dissertation. 

No, it's not the earth-shattering findings, or the on-point APA formatting, it's actually the acknowledgements section. My name may be on the title page, but it took a village to achieve this dream. Honestly, I was doubtful of my ability to succeed on more than one occasion. But the village helped me prevail, and I am eternally grateful. 

As I doubt copies of my dissertation will be flying off the shelf, I thought this would be the best way to share my heartfelt appreciation to all those - and many more than called out in this excerpt - who helped make a dream of mine come true. God willing, I can reciprocate to each of you one day.


A project of this magnitude does not come to fruition by one’s own efforts, but is a reflection of the many individuals who selflessly supported the dream. I am indebted to my distinguished committee members. Dr. Anthony Dixon, my committee chair, for your guidance and keen ability to keep me on my toes throughout this process. Dr. Pakianathan Chelladurai, I consider it one of the great honors of my life to have the opportunity to learn from you, not just academically, but personally through your exceptional grace, humility, and kindness. Dr. Damon Andrew, for being the first person to encourage me down the path of doctoral studies and seeing something in me before I saw it in myself. Your guidance, mentorship, and friendship receives my heartfelt appreciation. Dr. Andrew Goldsmith, thank you for being my sounding board, helping me keep my sanity, and encouraging me countless times throughout this process. You have become a true friend, for which I am grateful.

The one person without whom I would not have achieved this goal is my husband, Stan. Thank you for encouraging me to jump off the dock and start swimming when I have the propensity to wait for the boat. You, my love, have my utmost respect.

Thank you to my parents, Tom and Carla Sherrick, who sagely taught me never to confuse education with intelligence and that education; however, is an achievement no one can take away. To my in-laws, Wyatt and Diane Stoll, for the many weekends helping with the kids so I could “hunker down”. My sisters, Jessica Sidener and Dana Shirley, and my brother-in-law, Aaron Shirley. I would not have survived this process without your humor, timely check-ins, and loving support. To my late brother-in-law, Tylor Sidener, thank you for watching over me from above. My “Kentucky parents”, Scott and Barb Schucknecht, thank you for your relentless encouragement.

I wish to express my sincere appreciation for the numerous colleagues in the sport tourism industry who served instrumental roles in this project. From those whom I interviewed, to those who have pushed my curiosity and inquiry in this field. Specifically, to my mentors Linda Logan, Kathy Nelson, Alan Kidd, Susan Shaw, Jon Schmieder, Gary Alexander, and Tammy Dunn. You are far beyond solely colleagues.

I am remiss if I do not mention my amazingly supportive friends – you know who you are – who have cheered for me, laughed with me, cried with me, delivered opportune doses of truth, and lived life courageously raw with me over these last couple of years. All of you epitomize love and loyalty. 

Thank you to my fellow Troy University classmate, Blake Price, for volunteering your time to assist on this project, and for your friendship. You are next.

I would also like to thank my mentors at the University of Louisville, who provided an excellent foundation for me to achieve this goal. To the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission board of directors, and the leadership at Colorado Mesa University, your willingness to give me wings to positively impact our community through sports has forever changed my life. Dr. Dick Bell, you strong-armed me into trying “just one class,” now look what happened. Thank you also to Gracey Higman and Stephanie Summar for your much appreciated assistance on this project. 

Lastly, I would like to thank my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Maribeth Sharkey. I have never forgotten you celebrating my passion for sports, and bestowing confidence in me.

As Elbert Hubbard said, "There is no failure except in no longer trying." Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey. This is Stoll on Sports. Next time I'll share some actual sport-related findings! 

Subscribe to Stoll on Sports by Email

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A long look back at the blink of an eye

I've often heard that when it comes to parenting the days are long, but the years are short. I think there is truth to that statement in really any effort we take on that has its ups and downs, its moments of pure joy and great despair. Marriage. Careers. Projects of any sort.

Here's an example from my own life. In the span of 10 days (Nov. 3 to Nov. 12) the following took place in good ol' Casa de Stoll:

1. Saturday, November 3: My team and I put on the 2018 US Bank Rim Rock Marathon.
2. Tuesday, November 6: Our little collaborative effort passed a lodging tax increase for our community - something that had not been done in 30 years.
3. Monday, November 12: I successfully defended my dissertation, marking the end of my doctoral studies.

I don't tell you all of this out of pride, or so you can say, "Oh my gosh! How'd you do that?!" But rather, as just one example of what we face every day - every week - in our respective lives/industries whether it's sport tourism or not. This is a snippet of my calendar, it's no better or worse than yours, they are all valid. We are ALL consumed by different pressures.

As the dust settles and I come out from frankly, what's been a state of numbness for the last couple of weeks, I'm beginning to process all of this, and here are some lessons I learned along the way:

5. It's absolutely, 100% okay to say that it IS a lot. Whatever "it" is in your life. I'm usually guilty of looking at how much others have to do and saying, "oh, I have no room to complain." WRONG. I don't have to complain, that's true, but I can accept the fact that what I'm doing - what YOU'RE doing - IS A LOT. And that's okay, it's actually good to acknowledge it.
#mylife We can all get like this, everyone's busy, and yes, rest is good
4. Only you can be your own advocate. I struggle with this lesson, but in the end, I realized to reach my goal, which was in the best interest of my family, I had to do the driving. This is hard for a person like me. I tried to remember to give others grace, after all, they are dealing with a lot, too, but there is nothing wrong with directing your own path.

3. Learning isn't about a degree or some alphabet soup behind your name. That may be an outcome, which is great, but there are so many avenues through which to learn. For me, the passion in this line of inquiry is actively contributing to an industry I love. Helping others who share the struggles, questions, and accomplishments I share. My path is just one path to meet that end, but there are infinite others. And the real thrill in it is what you do with your knowledge. Knowledge on a shelf is useless.
Seriously, do they still make this stuff? It looks disgusting!
2. Sounds cliche, but you can do more than you imagine. One of my board members astutely reminded me a couple weeks ago amid the sheer chaos, "the more you chill out, the more it works out." Was he ever right. Things don't always go our way, the tax could have failed, I could have major revisions to my dissertation...whatever the case may be. But, in the end, things work out. I'm always reminding my son that all that matters is that he tries his best and leave the rest...honestly most of the times I'm reminding him, I need to hear it myself.

1. Life is humbling...thankfully! I try not to make a huge deal out of things. Monday, I earned my PhD and Tuesday I got my ass handed to me in a game of checkers by my 6 year old. I mean, honestly, it was a complete shellacking and YES, I was actually trying. I smiled in my defeat, seeing his little mind light up and the grace with which he totally annihilated me...

The morals of these lessons are that it is indeed hard in the midst. Call it that. Take time to stop and look at how far you've come, even if it's just a step, because in retrospect, time does go fast. Keep grinding away, give it your best, that's all anyone can ask. We all win some and lose some, stay humble and whatever path you are on, enjoy it!

Remember, as the iconic Dolly Parton said, "You'll never do a whole lot unless you're brave enough to try." This is Stoll on Sports.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Words of a Legend

Earlier this year I got the chance to spend a couple days in Knoxville, Tennessee for the NASC annual board retreat at the following year's symposium host destination. I hadn't been to the land of Rocky Top in over a decade and was thoroughly impressed with the town (except for the humidity, but I digress).

When I was a kid, growing up in the mid-west, playing shooting guard all summer for my AAU team, I dreamed of playing basketball for Pat Summitt. Me and every other young girl in the country! Clearly that dream didn't pan out for most of us...though I did know a girl who played at Tennessee. One time her high school team beat mine 63-8. That was the real score of a varsity game. You can't make that up. To our credit, they had a starting roster that all went to top DI institutions, we had, as our coach frequently reminded, "a ragtag bunch of misfits". Ahhh, those were the days...
He actually showed us this clip to reinforce our identity!
Jumping back to Pat Summitt, unfortunately the legend lost her battle with Alzheimer's Disease in 2016. But, even though me and millions of other aspiring young girls did not get the opportunity to play for "that gawdy orange" team (cue Blindside), her legacy allows for every person, from every walk of life, to learn from one of the best.

Pat's "Definite Dozen" (Pat Summitt Leadership Group, 2018) should resonate with us all. Her matras collectively forming her blueprint for success include things such as the importance of change, taking responsibility, and cultivating a winning attitude (Pat Summitt Leadership Group, 2018).

This commemorative poster of the '97 WFF hung in my room for years.
Today, I'm going to address one of the spokes in this wheel of success: "Put the team before yourself".

All to often in our hurried culture we are reminded to focus on the "what's in it for me?" mentality. We deserve everything without having to work hard for anything. I hear this all the time with my toddlers too, "she got it, but I didn't", "he got 2 and I got 1". It's pervasive. And I'd contend adults can be worse than kids in this regard.

The funny paradox about life is the more you give, the more you get. Deflection off of yourself actually equals more coming back your way. Sow to reap. This is true in sports, in business, in personal relationships, in every aspect of life. 
12 keys to success worth slapping on your bathroom mirror. Photo: Pat Summitt Leadership Group
I made a mistake the other day. Scratch that. I inspired "a learning opportunity" that really had me down. I called a friend who was busy at work. She dropped everything and met me for coffee to talk through it, reassured me of my true identity, and offered much needed encouragement. To top it off, she texted me today and told me how thankful she was for my friendship. Huh? She helped me, not the other way around.

The more you give, the more you get.

In sports, it's the unselfish players that make the team work. In the business of sport, it's focusing on the needs of others, clients, consumers, employees, stakeholders, before yourself that leads to success. I can assure you, being outwardly focused is not a waste of time, you get it back in spades due to the loyalty you build among others.

So in the busyness of life, and the chaos of our to-do lists, take a few minutes to put yourself aside and search out an opportunity to put another person before you. I guarantee it will make the work you do more enjoyable and more successful.

Write a thank you card. Shoot someone a text to let them know you're thinking about them. Hold the door. Ask the clerk how her day is going and listen to the response. Be genuine. 

As the great Pat Summitt once said, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

I hope when my friend, or anyone else for that matter, needs me to drop everything and be there, I have the courage to put my "team" before myself and step up to the plate. Doing THAT consistently builds a legacy worth celebrating. This is Stoll on Sports

Monday, October 15, 2018

Restrictor Plate Removed

The front page headline of a recent Sports Business Journal read: "Sports' biggest brand builders: Power players using sports to amplify their message".

Most of the issue was dedicated to the integration of sports and the corporate world. Not surprisingly, this theme is similar to most every other issue of SBJ. That statement is not a slight, it's just reality. See this Time magazine article about youth sports.

Sports = business.
Photo: Time Magazine. The headline says it all. 
Two weeks ago in Louisville, a small group of sport tourism practitioners had the opportunity to hear from the iconic Jim Host, who by most accounts, is credited with developing the first partnership between the NCAA and a corporate partner.

Host's stories were incredible, a tale of taking multiple leaps of faith, scratching and hustling to survive, and building what became Host Communications, a dynasty in the sports world. I learned an immense amount from him in one short hour and am grateful for that opportunity.

Flipping a couple pages in the SBJ issue, and there was an article about IMG College's Social+ having now inked deals with 14 big name universities, opening the door for advertising to appear on social channels for institutions such as Ohio State, Duke, Florida State, Michigan, and Oregon. The article noted "subtle" advertising expected, as not to "smash you in the face".

I couldn't help but think, that's how it always starts.

Does anyone remember the old Jeff Foxworthy skit about NASCAR, Jeff Gordon and post-race interviews? Here it is and it's still hilarious today:

The end of the skit plays on the history of the 9,354,078 sponsors in the sport (okay, I made that up, it's actually 9,354,079). But the point is the same. In the good ol' days we used NASCAR as the example of high-commercialization potential of sport.

Heck, rodeo has been a king in this area for quite some time, tagging sponsorships onto every square inch of real estate. I was even at a George Strait concert once where the camera panned into the Wranglers tag on Strait's about product placement! By the way, I love me some King George!
Exhibit A. 
Flipping a few more pages along and the issue honored a list of top corporate executives responsible for building their brand through sports. It was the usual suspects: Pepsico, Coca-Cola, Visa, Pizza Hut, FedEx...<<insert major company>>.

The ensuing spider web of this commercialization in sport is big, and gnarly. Higher education funding, psychic income, corporate social responsibility, competition, etc. etc. etc.

All of this makes me wonder.

Throughout my doctoral program, we have discussed sport and business. In professional sports it's one thing to capitalize on every aspect of the game, but for intercollegiate "amateur" sport the implications are far more complex. Corporations, institutions, and others making big time coin off of non-professional sports.

I wonder if Mr. Host, had any idea the magnitude of impact corporate sponsorships would eventually have on intercollegiate athletics? Sidenote: Mr. Host sold his company to IMG in 2007 and he continues to be involved in a variety of stellar community-based initiatives in and around the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

I wonder if there is a proverbial "line in the sand", if we've crossed it, and what the long-term impacts might be? Here's an article from the Chronicle on Higher Education back in 2009 discussing possible tax implications of collegiate sport. On the other hand, this 2015 Forbes article contrarily poses the necessity for the rise in commercialization.

I wonder how we preserve sports as fun, recreational?

I wonder what the the business of sport will look like in 10 years?

One thing is for certain, the restrictor plate is off the car that's driving the dollars and cents related to commercialization of sport. My hunch is that this car doesn't come equipped with "reverse".
Photo: Getty Images. I had no idea this is actually what a restrictor plate looks like.
The same SBJ issue noted Nike as the top-ranked brand for engagement with 10,318 posts, 84,418,896 engagements, 5,488,771,539 impressions, and an estimated value of $109,213,014 over a span of a year from Sept. 2016 to Sept. 2017.

However many millions, trillions and gazillions of impressions, it must be working to reach the ultimate objective of those companies - to make money. Or else why continue? The wheels are rolling so fast, that a number of warning signs are speeding by as a blur out the window.

This post isn't meant to slam the money-making side of sports. I greatly admire the innovation and "stick-to-it-ive-ness" of folks like Mr. Host. This post is more about asking questions than answering them. Besides, the end metrics driving these trends are found in you and me...our eyes and ears to the message...and our resulting purchase decisions.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Arena packed with us, the fans.
So I'm curious, what is our role in this landscape? I welcome your thoughts.

A Franz Kafka quote worth pondering in the current context is, "From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached." This is Stoll on Sports.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Look into My Crystal Ball

This morning in Louisville, I walked to my favorite breakfast spot, Wild Eggs, enjoyed a tasty breakfast and an “everything muffin” and thought about my time here in Louisville. This community has done such an amazing job branding itself as Bourbon Country, and the “Urban Bourbon” scene. There is almost a palpable buzz. Especially for us sport tourism nerds, who get to experience how some of the best in the business get it done.
Looking down the front straightaway at Churchill Downs

I’ve discussed this aura in Stoll on Sports before. That energy that permeates Grand Junction during JUCO week.

What do you call that? How do you replicate it in a community? Yes, we’ve discussed the economic ambitions of events, the branding, but there is more.

Psychic income.

I’m not talking about the amount of money the genie machine amassed in the classic Tom Hanks movie “BIG”.
Movie "Big". That thing was creepy!
I’m also not talking about “paying the man”. Or the annual revenue of your corner palm-reader.
Psychic income, is the emotional or psychological benefit residents think they get from a team or event in their community, despite the fact they may not attend or have any direct engagement with it (Crompton, 2004).

Think about psychic income (which honestly sounds a little fancy-dancey for my liking), as that buzz or excitement swelling up in a community from an event or team. It is determining whether residents actually think their lives are better from these activities.

It’s Lou-A-VUL during Derby (yes, that is the proper pronunciation), GJ during JUCO, Minneapolis during the Super Bowl.
Iconic twin spires at Churchill Downs.
I would contend in the sport tourism industry, it would benefit our organizations (rights holders and destinations alike) to spend a little more time learning about, and enhancing our value propositions in this area. Yes, we all know the economics is important, but we are also trying to communicate the broader value of what we do.

Psychic income.

Some of the benefits researchers have explored include pride in the community, excitement, and social bonding. Remember, this is the perception of people who have nothing to do with the team/event.

That doesn’t sound like a bad outcome of sport activity, does it? Are we telling that story?
Perhaps not. Walker and Kim (2012) developed the first scale of psychic income (PSI), which is advancing the research on the topic. But practitioners, pay attention!

You may say, “Ok, Stoll, I get it, some people are fan loyal, event loyal, etc., but it’s all perception.” To that I’d ask if you’ve ever attended a championship parade for your local team that won the World Series despite the fact you didn’t attend a game and certainly didn’t hurl a pitch?
Kansas City during the 2015 World Series Parade. Psychic income? You be the judge. Photo: Kansas City Star
If the answer is “yes”, I’m willing to bet you felt some of the benefits mentioned above…was your perception not reality? And I bet you don’t mind feeling like that a little more often!

If you look deep into the crystal ball, you’ll see these additional factors that play an important role in the sports landscape. It may not make you rake in the Benjamins for your community or event…then again, it just might!

As Henry David Thoreau said, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” This is Stoll on Sports.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Full of Nostalgia

Those that know me well, know I'm not exactly what you would call a "mushy" person. This assertion is not to be confused with being sensitive, because I am that; but rather mushy as in all about hugs, and gentleness, and unicorns and pixie dust. (Okay, I made all that up, but you get the gist.)

Maybe it's because my mental, emotional, and physical capacity is at about a 3 out of 100 with my first dissertation draft due next week. Case in point, I just texted a friend asking him if he's seen my marbles, because I'm sure I've lost them. (Cue motion picture "Hook" scene below.) Or, maybe it's because I blinked and now I'm in my mid-30's. Regardless of reason, I find myself full of nostalgia today.

Nostalgia, "a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past..." as defined by

You see, next week is going to mean lot to me, aside from the obvious elation of turning in a draft of a document that I could probably re-read and never recall whether  I wrote a word in it.

Late next week, just a few short days after hitting "send", I get to hop on a plane to one of my favorite places on earth: The 'Ville, or Louisville, Kentucky.
The irony of timing of this trip is multi-faceted.

Ten years ago next week (wow!) I was a naive kid recently out of grad school (at the University of Louisville), newly married living in a crappy apartment and full-bore into my first "real" happened to be with a little golf tournament called the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville.
Look at those young whippersnappers at Churchill Downs!

The 42nd playing of the Ryder Cup will take place in France while I'm in Louisville, fittingly enough.

Some of my fondest memories of my time at the Ryder Cup include jumping more than 50 Cadillacs because they were so new they didn't have enough miles on them to fully charge their batteries, the volunteer committee leaders and international volunteers I met, going on so little sleep I fell asleep on the couch in the lobby of the Brown Hotel (hmmm, sounds like dissertation writing!), the remnants of Hurricane Ivan and not realizing we were the only place on the grid that had power, the amazing team I was privileged to work alongside - one of which left us too soon, and of course, the memorable USA victory celebration!
Proof. Part of the "Caddy Collection"
It was that experience that cemented my career in sport management, and opened my eyes to not only the sport tourism industry, but many of the wonderful folks from Louisville who I am fortunate enough to call friends to this day.
2008 Team USA Celebration on the Valhalla clubhouse balcony.
It was that experience that spurred a little, quiet voice in me to dream up the idea to start a sports commission in Grand Junction.

It was that experience, had I not had, that would have altered the trajectory of my life.

Next week, after my dissertation goes off to review, and with some actual free time on my hands (someone will have to explain to me what that is, but I hear it's nice), I'm going to do a few things while I'm Louisville:

First, I'm going to visit my Kentucky parents, Scott and Barb, who adopted us as their own the minute we first met.

Second, I'm going to enjoy a wonderful week of of learning from colleagues and friends in the sport tourism industry.

Third, I'm going to give back to a school I love and present my wild and real story to sport administration students at UofL.
Photo Cred: Society19
Fourth, I'm going to drive out Shelbyville Road, to the gates at Valhalla, stop, and say a little prayer of thankfulness for the path that portion of my life has bestowed upon me, the sport and life lessons learned, and what is to come.
Valhalla's famous island green on 13, with the NBC chalet behind it. 
Then I will smile (and probably take a much overdue nap).


Sometimes nostalgia gets a bad rap for being imaginary, or filtering out the bad. But I think it's the accumulation of the good, the bad, the hard, the trying, the victories, the mistakes, the lessons, that give nostalgia it's meaning, its fondness.

The second half of the word's definition is "...typically for a period or place with happy personal associations." Yes, yes indeed, Louisville will always be that to me. I have little pieces of Louisville, and the tournament sprinkled throughout my office as a reminder of where this crazy ride started.
Louisville Skyline, Photo Cred: Reddit

I hope you take the time to think back on a place you hold near and dear to your heart. This is Stoll on Sports.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Spider Web of Life

I gotta be honest, dissertation writing is kicking my back side right now, and leaving little room for any thought of writing for fun. So to my reader, Mom, I'm sorry for the delay. 😀

Actually, thanks to my dissertation analysis, I'm dusting off a presentation I gave to Colorado Mesa University's resident advisors on networking last year for this much overdue Stoll on Sports post.

The term "networking" gets thrown around in business all the time, we network to meet people, to advance our careers, we go to networking events, we have our own network, etc. etc. 
I visualize a network as a huge spider web that represents our life, the concentric circles of people with whom we interact. Almost like the classic road trip game 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Sidenote: I just read a great book by Malcolm Gladwell called The Tipping Point, and interestingly enough, there are many more actors that can more readily be linked to others than Kevin Bacon. Regardless, the book is worth the read.

Networking, in my opinion, is also a dwindling art. In the age of technology, you have to be diligent to achieve the same personal interactions that lead to a strong network. It's so easy to guise behind an email when you could walk across the building, or meet for coffee. I know, I know, time is valuable, but if you're as efficient as heck and don't know anyone that can help you leverage it, then weaving in some networking wouldn't seem to be a bad idea, would it?

Here are my Top 5 Networking Best Practices:

1. Be intentional. Refer to the previous paragraph.

2. Strive to meet new people at old places. Don't settle eating dinner with the exact same people at every conference you attend. 

3. Be genuine and selfless. Did you read that carefully? It's not about what YOU get out of it. It's one of those funny truths in life, the more you GIVE to others in networking relationships, the more you GET in return. Don't just network, be a connector. Here are more tips on this approach. 

4. Timely follow-up is MANDATORY. No exceptions. We are all busy. Yes, I know you're the busiest ever. One question, have you ever asked anyone what they are up to and had them reply, "Oh, not much." The answer is not once! It doesn't happen. Get off the busy high-horse, because we're all on the same saddle (I'm guilty, too). It's called life. So follow-up with people you meet.
This looks familiar to me personally.
5. Provide added value. Take note of what others are interested in and respond accordingly. Send a note, an interesting article, a token of appreciation for your relationship. Just today I received a congratulations card from a couple colleagues at another sports commission for an award. How thoughtful was that?!

In academia the spider web of life is called social network theory. It is the theory behind our interactions with groups or individuals in our respective networks. Here's a great article on how it works.

To wrap this sucker up and get on with my less fun writing assignments, here is a personal example of the result of networking in an image from my RA presentation and the somewhat lengthy - but worth the read - grammatically incorrect story below. Trust me, it was much more effective when I told the whole story in one breath at the presentation, nearly passed out and the projector and lights magically turned off when I finished the last sentence.

I went to Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, CO for my undergraduate degree, where I met Jamie Hamilton, the then CMU athletic director and chair for GJ's annual Junior College World Series. After graduation I headed off to the University of Louisville for my master's degree and on my way out the door I heard about a job opportunity with the PGA of America for the 2008 Ryder Cup. I applied, learned that the Ryder Cup was not horse racing (duh, Breeder's Cup) and was fortunate enough to get hired to coordinate the event's volunteer program. One of the volunteer committee chairs was a guy named Karl Schmitt, I got to hang with him and learned about the sports commission world from the former leader of the Team Kentucky. In my naivety I thought Grand Junction needed a sports commission and that sounded kinda fun, so I came back to GJ and pitched the idea to Jamie. He agreed, but timing was bad (anyone remember 2008?!), so I headed to Denver for another golf tournament then on (through a golf connection) to - what I thought - would be some relatively useless non-profit experience out of the sport industry. It was then that my phone rang and who was it? Jamie - whom I had stayed in contact with for nearly 5 years - notifying me about the sports commission opportunity...hello benefit of said non-profit experience. I couldn't pass it up, hit the road for GJ, and started attending industry events. Who did I bump into at the first event? My old buddy Karl, who was now the President of the Louisville Sports Commission. While catching up he told me he had a friend who was moving from NY to Grand Junction. First I laughed at him, then I politely told him people don't move from NY to GJ. Doesn't happen. Well, you know what? I was wrong, and Karl introduced me to Rich Rosenblatt, sports writer and new GJ resident. After one coffee meeting I told Rich he had to meet Jamie. Flash forward and Rich makes this happen for our community, a huge boon for the JUCO World Series, and great exposure for our community. And because when you give you get, the JUCO World Series also just received the Amateur Sporting Event of the Year award by ConnectSports. The paybacks to the whole community due to this crazy social network spider web started with one contact! And just last week I met my good buddy, Rich for lunch where we laughed and reminisced about the path to sharing Thai food in Grand Junction, Colorado.

What's your story? I bet if you're like me, you have your own remarkable spider web of social network theory in action. If not, start spinning the web today. I don't particularly like spiders, but that little guy hustling in the middle...well, that should be you.

As an old African Proverb says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others." This is Stoll on Sports. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Put on the Thinking Cap

You know that emoji depicting the little yellow dude's brain exploding? It sits atop my frequent emojis screen because it is the one that most accurately describes what I'm feeling on a daily basis at this stage in my life.

As I trudge through data collection and analysis for my dissertation, I feel like if I lean my head to the side, brain matter will ooze out. Disgusting picture, I know. Trust me, this feeling isn't due to the size of my brain, but rather the fact that more than any point in my life, my brain is exhausted. 

A dissertation is demanding, but so is life in general, our jobs, our families, our friendships, our obligations across the board. Everyone has something. 

Stay with me...I'm going somewhere with this!

One of the best things I've learned in my doctoral program is not some astute research finding, or academic insight, it's a process. The process of thought trials. Thought trials? What the heck is that?
The legend, Dr. Chelladurai
I'm blessed to have one of the foremost researchers in sport management on my dissertation committee, Dr. Pakianathan Chelladurai. He instilled the importance of these sometimes elusive thought trials on day one of my first class.

He described thought trials as an active approach to let your mind conjure up something and actually letting your mind continue down the thought path until it reaches a natural ending point. Think of it as a maze in your head (hold on while I mentally remove the spiderweb that exists there now). 
My kids love these should we.
Ok, so a maze in your head. There are all sorts of different paths, many of which result in dead ends, some of which may not even have an end at all, you may have to exit that maze and start in another one. All of those individual mazes are thought trials. Sometimes you'll reach the end and get the cheese, sometimes you won't. Sometimes an "Ah ha!" moment occurs, more often it does not.
This mouse looks much happier than the one that found the cheese, in the trap, on our front porch. 
The point is, it's not necessarily about the result, it's about the process and practice of allowing your mind to traverse these mazes. It builds a capacity to think about things differently, extend your mind, correct your course, and who knows, even stumble on an inquiry you'd like to explore, a solution to a problem, or even a possible reason why something is happening...this last one underpins the premise of phenomena, hypotheses and theory in the research world.

So how do you do this "thought trial" thing? Well, I'm no expert, but I'll give you the steps that I've found helpful.


2. Sit somewhere quiet and peaceful, like a porch swing, or a park bench (preferably with a cold or hot beverage in hand).

3. Think about something that has captured your interest idea for your family, an opportunity at work, a broader vision you have, a dream, an academic question...this can be anything.

4. Enter the maze, think "why", "how" and "I wonder if..."and let your mind take thoughts on the topic to completion. Go down those rabbit trails, avoid distraction. This sounds weird, but I promise, you can do it. 

5. Next, think about "will what I'm thinking ____?" The blank could be things like "work", "solve the problem", "achieve a goal", etc.

6. Take some notes (NOT on your phone) about what you discover, and just as importantly, what your rule out. 
Here's another good mental image.
The premise of thought trials may seem rudimentary, but our minds need exercise, just like our bodies. I've found at times when I exercise through thought trials - whether for work, personal life, or school - when I need to recall this skill for necessity, it becomes more readily available. Every single person reading this has great ideas, vision and contributions to make, it's time for us to put our minds to work to bring them to fruition!

As Daniel Webster said, "Mind is the great lever of all things; human thought is the process by which human ends are ultimately answered." This is Stoll on Sports. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Elusive Stand-Up Triple

Holy smokes! Nearly a month has gone by and I looked up and realized I hadn't posted. It wasn't for the lack of intention, but thanks to all of you (no one) who asked, I am prompted to get the train back on the tracks. :)

This week's topic is the often-elusive "triple bottom line" of sustainable events.

Many times, those of us grinding away in the sport tourism industry focus predominantly on the economic side of the event we're hosting. It produced a million zillion gajillion dollars in economic impact (cue Dr. Evil, which is what I think of most of the times I hear EI numbers reported).
My point exactly.
Pat yourself on the back, this is all well and good. I'm going to forego the opportunity to jump on my nerd train right here and move on - ask my industry friends that sat through it this week, you don't want to hear it!

Let me take a quick second to urge you to pull back the blinders a little. Instead of stretching out that single (economic impact), how about a double? Or a stand-up triple? Everyone loves a stand-up triple; the crowd always goes wild!

Yes, economic impact, scratch that, financial reporting is important data for analysis, but reaching second base opens the door to a little friend called socio-cultural impact, and landing on third base reveals the lesser discussed, environmental impact.

Ahhh, and there you have it. The stand-up triple of event sustainability.
You're welcome for the highly complex depiction of the triple bottom line.
Socio-cultural aspects of the event often have to do with "the feels"...or the intangible things. Examples may include building community, promoting active lifestyles, volunteerism, social network development, political gain, etc. Think social, cultural, and political capital.

Environmental aspects are pretty self-explanatory, what was the footprint, the benefit (or drawback) to the event had on the community? Us practitioners are hearing more and more about green events and the like.

The triple bottom line concept came about in the early 70's (i.e. Peterson, 1973), but is a trendy topic in sport tourism and event management (i.e. Chalip, 2001, 2006 ; Getz, 2008; Gibson et al., 2012).

"Stoll, why do we care?!" I get it...what's in it for you.

Well, as sport tourism professionals, we are tasked with a unique charge to convey our value to our respective communities, and the communities where we hold events (if a rights holder). This is a big obligation and my contention is that often times we only tell part of the story (our single).

Home boy Pete Rose (aka Charlie Hussle) has the MLB record for singles: 3,215
But, notice I called it the triple bottom line of "SUSTAINABLE" events. My guess is touching the three bases of sustainable events likely coincides with many of our key metrics tracking successful events as well. And we should convey that success to our key constituents.

In our business, marquee, one-off events are great, but many of our destinations either can't accommodate those, or need a balance factor. Sustainable, tried and true, annual events (ala the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction) provide such a ticket, provide risk aversion, and allow a community to use a previously developed wheel. This approach is something to think about in your event portfolio.

As the Great Bambino once said, "Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game." True. Implement the three-pronged approach to keep your events sustainable, measure accordingly, and reel in the elusive stand up triple. Heck, you might even turn it into a home run!

This is Stoll on Sports.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Bee I Keep Getting Stung By

Am I the only one that comes up with "great" ideas that I'm going to knock out lickity-split and relish in my "get it done" success? Oh man, I can start projects - for work or home - like nobody's business. I'm a pro at that!

Just last week, less than 12 hours after being mentally fried from my dissertation proposal, I had a grand idea to do some DIY kitchen renovations. You know, nothing major, just refinish the cabinets, pour concrete counter tops, tile the backsplash, add corrugated metal under the counter, build bar stools, and maybe start replacing some appliances. Seems simple enough, right? The funny part is, I almost had my uber handy husband convinced that we should just start ripping counter tops out that night. He likes that sort of thing.

Truthfully, we've had a prototype of a bar stool (yes, "a" as in 1) that we built sitting in our kitchen - unfinished - for about a year. I'm lying, it's been more like 2+ years.

Surely we could just take on these extra few items in our "spare" time. Notice that is not a question, but rather a statement. Here we go, the "not Chip and Joanna Gaines", on #demoday!
Photo credit: Magnolia Market
The problem is, if I'm honest, I've got a lot of projects that I start and never finish. What I've realized is that I'm ambitious at the start, then my interest wains and my frustration grows. It's true with the sports events we plan as well...I'll think an event will be a snap to pull-off, then find myself reeling when it takes more resources than anticipated.

My lack of patience is one reason for this pattern, another one is this sneaky little devil called "planning fallacy".

Planning fallacy basically says it doesn't matter what our objective is, we are highly likely to underestimate the amount of time it takes to complete it. In other words, our best laid intentions often deceive us. It will always take longer, more...

Here's an interesting take on planning fallacy from a Freakonomics podcast that is worth the read/listen. (Sidebar: Freakonomics Radio is one of my favorite podcasts)
Those of us in the sports scene often get stung by this bee repeatedly. I have, and I'm allergic to bees, so when I get stung, the whole world knows I screwed up from my physical the movie Hitch. That's wearing a mistake on your sleeve.

As we grow in professional and personal maturity, we need to plan for the planning fallacy. How do we do this? Here are 5 simple suggestions:

1. Build in "fluff". Extra time, extra money, extra XYZ resources. If you don't use them, great!

2. Cut your goal in half. This recommendation comes straight from Jon Acuff's great book Finish, in which he tackles some tricks to actually shortening your to-do list rather than lengthening it. Is your objective a must do? Can it be reduced? What are the consequences of reducing it? These are all great questions to ask to determine if your goal is too audacious or needed at all.
Photo credit: Jon Acuff

3. Increase the timeline. Does it have to be accomplished on the fictitious timeline you've established in your head? Remember, this is the same brain that came up with the crazy idea in the first place. Another Acuff recommendation (seriously, read the book, it's funny, honest, and chalk-full of good advice).

4. Be a sandbagger! Huh? Yep, I don't know about you, but I'd rather be accused of being a sandbagger than of someone who under-promised and over-delivered. Note: not cool on the golf course, however.

5. Don't fight the fallacy. We all know _ _ _ _ happens. We can be the most well-organized, detailed event director on the planet, but curve balls will ALWAYS whiz in causing for minor or major redirections.

If you follow these tips, you just might not get stung by the pesky planning fallacy bee the next time around. Who knows, if you do, maybe you won't have such a bad reaction. And if planning fallacy does leave you red and swollen, I recommend a big dose of grace. Remember, we're all learning on this crazy train!

As for our kitchen renovation...well, I swallowed my pride, decided to put it on hold and instead spent about a day working with my husband to finish the intended set of 4 bar stools. It might just be one small part of the overall goal, but it got done, they look great, and now I feel accomplished.

This is Stoll on Sports. Remember, as Garth Nix noted, "Bee stings are very educational."

PS - This blog is in no way meant to disparage bees, or the important role they play in the larger eco-system. Reference to bee stings is purely an analogy. :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Reading Habit

Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. I just love the nostalgia. Everything about it makes me recall my fondest childhood memories.This past year I read a biography on Thomas Jefferson. Looking back to our Founding Fathers, reading snippets of letters written between them, and understanding the immense pressure they were under really solidified my love for Independence Day.

Did you know that Thomas Jefferson was and is regarded as one of the most intelligent men to ever serve as the President of the United States? In fact, at a dinner hosted by John F. Kennedy honoring Nobel Prize winners from the western hemisphere on April 29, 1962, Kennedy said this:

"I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

Wow. That's some brain power!

I don't normally read books the size of encyclopedias (for the record, the T.J. book was about 24 hours on Audible), but I do read almost daily and I get asked all the time how I have time to read. It's a fair question for all, especially balancing life, kids, work, school, etc. So for this week in Stoll on Sports, I'm going to leave you with 5 book recommendations and 5 tips on how to read more. Here we go:

Stoll's 5 Book Recommendations:

(In no particular order)

5. The APA Manual. I'm totally kidding! No offense to the fine folks over at the APA, but as an ABD doctoral student I'm about over it. In fact, I might sacrificially burn it when I graduate. If only I didn't have the Kindle version...
You know you're lame when you use APA humor.
Okay, the real number 5.

Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
Two Navy Seal veterans who draw on battlefield skills and experiences for business application. The principles in this book are easy to understand and implementable regardless of organization size.

4. Switch On Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf
There is serious power to unlock by developing neuropathways. Dr. Leaf is a wealth of knowledge in this area and the simple premise is what you think about expands. This principal has been a tough one for me over the years, but the more and more I own my thoughts, the more freedom it has given me.
Dr. Caroline Leaf, a great speaker as well
3. Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis
The true story of a 21 year old college graduate who thru-hiked the entire Appalachian Trail. Her story is one of "all the feels". Since that successful thru-hike, she has gone on to set the record for the fastest thru-hike on the AT (roughly 2185 miles in 46 THAT's bookin'!). It's a great story and will leave you feeling empowered and inspired.
Just finished this one and loved it.
2. Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness
I've mentioned this one in Stoll on Sports, but it's worth putting on this list. Stulberg and Magness completely shifted my perspective on what it takes to succeed, the value of stress and how to balance that with the uber elusive 'rest'. It's a great read for highly motivated and driven people, or those - like me - who have a tendency to teeter on burned out.

Oh man, why did I say just 5 books? I could easily leave many, many more.

1. In an effort to balance business and personal development books, I'll go with The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. No intro needed for this one. I read it at least two times per year and highly recommend it for everyone.

0. I made that up, but I have to add Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It's a fascinating overview of scantly explored trends involving some of the most successful people. From professional athletes, to Bill Gates, to the Beatles, it's chalk full of good stuff. Paul McCartney even touched on an element addressed in this book during the now-viral James Corden Carpool Karaoke segment when he said there was a point the Beatles would play every gig they could get. Read the book and you'll find out how this relates to 10,000 hours.

If you haven't watched it. Do so now.

Now quickly for my Top 5 "Read More" Tips:

5. Drive to Audible books. Get in car, flip on Audible. Before you know it, you're at your destination.

4. Mix it up. Business, personal, biography, fiction, non-fiction. It does not matter, reading different genres and styles stretches your brain and even though we don't retain it all, it gets dust off our cobwebs and keeps the ol' gears hummin' along.

3. Keep a reading list. I keep a list in my notes app, and then I relish the joy of moving a title from the list to the "finished" section. I's the little things. Then at the end of the year you can look back and feel proud of the new knowledge you've acquired.

2. Read a hard copy book before bed. I have one Kindle, one Audible and one hard copy book going at a time. I usually read a few minutes before I fall asleep, almost always hard copy.

1. Give it away! Reading is a pleasure, not a burden (unless you are writing a dissertation, then reading can, in fact, suck the life out of you). But, giving it away is one great way to continue that pleasure. If you've got a hard copy book, gift it to someone who will enjoy it. If it's an audio or digital format, I always try to find someone I know will love the book and tell them about it.

Who can forget this timeless classic show?
My love for reading didn't come until well after my first round of college (sorry LaVar Burton), but  as Dr. Seuss so astutely penned, "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." This is Stoll on Sports.