Posts Tagged ‘amateur sports’

Youth Sports at a Crossroads

October 12, 2015

An article this past week in the Washington Post revealed something that many of us who work in the business of youth sports have known for some time: The number of kids who participate in organized sports is reaching a crisis level.

According to a survey by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, more than 26 million children ages 6 to 17 played team sports last year, but that’s down about four percent from the total in 2009. The total sports played have dropped by nearly 10 percent.

Some of the decline is blamed on the recession at the start of the decade, but experts say the dropoff in the suburbs is something to be concerned about, mainly because kids are being steered away from playing a variety of school sports and sent into elite competition. Children as a whole, according to the study, are playing fewer sports, and those who are left in school programs often are the victims of poor coaching.

With 70 percent of youngsters quitting sports by age 12, it’s easy to look at a reason why. And the reason, researchers say, often is the parents.

Mark Hyman, a professor of sports management at George Washington University, is quoted in the article as targeting parental influence as the main reason fewer kids are playing fewer sports. “If we wiped the slate clean and reinvented youth sports from scratch by putting the physical and emotional needs of kids first, how different would it look? Nothing would be recognizable.”

The Aspen Institute, the Clinton Foundation, and several amateur and professional sports organizations are studying the issue. Officials met at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, as well as earlier this year at a Washington summit attended by the U.S. surgeon general. Dick’s Sporting Goods asks for donations at the checkout counter for Sports Matter, a program to fund underfunded youth sports teams.  The NASC also picks a local charity or non-profit in the city of its annual sports symposium to boost youth sports activities.

Sports has become a way for parents to try to get college scholarships for their children, often starting them in one sports as a toddler and investing thousands of dollars in travel teams, equipment and individual coaching. Even though the odds of a scholarship, much less a pro career, are small, parents will take the gamble hoping for the next Tiger Woods or Mia Hamm.

The article also quotes a survey a professor at George Washington conducted on nearly 150 children. The kids identified 81 factors that contributed to their happiness in playing sports. Number 48 was winning. Also low on the list, playing in tournaments, cool uniforms, top of the line equipment.

The number 1 reason why kids quit? It’s no longer fun.

It’s up to the grownups to figure out how to make sports fun again for our youngsters, to keep them in activities that they can take with them well into adulthood, and, most importantly, to let them rediscover the fun in sports. Athletics can teach amazing life lessons to kids. Let’s make sure they learn the right ones.

Photo courtesy of the Greater Cincinnati Sports Corporation

Photo courtesy of the Greater Cincinnati Sports Corporation

Safety is Priority 1

October 6, 2015

Friday night, October 2, Kenny Bui, a senior at Evergreen High in Seattle, Washington was playing defensive back for his school’s football team when he was injured making a tackle. He was taken to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery, but died the following Monday.

Kenny becomes the fourth high school football player to die this season in this country because of on-field injuries. Tyrell Cameron from Louisiana suffered a neck injury; Ben Hamm from Oklahoma died more than a week after a hit to the head; Evan Murray from New Jersey died from bleeding caused by a lacerated spleen.

Kenny wasn’t even the only player in the Seattle area hospitalized Friday night. Another player suffered a broken bone in his neck and has been fitted with a halo brace. And a week earlier, yet another player in Seattle collapsed during a game and suffered swelling in his brain.

According to a study almost a decade old from the American Journal of Sports Medicine, high school football players suffer three times as many catastrophic injuries as college players. One reason is sheer numbers: About 100,000 play NFL, college, semipro and Arena football combined. About 1.1 million high schoolers play football, around 3 million play youth football, according to USA Football. Some speculate the injuries at younger levels could be from using older equipment: Schools and youth football teams just can’t afford better, safer helmets. Another reason? Younger brains are more susceptible to injury. And not every youth team has an athletic trainer at the ready.

USA Football goes out of its way to train youth coaches on how to teach the game the right way. Youth sports are vital to the growth and development of athletes, and making those sports as safe as possible, whether it’s football, youth basketball or club soccer teams, are all our responsibilities.

Rawlings helmet

Photo courtesy of Rawlings

Go Fund Them

August 11, 2015

With students going back to school this month (if they haven’t already), families are facing a familiar task: Getting kids into sports and finding the money to pay for the activities.

With schools pinched for resources and parents nickled-and-dimed with school fees this time of year, some teams and/or individual families are now looking at the crowdfunding route to pay for their kids’ recreational fees.Youth gymnastics.jpg

This example comes from KATU in Portland, Oregon, where the coach of a cheerleading squad, Oregon Dream Teams in Beaverton, was looking to pay for a trip to the cheerleading World Championships in Orlando. The cost was $1,200 per cheerleader—and that’s on top of the minimum $4,000 the athlete pays for practices and regular competition.

Cher Fuller, the head coach, started a GoFundMe.com on line account for the squad, and asked people to make donations. Her goal was a thousand dollars, and raised a little more than that.

She’s not alone. Also in the Portland area, Karen Emmett, one of the crowdfunding parents quoted in the KATU story, set up a crowdfunding site for her daughter’s soccer expenses. In explaining why she did so, Emmett posted on the station’s Facebook page: “What isn’t mentioned in the video is not only am I a single mom, I’m working two jobs to pay our bills … and my daughter and her soccer team have been doing other fundraising (rummage sales, bake sales, can drives, yard work for neighbors, etc).

“I only opened an account because I was pushed by a lot of family and friends to do so. I was told to swallow my pride and admit that I need help paying for this.”

This isn’t unusual. Go to the gofundme.com website and on the left side you’ll see a menu of causes to which you can donate. Click on the ‘sports’ tab and you’ll see requests from teams (especially Little League teams in World Series playoffs) and individual athletes, all asking strangers to help pay for their expenses to play a sport, travel to playoffs, whatever.

Crowdfunding is a relatively new phenomenon, but now that it is pervasive in youth sports, perhaps it’s time to look at the cost of youth sports altogether. For those who wonder why those kids aren’t washing cars and doing other fundraisers to pay for their sports, see the quote from Karen Emmett, who says the team had been fundraising in more traditional methods to get enough money.

Are youth sports, especially traveling team costs, too expensive now? Are parents less willing to chip in or are financially unable to pay for their children to play? As sports professionals it’s up to us to make sure EVERY child who wants to play sports can, regardless of financial status or ability to pay. If you haven’t done so, perhaps its time to look into charitable funds connected to what we do, to make sure kids can still play sports.

Tragedy in Kansas..

August 3, 2015
Photo courtesy nbcphiladelphia.com

Photo courtesy nbcphiladelphia.com

We talk a lot about getting kids involved in sports, and we all know it’s a great thing for youngsters to learn teamwork, playing by the rules, etc. But every once in a while tragedy seeps into our mission of sports.

Case in point: A 9-year-old bat boy who was hit in the head as a player was taking practice swings died Sunday evening of his injuries. Kaiser Carlile, who was a bat boy for the Liberal Bee Jays, an amateur baseball team, was retrieving a bat (and wearing his helmet) when a player warming up took a practice swing during Saturday’s game and hit Kaiser in the head. Absolutely an accident, but a tragedy nonetheless.

Kaiser was injured near the on-deck circle during the game on Saturday, a playoff game in the National Baseball Congress World Series. He was initially treated by the home plate umpire, an experienced paramedic, before being rushed to Via Christi-St. Francis Hospital in Wichita. A spokesman for the National Baseball Congress confirmed Kaiser was wearing a helmet, which is mandatory for all teams.

Perhaps this statement from National Baseball Congress General Manager Kevin Jenks says it best: “It’s difficult to remember a day that is darker than this one. Sometimes life doesn’t make sense and this accident certainly is a memorable example. Kaiser was simply doing something he loved.”

A couple of reminders here: First, anyone involved in youth sports or events management knows that importance of having first aid, athletic trainers and an ambulance on site. Second, accidents do happen that no amount of medical personnel can prevent. This tragedy is not a reason to keep kids away from sports, but there’s a good chance new safety rules and/or equipment may come into play in the future to try to prevent future accidents like this.

Investing in Sports

June 11, 2015

The Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is making a big play to use a $55 million upgrade of its sports venues to attract more events and in turn, bring in millions of new dollars in visitor spending.

According to the Rockford Register Star, a new $24 million sports complex under construction in the downtown area landed its first big ‘get’ last month with the AAU 6th Grade Girls Basketball Tournament in 2018. That will bring an estimated 3,500 people to Rockford, projected to spend $750,000 while they visit.

That sports complex already is paying dividends, months before it is slated to open, as it’s already spurred nearly $120 million worth of development planned for the area, including two hotels.

Rock River Cup Lacrosse RockfordAccording to the paper, the tourism bureau there spends half a million dollars a year on marketing to bring sports tournaments to the region. John Groh, the bureau’s president/CEO, is quoted as saying his agency will need more personnel to capitalize on the downtown venue and a $31 million expansion on tap at Sportscore Two in Loves Park.

The Rockford region plays host to 250 sports tournaments a year, and the bureau’s goal is to attract 60 more a year by 2018. But it’s a competitive market. The 600-acre National Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota offers a soccer stadium, more than 50 soccer fields and an eight-rink ice facility. The $33 million Louisville Slugger complex in Peoria has 10 synthetic turf youth softball and baseball diamonds, plus a dome for indoor events. And Westfield, Indiana, already has plans to expand its still-new 400 acre Grand Park youth sports complex with two indoor venues.

Amateur sports tournaments produced nearly $9 billion in visitor spending in the U.S. last year, with 42 percent of those events played in the Midwest, according to the National Association of Sports Commissions. And Groh is quoted as saying the sports tournament business has become increasingly competitive.

“Cities everywhere are building more athletics venues and facilities, but there’s a finite number of tournaments to go around,” he said. “So you have relatively the same number of buyers and more sellers. The buyers are in a relative position of power and can extract more from tournament hosts, so that means we have to be really smart about how we put deals together and market what we have to offer.”

Right now visitor spending tied to sports tournaments brings in roughly $16 million a year to the Rockford region. That figure is expected to double within three years with the indoor athletic complex in downtown Rockford and expansion of Sportscore Two.

For Rockford, the investment in sports is paying off for now, and in the future.

Sports Tourism: A State of the Industry Report

May 18, 2015

At last month’s NASC Symposium, Dr. Lisa Delpy Neirotti from The George Washington University shared the findings from the 2014 Sports Tourism: The State of the Industry Report to the NASC membership.

The report which can be found on the NASC website provides a helpful reference for our members to share with their colleagues, rights holders and funders. The report provides the following key indicators:

• Industry at a Glance
• Industry Performance Indicators
• Operating Conditions
• Methodology of the Research

Overall, the report shares good news for our industry with visitor spending up three percent over last year at $8.96 billion and total visitors entertained in 2014 was 25.65 million.

Among those NASC members surveyed, the top three community priorities were:

• Visitor spending
• Marketing the region
• Supporting local sports franchises and venues

Once you have reviewed the report, we encourage you to share the link on your website, social media pages and with an email to your supporters and community partners.

When Society and Sports Collide

January 19, 2015

In the wake of the social unrest we’ve seen in Ferguson, Cleveland and New York, athletes have used their national platforms to express their opinions on the incidents—see the St. Louis Rams’ players coming out for team introductions with the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” pose.

This expression has reached basketball, where professional and college players alike have worn “I Can’t Breathe” shirts, signifying the last words of Eric Gardner, the New York man who died after an officer put him in a chokehold.I cant breathe

And now, a high school basketball tournament in Northern California has been included in the conversation, after a school scheduled to play in the tournament was disinvited because of concerns its players would wear “I Can’t Breathe” shirts during warm-ups.

The athletic director at Mendocino High School was told that neither the boy’s nor the girl’s team would be allowed to participate in the tournament if they wore the shirts.

The boys were reinstated after all but one player agreed not to wear the shirt. Too few girl players agreed to not wear the shirts and were not allowed to play.

No surprise here: The parent of the one boy who decided to sit out the holiday tournament has taken the issue to the American Civil Liberties Union. In a written statement, the principal of the host school, Fort Bragg High School, said the school administrators respected the Mendocino teams “for paying attention to what is going on in the world around them” and that the shirts were being banned as a security precaution.

This isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, time where the world of amateur and youth sports will collide with First Amendment rights and the desire of young athletes to express themselves.

Have you run into similar issues with your events or teams? If so how did you handle the issue and what advice would you have other rights holders or event planners on how to deal with the issue? Give us your thoughts on our NASC Facebook page. We always welcome comments on best practices.

More than 200 sports tourism professionals in attendance at NASC Market Segment Meetings and CSEE Fall Module Held in Conjunction with USOC Olympic Sportslink

October 2, 2014

More than 200 NASC members gathered in Chicago, IL for the NASC semi-annual meeting from September 22-23, 2014. Hosted in conjunction with the USOC’s Olympic SportsLink conference, programming for the semi-annual meeting included: CSEE Fall 2014 Module, NASC Market Segment Meetings, and NASC Board of Directors meeting.

Daniel Diermeier, Ph. D., from the University of Chicago, presented the four-hour CSEE module on Crisis Management to 126 NASC members.  It focused on the key issues in a crisis situation and managing the flow of information.  After a 90 minute keynote presentation, attendees participated in a team activity that thrust them into a real-life crisis issue that grew beyond personal safety to include emotional issues and competing points of view. The session ended with a mock media conference and debriefing.  At the conclusion of the module, nine participants earned their CSEE credential.

Fall 2014 CSEE Graduates

Laura Garratt, CSEE, San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau
John Giantonio, CSEE, Casper Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
Pete Harvey, CSEE,  Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission
Nick Hope, CSEE,  Al J. Schneider Company
Gen Howard, CSEE, Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau
Alison Huber, CSEE, Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau
Lisa Pacheco, CSEE, Sports Williamsburg
Matt Robinette, CSEE, Richmond Region Tourism
Marva Wells, CSEE, High Point Convention and Visitors Bureau

The most recent class of certified sports event executives joins an elite group of only 140 sports tourism industry professionals across the country who share the CSEE credential. The next module will be held Monday, April 27th in Milwaukee, WI in conjunction with the 23rd annual NASC Sports Event Symposium.

The NASC Market Segment Meetings, created in 2006 to offer destinations with similar market size and organizational structure a platform to share ideas, was led by professional facilitator Adrian Segar. Over two days, 178 NASC members participated in discussions on the hottest topics  including local organizing committees, hotels, sports services, marketing/sponsorships, the bid process and bid fees, industry trends, facilities & facility management, economic impact, and creating your own events.

Additionally, the NASC Sports Legacy Committee announced Running Rebels Community Organization as the 2015 beneficiary of the NASC Sports Legacy Fund and kicked off the annual fundraiser with a 50/50 Split the Pot Raffle, raising nearly $500. The Sports Legacy committee’s goal is to raise $20,000 through a variety of activities to take place over the next six months with an emphasis placed on the silent auction and raffle to be held at the upcoming NASC Symposium.  Learn more about Running Rebels or how you can help leave a legacy.

At the conclusion of the Market Segment Meetings, the NASC board of directors held their monthly meeting. The agenda included reviewing the summer board action items, hearing updates from the retained earnings and hall of fame ad-hoc committees, sharing ideas and input on the marketing of the association to event rights holders and reviewing the 2014 mid-year membership survey results.  The NASC Board of Directors meets on a monthly basis via conference call and three times a year face-to-face.  If you are interested in applying for the 2015-2016 NASC Board of Directors to help lead the industry’s only not-for-profit association visit http://www.sportscommissions.org/About/Board-of-Directors/Nominations.

Current plans are to hold the 2015 NASC Market Segment Meetings in conjunction with the 2015 USOC SportsLink Conference. Dates and times for next year’s meetings will be announced in winter of 2015.

NASC Best Practices Webinar on Defining the Roles of Sports Commissions and Convention & Visitors Bureaus Scheduled for Tuesday, August 26

August 14, 2014

419935_385667831461241_204296396265053_1503044_232626335_nAre you wondering whether your community should develop a sports commission? Maybe you find yourself asking, what is the difference between a sports commission and a convention and visitors bureau? What about funding– how do you raise the money needed to fund a sports commission?

Join Don Schumacher, CSEE, Executive Director, National Association of Sports Commissions as he discussed the difference between a sports commission and a convention and visitors bureau, as well as sustainable funding sources to help keep your organization alive.
If you missed our recent video blog on Defining the Roles of Sports Commissions and Convention & Visitors Bureaus, be sure to check it out prior to August 26th, as Don will dive further into detail during the webinar!
About Don: Don Schumacher, CSEE has 50 years of experience in the fields of communications, family entertainment, theme park marketing and operations, arena and stadium marketing and operations, event management, sports marketing and facilities consultation. For the past 30 years he has focused his activities on the sports event travel market and has consulted with more than fifty cities on strategies to increase their share of this market.

NASC and its members featured in this week’s SportsBusiness Journal: The Big Business of Sports Tourism

August 7, 2014

NASC SBJThe NASC and many of our members are featured in an 18-page special advertising section in this week’s SportsBusiness Journal. The section highlights the evolution of sports tourism and the history of NASC and its members as the pioneers for sports-related travel.

Special thanks to all of our members who supported the issue as advertisers:

  • Greater Columbus Sports Commission
  • Sioux Falls CVB
  • Oklahoma City CVB
  • Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance
  • Frisco CVB
  • Palm Beach County Sports Commission
  • Birmingham CVB
  • The Sports Facilities Advisory
  • Maryland Sports
  • VisitPittsburgh
  • Elizabethtown Sports Park
  • Visit Jacksonville
  • Massachusetts Sports Marketing Office
  • Myrtle Beach Sports Center
  • Rocky Top Sports World
  • Pensacola Sports Association

Be sure to check it out now!

Bowling for Dollars: Economic Impact Considerations for College Football Bowl Games

January 3, 2014

The outgoing president of Ball State University, Dr. Jo Ann Gora, once said that the only ones who make money from a bowl game is the host city. An economic impact study from last January’s Orange Bowl and BCS Championship games shows, that’s not too far from the truth, at least for the on-their-way-out BCS bowls.

According to a study by the Conventions Sports & Leisure International group shows that the 2012-2013 Orange Bowl Festival, which included the annual Orange Bowl game as well as the BCS Championship game, helped generate a $298.1 million economic impact for South Florida.

Perhaps more significant is that number is nearly 50 percent more than the economic impact generated the last time South Florida was the host for both the Orange Bowl and the BCS National Championship games, in 2008-09. It’s also close to the $333 million economic impact of the 2010 Super Bowl played at Sun Life Stadium, according to the South Florida Super Bowl Committee.

The study cited an improved economy as one reason for the jump in spending; another was the increased interest in the two teams involved in the BCS title game in 2013, Alabama and Notre Dame.

The study breaks down the economic impact with Orange Bowl events generating $127 million in new direct spending, $224 million in total new economic output, $4.9 million in new taxes and creating approximately 2,400 new full and part-time jobs that generated $81.4 million in personal earnings. The total economic impact figure includes $74.1 million in media exposure value for South Florida.

That’s what one of the BCS bowls can mean to a community, but what about some of the lower tiered post-season college games? They can impact a city’s bottom line, as well. For example, the Las Vegas Bowl, played just before Christmas at UNLV’s stadium, brings in around 37,000 fans who generate some $18 million in non-gaming economic impact during one of the quietest tourist weeks of the year on The Strip.

And look at the finances surrounding the Heart of Dallas bowl January 1 at the Cotton Bowl pitting UNLV against North Texas. UNLV expects to receive $600,000 from its conference for participating in the game but is responsible for selling $400,000 in tickets (5,333 tickets at $75 apiece). That leaves $200,000 for the expense of sending the team and university officials to Dallas for the game. But it’s been 13 years since UNLV has been in a bowl game, and despite the financial challenges, UNLV Athletic Director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said she never considered turning down the bid.

“It’s a national network and we’re going to be the first game out,” Kunzer-Murphy said. “It’s going to be a three-hour advertisement for the university, and that’s priceless.”

For the Dallas area, the bowl game has its own payday. This bowl game, run as a not-for-profit, brings in just under $20 million in economic impact, according to the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau. The traditional Cotton Bowl Classic, before it moved to Arlington, Texas, was $29.8 million.

Add in the national exposure that the host cities receive during a bowl game, and it’s easy to see how games from the Belk Bowl to Music City Bowl to the Pinstripe Bowl continue to pop up and thrive: Schools love the exposure, and the host cities love the visitors during traditionally slow tourism times. And that’s a big win for both sides.

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/news/2013/11/01/orange-bowl-bcs-championship-scored.html?page=all

Jackie Reau

Game Day Communications
700 West Pete Rose Way
Cincinnati, Ohio 45203