Sports players and teams have many fans around the world who religiously follow, idolize them and regularly watch their matches. Though some lucky ones get to watch matches in stadiums frequently as they support a sports team of their own city, majority people end up watching on their TV sets or stream via the Internet.
Such people feel the urge to watch their favorite sports team/player live in front of them and experience the stadium atmosphere at least once. Thus, they plan and end up traveling long distances to cities or different regions of the world to accomplish that. That’s how sports tourism happens.
Any traveling that is done with the main motive to take part in sports events or activities can be called as Sports Tourism. It can be either active participation like experiencing adventure sports, for e.g. River Rafting, Bungee Jumping, Underwater Diving, Hiking etc. or it can be passive participation like buying tickets and watching matches in stadiums, in which case it is called as Sports Events Tourism.
Global or regional sports tournaments regularly happen all over the world. The two tournaments that attract a huge number of sports tourists are the Olympics and FIFA World Cup which are played once in four years. Some of the other tournaments which appeal to a sizeable crowd are the Commonwealth Games, Winter Olympics, Asian Games, the ODI and T20 Cricket World Cup, Hockey World Cup, the continental tournaments in Football, the four major Grand Slams in Tennis, etc.
Although tourism, in general, has been present for thousands of years, sports tourism started only about in the last 100 years and is getting prominent by the day. People who travel from a city to another in the same country to watch matches are also called as sports tourists. They are in majority because there is no passport/visa issues, minimum or no air travel as it is comparatively expensive.
In the USA alone, so many sports events happen throughout the year when people from all parts of the country flock to one place to experience them. Some of them are, the NFL Super Bowl, the Masters Golf Tournament, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, the various marathons etc.
In other tourism types, like Adventure, Culture, Leisure or even Business tourism, you can take a last minute decision to go, purchase travel tickets and you are set. But this seldom happens in Sports Tourism. Here, you have to plan in advance, even a few months before. Because the sports match tickets usually start selling a few months before the match and end in a few days or weeks depending on the popularity and importance of the match.
For huge events like the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup, it is advisable to first secure the match/event tickets and then purchase the air travel tickets so that the trip won’t be futile if you don’t later get the match tickets.
Sports Tourism is a unique experience and its growing popularity signifies people are loving it, and more people are attempting it, watching their favorite teams and players in action as they win or lose; maybe even get to meet them, get their autographs.