3 On Your Side

Youth sports are a big business

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Schumacher says youth sports is becoming a game of dollars and cents, and hit a home run in business terms in 2016. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Schumacher says youth sports is becoming a game of dollars and cents, and hit a home run in business terms in 2016. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Specialized agents are scoring big, and so are the tournaments, which tack on their own fees. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Specialized agents are scoring big, and so are the tournaments, which tack on their own fees. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Schumacher says if a good rate is negotiated, the parent doesn’t feel the extra fee, however. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Schumacher says if a good rate is negotiated, the parent doesn’t feel the extra fee, however. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Caroline Murphy is truly a soccer mom, sometimes packing the kids up for travel far from their home field.

“We have tournaments I would say every six to eight weeks, as far as five to six hours away,” she said.

That means overnight stays. But she can’t just book a room at any resort. The tournament makes that call.

“You will see in big bold letters you MUST stay at the hotel coordinated by this travel agency," Murphy says.

“If a team registers for a particular event that uses ‘stay to play,’ they are mandated to stay in one of the hotels that has [sic] been set up by the third-party housing company as part of the room block,” explains Don Schumacher, who just retired as executive director of the National Association of Sports Commissions.

Schumacher says youth sports is becoming a game of dollars and cents, and hit a home run in business terms in 2016.

“Direct visitor spending for amateur sports events in the U.S. had increased to $10.5 billion, from 9.7 billion the year before,” Schumacher says.

Youth sports tourism is one part of the travel industry that the recession didn’t touch. Specialized agents are scoring big, and so are the tournaments, which tack on their own fees.

“In a perfect world, it’s a service and it’s a useful service,” Schumacher explains.

Schumacher says if a good rate is negotiated, the parent doesn’t feel the extra fee, however.

“What happens too often is when a team comes in and they discover they’re paying $150 for a $125 room, they’re not going to feel very good about the event producer and the destination.”

And not all team parents are fans of being told where to stay. 

“It’s a tough pill to swallow when you’re sort of forced. You must stay at one of these hotels. No family rates, no points to use, none of that kind of stuff,” Murphy says.

In some cases, teams can opt out of the mandate for a fee. In others, they can’t participate at all.

Murphy says she does see certain advantages, telling us, “The athletes want to be together, so it’s great that the agency sets up the stage for you so you’re all staying at the same place.”

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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

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He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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