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.

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