ByGeorge! Online

Feb. 19, 2002

Carrying the Torch for Tourism and Sport

Professor Makes Sixth Journey to Olympics with Students

Are sports fans demonstrating their patriotism by attending the 2002 Winter Olympic Games? Or are they opting to cheer from the comfort of their own living rooms in light of heightened fears about terrorism?

Thirty-two GW undergraduate and graduate students studying tourism and sport management are exploring these and other issues during a 10-day trip to Salt Lake City for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Their analysis and report is a required assignment for “2002 Winter Olympic Experience in Salt Lake City, Utah: Behind the Scenes,” a course that includes class time and coursework covering the history and organization of the Olympic Games — the world’s largest sports event.

An Olympic Games trip has been a GW tradition since 1992, with Lisa Delpy Neirotti, associate professor of tourism and sport management in GW’s School of Business and Public Management, escorting GW business students to the Games in Barcelona (1992), Lillehammer (1994), Atlanta (1996), Nagano (1998), and Sydney (2000).

“Attending the Olympic Games and being exposed to the people that are intricately involved in this mega-event will provide students with an ideal learning experience. It not only will reinforce material learned in the classroom, but it will allow students to network and make valuable connections for the future,” says Delpy Neirotti.

She says that students come to her course fascinated by the Olympics, yet without a broad understanding of what is involved. Through this course the students will gain an understanding of what producing the Olympic Games entails. At the Games, students are meeting with top-level executives from the International Olympic Committee, the United States Olympic Committee, Salt Lake City Organizing Committee, corporate sponsors such as Coca-Cola, Visa, and Xerox, and, of course, Olympic athletes. The students are studying the organizational and financial requirements involved in hosting the Games, and also are conducting on-site market research related to spectator spending, satisfaction, and sponsor recall. As one might imagine, this is a popular course and registration fills nearly overnight.

Delpy Neirotti began her involvement with the Olympics in 1983 as a student intern at the US Olympic training facility in Colorado Springs, CO. Since then, she has gone to every Games as a volunteer or researcher. She serves as an Olympic Games consultant to various business organizations, including the effort to bring the 2012 Games to the Washington-Baltimore area.


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