The 2012 tournaments are under way at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in south London, which means you’ll be hearing more about this sport over the next two weeks than at any other time of year. And the trophies will barely be awarded when the summer Olympics will open, also in London.
Given the array of sports that will be on display and on the airwaves all month, plus sundry other happenings like Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, NASCAR’s Brickyard 400, the U.S. Senior Open golf tournament, the Tour de France … well, you get the idea. Not everyone will be lounging under a beach umbrella in July, and there are plenty of news pegs for a business of sports story.
Some ideas include:
Local scene of major sports. How are area tennis clubs and courts faring in the economy, as well as equipment sellers and instructors or pros? The industry association says its a $5 billion-plus sport, and that while growth in 2011 slowed a bit, signs point to improvement in 2012. I like the factoid they cite in this press release, that wholesale tennis equipment sales were up significantly in the first quarter of the year. You could dig up that data for just about any sport or activity, from golf to softball. Check out this Bloomberg resource, too, it’s a portal to many stories about the business of sports, from designing a golf club to how leagues are using social networking.
Obscure sports. This list of Olympic sports is enlightening; who knew trampolining was an Olympic event? The Olympiad can prompt a look at less mainstream activities like archery, canoeing or sailing — all of which sound like a fine basis for small business profiles about bow-and-arrow repairers, canoe liveries, the non-motorized boat market and more.
Sports careers for non-athletes. Plenty of people not cut out for the arena, court or track still yearn to be a part of the sports world. Check out the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics occupational outlooks for a variety of sports-related fields, from coaches and scouts to umpires and referees. Talk with people who currently hold those jobs, or others in sports marketing, event promoting, facility management (including groundskeeping and other horticultural fields), training, equipment design, manufacture and sales.
There are plenty of supporting roles; tell readers what they pay, what demand is and what the prerequisites are for being hired. You also could check into the placement rates of sports management degrees offered at area colleges and universities.
Sports facilities. Take a look at the fiscal health of for-profi tsports venues in your market, from large arenas to driving ranges, gymnastics schools and horse racing tracks. Where is traffic waning and what’s gaining in popularity? How many people are employed and what is the business model — how many buckets of balls must a driving range dispense each day to stay profitable, for example? Ask about trends in design and equipment; I drove past a range the other day that appeared to have individual luxury huts for each patron.
Sports injury and treatment. From orthodpedic surgeons to physcial rehab centers, sports medicine appears to be a growing business. Analyze the industry in your market; here’s a interesting article in a trade publication about doctors growing a sports medicine business by “creating a one-stop shop for athletes” and other tactics; it’ll give you plenty of fodder for questions to ask local practitioners.