It's not the NFL or College Sports.
It's not about media rights deals, sold out stadiums and ungodly salaries.
I't not even about Saturday afternoons at the local dusty little league field with volunteer moms and dads slinging hot dogs and freeze pops.
It's now about why paying $30 to watch your 8 year old play soccer is only the beginning of the story.
It's also about the culture of "My kid is not missing out" and you can argue a big part is the parent brag factor on facebook.
The "My Kid is an Honor Student" pumper sticker has been replaced by the team photo in front of the ESPN's Sports Complex globe posted for all their friends, families and coworkers to see.
It's also about families investing in the "Experience".
Many of these mega sports facilities popping up across the nation are funded by private and in most cases public money.
Ten years ago it was about minor league or pro stadiums, today it's about family travel and tourism.
The projections of filled hotel rooms, restaurants, shops and amusement parks are now an investment into the community.
Today's mega youth sports facility services the community, helps small businesses and typically ensures that open spaces or depressed properties become a focal point of community pride.
The family investment in youth sports tournaments, elite programs, family sport-cations, equipment, uniforms, private coaching, digital media platforms, hotels, sports commissions, brand activation and overall access to mom and dad consumers are all feeding into a multi billion dollar youth sports industry.
There is no bottom in sight as the generation of parents grew up with this boom.
Long gone are the days of local recreational leagues, orange slices and stopping for an ice cream as a post game celebration.
Today it's about travel teams, weekend long tournaments, hotel rooms, flights, sports drinks, pop up tents, condo coolers, 7 uniforms, paid coaches, indoor training facilities, $50 dry fit shirts and $150 cleats...and that's just for the parents!
Youth sports are on a national and international elite stage.
Even those kids who aren't considered elite, parents are still willing to invest in travel. It's the new version of "Keeping Up With The Jones".
Regardless, most of our kids will never experience that next level in the upcoming 5-6 years and beyond. Honestly it doesn't matter.
So as a family to go through this experience together in what is such a small window of time is a great thing!
These kids are active, they learn how to compete within a team dynamic, they build friendships, they socialize without social media and build memories through late night swims, cold pizza and competing together.
Team travel is the ultimate bonding experience. It has replaced summer camp.
Why else will kids and families get to explore other areas of the country most of which we/they would never visit.
Besides, when would you ever get a chance to spend a weekend in Scranton? (No offense to those from Scranton, it's a nice area in the summer).
The Family "SportCation" segment of the sports/travel industry is real revenue, massive amount of participants and what is an endless supply of parents who are willing to invest in their kids youth sports experience.....Although maybe not every weekend in Scranton!
Leave me your comments below, tell us about your experience with youth sports travel and please share.
25+ Year global sports and media executive, investor and start up advisor.