Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Show me the Money!

By Nicole Hipp

I have a confession to make. I am not a sports fan. You won’t ever find me slathered in body paint and dancing and screaming on national TV. However, you might find me accompanying my husband or kids to a game and holding my daughter up so she can dance the winning dance and I’d even help my son paint his face red, white or blue, as such a task really does seem to require a woman’s touch. I’ll have a beer or two, buy the cracker jacks, watch the super bowl commercials and hopefully chat it up with another un-sports fan. Okay, I admit it; I’ve even bought my dog his own football jersey with his name on it. But really, I’m not a sports fan. I barely know the rules. But I like the rules. Maybe I’m a closet sports fan.

Sportsmanship is healthy. Healthy for the environment (beer bottles are all plastic recyclable with no caps), healthy for the economy, healthy for the community, and healthy for the family. I’ve given this more thought recently because of where I live and have worked.

I live in Loudoun County, VA and used to work in southeast Washington DC. Loudoun County was the second fastest growing county in the nation during the economic boom. (“Boom” is such an ironic term for economic growth. As a mother, when things go “boom” it’s not usually a good thing!) Recently however, it is starting to resemble a ghost town with beautiful new commercial spaces and homes sitting vacant. So when it was just announced that Donald Trump was buying Lowes Island Golf and Country club, I asked “Why?”. Then I just had to defer to his decision and try and ascertain what potential he saw. I started thinking that maybe the potential he saw was geographic. The greater Washington DC area is somewhat insulated to economic crisis due to the significant presence of the federal government and all its contractors. But the private sector, retail and service industry of the greater metro area is not immune to it, unfortunately! Rather, I think that the investment is in the sportsman. In tough economic times, a sportsman is still sportsman. Once a sports fan, always a sports fan. I’d venture to say that a sports fan’s blood may run thicker than some family members!
Most parents wouldn’t discourage our children from becoming involved in a team sport. Being a player on team teaches one how to be a team player later in life. When considering a recent hire, what finally bumped one applicant to the top of the list was her experience as a college sports team captain. And when a family becomes involved in a team sport, coaching, attending games and practices, supporting and exercising, it becomes a win-win for all.

So is it the same with a professional sports organization and the community. The presence of a professional sports entity or structure in a community breeds economic growth through jobs, hotels, restaurants, shops, and transportation. It’s a solid long term investment. And in many major cities, during a home team sporting event, the crime rate drops significantly! I reflect back to the 1990’s when I worked in Southeast Washington DC in the US Navy Yard. When I walked to work, never alone, I used to literally have to step over garbage, used needles, and even passed out stone cold drunks on the curb. Being in the shadow of the US Capitol and adjacent to the Navy Yard did not boost or help the socioeconomic conditions of the neighborhood. Now fast forward a couple years. Last summer I went with my family to a Washington Nationals game at the new stadium constructed adjacent to the Navy Yard. I was stunned. I couldn’t quit blabbering about what the neighborhood used to be like. The transformation in such a short period of time was nothing short of amazing. Even in this economic downturn, the only direction for this neighborhood now is UP.
So now I hear discontented rumblings in my county again about citizens unhappy about the county’s recent decision to partner itself with the Washington Redskins. Some people are unhappy about the expense related to marketing and branding itself with the sports team. Pennies compared to the return the county could get. Kudos to the county officials who decided to secure that the Redskins will keep their training camp in our county. Players buy and live in homes in our neighborhood. If the Redskins ever decided to move their training camp out of the county, it would have very negative effects on our already dwindling economy that went “boom.”
Like Cuba Gooding Jr. said to his agent (Tom Cruise) in the movie Jerry Maguire, “Show me the Money”. The clip from this movie ( has an important lesson for brokers and agents of today that seem faced with an impossible task. Stick with it, give it all you’ve got and your faith in a good solid investment, even against all odds, will pay off.

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