Mega-Sporting Events & VolunTourism
Over the next three years, we will be privy to several Mega-Sporting Events - the 2010 Winter Olympics, the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the 2011 Special Olympics, and the 2012 Summer Olympics & Paralympics. In order to gain some insight into the growth of participation in sport voluntourism and the fact that these major sporting events rely, in part, on voluntourists to fulfill their respective person-power needs, I have asked Dr. Sheranne Fairley to respond to this issue's 3Q's.
1) What drew you to begin focusing your research on the topic of VolunTourism as it pertains to sporting events?
"Sport tourism is my primary area of research interest. While most of my research looks at the sport tourism related to sport fans, I was also involved in a research project on volunteers at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. After the Games, I started to search for groups of volunteers from Sydney to see what they were doing a year out from the Games. I then found a group of individuals who had volunteered at the Sydney Olympics that had banded together to form a social group after the Games were over. It then emerged that they were planning to travel to volunteer at future Olympic Games. This provided me with the opportunity to combine two of my streams of research: sport tourism and volunteers.
In the article, "Volunteering Abroad: Motives for Travel to Volunteer at the Athens Olympic Games," that you co-authored with Pamm Kellett and B. Christine Green, what were the primary motives that you discovered?
"Four key motives were identified:
Nostalgia - - First, individuals yearned to relive the experiences that they had volunteering at the 2000 Olympics.
Camaraderie and Friendship - - Second, the camaraderie and friendship that individuals experienced with fellow volunteers, and the opportunity to create new friendships served as a motive.
"The Olympic Connection" - - Third, wanting to be a part of the Olympic Games, and feeling as though they were a part of the Olympic movement motivated individuals to try and volunteer at future Games - even if the event was overseas.
Possessing and Sharing Knowledge - - Fourth, possessing and sharing knowledge that individuals had acquired during the Sydney Olympics, coupled with knowledge and skills that they had aquired in general life or their occupations was key for individuals choosing to travel to future Olympic Games.
3) How do you think your research could be applied to assist those responsible for recruiting sport voluntourists for the 2010 Winter Games, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the 2011 Special Olympics, or even the 2012 Summer Games in London?
"Future sporting events and games should provide opportunities for volunteers to network both before and after the event. An easy way of doing this is through creating an interactive online community for volunteers. Doing so, can help create and sustain friendships and camaraderie, as well as the opportunity for volunteers to collectively remember experiences of the event and subsequently lead to future volunteer participation.
It may also be useful to provide up-to-date information to the volunteers, thus allowing them to feel that they are privy to key 'insider' information, and therefore feel a deeper connection to the event. The event organizer can also communicate with volunteers via this mechanism and ensure that the volunteers feel as though their skills and knowledge are successful in maintaining a successful event.
|Dr. Sheranne Fairley, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Sport Management, University of Massachusetts
About Sheranne Fairley, PhD - - Sheranne Fairley is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sport Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where her primary teaching responsibilities are in the areas of sport marketing, sport tourism, international sport management, and marketing research. Her research stream is primarily concerned with the consumer behavior of sport fans, sport tourism, destination marketing, and volunteer recruitment and retention.
Sheranne has published her research in various sport management journals (including the Journal of Sport Management, Sport Management Review, Sport in Society, and the Journal of Sport & Tourism), research monologues, and book chapters, and regularly presents the findings of her research at international conferences. She is currently serving on the Advisory Board of the United States Australian Football League (USAFL).