This spring marks 21 years since I first heard of the National Association of Sports Commissions. In 1996, our company was looking for ways to grow. We had acquired Association News (which was founded in 1976) in the early 1990s and through publishing it, we had gained a great appreciation of convention bureaus and the travel industry as well as the importance of the associations that serve so many industries and professions.
The idea of starting a publication for sports-event organizers first occurred to me in 1991 when I saw readers from sports organizations responding to advertising in Association News. But when I investigated the idea I discovered that there were only a handful of sports commissions in the country. So I shelved the concept. When I revisited it about five years later, I learned that an organization called the National Association of Sports Commissions had been formed. What’s more, its annual meeting in the spring of 1996 was going to be held in Los Angeles—right in my backyard.
I registered for the meeting and arrived at the opening reception not knowing one member of the NASC. I quickly met Don Schumacher, Lori Gamble and a number of NASC members who have gone on to become friends for life. I’ve always considered 1996 as the first year we sponsored the NASC because I asked for and received permission from Don to buy drinks at the reception. We also offered to host lunch the next day for anyone willing to talk with us about our idea for a new magazine.
I had hoped to have six or so members, but about three dozen attendees showed up after Don kindly announced the lunch from the stage. It made for an unwieldy focus group but, fortunately, we had printed a survey form with several questions, including what we should call our new magazine. At that lunch, it became clear that the new magazine would be called SportsTravel.
I tell this story because it points out the importance of every industry—no matter how specialized—having an association that represents it. And I believe that to be taken seriously, an industry needs both a strong association and independent media that help the industry grow. In the 20-plus years that we’ve been working with Don Schumacher and his fine staff at the NASC, our commitment to that principle and to the NASC has never wavered. There have been new entrants in the sports-event market—which is a sign of the segment’s strength—but I am proud to say that no other company has been with the NASC as long as we have. Indeed, our relationship with the NASC has fostered our philosophy of supporting as many of the travel-industry associations as we can, which is something we hope our customers will consider when deciding where to invest their marketing resources.
So as we celebrate the 20th year of publishing SportsTravel, we thank Don Schumacher and the NASC for welcoming us to our first NASC annual meeting in Los Angeles in 1996—and every NASC annual meeting since. It gives us great pleasure to celebrate the NASC’s 25th anniversary with two special sections, “The Legacy of NASC,” which begins on page 23 of this issue and a look at the future of the NASC in our May/June issue. Here’s wishing Don exciting adventures ahead and the NASC another 25 years of growth!