Triathlons: the new golf?

“The Economic Sociology of Triathlons” argues that triathletes make excellent business and personal contacts by the inherent nature of their triathlete status. While golf is still widely known as the sport of professionals, Brooke, the author, claims that triathlons should now top golf as the preferred sporting venue. Brooke narrows the reasoning behind this finding down into several traits triathletes share that most other people do not: triathletes have money, endure pain, share long periods of time to network, and respect one another.

Triathalons are highly expensive. Brooke finds that:

“The average annual income of an Ironman participant is nearly $160,000, while the average golfer makes a measly $100,980 a year, according to’s 2009 Survey.”

An article in the Denver Post shows that even just recreational triathletes easily drop $3,000 a year on training and necessary equipment. The Denver Post also says “this is a very high-income group that is willing to spend a lot of money on this sport. Triathletes must make a decent amount of money to even enter the sport and being surrounded by others with huge wallets only continues this.

Triathletes share a personality of being driven to win. They willingly endure pain and success in order to gain true success. Triathletes are also generally between the ages of 35 and 44, making them prime in their professional careers. Business relationships develop as triathletes meet and race together for hours on end. Also, they already respect one another, knowing the mentality that prepares you for a race like this.

I’d like to offer other ideas surrounding the ability of triathletes to forge greater business connections than golfers and otherwise succeed in the world outside of sports. Numerous studies have shown over the years that people trust and like others better for simply being attractive and in shape. In order to even participate in these kind of events, participants must be working out constantly and taking care of themselves.

Second, triathletes must be incredibly efficient. Training for races requires hours of time and commitment, along with working full-time. During the race, triathletes must be efficient about their energy usage and maneuvers. Triathletes carry this trait into the world outside of racing. This skill makes them desirable as businessmen and women. Personally, I know many people who golf and are very successful in their professional and personal lives.

However, I do know two men who race Ironman triathlons along with being business professionals. By scale, they are incredibly more successful than all of the golfers.

Maybe Bucknell should not have gotten rid of the Triathlon Capstone course.


5 Responses

  1. This would drastically change the whole interaction with business clients. Instead of going out and playing a few holes of golf, it would be “Why don’t we go down to the beach and swim a few miles and talk about this deal…” Also, it would be a bit hard to actually talk about business while doing a triathlon…

  2. I agree this would drastically change the interaction between business clients and it may never catch on to the extent of golf outings. But I think the main interactions surrounding triathlons would be during training outings with clubs. There’s time to talk on slower paced bike rides and runs or during rest periods.

  3. I agree that this could potentially be a way to connect clients in business. However, doing triathlons is not quite the leisurely activity that a round of golf is. It may be difficult for this to catch on but the connections between those working in business and triathletes were interesting.

    And the capstone course is no longer offered but I’ll be organizing the university triathlon this spring if anyone is interested! Apparently it may help with a career in business!

  4. I agree that it seems silly that business men and women would be able to communicate during races. However, I re-read the article and realized that I don’t think I communicated how these people connected quite as well as I could. The author stresses that these athletes are very competitive and often meet outside of competition to discuss their equipment. It is often in these meetings that partnerships are continuously formed.

  5. I think that for a new wave of executives this is a good idea; however, as they get older I wonder if it would actually stick. Triathlons have become very popular lately, but I wonder if it is a trend that might die down later on. I do know that a lot goes into triathlons other than the actual race and it is very group oriented in terms of training for them so that could be a good venue for networking to occur. Also, Kelly’s main point seemed to be that the type of person that is found doing triathlons translates well into a good businessman/woman. So, triathlons would be a great place to recruit younger businessmen and women, but I don’t think that it will ever have the same connection to business that golf does.

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