The Business of Sports: A touchdown for Mid-Michigan

We are a culture obsessed with sports. We are indoctrinated at a very young age. Have you ever witnessed 4 or 5-year-olds playing some type of sports together? It’s adorable. But, don’t be confused. We are preparing them for a lifetime as potential sports enthusiasts. And, because of that…it’s big business.

As I write this column, I’m sitting in a new Lansing-area sports bar. It’s filled with people from all walks of life and all age ranges, big-screen televisions that cover the walls and the servers are wearing sports garb from local and statewide sports teams like the Spartans and Tigers; I even spotted a Lion’s hat being worn proudly. I obviously showed up here in order to observe and be inspired by the industry firsthand — I’m certainly not alone in my interest in sports and the industry.

According to Forbes, in 2014 the sports economy is flourishing; projected to grow to around $145 billion between 2010 and 2015. There are many ways to participate in the sports industry including: attendance, travel, entertainment, sports marketing and sponsorship, sports media, new and updated facilities and even higher education institution programs related to training a generation of sports management individuals. The education piece of the industry is growing at a faster-than-average projected rate of 15 percent.

In mid-Michigan, you would be hard-pressed not to see the value and depth MSU’s Big Ten sports program has on the area. Even if you’re not a huge follower of the wins and losses, at some level you are impacted by the pervasive influence of these programs. The MSU Athletic Department indicates that while 140,000 people are on campus for a Saturday football game, only about half go to the game. In this month’s cover story, you’ll read how a single football game can have a staggering impact on the region’s economy.

Whether you’re a football fan or not, you can’t deny that our community benefits from all that sports brings to our area financially. The other MSU sports teams along with regional programs like Lansing Lugnuts baseball, Capital City Stealth football and Lansing United soccer, are also contributors. My advice: support the community programs and reap the benefit of a stronger economy.

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