Think about the many inherent abilities you have. Chances are you began fine-tuning them at a very young age. Reading, playing an instrument, learning a second language, even religion – academic and anecdotal information strongly suggests that if you learn it as a child, you retain it as an adult.

What about sports – specifically, avidity for sports?

Research conducted across many of our sports property clients has produced the same finding: avid fans are much more likely to have become fans of a respective sport or team as children, influenced by their parents and family. On the other hand, casual fans tend to develop their interest in a sport or team in their late teens or early adulthood, often influenced by friends and spouses. I’ve seen this result way too many times for it to be a coincidence.

All sports continue efforts to boost attendance at games. The NFL in particular has been spotlighted for having to fight the advantages of watching games on supersized flat-screen HDTVs, be it at home, at the local Buffalo Wild Wings or somewhere in between. With the goal being short-term revenue gains (and, in some cases, the avoidance of blackouts), it’s perfectly sensible that properties are focusing attention on getting anyone’s butts into seats ASAP.

I contend, however, that the true priority should be getting kids to games. For the long-term health of attendance and even for short-term turnstile boosts, properties want kids to grow up with “being there” as part of their inner-selves. The most avid fans and attendees identify with being at games, the interaction with fellow ticket holders filling the need for camaraderie. Most sports properties offer kids clubs. Those clubs are a great start, but they alone do not ensure a gameday environment appropriate for children. Kid-friendly sections, pregame entertainment, discounted kids’ tickets and even kid-oriented apps for in-game usage would motivate parents to bring the children along. Kids will learn that “being there” is just what you do. And if they learn it young, they have it forever.