SportsEvents Magazine

FEB 2017

SportsEvents is edited for those who plan tournaments or other sports events.

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Page 14 of 59 February 2017 15 provided red, white and blue shirts to all spectators on July 4th. It was quite a visual and we still see people wearing these shirts at meets today." While USA Swimming has had the task of keeping the Olympic Trials fresh every four years since 2008 at the same venue — CenturyLink Center in Omaha, NE — the U.S. Golf Association (USGA) gets a boost by changing its championship sites regularly throughout the year. "Because we move all 13 champion- ships to a different golf course throughout the country every year, the venue alone presents newness," said Janeen Driscoll, USGA's director of public relations. Last year alone, courses in Washing- ton, Oregon, South Carolina, California, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Illinois, Florida, Missouri, New Jersey and Tennessee were among USGA's championship venues. "We are excited to work with the local community to enlist their support, educate them on what the USGA does for the game and tie the event into community pride," Driscoll said. "We have been overwhelmed by such support in the last 120 years by vis- iting so many diverse parts of the country." For other governing bodies, such as the United States Ju-Jitsu Organization (USJJO), its championship events get even greater exposure — not to mention a jolt of something new — by partnering with very popular mainstream competitions. "The last two years, the UFC [Ultimate Fighting Championship] has invited us to hold our U.S. Nationals and U.S. Open at their International Fight Week in Las Vegas," said Sarah Stanton, the USJJO president. "This venue has allowed compet- itors and spectators from all over the world to come to Las Vegas and compete, as well as enjoy all the activities that are going on." Though the draw of the main event is strong, event planners often put a great deal of effort into developing those additional activities to keep athletes and spectators en- gaged and entertained — even if the venue stays the same. Every year, Virginia Beach hosts the North American Sand Soccer Champi- onships (NASSC), drawing thousands of soccer players to the shore. Having been in- volved since its inception, NASSC Director Dick Whalen knows what it takes to keep the event current. Alongside the main event of the beach soccer tournament, the NASSC has taken the opportunity to introduce athletes and fans to other sports played on the beach, such as wrestling, lacrosse, tennis, rugby and co-ed football. But it's beach soccer that keeps the event exciting, according to Whalen. "It's a lot of fun to run around on the beach," Whalen said. If numbers were any indication, the more than 1,000 teams in 86 divisions that showed up for the 2016 NASSC agreed. For Whalen, it's more than just about those numbers; it's also about growing and developing the sport of beach soccer, which he predicts is the perfect fit for the Olympic Games. One way to pursue an Olympic slot is to bring in professional beach soccer players to help increase the awareness of the sport among youth in the country, Whalen said. In 2016, Ramiro Amarelle, the captain of FC Barcelona's beach soccer team, and oth- er European beach soccer professionals led a sand soccer skills camp before NASSC competition got underway. The first-ever event drew 100 kids to sign up. Not only do kids get expert instruction from these professionals but also they get to see some advanced competition up close. "These guys play from another uni- verse," Whalen said. "The ball is almost continuously in the air. It's a lot of fun, a lot of spirited aerial competition." Sports competitions that have been around for a while aren't the only ones that need a refresh every now and then. USA Cheer President Bill Seely's organization debuted STUNT, one of the newest compet- itive team sports derived from cheerleading, in 2010. This more technical and athletic execu- tion of stunts, pyramids, basket tosses and tumbling seems exciting enough but Seely said there is an emphasis on the produc- tion of the event to keep athletes and fans engaged. "Our events have a high level of pro- duction with various lighting schemes, multimedia presentations and interactive performance elements," Seely said. "Our style of events is very unique and constantly changing to keep our participants engaged." That entertainment element trans- lates well to USA Cheer's production of televised events and online programming through ESPN, CBS Sports and Varsity TV to raise awareness of the sport, according to Seely. While some ideas can be universally ap- plied to various sports competitions — such as promotion and engagement on social me- dia — understanding an event's strengths and finding unique ways to highlight them may be the best way to keep it relevant. n GAME Plan t Various lighting schemes, multimedia presentations and interactive perfor- mance elements are some of the tools USA Cheer uses to keep their events engaging

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