San Diego is a great sports town! Yeah…I said it!
Sure, the Padres currently sit in last place. They haven’t been in the playoffs in 12 years and haven’t won a World Series…since…ever…
And the Chargers…ugh…
Despite the lack of on-field success for the professional franchises, San Diego has been a legitimate athlete factory. Think about it—this city has produced the likes of Tony Hawk, Jimmie Johnson, David Wells, Meb Keflezighi, Dave Roberts, Shaun White, Luke Walton, Gail Devers, and Marcus Allen to name just a few. There are San Diegans across all of the major and not-so-major professional sports organizations. In fact, San Diego is so capable of generating world class athletes, the United State Olympic Committee installed their own athlete factory with a 150+ acre training site in Chula Vista. A center that opened in 1995, is flush with Olympic hardware, but that is still, somehow, virtually unknown locally.
What makes San Diego such a fertile place for athlete development? The easy answer is weather. True. The year round Mediterranean climate does allow for all-season training and this is essential. More importantly though, the weather is also a primary reason people relocate to San Diego. They are chasing the sun and bringing with them an appreciation for all of the recreational activity that goes along with our beachy climate. This sun worshipping is cultural and threads sport and recreation into the DNA of our City. This means there are high participation numbers, a crazy amount of sport choices and well developed infrastructure with incredible coaching, competitive leagues, and amazing sport event venues. Team sports, endurance sports, extreme sports, martial arts, beach and water sports are all solidly based here.
“Joe Bag O’Doughnuts thinks it’s all climate, but there’s also social climate, attitudinal climate… Others don’t have the opportunity to have the outdoor activities we have. We’ve got so many factors that are right for not only great athleticism but a great physical culture… We’re engaged in activity, particularly outdoors activities. And it’s not just one sport or two, but 40 or 50.”
We’ve all heard it…
People don’t go to events in San Diego because they have so many other things to do…”
We should stop thinking of this as an insult to our love for sport and reinterpret it as our expression of love of sport. It is really amazing to think about the impact San Diegans have had on our global sport institutions and to recognize that these influential athletes were borne out of our community’s recreational culture. There should be civic pride tied to this. We have all contributed to this identity. And we have done it, even when our professional teams have failed us.
I believe anyone looking to host an athletic competition (read any sport, any age, any level), must consider San Diego as a host city. The best athletes in the world are here and that gives instant credibility to that sport property. Beyond that, there is no better family travel destination in the country. This is not news—families love to vacation in San Diego. Youth sports is a billion dollar business and families are spending thousands on team travel each year. Tournaments that can offer tremendous competition, exposure to collegiate coaches, and a family vacation are going to draw well. The San Diego climate also allows event promoters creativity in venue choice and event design that might not be available in other locales. Major sport events like the Carrier Classic and the Davis Cup figured this out to great effect and provide exceptional examples for other event promoters looking to differentiate their event by providing a unique experience for guests and participants.
One day, the Padres will win a World Series. That day may be one of the best days of my life. Until then, I take pride in the fact that San Diego consistently produces some of the best athletes in the world; which is a direct result of the culture created by our sports community. In December, 1978 Sports Illustrated announced, “in participant sports, you name it, San Diego has it. Exertion for fitness and fun is now so pervasive in this sun-kissed city that the lazy have become pariahs.” This was true in 1978 and it is even more true now, 40 years later.
San Diego is a great sports town!