Leaving a Mega-Sport Impact: Invictus Games

Invictus Games Opening Ceremony

Dr. Jason Bocarro, Associate Professor of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, is leading the American leg of a collaborative network of trans-continental partners examining the social, economic and environmental legacies of mega-sport events. What that means is, he’s the only person in the US studying the impact of large sporting events (think Olympics) on the communities where they occur.

Currently, Dr. Bocarro’s research includes sending two NC State Sport Management majors to the Invictus Games in Orlando, Fla., from May 8-12 to examine the impact of the games on wounded active-duty soldiers and veterans. The two students are part of a larger eight-person CARNIVAL team analyzing the impact of the individual events, the participants, the community, the state, the US and the world.

The CARNIVAL Research Team in Orlando, Fla.
The CARNIVAL Research Team in Orlando, Fla.

In 2015, Coventry University was awarded a four-year grant from the European Union (EU), titled CARNIVAL, establishing an international research program, sponsored by the EU, to facilitate a collaborative global network to assess the legacies of mega-sport events. Initial partner organizations included Coventry University (UK, coordinator), Technische Universitaet Muenchen (Germany), Universidade Federaldo Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Cape Peninsula University of Technology (South Africa) and NC State (USA).

“We have multiple projects that are examining the impact and legacy of different mega events,” Dr. Bocarro said. “The Invictus Study is one study under the CARNIVAL project that examines the legacy of the Invictus Games. It’s an extension of some of Dr. Ian Brittain’s [project coordinator] work on the legacy of the Paralympic games and whether they change perceptions of people’s views on People with disabilities.”

During the Invictus Games, more than 500 athletes from 15 countries will compete in 10 events: archery, cycling, indoor rowing, power lifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis.

“The Invictus Games are truly incredible,” said Paige King, a Sport Management major. “Before arriving, I had no idea what to expect, no idea what the Games were about and no idea how important and meaningful they are to the athletes competing.”

Paige King and Tim Payne, NC athlete
Paige King and Tim Payne, NC athlete

Of the 115 athletes from the US, two are representing North Carolina. Tim Payne, retired Staff Sergeant from the United States Army, from Raleigh will compete in the Swimming and Track and Field competitions and Ivan Castro, Major in the United States Special Operations Command, from Fort Bragg will compete in the Cycling and Indoor Rowing competitions.

“In the training days leading up to the Invictus Games, I talked to the athletes and the families as part of our research,” King said. “Our goal is to discover the impact that the Invictus Games have on the rehabilitation process for injured or ill soldiers. The Games have given them the will to get out of bed, the opportunity to serve their country in a different way and the chance to see what they can still do instead of constantly facing what they can’t. Prince Harry has created something inspirational and something that can be appreciated all over the world.”

The Invictus Games began in London in 2014 as a response to the USA Warrior Games in 2013. Prince Harry of Wales was inspired to expand the power of sport internationally and promote a legacy of honor and support for service men and women who sustain injuries during their service. The Games will continue in 2017 in Toronto, Canada.

“ESPN Wide World of Sport Center opened its wrought iron gates to the general public, allowing them to enter into the domain where the soldiers, these unconquerable souls, of the Invictus Games fight on,” said Rachel May, also Sport Management major. “These athletes, these warriors, competed for more than just themselves. They competed for their families. They competed for their friends. They competed for their loved ones. For many soldiers, medals hanging from their necks is not the fuel behind their unquenchable spirits and drive, but rather their desire to show the world that, although they may be wounded, injured, sick, or ill, they are not broken.”

To learn more about the Invictus Games, visit