Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Perspectives from a Mini-Sports-Cation

Prior to this past weekend, I spent the last three weekends taking written comprehensive exams for my doctorate. By the numbers, I spent 9 days total writing responses to 3 distinct questions resulting in 180 total pages of brain dump...I mean earth-shattering writing. Hardly. The truth is, my brain physically hurt after each of the exams and by the last one I was pretty much a walking zombie not knowing if I should celebrate or cry. Oh, and the caffeine intake during that little ounce for ever page written is a conservative estimate! 
Toto, I don't think we're in CO anymore.

All that to say, written comps 1) are over - God willing, 2) are not fun, 3) are no joke. Thus, please accept my profuse apology for the delinquency in posting to Stoll on Sports over the past few weeks. I appreciate your grace.

To recharge, my family drove down to Phoenix for a mini-sports-cation. A little head-clearing, warm air and family time was calling. While we were there, we caught up with my good buddy Jon Schmieder from Huddle Up Group, and his family, caught a Reds spring training game, and hit up the NASCAR race at ISM Raceway. 

We stayed in Tempe, hung out in Scottsdale, visited Goodyear, checked out central Phoenix, zipped over to the track in Avondale...we made the rounds. And you know what I saw (besides some awesome sports)? TONS of people enjoying whatever event they were there to see/do.

Our hotel lobby was littered with baseball junkies sporting their team gear, little league teams playing in a Triple Crown baseball tournament swarmed the pool, NASCAR fans abounded with his and hers matching Dale Junior shirts and hats. It was a slice of Americana, right there among the desert sun and palm trees.

Oh, but do you know what else? We ate out every meal. Restaurants were packed. Hotels were at full occupancy. We also went to the Zoo, the little league team parents were talking about all the spring training action they were taking in after their kids' games ended for the day. I saw on social media that a friend of mine was also there for the 9th straight year. Before our family left, we already made plans to return, bring some friends, and rent an Air B'n'B next year. 

My kid loved our visit to the Phoenix Zoo

You see, there is more than meets the eye. Yes, we know when we hand over our debit card  to buy our kids an ice cream for the third straight day, that equates to revenue for the community, or when we get our hotel bill we see the tax derived. BUT, the brand perception of the area, the golden ticket of marketing - word of mouth, the repeat visitation intentions (and perhaps behaviors), the feeling of unity among fans wearing your team or driver's gear...those are just some of the intangible benefits of sport tourism. 

Whether it's a large market like Phoenix, or a smaller market, like Grand Junction, the proportionality of these benefits is why people like me do what we do. This post isn't injected with academic lingo and research. It's just one person's perspective on what happens beneath the surface when we open our eyes to the broader effect of sports, gleaned from a brief road trip with the people I cherish most. I'll save my insight about developing brand loyalty among youth for another week...but just put it this way, my 5 year old has requested Jimmy John's for every single meal since Sunday afternoon. 

Remember, life isn't about the stuff we accumulate. It's about the memories we make. As Corrie Ten Boom said "Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future." This is Stoll on Sports.

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