The Elusive Stand-Up Triple

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Holy smokes! Nearly a month has gone by and I looked up and realized I hadn’t posted. It wasn’t for the lack of intention, but thanks to all of you (no one) who asked, I am prompted to get the train back on the tracks. 🙂

This week’s topic is the often-elusive “triple bottom line” of sustainable events.

Many times, those of us grinding away in the sport tourism industry focus predominantly on the economic side of the event we’re hosting. It produced a million zillion gajillion dollars in economic impact (cue Dr. Evil, which is what I think of most of the times I hear EI numbers reported).

My point exactly.

Pat yourself on the back, this is all well and good. I’m going to forego the opportunity to jump on my nerd train right here and move on – ask my industry friends that sat through it this week, you don’t want to hear it!

Let me take a quick second to urge you to pull back the blinders a little. Instead of stretching out that single (economic impact), how about a double? Or a stand-up triple? Everyone loves a stand-up triple; the crowd always goes wild!

Yes, economic impact, scratch that, financial reporting is important data for analysis, but reaching second base opens the door to a little friend called socio-cultural impact, and landing on third base reveals the lesser discussed, environmental impact.

Ahhh, and there you have it. The stand-up triple of event sustainability.

You’re welcome for the highly complex depiction of the triple bottom line.

Socio-cultural aspects of the event often have to do with “the feels”…or the intangible things. Examples may include building community, promoting active lifestyles, volunteerism, social network development, political gain, etc. Think social, cultural, and political capital.

Environmental aspects are pretty self-explanatory, what was the footprint, the benefit (or drawback) to the event had on the community? Us practitioners are hearing more and more about green events and the like.

The triple bottom line concept came about in the early 70’s (i.e. Peterson, 1973), but is a trendy topic in sport tourism and event management (i.e. Chalip, 2001, 2006 ; Getz, 2008; Gibson et al., 2012).

“Stoll, why do we care?!” I get it…what’s in it for you.

Well, as sport tourism professionals, we are tasked with a unique charge to convey our value to our respective communities, and the communities where we hold events (if a rights holder). This is a big obligation and my contention is that often times we only tell part of the story (our single).

Home boy Pete Rose (aka Charlie Hussle) has the MLB record for singles: 3,215

But, notice I called it the triple bottom line of “SUSTAINABLE” events. My guess is touching the three bases of sustainable events likely coincides with many of our key metrics tracking successful events as well. And we should convey that success to our key constituents.

In our business, marquee, one-off events are great, but many of our destinations either can’t accommodate those, or need a balance factor. Sustainable, tried and true, annual events (ala the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction) provide such a ticket, provide risk aversion, and allow a community to use a previously developed wheel. This approach is something to think about in your event portfolio.

As the Great Bambino once said, “Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” True. Implement the three-pronged approach to keep your events sustainable, measure accordingly, and reel in the elusive stand up triple. Heck, you might even turn it into a home run!

This is Stoll on Sports.

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