100 episodes

In-depth discussions with leaders in the sports-event industry.

SportsTravel Podcast SportsTravel

    • Sports
    • 5.0 • 8 Ratings

In-depth discussions with leaders in the sports-event industry.

    Skip Gilbert: The State of Youth Soccer

    Skip Gilbert: The State of Youth Soccer

    Skip Gilbert is no stranger to the sports industry. As a former professional soccer player, the sport may well be his true love. But his previous stints included one with the USADA, the anti-doping agency, as managing director of operations, marketing and development; managing director of professional tennis operations and tournament manager for the U.S. Open in New York; CEO of USA Triathlon; a vice president for the Arena Football League; and chief marketing officer of USA Swimming. Along the way, he’s also become one of the industry’s staunchest advocates for kids being involved in sports for their own health and well-being — and being involved in as many sports as possible to avoid specialization.

    Since 2020, he has been at the helm of US Youth Soccer, the largest youth sport organizations in the United States, which is focused on having a positive impact on the lives of America’s youth through the game of soccer. The group’s mission is to make soccer the preeminent youth sport in the country, and they are well on their way. Soccer participation has held steady or grown in recent years and the big events headed to the United States, including of course the FIFA World Cup in 2026, may only serve as a catalyst for continued growth, or at the least an aspirational event that could well fuel future growth in the sport.

    In this discussion, we sit down with Gilbert to discuss the state of youth soccer, the opportunities and challenges ahead for the sport, the rise of the professional leagues for both men and women, and the importance of diversity when it comes to kids getting active in sports. 

     
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    • 27 min
    The $52.2 Billion Case for Sports-Related Travel

    The $52.2 Billion Case for Sports-Related Travel

    In 2019, the Sports Events and Tourism Association, or Sports ETA, embarked on an ambitious State of the Industry report to attempt to put a value on the economic impact derived from sports events and sports-related travel. The timing was fortuitous as it set a baseline for future studies just before the pandemic. In 2022, a second report analyzed the pace of recovery from that pandemic, looking at data from 2020 and 2021. But the latest report arguably paints the fullest pictureyet not just at how the industry has recovered, but how it continues to thrive.

    The headline numbers are that sports-related travel had a $52.2 billion direct economic impact in 2023. More than 200 million travelers were reported, generating more than 73 million room nights. But perhaps most impressive of all, some 63 percent of destinations surveyed said that sports are their largest generator of room nights. Think about that statistic for a moment and you can start to grasp the true power and potential of this market.

    John David took over as Sports ETA’s president and CEO last year after decades as an event organizer and executive himself at USA BMX. So his perspective, and his support of continuing this vital research, are the perfect match to wade into the details of the full report. And Greg Pepitone from Tourism Economics, as the lead researcher in the project, also brings his perspective on where sports fit into the mix since his organization is one of the leading data providers for the overall travel industry. In this discussion, we talk with John and Greg about the not only the headline numbers in the report, but deeper insights that were analyzed about how event organizers make their decisions on locations, what kinds of services travelers are spending their money on, which areas of the country are sourcing the most events and much, much more.
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    • 38 min
    Death Diving: The Latest Sport Making a Splash

    Death Diving: The Latest Sport Making a Splash

    If you’ve ever seen traditional diving at the Olympic Games or in real life, you know that the cleaner the dive, the better the score. The goal in that discipline is to enter the water as straight as possible with as little splash as possible. But starting in the 1970s, a new generation of divers began something just a bit different. Starting in Norway, these diving daredevils started jumping from substantial heights, doing crazy stunts on the way down, entering the water in a hunched position not just for safety but to create the largest splash possible. Imagine something that combines the flips of snowboard halfpipe with the satisfaction of a cannonball and that gets you close.

    But now Døds Diving or Death Diving if you’re Norwegian isn’t up to speed, has become a legitimate event circuit, hosting world championships since 2008. Leading the charge is Paul Rigault, CEO and Co-Founder of the Døds Diving League and Døds Federation, and Stine Brun Kjeldaas, the league head of sports and media, and a World Champion, X Games gold medalist and silver medalist in snowboarding at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano. In this episode, we talk with Paul and Stine about what it takes to host one of these events, what an ideal host venue looks like, what the atmosphere is like at a Døds competition and why in the world anyone would want to hurl themselves off a high dive platform, spin around on the way down and splash their way to victory. We hope you enjoy the conversation.
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    • 25 min
    Ron Price: Visit Phoenix's Big Basketball Push

    Ron Price: Visit Phoenix's Big Basketball Push

    Ron Price has been the chief executive officer of Visit Phoenix since July 2021. Prior to the move to Phoenix, Price had stops in Arlington and San Antonio, Texas, as well as more than a decade with Marriott in several places, including Denver and Southern California. Phoenix has become a basketball hotbed, having hosted the NCAA Men’s Final Four in March with the Women’s Final Four on tap for 2026. Phoenix will also host the WNBA All-Star Game this summer and the NBA All-Star Game in 2027. And then there's always the lingering question of when the region will again host the Super Bowl, which it last did in 2023. There’s a lot going on in the Phoenix metropolitan area, and Ron Price is the man at the center of it.
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    • 25 min
    Scott DeRue: Expanding Ironman's Global Reach and Enhancing the Athlete Experience

    Scott DeRue: Expanding Ironman's Global Reach and Enhancing the Athlete Experience

    Scott DeRue was named the new chief executive officer of The Ironman Group in January, joining the organization from Equinox, where he served as president. At Equinox, DeRue oversaw a business that included 107 fitness clubs, a connected fitness platform, a large personal training and coaching practice and digital commerce and media properties. Ironman’s portfolio includes hundreds of events across more than 50 countries in triathlon, running, trail running, road cycling and mountain biking and a suite of digital training platforms and programs for athletes. We discussed with Scott his motivation for taking the job at Ironman, his early work since being hired within the organization, assessing the business, thoughts on the mass participation industry and Ironman’s plans going forward.

    Among the topics in this episode


    Early plans for coming in and assessing the business (1:48)
    What was the interest and motivation in taking the CEO job (2:51)
    Ironman’s plans both nationally and worldwide (3:50)
    Organizational room for improvements (5:29)
    Ironman's place in the sports sustainability landscape (9:32)
    The process of fact-finding during the interview process (11:40)
    What he brings to the job as a new executive (13:24)
    What from Equinox and his academic background will translate to Ironman (14:39)
    Thoughts on the mass participation event industry (16:47)
    His training for a future Ironman event (18:25)
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    • 20 min
    Pickleball and Beyond: The Latest SFIA Sports Participation Trends

    Pickleball and Beyond: The Latest SFIA Sports Participation Trends

    Every year, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, or SFIA, takes on a number of research projects designed to offer insight into the world of sports through the lens of participation, equipment sales and other metrics. But the Topline Participation Report is one of the longest-standing and most ambitious surveys the organization conducts. Each year, thousands of people are surveyed about which one of 124 different activities they participate in and how often. The end result is a wealth of data and trends that tracks which sports are gaining popularity and which are struggling.

    You may have heard the stat that pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the United States. That’s true, and that stat comes from and is verified by this report, which shows the wildly popular sport up another 50 percent in participation in the past year. We’ll go into why that remains the case, but the pickleball data only scratches the surface of this report. And in an Olympic year when many otherwise obscure sports get their highest visibility, you can expect some interesting things in the year ahead, which we’ll go into as well. Another trend that’s on the rise: team sports. More and more people are participating as a group and loving it. And we’ll go into which team sports they are liking the most. All of this information is invaluable for those who are in the business of organizing and hosting sports events. And the best news of all — both for the industry and for humankind — is that overall, participation in sports events is up and inactivity is down, a trend that we can all get behind. So sit back and enjoy this conversation with SFIA President and CEO Tom Cove as we dive into the data to pick out all the trends you need to know.
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    • 44 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
8 Ratings

8 Ratings

Lualynnn ,

Interesting podcast!

Content is super interesting. Great way to learn about what’s new in the sports world. I especially enjoyed the World Long Drive chat. The interviewer is super knowledgeable and leads a great conversation!

Propel podcast ,

Phil Andrews

Great interview. You really know your stuff

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