Our obsession with sport could be worth millions to the economy
Sport, in all its forms, is a national obsession. It could also be a lucrative national earner the European Sports Summit in Thomond Park, Limerick, heard yesterday.
This country, the summit was told, needs a proper national strategy to avail of a bigger slice of sports tourism, which is worth €450bn globally.
The great thing about sports fans is that they follow their sport with passion and factors such as weather, destination and most importantly, cost, are only secondary considerations.
Ireland, with its small population and a reputation for hospitality and reasonably modern sports facilities, would seem an ideal location to profit from the surge in growth of this industry.
A good starting point might be the Rugby World Cup in 2023, which was also up for discussion at yesterday's summit.
"It will be stiff competition but if Ireland doesn't succeed it won't be because they don't have a world-class bid," said Martin Snedden, who was responsible for bringing the event to New Zealand three years ago.
Should we be unsuccessful in that attempt, we should not be disheartened.
Just last weekend, Ireland's beautiful landscape was displayed to the world as millions tuned in for three very successful stages of the Giro d'Italia.
We may not get to host an Olympics but we can set our sights on other events.
We simply need to make the most of our sporting traditions.