Not sure about the water sports - I guess it kinda depends on where on the river your live. I do know that river boats are used by the locals. There's some good work on the river, too - but it's a tough kinda life if you go that route. Good money, but tough work.
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It's been a number of years since I lived in MO, but the Riverboats typically cater to the gambling crowd. There are still many opportunities for recreational activities even on the bigger rivers like the Mississippi, and Missouri are still accessible (more so outside of the city proper just because of the high commercial traffic).
I would travel SW a couple of hours and spend some time on some of the interior water opportunities.
I went canoeing on the Meremec out by Eureka about a month ago (~25 mi west of StL on I-44) and in a 4 mile stretch ran into 2 other canoeing parties (2 canoes per party), 3 separate john boats (fishing), a half-dozen river jet boats (leisure - 4 were together banked on a gravel beach), 2 jet skis (one was pulling a wakeboarder) and a couple of separate kayaks. There was also an entertaining group of early 20's boys on a rope swing just east of the 109 bridge. I've lived here 10 years, and learned that Missourians love their rivers and use them for fun.
Riverboats are tourist traps. I've been on only one, but that was for a company holiday party evening dinner cruise.
If you haven't been on the Mississippi or the Illinois north of Alton, at the "Alton Pool" as it's called, it's a powerboaters dream. You can waterski, swim, wakeboard, or just cruise. There's about a 20 miles stretch between locks that is very nice. Stop at Pierre Marquette State Park on the IL side for lunch. When it's hot and muggy in STL, there's no better place to be on the water up there.