Posts Tagged ‘Current Affairs’

Do new rules make soccer safer?

November 16, 2015

Last week the U.S. Soccer Federation avoided further litigation on a class-action lawsuit by agreeing to new rules for youth soccer players. The rules now bar players 10 and younger from heading the soccer ball, and athletes 11 to 13 will be limited in the number of times they can practice headers during practice.

The rules were initiated because a group of soccer parents and players had sued U.S. Soccer, asking for more stringent rules to handle concussions, especially from players heading the ball. But some say the rules don’t go far enough in protecting young athletes.

For example, the Concussion Legacy Foundation says that players 14 and under should never head the soccer ball, but does agree the new rules are a step in the right direction.

But is delaying heading the ball the best way to protect players from concussions? A study released in September from the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that, among high school players studied, heading was responsible for the highest proportion of concussions in boys—30 percent—and girls—25 percent.

The most interesting part of the study, though, is that slamming into another player, rather than heading the ball itself, seems to be what causes the most header-related injuries. Because of that, the authors of the study concluded that banning heading itself won’t have that much effect on preventing concussions, unless it is somehow linked with efforts to reduce contact between players.

And then there is the coaching faction that claims that the U.S. will fall behind the rest of the world in soccer development, if youngsters aren’t taught the “correct” way to play the game from youth soccer on.

Everyone agrees that players need to be kept as safe as possible playing soccer, at any age. Whether it’s mandating the use of headgear or limiting headers, the goal is to keep young athletes, and their brains, healthy. The new rules may be a first step in developing ways to do just that.

Photo courtesy jax youth soccer

Photo courtesy jax youth soccer

A Show of Sportsmanship

November 2, 2015

This past Halloween, Zach Hougland was supposed to be running for an individual title in the Iowa high school cross country state meet.

He had earned the right to make the trip to Fort Dodge, having come in first at the district championship for Iowa’s Class 2A runners, his fourth trip to state.

Instead, Zach was disqualified for helping a fellow competitor finish the qualifying meet.

The Davis County of Bloomfield senior finished first, but then looked back at the course and saw Garret Hinson, a Mediapolis senior, struggling to cross the finish line, about 150 meters away.

Hinson was trying to finish but his legs and back gave out, so he ended up crawling on all fours to try to make the finish. Zach ran back onto the course, helped Hinson to his feet and guided him to the finish. Both runners, though, were disqualified. The action violated state rules regarding physical assistance of one runner by another.

The help was ruled interference by a runner. The disqualification was made by meet officials and an investigation by the Iowa High School Athletic Association upheld the ruling.

The bright spot in this is that Davis County’s cross country team as a whole placed third and qualified for state, so that gave Zach a chance to run with the team. Davis County came in 14th in the state in the meet Halloween weekend, and Zach was the team’s fastest runner.

The other bright spot was the outpouring of support that Zach received for his unselfish act of sportsmanship. Too many youth sports stories highlight the ugly incidents that can happen in the name of sports. It may have been a disqualification, but for all the right reasons.

Photo courtesy of Joanna McCoy

Photo courtesy of Joanna McCoy

More from your venue

October 26, 2015

It sounds like the old Larry Bird-Magic Johnson McDonald’s commercial..off the backstop, through the dugout, off the steps..but at Petco Park, it’ll be the way you play miniature golf—and it’s a unique sponsorship activation at the same time.

Over the first weekend in November, the San Diego Padres and Callaway Golf will create a nine-hole layout around the downtown ball park. The Links at Petco Park, to be held November 5-8, will begin on a putting green in the home dugout. Golfers will move to the ballpark’s upper deck for Nos. 2-5, where they will hit shots onto the field from various locations. The sixth will tee off on the field near the Western Metal Supply Co. building in the left field corner before golfers move to the batter’s eye in center field for No. 7. The eighth hole will be a putting green in the bullpen. The final hole will be on the roof of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building.

Prices are $100 for twosomes and $200 for foursomes. Callaway will provide clubs and balls. Upgraded packages include specially branded Callaway clubs and tickets to a future Padres game. No surprise, tee times are all gone, but you can still sign up for a wait list.

“We’re always trying to provide authentic golf experiences with our products that are unique and engaging, and that’s exactly what this partnership with the Padres is about,” Callaway senior vice president of marketing Harry Arnett told the Padres’ website. “Playing a nine-hole course at a venue like Petco Park with Callaway golf clubs and balls will be a once-in-a-lifetime round, and we are excited to be a part of it.”

Each hole along the course will feature a unique theme and an opportunity to win prizes like a new Callaway Great Big Bertha Driver, with various holes offering corresponding snacks and beverages.

We’ve talked about using existing venues for new events. The Petco Park activation, the Fenway Park snow jumping event this winter, even stadium concerts, all offer new revenue streams for venues at a time when their stadium wouldn’t be used. And, it gives fans a unique look at a facility they thought they were familiar with. More and more facilities are taking a new look at how to bring in fans, and money, during what would otherwise be the off-season.

Petco Park links course

illustration is courtesy San Diego Padres

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

Getting the most of the venues you have

September 29, 2015

Fenway Park in Boston has been the home for football, for concerts, for hockey, and now, this winter, it will be the home for big-air snowboarding. “Big Air at Fenway” will bring in top winter extreme athletes to compete on a 140-foot snow ramp inside the park. With the winter Boston had last season, having enough snow or cold shouldn’t be a problem. If it is, organizers say they’ll just truck in enough snow for the athletes.

“I think it’s more that we see Fenway as a community gathering place, and doing high-profile, blue-chip events outside of baseball season a couple times a year is an appealing thing for the community,” according to Red Sox and Fenway Sports Management President Sam Kennedy. “A lot of them are a return to a past. Soccer had happened way back in the early part of the century, and the Patriots even played at Fenway and Boston College played at Fenway way back, so I think we’ve been inspired by Fenway’s history and actually bringing these events back in terms of a return to the past.”

More and more venues are getting more and more use out of their facilities by opening them up to new ideas and new sports. Yes, sometimes it’s a pure gimmick, as with the U.S. Synchronized Swim Team performing routines in what was called the largest swim tank in Times Square history last week, but it’s another way to expose what may be a niche sport to more people. You can bet Fenway will be sold out for the Big Air event.

(Boston, MA, 09/22/15) Fenway Sports Management (FSM) and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) during a press conference announce a big air ski and snowboard competition that will take place at Fenway Park in February.  A drawing of the massive snow ramp within the park on Tuesday,  September  22, 2015.  Staff photo by Matt Stone

Drawing courtesy of Fenway Sports Management

Sports at its best

September 21, 2015

So it seems as if we’ve talked a lot about the bad stuff that’s happened in high school games recently. Here’s a feel-good story of what youth sports CAN accomplish.

Northwest High School in the Cincinnati area recently had its second Breast Cancer Awareness soccer game. It started with a player whose aunt was battling the disease and he wanted to do something to show his support. As the team planned its first awareness game, they found out that another soccer player’s mother also was dealing with breast cancer.

At this year’s game the varsity team wore pink socks and jerseys to support those fighting the disease, and to honor those who are no longer here. Fans were encouraged to wear pink and to donate to the cause, and they chipped in hundreds of dollars.

Another area club team, Cincinnati United, raised almost $9,000 through the sale of t-shirts and donated the money to CancerFREE Kids to recognize Childhood Cancer Month.

It’s a cause that many high school and youth sports teams have picked up in recent years. The “Volley for a Cure” among volleyball teams has raised thousands of dollars, and on the college level both men’s and women’s basketball have special breast cancer awareness games.

With headlines dominated recently by high school players behaving badly, it’s good to see youth teams that are thinking of their community and how to help others. It’s a good lesson to learn both on and off the court, the field, or the pitch.

Photo courtesy Northwest High School

Photo courtesy Northwest High School

What NASC Membership Means to Me

September 25, 2012

If you are like most of us, when you acquired your position you also acquired a “membership” in NASC because your CVB or Sports Commission was already a member of NASC.  And, quite possibly, you probably knew little about the NASC or what an impact it could have on your job and your career.

You are part of a rapidly growing industry-the sports tourism travel industry-and the rules we operate by are changing almost daily.  How do you stay ahead of your competition? How do you identify and act on trends when they occur?  How do you go about your “business as usual” when the “usual” keeps changing?

It’s a tough job and sometimes it’s easy to get the feeling that you’re overwhelmed with change and are having to go it alone in your job.

Well, if you haven’t thoroughly studied the NASC website, if you haven’t attended the Market Segment meetings, haven’t yet attended a Symposium, or become involved in the CSEE program, then you couldn’t know that many of the answers to your problems lie as close as your NASC  membership.

The longer you are involved in NASC the more you’ll come to realize that you’re not alone.  The problems you encounter are the same problems others in our industry face and oftentimes, the best way to resolve the problems is to communicate with our peers.  The NASC certainly provides this opportunity through all of its programming services.

I have often said, I have learned more about this industry and learned more about my job through my association with the NASC than with just about anything else I have done throughout my career.  The NASC has provided me the opportunity to establish relationships with rights holders, with event owners, NGB’s, and with my fellow peers within the industry-and we all know it’s all about our relationships.

I would certainly encourage you, whether you are a newcomer to the industry, or a seasoned veteran, to let your NASC help you become a significant contributor to this industry.  And I would also encourage you to get involved with the NASC.  Serving on committees, contributing at market segment meetings, participating in our webinars, and attending and being a part of the Symposium will help you build those relationships that are so crucial to success.

We all have growing pains as we go through life, the NASC can help ease those pains and make us successful.

Jim Dietz, Director of Sports
Columbus Indiana Visitors Center

jdietz@columbus.in.us

Jim served on the Board of Directors of the Columbus Indiana Visitors Center (CIVC) for seven years and as an officer for three of those years. Jim currently serves as Director of Sports Tourism for the CIVC and oversees over 50 annual athletic events in Columbus. Jim has been involved in the hospitality industry for over 30 years having owned and operated his own restaurants in Indiana and Illinois. A former high school teacher and coach, he has also held management positions in a Fortune 500 company and has served on numerous boards including the Western Illinois University Foundation Board and the Western Illinois University Athletic Board.  Jim is currently serving on the NASC Board of Directors and enrolled in the Certified Sports Event Executive (CSEE) Program.  He is the co-chair of the NASC Mentoring Committee.

What NASC Membership Means to Me

September 24, 2012

If you are like most of us, when you acquired your position you also acquired a “membership” in NASC because your CVB or Sports Commission was already a member of NASC.  And, quite possibly, you probably knew little about the NASC or what an impact it could have on your job and your career.

You are part of a rapidly growing industry-the sports tourism travel industry-and the rules we operate by are changing almost daily.  How do you stay ahead of your competition? How do you identify and act on trends when they occur?  How do you go about your “business as usual” when the “usual” keeps changing?

It’s a tough job and sometimes it’s easy to get the feeling that you’re overwhelmed with change and are having to go it alone in your job.

Well, if you haven’t thoroughly studied the NASC website, if you haven’t attended the Market Segment meetings, haven’t yet attended a Symposium, or become involved in the CSEE program, then you couldn’t know that many of the answers to your problems lie as close as your NASC  membership.

The longer you are involved in NASC the more you’ll come to realize that you’re not alone.  The problems you encounter are the same problems others in our industry face and oftentimes, the best way to resolve the problems is to communicate with our peers.  The NASC certainly provides this opportunity through all of its programming services.

I have often said, I have learned more about this industry and learned more about my job through my association with the NASC than with just about anything else I have done throughout my career.  The NASC has provided me the opportunity to establish relationships with rights holders, with event owners, NGB’s, and with my fellow peers within the industry-and we all know it’s all about our relationships.

I would certainly encourage you, whether you are a newcomer to the industry, or a seasoned veteran, to let your NASC help you become a significant contributor to this industry.  And I would also encourage you to get involved with the NASC.  Serving on committees, contributing at market segment meetings, participating in our webinars, and attending and being a part of the Symposium will help you build those relationships that are so crucial to success.

We all have growing pains as we go through life, the NASC can help ease those pains and make us successful.

 

Jim Dietz, Director of Sports
Columbus Indiana Visitors Center

jdietz@columbus.in.us

Jim served on the Board of Directors of the Columbus Indiana Visitors Center (CIVC) for seven years and as an officer for three of those years. Jim currently serves as Director of Sports Tourism for the CIVC and oversees over 50 annual athletic events in Columbus. Jim has been involved in the hospitality industry for over 30 years having owned and operated his own restaurants in Indiana and Illinois. A former high school teacher and coach, he has also held management positions in a Fortune 500 company and has served on numerous boards including the Western Illinois University Foundation Board and the Western Illinois University Athletic Board.  Jim is currently serving on the NASC Board of Directors and enrolled in the Certified Sports Event Executive (CSEE) Program.  He is the co-chair of the NASC Mentoring Committee.

SportAccord 2012 Recap

June 5, 2012

The NASC was well represented at this year’s SportAccord Convention in Quebec City. SportAccord is owned by the international federations of summer and winter sports. It also attracts the meetings of the International Olympic Committee, and was the site for the announcement of the three finalist cities for the 2020 Olympic Games (Madrid, Istanbul, and Tokyo).

The United States Olympic Committee and the IOC also announced the resolution of their long simmering dispute over distribution of revenues from television and international sponsors. This dispute has made it difficult, if not impossible, for our cities to obtain a future Olympic Games (New York and Chicago both suffered under this dispute). The USOC is expected to begin assembling its strategy for a future bid later this month.

We have pressed for several years to schedule a meeting between international bid city representatives. Although it is common for cities in the USA and Canada to meet and discuss topics of interest, this is much less common everywhere else.

As far as we can determine, the City-to-City  session in Quebec City was the first time cities have met alone (with no consultants or suppliers and no international federations) to discuss topics of interest.

At the conclusion of the three hour session there was agreement to pursue additional meetings at future conferences, and to use input from the participants to plan for next year’s SportAccord in St. Petersburg, Russia.

SportAccord 2012 attracted 1800 people from across the globe. I have been honored to have assisted in seven of the ten conferences since its inception in 2003 in Madrid. The NASC places a high value on its relationship with SportAccord. We will continue to represent the USA at future conferences, and feel it is getting to the point where a USA Pavilion could be created. Our friends in Canada have had a Canadian cities pavilion for several years.

International championships can be costly ventures, and many countries have government programs in place to support bids. I was interested to learn that the Province of Quebec was increasing its annual budget in support of sports events from $4 to $8 million!

Must be nice.

– Don

NASC Announces Sports Travel Industry Whitepaper

March 13, 2012

Cincinnati, OH March 13, 2012. The National Association of Sports Commissions is pleased to announce the availability of a new report on the industry.

Download the report now.

This report describes the sports event (and travel) industry. Roles of the key players are discussed: sports commissions, convention and visitors bureaus, event owners, the bid process, and accommodations and the importance of having the right kinds and quantities of facilities are all covered.

It is hoped that the roles of each industry player, the hospitality industry, and sports facilities will be clearly understood. The report will be of particular value to newcomers and those wishing to appreciate the strengths of sports commissions and convention bureaus and the different purposes they can represent.

There is also a section on the bid process which is suggests the strongest possible approach is to combine the strengths of your community into each invitation to select the destination.

For more information on the report or on other facets of the industry please contact the National Association of Sports Commissions at 513.281.3888 or visit www.SportsCommissions.org.