York Urbanist

Economics and Gold Medals

July 18th, 2012

“Hawksworth says the secret to defying economy-based medal projections is specialization. Kenya might not be able to produce medal winners in a range of events, but it can devote resources to developing the country’s deep pool of talented distance runners.” An article http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1227825–london-2012-best-predictor-of-a-country-s-olympic-success-it-s-the-economy-stupid in July 18 2012 Toronto Star has implications. Resources need to be applied where a country can best achieve. Kenya and Jamaica are the examples. Despite lagging economies, each is 17th and 20th respectively in medal counts…because of specialization.  USA has the largest economy and projects that its Olympic haul will also be the greatest. Second in both will be China.

Scale this down to the municipal level, and the same can be achieved. A pool and program in Ocean Falls, BC turned out Canada’s best swimmers in the 1970′s. During the same period, some of the best badminton players came from a small town near Sudbury, Ontario. Back then, it was more about the enthusiasm of the select group that drove success. Today, sports is driven by investments of time and money. Emphasizing special recreation pursuits in one municipality is the best way to increase notoriety (read marketing) and get best bang for the buck.

When you read Recreation Master Plans, inevitably the top recreation is trails followed by swimming. Dig deeper! What is the municipality known for? What individuals and groups are driving sports in town? King Township, Ontario had that happen when the curling community dominated all recreation masterplanning events. With tenacity, a new rink was built.

Epilogue: The future for recreation and municipal marketing should be specialization. The gold goes to the municipality that can sort through the recreation demands and find the gem that will catapult them into the public eye.

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