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A Weekend of Commemorative Sports Events Mark the 15th Anniversary of 9/11

7 Sep, 2016

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

It’s not the rowdy shenanigans of the St. Patrick’s Day beer race. It’s not the bright optimism of the New Year’s Day resolution runs. It’s the sports events that will be held on September 11, a date of solemn remembrances. And this year, they fall on a weekend (with 9/11 on a Sunday), so sports event planners need to be ready.

In the 15 years that have elapsed since the tragedies of 2001, various names have been given to that date, among them the National Day of Service and Remembrance, Day of Volunteerism and Patriots’ Day. (New this year is an initiative known as Tomorrow Together, meant to bring together the country, despite the vitriol that has surrounded the upcoming presidential election.) But to date, there have been few singular non-denominational ways of commemorating that date that unify varying demographics – except for sports.

Baseball and football will be actively playing, as will soccer (as well as any number of sports at the high school and college levels), and we can count on patriotic-themed halftime shows and special remembrances to be held during those. (And heaven help the coach, planner or front office staff who doesn’t realize the need for this until it is too late.)

But the biggest participation might be on the community level, and particularly in 5Ks and fun walks. They’re accessible to most of the population, they offer the chance for families and friends to form groups or teams – and they offer an excellent opportunity for fund raising, particularly for causes related to first responders. (In fact, particularly in 5Ks and fun walks, it’s unusual not to see a group of firefighters running in full gear.) They also offer planners an outstanding opportunity to reach out to various volunteer groups for support assembling goodie bags, working at water stops, etc.

Some organizations that might be good places to find volunteers, either to make presentations or to help out with work related to the event, include the following:

  • American Legion posts

  • ROTC groups

  • Veterans organizations

  • FOP groups

  • First responders

  • Volunteer firefighters

In many cases, there is no shortage of volunteers that day (since most everyone feels the need to pitch in on some level), meaning planners can count on enormous participation. It’s also an incredibly popular date for events. Already, the statistics are all but staggering. Running in the USA’s interactive calendar of events shows the following totals for events planned for September 11, 2016.

  • Marathons: 12

  • Half Marathons: 44

  • Mid (short for middle-distance runs, from 7 to 11 miles): 14

  • 10K: 46

  • 5K: 216

  • Ultra: 4

  • Tri: 58

  • Duathlon: 14

  • Trail Run: 20

  • Relay: 4

  • Other (includes fun walks and multiple-distance events): 93

It’s worth noting that a disproportionate number of these events have titles that employ terms including 9/11, hero, patriot, flag and Star-Spangled Banner and red, white and blue.

Those are pretty impressive numbers, and they were only correct as of press time; because it’s an interactive calendar, more events can be added right up until the day of the event. However, add them to the totals of other patriotic-themed running events being held on Saturday, September 10, which are as follows:

  • Marathons: 23

  • Half Marathons: 73

  • Mid: 26

  • 10K: 129

  • 5K: 785 (yes, really)

  • Ultra-Marathons: 23

  • Triathlons: 79

  • Duathlon: 18

  • Trail Runs: 60

  • Relays: 13

  • Other: 237

Clearly, planners are taking advantage of a strategic date on the calendar. In addition, other sports events, which run the gamut from cycling to golf and more, will also incorporate special themes.

Statistics, however, are hard to come by. In part, it’s because September 11 is not a national holiday. As a result, it is not as commercialized as other patriotic dates, such as July 4, Memorial Day or Veterans Day. And since its nature is one of solemn remembrance, it is unlikely the National Retail Federation will have occasion to compile statistics such as shopping spend, economic impact or entertainment. In fact, outside of religious remembrances and various patriotic-themed events, there won’t be much else going on except for sports.

Ancillary tourism can also expect to get a boost from the fact that September 11 arrives over a weekend. The city of New York, in addition to hosting the final day of the U.S. Open on September 11, can expect to see an enormous influx of visitors, with plenty of people making the pilgrimage to visit the National September 11 Memorial Museum.

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