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The Mother of All Sports Events: Spending on Mom in the Sports Industry

3 May, 2017

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

While there’s plenty of people who will take mom out to a wine tasting, get her a facial or treat her to lunch, the sports business industry recognizes that not all mothers want a manicure.

Some, in fact, prefer mud runs and mountain biking.

This year, Mother’s Day falls on May 14. The National Retail Federation says 2017 Mother’s Day spending will be around $21.48 billion. That might be more or less the same as last year, but it’s where that money is being spent that is interesting. More than $4 billion will be spent on Mother’s Day ‘experiences,’ and that includes sports events.

For example, Running in the USA lists about 150 5Ks alone with the words ‘Mother’ in the title. Many savvy marketers have created these events as benefits for women-centric causes, including breast cancer research, battered women’s shelters and more. Active.com, meanwhile, also lists Mother’s Day races, including two- and three-generation events, as well as mother-and-son and mother-and-daughter events. After all, who says you can’t do a run and then a brunch?

Some events simply embrace the whole Mother’s Day culture, despite the fact that they have very little to do with Mom. The Mother’s Day Mauler mountain bike race in Maryland, for example, has a “moms ride free” registration feature – but not a lot of other aspects that cater to moms.

The obstacle racing community doesn’t stop – or slow down – for Mother’s Day; in fact, in 2016, Obstacle Racing Media did a recap of some of the outstanding events held that day.

Even if mothers don’t want to do a competitive event, there are plenty of places ready to roll out the welcome mat that day. Sky High Sports gives moms a free trampoline session and a free drink. Topgolf is offering special Mother’s Day promotions. Sporting goods stores, meanwhile, are advertising sales on 'what active moms want,' meaning apparel, shoes and equipment.

Major League Baseball is also offering special promotions. The San Francisco Giants have a canvas tote for all moms on Mother’s Day. The Miami Marlins have special family ticket deals for Mother’s Day. The St. Louis Cardinals are giving out a special glass picture frame. The Arizona Diamondbacks have partnered with Petco on a special Mother’s Day clutch. (And if you somehow forgot Mother’s Day, the Seattle Mariners have you covered on “Second Chance at Mother’s Day” Night on Sunday, May 21 (moms can get a free canvas Mariners tote.)

Some events are simply held over the Mother’s Day weekend, and appropriately named. SportsForce Parks in Sandusky, Ohio, has its Mother’s Day Grand-Slam Tournament, but outside of the title, doesn’t list any mom-centric activities on the website.

But maybe that’s (ahem) par for the course. ESPN noted that while dads traditionally get the credit when it comes to serving as role models for athletes who later turn pro, it’s the moms who do all the work, running kids to games, showing up to watch and cheer and in general being the support system.

"Dads enjoy the fun aspects of it," Mariners pitcher Chris Young told ESPN, "and moms take care of all the little things that go unappreciated."

Mariners catcher Mike Zunino's father, Greg, is a scout with the Reds, which meant that his mother, Paola, was the one who coordinated Mike's hectic ball schedule.

"She was the person who had to keep everything in line when we were traveling and playing ball," Zunino said.

And just in case Zunino needed any tips, he could always turn to his mom for help there, too. She had been the catcher on Italy's national softball team.

Go, mom.

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