Running USA Conference speaker predicts big things for the US endurance industry in the coming years.
Competitor Group President Scott Dickey delivered a compelling talk entitled, “The Endurance Enthusiast: Leveraging Our Competitive Advantage in the Next Decade,” Monday morning at the Running USA Conference in Carlsbad, Calif. Speaking before an audience composed primarily of running event directors, Dickey, a self-described “outsider” to the endurance sports industry before joining Competitor Group in 2007, proposed that the ’10s decade can be the endurance decade in the same way the ’80s were the decade of the NBA, the ’90s were the decade of NASCAR, and the ’00s were the decade of the PGA Tour.
Having come to the endurance space from the major team sports business, Dickey believes that the endurance industry has a unique value proposition to offer sponsors and advertisers that is highly competitive when compared to that of the traditional major sports. This competitive advantage has four elements, according to Dickey.
1. Participation versus fans. The consumers in endurance sports are active participants, not passive fans. As such, Dickey believes, they are more invested in events than pro sports fans and are therefore more open to sponsor and advertiser messaging. Dickey says that the endurance sports industry has an obligation to raise the overall consumer experience to a level matching that of fan-based sports such as golf. “How can we deliver the hospitality experience of the PGA Tour at our Rock ‘n’ Roll events?” he asked.
2. Charity Fundraising. Major sports leagues such as the NFL generate goodwill and strengthen their brand image by supporting charities. But unlike these leagues, race organizers are able to recruit consumers as active fundraisers through organizations such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team in Training. Dickey believes that the endurance industry can do much more to leverage the appeal of such active charity support with sponsors and advertisers.
3. Anti-Obesity Movement. Being a fan of a major professional sport is mostly about sitting and watching others be active. By contrast, endurance event participation is exercise – a critical solution to the major problem of overweight and obesity in the United States. Dickey noted that 17 percent of American children are now obese. This is a great concern throughout our society, and the endurance industry is in a unique position to present itself as a fix for it.
4. Economic Impact. “We all know that when runners come to town they spend a lot of money,” Dickey observed. Large destination events like the Rock ‘n’ Roll races are very attractive to local governments and businesses for this reason.
If the endurance sports industry gets on the same page in delivering this message to the rest of America, Dickey summarized, there is no reason the 2010s cannot come to be remembered as ”the endurance decade”.