our origin

The Sports Tourism group studies trend analysis as well as behaviors of tourists in the realm of sports tourism, from local youth sports to professional athletics to the Olympic circuit. Dr. H. Gibson current and former doctoral students: Mona Mirehie, Heather Bell, Richard Buning make up the group and have been interested in the trends of mega events in the world and their effects on the surrounding community.

What We do

  • Study trends and behaviors of tourists who travel to participate in sport, watch or visit sport museums and halls of fame.

  • Evaluate the economic and social impacts of sport events from small-scale and the work of local sports commissions to mega-events such as the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games

  • Understand the health and well being contributions of participating in cycling events, Senior Games, and snow sports.

  • Understand the role of youth sport in modern family life, including travel and costs.

  • Understanding women’s experiences in sport tourism both benefits and constraints. 

Featured ACADEMIC Articles


Introduction to the Special Issue Active Sport Tourism

Gibson, H., Lamont, M., Kennelly, M., & Buning, R. (2018). Journal of Sport & Tourism, 22, 83-91.

When scholarly and industry interest turned to sport tourism in the 1990s, there was some consensus on the existence of two types of tourism associated with sport: active and passive (Standeven & De Knop, 1999Standeven, J., & De Knop, P. (1999). Sport tourism. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. [Google Scholar]). Active sport tourism was associated with participating in sport while on holiday/vacation. It encompassed golf and skiing, as well as other forms of ‘taking part’, including participating in organized running and cycling events, and physical activities that crossed into adventure tourism such as hiking and canoeing. Passive or event sport tourism, on the other hand, referred to tourism associated with spectating at sport events from the Olympic Games, through to regular season football matches. The key difference between the two forms of tourism was in the behavior of physically taking part as an ‘athlete’ or watching as a ‘fan’.

Commentary: Sport tourism and theory and other developments: some reflections

Gibson, H. (2016). Journal of Sport & Tourism, 21, 153-158.

Temporal manifestations of nostalgia: Le Tour de France

Fairley, S., Gibson, H., & Lamont, M. (2018). Annals of Tourism Research, 70, 120-130.

Nostalgia in sport tourism is increasingly understood as multifaceted. Early conceptualizations of nostalgia may be inadequate in explaining contemporary sport tourism. Utilising an organized tour of the 2011 Tour de France, a hybrid experience combining active cycling with passive spectating, interviews were conducted with 13 tour participants and two tour guides. A grounded theory model reflecting multiple dimensions of nostalgia across three trip phases is proposed. Pre-trip, nostalgia inspired participation. During the trip participants viewed and acted upon desires to engage with preconceived nostalgic images by cycling iconic mountains. Mementos and experiences were collected to facilitate future memories and aid nostalgic recollections post-trip. The study demonstrates how sport tourists adopt multiple, reflexive roles to enrich nostalgic value throughout a trip.

Parental insights from three elite-level youth sports: implications for family life

Mirehie, M., Gibson, H., Kang, S., & Bell, H. (2017). World Leisure Journal, 61, 98-112.

The purpose of this study was to examine parental values associated with children’s participation in organized sports, how these values are shaped by social class, race and age, and the influence of elite-level involvement in youth sport on family life. Data were collected by questionnaire in person from parents who were attending three youth sport events (Athletics (track and field) n = 102, Swimming n = 193, Synchronized Swimming n = 139). ANOVA, multiple regression, and thematic analysis were used to analyse the data. Values associated with the child/youth’s sport participation included fun, health, self-discipline, and competition. Multiple regression analysis showed that values differed by social class, age, and race, and child/youth’s age. For example, fun and self-discipline were rated higher for younger children while competition was valued more highly for older children. In particular, African-American parents rated self-discipline and competition as significantly higher. Parents across all sports reported the need to organize family activities around sport schedules with swimming and synchronized swimming cited as the most influential. Suggestions as to how Leisure Studies’ research foci on youth, family life, gender and time are well positioned to make valuable contributions to the study of youth sport in the context of family life are discussed.

Trends in Sport Tourism and Feminism

Gibson, H., & Mirehie, M. (2017). The Palgrave Handbook of Feminism and Sport, Leisure and Physical Education, 681-697

This chapter describes the development of scholarship in sport tourism from the 1990s. While some of the earliest scholars were women, the authors document the lack of a feminist analysis in sport tourism research. Much of the early work was devoted to defining sport tourism, with a general consensus that sport-related travel comprises both active (e.g., skiing, cycling, triathlons, etc.) and passive (spectating or visiting sports museums) forms. However, a review of the literature is used to show that as the body of knowledge became more substantive, despite well-established feminist analyses in sport studies and a growing gender-aware presence in Tourism Studies, as relevant sport tourism disciplines, until recently feminist perspectives have been largely absent. Suggestions for future research directions to remedy this are discussed.

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