This Month’s Featured Article

The Sports Enthusiast

By Published On: November 25th, 2020

The easiest aspect of Christmas shopping for a sports enthusiast (whether it be a spouse, significant other, best friend, brother, sister, boss, whomever), is that there are so many toys and so much equipment on the sports market.

The smart approach is to make sure you know what your giftee enjoys about sports, or might enjoy. Are they active participants in, say tennis or golf, or would they perhaps like to exercise at home on a treadmill or stationary bike? Nothing can spoil a Christmas morning more than to receive a gift that implies you need to get into shape – you know – like unwrapping a gift certificate for a gym membership when you didn’t ask for one.

Listen, you can spend under $100 or thousands of dollars for sports-themed gifts to put under or near the Christmas tree. Just make sure, like any gift really, that it will be appreciated and, more importantly, used by the person receiving the gift.

The winter sports

Winter, of course, is at hand and that means snow and skiing. Jim Shockley, branding and equipment director and Mohawk Mountain Ski Area in Cornwall, CT, had a few suggestions for gifts:

“Toko Wax kits ($159) are great because they allow you to wax your skis at home and not waste time when you get to the slopes. Helmets ($89 and up), gloves ($39.95 and up), a face mask and goggles ($19.95 to $149.95) in this socially-distanced world are also a thoughtful and very appropriate gift this Christmas. And how about a pack (six) of tickets ($395) to Mohawk Mountain?”

For the golfers and tennis players in the family

For the golfer, new clubs, which range from a couple hundred bucks for a driver or a putter to over a thousand for a set of irons, depending upon the quality and brand, will do the trick. There are a number of training aids on the market, such as hitting nets and putting greens that can be set up in the basement or garage for hours of fun and practice during the winter.

Kyle Adams, Golf Professional at Copake Country Club in Craryville, NY, advised gifters to stop by the club’s pro shop and pick up a  logoed Copake CC sweatshirt, which “have been a huge hit.” He added, “We also have Imperial and New Era logoed hats, golf towels and golf balls, all great gifts for under $100. We take special orders on golf clubs and memberships for gifts over $100.”

Tennis players never have enough tennis balls and two dozen cans wrapped up and sitting under the tree will be appreciated. Apparel is always a hit, but I would shy away from sneakers and racquets, as they are very personal choices and might have to be returned if they don’t fit the giftee’s needs and likes.

As Bernice Paolantonio, adult tennis programs manager at Torrington, Connecticut’s Pinewoods Health and Racquet Club, put it, “A Pinewoods gift certificate might be the thing that brings the tennis procrastinator to us. We offer adult and junior programs for all ages and abilities.”

For the hunters and fishermen

Fishing and hunting gear is a winner for the outdoorsman or woman, as is camping and hiking gear and apparel. Because we may be dealing again with personal preference, gift certificates might be the best option for these individuals.

Harold MacMillan, owner of Housatonic River Outfitters in Cornwall Bridge, CT, said beginner fishing rods, reels, and line outfits are a super gift and cost around $189.95. There’s also a beginner fly tying kit for $150. “We also sell a kid’s tackle box, spinning rod, and reel for only $59.95. This equipment is not something you find in big box stores, but it very good quality.”

MacMillan said his shop also offers customized fleece products, shirts, vests and the like, for around $50. “We also have guided fishing tours people can give as gifts to the person who loves to fish and lessons for between $250 and $500. A lot of people have been giving gift certificates because they aren’t sure exactly what the person they are giving to likes.”

MacMillan said people in the Tri-corner area started shopping early this year, “probably because they are afraid they won’t be able to get the items they want with the year we have had with COVID-19 and the supply chain.”

You can’t go wrong with apparel

Sticking with the outdoor theme, Gregor McCluskey’s Braeval shop in Litchfield, CT, features a wide array of fine apparel. The Braeval Paddock shirt ($215) has two flat sewn yet expandable pleated pockets and elbow patches for durability. “Each shirt features long tails, keeping the shirt tucked in while fly fishing, shooting, or saddling up a horse,” said McCluskey.

And the Gunninson Over Shirt, again for $215, is designed to be worn as a jacshirt and functions as a layering piece over the company’s Tiera fabric shirts, providing the benefits of the self-regulating fabric along with protection with Braeval’s Brush Cutter Canvas or Woodland Woolens.

Perhaps an E-bike?

If money is no object, E-bikes, which can run between a few thousand bucks to $16,000 or more, have become the rage and will help get your loved ones outside. Traditional bicycles will be in the same price range.

Those buying E-bikes (“E” is for electric) tend to be Baby Boomers that have had some bicycling experience in the past, and because topography challenges of where they live or health conditions forced them to believe they couldn’t ride anymore.

Jay Elling at Berkshire Bike and Board in Great Barrington, MA, said E-bikes, “have revolutionized cycling in our area,” i.e. Dutchess, Berkshire, and Litchfield counties in the three-state region. The store has sold a number of E-bikes, costing anywhere from $2,500 to $3,500 apiece, this year alone. There are basically three things that drive the price of the bike; the first is the motor, the second is the battery, and the third is the bicycle itself, the frame, materials used and components that go into the bike.

A lower-end E-bike will generate about 400 watt hours, while one on the higher end of the price range will generate about 700 watt hours, giving riders between 50 to 60 miles of use from the motor. And if the motor quits, you can still peddle your way back home – something you can’t do with a motor vehicle.

Sports and technology are synonymous. There are many sports-themed video games for the kids, and if your loved one is in the car a lot, and who isn’t, Sirius XM radio and its sports packages are a way to block out the noise and blow away the time while sitting in traffic or taking a long trip.

Christmas is a special time for kids and adults that think like kids. Sports gifts can make anyone feel young on that magical morning.