It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers when you work in the sports tourism industry. Room nights, heads in beds and economic impact are terms that often dictate whether an event is considered successful.
No one disputes the importance of those figures. It makes sense given the actual games are numbers-driven too—think LeBron James’ stat line or the magic formula Theo Epstein used crafting championship rosters for the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs.
To that end, we’ve devoted an entire issue to numbers. The centerpiece is a profile of 15 people, as well as one up-and-coming destination, who’ve made a tremendous impact on the sports tourism industry. These Game Changers drive big business. But if you asked them to discuss their biggest accomplishments, they would note the positive impact their projects have on communities and young athletes across the country.
You can accurately say the USA BMX Grand Nationals has a $10 million impact on Tulsa, Oklahoma, but the lasting legacy is immeasurable, particularly in the USA BMX case. The NGB is taking its partnership with Tulsa to a new level, moving its headquarters there in 2019. USA BMX won’t run any more races there, but its presence will support a STEM curriculum to live healthier lifestyles through cycling. In an era when fewer children are playing sports and taking part in physical activities, such efforts are more important than ever.
The bottom line is it’s great to generate tourism revenue and build mass sports complexes like the ones in this issue, but we should never lose sight of the bigger picture, even if it is harder to measure. —Matt Swenson