Sport Tourism: The Rules of the Game

Article excerpt

Sport tourism is an area of study that has become increasingly pervasive over the past five years. Before 1998, a literature search using the term sport tourism yielded few citations. This is not to say that articles on the topic did not exist, but the term sport tourism has only recently been widely adopted to describe sport-related leisure travel. Nonetheless, inconsistencies still exist in the usage of the term, from tourism sport (Kurtzman & Zauhar, 1995) to sports tourism (Redmond, 1991). This lack of consistency can be attributed to many causes. Until recently, few scholars adopted an international focus to their work. Some of the first work on sport tourism had a European focus (De Knop, 1987 & 1990; Glyptis, 1991; Redmond, 1991) and was rarely referenced by other sport tourism scholars. Also, an "artificial academic divide" (Gibson, 1998a, p. 46) persists between scholars in such fields as sport management and tourism management. This divide has often meant that scholars who do not read across disciplines have missed work published in journals not in their respective field. As more sophisticated ways of searching for literature emerge, such incognizance will hopefully be avoided in the future.

Another issue that arises from the fields of sport studies and tourism studies is the ongoing debate regarding the definitions of sport and tourism. In the September 1998 issue of Parks & Recreation, I suggested that sport tourism might be defined as "leisure-based travel that takes individuals temporarily outside of their home communities to play, watch physical activities or venerate attractions associated with these activities" (p. 110). As such, sport tourism encompasses three macro behaviors: participating (active sport tourism), watching (event sport tourism), and visiting or venerating famous sports-related attractions (nostalgia sport tourism). This article will review the major works in each of these three areas and suggest some ideas for future research and practical application by recreation practitioners.

Active Sport Tourism

In 1986, at one of the first conferences addressing sport tourism, held at the Wingate Institute in Israel, DeKnop presented one of the most influential works on the active sport tourist (1987), which he later refined in 1990. De Knop identified three types of active sport vacations: the pure sport holiday, where the primary purpose is to take part in sports such as skiing or golf; the vacation, in which sport is not the primary purpose but individuals make use of the sports facilities in their vacation locale; and the private sporting holiday, where people take part in informal "pick-up" games such as beach volleyball.

This research is important because it introduced the idea that not all sport tourists are the same in terms of their commitment to the sport and the type of facilities that they require. The recognition that sport tourists differ in their motivations suggests that motivation theory might help future researchers to gain a better understanding of the constructs underlying the choice of an active sport vacation. Also, for the practitioner, this work identifies three market segments, each of which has different needs including type of facility, challenge (e.g., degree of difficulty of a golf course or ski slope), and pricing structure.

Other influential works on the active sport tourist originated in Europe. Glyptis (1991) and Jackson (Glyptis & Jackson, 1993) wrote of the growing use of sports facilities by tourists, concerning themselves particularly with the lack of coordination between tourist agencies and sports agencies in the provision and policy-making of sport facilities in vacation destinations. This coordination is still an important aspect of meeting the needs of the active sport tourist. Indeed, Weed and Bull (1997), in a more recent review of the policies of local tourism and sport agencies, found that despite Glyptis' recommendations, there was still a lack of cooperation between these public agencies throughout most of England. …