Thinking Beyond the Podium BRACE FOR IMPACT. It's a phrase that gets thrown around a lot in action movies. But every two years, we can apply it to our own industry-and in the best way possible. This summer's Olympic Games in London will put a spotlight on the very best the sporting world has to offer. A sedentary population (many of whom are children, and many of whom have never contemplated any program of physical activity) can see athletes compete in a variety of sports. Even better, they'll see those athletes be rewarded for the years of tireless effort they have dedicated to their sports. Athletes might win gold medals and glory, but for our industry, it translates into something a lot more valuable and lasting: increased participation. Data from a recent study by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association indicates the Winter and Summer Olympic Games remain the two most popular spectator events for TV viewers of sports, and that there is a positive correlation between extensive media coverage of the Olympics and people showing an interest in being more active and taking an interest in a given sport that year or the next. It's not a surprise, certainly; a friend who runs a gymnastics program has told me her phone rings like crazy once the Summer Olympics get going. In theWinter Olympics cycle, the ice rinks fill up. It's up to all of us to respond to the increased interest, and work to keep those new enthusiasts coming back. I'm pleased to see the insights this issue gives us into some of the sports the Olympics will offer. We'll look at some great facilities for soccer, see what it takes to put on a triathlon, and do an in-depth study of track and field (the original contests of these Games). Our Executive Insights focuses on water polo, a personal favorite of mine, as well.And our Perspectives column discusses the economic impact a sports park can have on a community, particularly when it is set up to host a variety of warm weather sports. As our field becomes more sophisticated, it will require more specialized knowledge, and for that reason, SDM's feature on education and degree programs is especially timely. Some of the most knowledgeable professionals and organizations will be profiled in our Industry Leadership section. The Mid-Atlantic region is our focus in this issue, as are some championship fishing venues. One of our guest columnists will also provide us with a look at the way teams can become involved with professional athletes through community service programs. There's a lot to be gained from this issue, and a lot to be gained from the forthcoming Games. Let's brace for the impact, and look forward to the ripple effect. Sincerely, Mary Helen Sprecher Managing Editor MARY HELEN SPRECHERhas been a technical writer formore than 20 years with the American Sports Builders Association (ASBA), the national association of designers, builders and suppliers of materials for athletic facilities. She has worked in meeting and convention planning for non-profit associations, and also works as a staff writer for a Baltimore, Maryland newspaper. She is a graduate of the Institute for Organization Management, a professional development program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and has taughtmeeting planning and eventmanagement courses in the continuing studies program at Goucher College, located in Towson, Maryland. Her freelance writing includes coverage of topics including fitness, health, sports medicine and special education.
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