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Father Figure: Sports Event Tie-Ins Can Benefit from the Relationship

13 Jun, 2018

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

It’s not exactly a bad thing for planners of sports events that Father’s Day arrives at the confluence of baseball season and the last weeks of school. It’s also held under (ideally) sunny skies, which opens up the possibility of plenty of other sports. And that means plenty of opportunities for tie-ins and increased economic impact.

After all, anything’s better than a necktie. Or even another set of grill implements.

There’s definitely money to be made in the holiday. According to the National Retail Federation, 77 percent of Americans will celebrate Father’s Day and spend an average of $133 per person, treating dad to special outings, clothing, gift cards, electronics and more. Of that amount, 16 percent, or $798 million, will be spent on sporting goods or leisure items.

NRF has been tracking the Father’s Day spend since 2003 and this year’s expected expenditures are second only to last year’s $15.5 billion, the highest in the 15-year history of the survey at an average $135 per person.

And the demographic of those spending money is also interesting. Individuals between 25 and 34 years old are expected to be the biggest spenders this year at an average $188 per person. That’s the Millennial demographic, already known to prioritize spending money on experiences (rather than things).In fact, the survey The survey found 47 percent of those surveyed plan to give a “special outing” gift, such as a sporting event or dinner. This category represents the largest share of spending at $3.2 billion.

So knowing this much, what have sports event owners planned? A wide range of promotions. Minor League Baseball (never short on creative ideas) is celebrating throughout the weekend with events like Buy Your Dad a Beer (as the Frederick Keys take on the Down East Wood Ducks). The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs offer a free six-pack cooler for men on Sunday. The Buffalo Bisons have a number of activities including the ability to play catch on the field with dad and to appear on the Jumbotron saying how dad influenced you.

Those who want the more interactive (with the emphasis on the active) experience with dad have been taken care of by event planners too. The 5K run, perhaps the most user-friendly event since it usually contains a fun walk, is ready and waiting to host kids and dads. Running in the USA’s calendar shows nearly 600 5Ks – many with titles using key terms like Father’s Day, Dad and more. (Our favorite T-shirt has a necktie on it, proving that you just can’t get away from them.)

Golf – a perennial dad favorite – has plenty of local tournaments that include father/son and father/daughter divisions – but those who want to be couch spuds will be ready to kick back and watch the U.S. Open, which runs June 14-17.

Fishing event owners have their own hook. In Vermont, Lake Champlain International has created a Father’s Day fishing tournament. In California, the Mono County Economic Development, Tourism and Film Commission is offering its Fred Hall Father’s Day Fishing Tournament.

Other sports have also created tie-in events. In Boise, Idaho, the three-day Twin Falls Father’s Day Bash, joins the Pennsylvania-based Father and Child Pickleball at the Miller Center for Recreation and Wellness in celebrating both the holiday and the popular sport. The Villages Pickleball Club in San Jose, California, meanwhile, has dispensed with the sport for the day; its Pickleball Father’s Day is actually a fundraiser for the club. (Tennis, not to be left out, also offers its own events. At the national level, the USTA sponsors its Father/Son and Father/Daughter Clay Court Championship on Long Island.

Clearly, plenty of event organizers have jumped on the Father’s Day bandwagon. And for those dads out there who might want to get more active, a lot of gyms are offering gift certificates for personal training. Our favorite tagline: Go from Dad Bod to a Grecian God.

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