Youth Sports is Big Business for Destination Marketing

Youth Sports Such as Baseball, Softball, Soccer, Field Hockey and Cheerleading All Impact Family Life

Today, kids are playing more competitive sports than every before. There are over 30 million boys and girls playing youth sports compared to under 8 million in 1970. In 2014, Nearly 70 percent of children (age 6-17) in the U.S. were playing at least one team sport and that number has continue to grow. Some children play as early as 3 years old, and competitive travel teams begin as early as age 7.

Practice requirements alone cut dramatically into family time, often four or five days a week, with many families driving an hour or more each way to attend an celebrated practice venue. But it’s not only the time investment; it’s also a monetary investment. Youth sports equals commerce – parents not only pay for uniforms, registration fees and equipment, they also invest in travel expenses, including airfare, hotel accommodations, and food and beverage to attend weekend, sometimes week long, youth sports tournaments.

Both kids and parents are starting to take sports seriously, committed to perfecting their playing ability, and a tournament, whether its baseball, softball, field hockey soccer or cheerleading, provides an excellent opportunity to assess whether that investment of time and money is paying dividends. It allows teams and players to measure themselves against the competition from across the country, often under the watchful eye of college scouts who are evaluating players for potential scholarships before they even attend high school.

The Family Vacation

According to a recent AAA survey, more than one-third of Americans (35 percent) are planning to take a family vacation of 50 miles or more away from home involving two or more immediate family members in the next 12 months. Because families are spending more time traveling for youth sports many are staying a few days before or after their tournaments and making it a vacation for the family.

Considering the average family spends 2% of their total household budget on their Summer vacation and the average family spends $100-$500 per month, per child on youth sports, combining the two can be a smart way to stretch a family’s budget. When traveling for tournaments the local hotels and airlines are usually also offering a discounted group rate which will save money.  If they were to travel without the team they would pay more for their hotel and airline fees.  Plus they get to explore other areas of the country most of which we/they would never visit.

Why Should a Destination Invest in Sports Marketing?

Parents will spend more than $7 billion this year on just the traveling involved with youth sports. But, it’s not only the families taking sports seriously, so too are cities and counties across the country. Hosting tournaments has a measurable economic impact, and CVBs (Convention and Visitor Bureaus) that invest in the development and maintenance of sports facilities are seeing a return on that investment. Teams that travel from around the country to a destination to play well-hosted tournaments leave it with a monetary windfall.

Sports marketing managers, sports commissions CVBs and TDCs (Tourist Development Councils) are doing their best to attract sports tournaments to their town. More and more are investing in facilities and marketing themselves as an attractive destination for these events.

Seminole County Florida’s construction of a 15-field, 9 of which boast fully synthetic turf surfaces for an incredible Major League type playing surface, complex is just one example, of many, of a destination making an investment to attract youth sports tournament play.

Youth Sports Tourism

In a 2014 CNBC article, entitled Spending Big on Kids’ Sports? You’re Not Alone, Dave Hollander, a professor at New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports, stated, “Youth sports tourism wasn’t even a category four years ago, and now it’s the fastest-growing segment in travel. You’ve got millions of kids involved, parents spending thousands of dollars, and cities building facilities to host events and chase tourism dollars,” he said. “It’s just huge.”

Many things are changing for today’s youth, and parents are making the most of it, dedicating more of their time and money on youth sports. In the grand scheme of things, children are only young for a short time, and the vast majority of parents will invest almost anything to make the most of this precious time. Traveling as a family to see their child play sports and then getting some quality family vacation together time makes sense for everyone, on both sides of the equation.