You Gotta Know When—And How—To Fold ’Em!

By Paul Peavy

Sometimes ya’ just gotta know when to fold ‘em. I help run The Mac Crutchfield Foundation, which provides college swim scholarships and donates to Special Olympics.

The foundation was organizing a new and exciting fun run, but the crowd was not responding, and we were not getting the registration we needed. It was a fun run with inflatable obstacles. It was difficult to publicize and get across what we were doing because there were no other pictures of such an event out there.

We also had a problem because we had to pay for the inflatables, so there was a very real possibility of losing money for our foundation, which is not a very good way to run a successful foundation.

We decided to make one last push to friends of the foundation, but we knew that if we did not get the numbers we would have to cancel. Well, the numbers did not come up to being viable so we had to pull the plug.

So, this now becomes to me a very simple matter of pulling the plug with dignity and walking away with head held high. I called everyone that we had registered and apologized and told them we would be sending a check back to them. Those without phone numbers received a very personal email explaining what had happened. I encouraged them to continue to support The Mac Crutchfield Foundation. Most expressed disappointment but said they would look forward to our next event.

Let me skip over to another friend’s triathlon. She was successful with her events the previous two years and was expanding the triathlon. The numbers did not come through for her either. She made one last plea for more registrants and then, well, I’m not quite sure what happened. The website was shut down and no more was heard from her. This is a fine upstanding community member with personal integrity who had done all kinds of work in the community. But her reputation and this event’s reputation took a severe ding because of the way she folded the event.

The point is this: sometimes incredibly intelligent, imaginative, hard working people take risks in creating events that may not take hold. The question comes down to whether you could accept the financial risk and carry on or fold. Then, the bigger question is how to fold.

I can hold my head high and walk into any room and look anybody in the eye and talk about what happened with my event. I can also look people in the eye and talk about future events we have planned. At least they know I will be up front with them. If they hear me talking about an event they might want to come to, at least they won’t see signing up as too much of a gamble.

Paul Peavy, http://www.paulpeavy.com, is a licensed mental health therapist who, along with his wife, runs triathlons and participates in and plans sports events.

Posted in sport event | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The True Impact Of Our Events…Bringing People Together

By Hannah Zito, SportsEvents

In an industry that produces events that bring in millions of dollars, it’s easy for us to get caught up in the dollars and cents of what we do. This market is one that others in the tourism industry are envious of – as they well should be, based on the economic impact of our events that continues to grow year after year. However, when you take a step back and you look at the overall impact of the sports events tourism industry, it is so much more than the total room nights, tickets sold and total income generated.

These numbers pale in comparison to the true impact of our events that lies in the power to bring people together, despite the size of their group or whatever else they may or may not have in common. The ability to produce something that creates such a strong sense of fellowship and fraternity among individuals that are rooting for the same team or athlete is the real and unique impact of sports events.

I’ll be honest – coming into the sports events industry, I knew little more than SEC football. I watch horse racing once a year for three months (technically about 12 minutes total) and I watch the Olympics every two years. I don’t watch soccer on a regular basis and never have. But when the Olympics come on, I become an avid fan and follower of every American competing in the Games – it doesn’t matter if I have to look up the rules of Curling or if I don’t understand how they chose the Dream Team. I just want them to win! And when the World Cup comes on, I’m glued to a television, even at nine in the morning, even if I’m at work (nobody tell Kristen!).

I love the spirit and energy that a fan base can produce. When you’re in high school, pep rallies are easy to come by. Even going to a small school on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay, we packed all 200 of us in the gym to cheer on everything from our State Championship Volleyball team to our varsity football team determined to make a name for themselves despite our young program. And when the cannon fired after a touchdown – even if we had no shot at winning – the elation was palpable throughout the crowd.

However, this doesn’t begin in high school. It begins with a child’s first sporting event. Everything from your first Little League game to your first horse show is something people rarely forget: the crowd (however small) is going wild for you and you walk away with such a sense of pride and accomplishment that it’s hard not to be hooked on sports. And it’s the crowd that helps you realize that you’ve just done something wonderful and amazing, even if nobody is keeping score (c’mon, we all know somebody’s parent was) because of their spirit and belief in your team, no matter how small the event is.

On a larger scale, sports events provide that “rallying” factor for fans and athletes alike. For example, after the attacks on September 11th, New York was unsure of what to do, how to carry on. When was the right time to be happy again? Would there be another attack? But on September 21st, the Atlanta Braves played in Shea Stadium against the New York Mets. They were determined that the game would go on, out of solidarity for their city and to show the world that America was not afraid. And they did it with a single baseball game.

Sports events tourism is successful because of this camaraderie and “rallying” effect that people get from supporting their team or their athlete. The saying, “If you build it, they will come” could easy be altered to “If you host it, they will come.” Even in the recession, people were willing to spend precious dollars to attend these events.

Athletes and spectators alike will travel far and wide to stand next to a person feeling that same intense range of emotions, to experience the pride and, sometimes despair, in a win or a loss. It doesn’t matter if the person sitting next to you your best friend from kindergarten or your best friend from the start of the last quarter; what matters is that your both there watching the same game, with the same goosebumps as you silently pray for the same buzzer beater, Hail Mary, goal save.

How lucky are we, the sports events industry, that we can bring this feeling to people on a regular basis? That the cities that host these events can be proud to host these memories as well; that the planners that spend hundreds of hours working out even the smallest details get to see their events bring such pride to their athletes and their spectators. It’s when these two groups come together that people are given the chance to experience that ultimate feeling of camaraderie and pride. And that, above all else, is the real impact and power of sports events.

Hannah Zito is marketing coordinator for SportsEvents Media Group.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Importance Of The ‘Wow’ Factor

Image

In the photo above, SportsEvents’ Christy Raley is pictured at left with Disney Sports’ Darrell Fry and Raquel Giorgio.


By Christy Raley, SportsEvents Magazine, craley@coveypubs.com

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting with Disney Sports’ Darrell Fry, sports media director, and Raquel Giorgio, sports media manager.

During our meeting, we toured the ESPN Wide World of Sports facility at Disney World. It was an experience I will not forget.

Right away, I felt the wow factor. The Wide World of Sports facility combines two of the world’s most recognized and respected brands into a complex that hosts more than 350 events and 350,000+ athletes from more than 70 countries each year.

What makes this complex so unique is the focus on providing outstanding hospitality and personal attention to participants and their families.

For example, from the moment teams arrive at the complex, coaches and players drop off their sports equipment at the front entrance to have it delivered promptly to their field or venue.

While I was there, an Amateur Athletics Union (AAU) gymnastics competition was in progress. I noticed professional photographers strategically positioned throughout the arena. Disney provides this service during competition so the parents can enjoy their child’s game or competition to the fullest. At the end of the day, parents could purchase their child’s photos. A really special touch!

There’s also an ESPN Production Center on site that houses an Innovation Lab where new on-air products are tested on some of the athletes playing at the complex. How cool would it be for a child athlete to say they were a part of a new product launched on ESPN TV?

Every part of this 230-acre complex is designed to give parents, coaches and athletes their “I’m going to Disney World” wow factor moment.

To me, every child deserves to have this feeling at some point in their life, and for those fortunate enough to play in this complex, I guarantee they will leave with a feeling they will never forget, regardless of whether they won or lost their games.

Thanks again to the Disney Sports Public Relations team for taking the time to visit with us and giving me a “behind-the-scenes” look at this incredible facility.

I can’t wait to come back and take in a game!

For more information on Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, log on to www.disneysportsnews.com, ESPN Wide World of Sports on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter at @DisneySports.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kid Volunteers? Yes, No Or Maybe?

Peavy_Kid

By Paul Peavy

The more volunteers the merrier, right? The more enthusiastic the volunteers the better, right? Kids can be a big help for a sporting event. But the most important role of a volunteer is to do the assigned job—as assigned. And certainly, they should do no harm.

Well, at a recent state championship swim meet, the kids in the volunteer roles of timers indeed did some harm. They could not keep up with the hectic and crazy pace of a swim meet as timers, which meant assuring the correct swimmer was in their correct lane in the correct event and correct heat. Then settling in and hearing the starter’s call and pushing the stopwatch button in synchronization with the starting strobe light, keeping up with the correct number of laps of that race and then standing to watch for the swimmer’s touch of the wall and pushing both the stopwatch and an electronic plunger. Then, within a few seconds writing down the recorded times and starting the whole process over again. Oh, yeah, and do this for a few hours at a time without a break.

They insisted on telling a swimmer this was not her heat. The swimmer knew she was right and persisted in telling them she was up next. The young timers insisted they were correct and told the swimmer it was not her turn. When the swimmers were taking to the starting blocks and no one was in her lane, the timers realized their mistake. The swimmer tried to rush to the block but the officials would not allow her on the block. After much frustration and appealing the officials agreed to let the swimmer swim in a later heat. The swimmer was flustered and her timing for her warm up was all messed up.

When doing triathlons and other distance events the view of some really cute kids dressed up and dancing around is always a fun sight but I don’t think it’s fair to a child or an athlete to put a child in a position of sole responsibility. When kids are at aid stations in running and triathlon events there are always adults there to handle unusual situations and understand special needs.

I am sure those kids felt bad for messing up the swimmer’s six months of training, but they were put in an adult situation because it was easier to simply fill in roles that way. A fair enough compromise would have been for one adult and one child in to be positioned in each lane instead of two kids.

I love hearing kids take the microphone, hand out water and cheer, but in your events I think you strongly need to consider what could go wrong in having kids in positions of responsibilities without any supervision. Let kids be kids and bring their sense of joy to your events. Let the adults be the ones responsible for the boring, technical aspects that are crucial for your athletes’ results.

Paul Peavy is a licensed mental health therapist as well as an athlete and parent of an athlete. paul@paulpeavy.com, www.paulpeavy.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Planning A New Event? Do These 4 Things To Make It A Winner

By Taylor Peyton Strunk

As with any new venture, the concept of launching a new event can be a daunting task, but with the right plan in place, “It’s really the same process as running an existing event,” said David Boyd, event manager of the Columbus Sports Council in Columbus, Ga., which conducts approximately 50 events each year. “The only differences are that you have to do a little more investigating, you have to put a strategic plan in place, and you need to consider that it is going to take a little more time.”

1. Put A Plan In Place

As opposed to an annual event, which can start to run like clockwork year to year, “Planning for a new event can take up to several months, Boyd said. “An annual event can be coordinated with minimal time by using a model you’ve already developed with that particular event.”

With that in mind, Boyd advised that one of the best things any event planner can do is take notes—from start to finish. “When I do an event for the first time, I take copious notes and keep records of everything. That way, the next time it is so much easier to streamline everything. You can make improvements and go into autopilot.”

The one uncontrollable factor that can necessitate a change in plans, however, is Mother Nature. “The single scenario that is the toughest to handle is weather,” Boyd said. “But, if you plan for the worst and hope for the best, you won’t have any surprises. And with a contingency plan in place, you will have all of your bases covered.”

2. Find Your Niche

For Robert Pozo, owner and executive race director of Continental Event and Sports Management Group LLC in Miami, developing a unique concept was crucial to the successful launch of the Divas Half Marathon® and 5K, a destination event held in various locations across the country and Puerto Rico.

In the developmental stage, “We did a lot of exploring to see what people were attending,” Pozo said. “We discovered that women are really participating in a lot of half marathon events and that destinations are a huge draw.”

With the notion of a destination half marathon in place, Pozo and his team began brainstorming a theme. “We came up with the ‘Divas’ name because it has such an allure to it. We developed a feel good-, girl power-type image that we found participants are really drawn to. There’s an added attraction when you do these fun types of events.”

The fact that the race is held in locales with destination draw gives the event bonus inherent appeal, Pozo said. When host city exploration began, however, “We found that you can’t choose the city you go to; the city has to choose you. Ideally, you partner with a city that wants to make you its crown jewel of sporting events.”

Additionally, “You must—for every event—under-promise and over-deliver,” Pozo said. “Cities are getting smarter, so you have to bring in your said room nights and participants. If you fall short, that’s an immediate black eye. Try to find a city willing to grow with you.”

3. Do Your Research

When planning a new event, there is always a little extra legwork involved, including finding out everything you possibly can on the front end about your host city and venue, said Rebecca Davis, executive director of the Youth Amateur Travel Sports Association (YATSA).

Next spring, YATSA will launch the All-American Wood Bat Classic in multiple locations across the nation. A spin-off of the annual event traditionally held over a weekend in Atlanta, the event showcases competitive youth baseball played with a wooden bat.

“One of our biggest challenges has been finding venues that are suitable for the event and are the appropriate size,” Davis said. “Baseball is a regulated sport, so this isn’t an instance in which we can get creative with venues.”

Taking these parameters into consideration, YATSA has had to dig deep and look hard for ideal event locales. Additionally, because of the very nature of the organization, “We have our own set of challenges, because we are dealing with youth, and we are dealing with traveling teams,” Davis said, adding that, with an event like travel baseball, the city has to be accessible.

“We ran into a situation where the city was not accessible and we could not find flights under $700. When you are trying to get 15 kids there, along with their parents and coaches, this poses quite a challenge.”

Effective communication, therefore, is key, Davis said. “We have had much success through a partnership program in which we try to identify key markets for youth travel sports,” she said, adding that the organization has discovered hidden gems through their research. “We tell cities, ‘Even if you don’t have a baseball diamond, let us know what you do have.’ Finding cities with key attractions are just as important as the critical venue itself. When we can identify a city as a destination, we can establish that relationship, and no one’s time and energy are wasted.”

4. Lean On Those In The Know

The host organizations of both the Indoor (Winston-Salem, N.C.) and Outdoor (Allendale, Mich.) NCAA DII Track and Field Nationals this spring will be conducting these national events for the first time. While the championships themselves are not new to the track and field world, both host cities are facing first-time hosting challenges and relying on those “in the know” to prepare for success.

“Whenever you bid on an event like this one, you have to do a great job, and my goal is to want people to come back and return to city and love it as much as I do,” said Katy Tigchelaar, sports manager for the West Michigan Sports Commission, host of the outdoor event. The championship is being held at Grand Valley State University, and Tiglechaar said she has relied heavily on the university’s athletic department and coaches to ensure their bases are covered. “I don’t know a lot about track and field, but having coaches at Grand Valley has been huge in helping us.”

Specifically, Tiglechar said the knowledge from the university’s athletic officials has helped them prepare the facility appropriately. “We found out that NCAA changed the distances for the javelin, so we have to re-grade and move the fences for that field area,” she said. “We also realized that one of the coaches’ areas is not easy to get to if you have multiple athletes in different events at the same time, so the school is looking into adding a secondary gate to make it more convenient for the coaches. Although these things cost money, the school realizes it’s an investment to make the facility better, too.”

The indoor championship will be hosted in Winston-Salem, N.C., utilizing the city’s brand new indoor track and field facility. “JDL Fast Track just came online and it has been great for the state, because this is the only indoor facility designed specifically for track and field,” said Dennis Schroeder, director of sales and services for Visit Winston-Salem.

Prior to the opening of the facility, “We were not a track and field destination,” said Bonny Benat, sports events and sales manager at Visit Winston-Salem. “We had to educate ourselves.”

Bernat said they have relied heavily on the expertise of people in the community who have participated in similar events to appropriately prepare for the championship. “We have facilities in communities close by that have hosted similar events, and we have found individuals who have competed and coached, and both [of these resources] have provided a wealth of knowledge for us.”

“It is key to be a continuous learner,” Schroeder said. “With a new event, you’re not going to be an expert right away, but you should be familiar with the terminology and needs, and you should surround yourself with experts. You have incredible resources in your volunteers and officials. Foster those relationships and, when you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Remember, Competition Is Tough On A Kid

By Paul Peavy

I was watching a college basketball game on TV about a month ago. A few extra curricular elbows and shoves were getting thrown around when the commentator said, “They need to remember that this is just a game.”

Obviously, something has stuck with me about that simple statement with me for over a month. Perhaps it is because it was such a juxtaposition to what I believe about my own participation in sports as a youngster, and what I see adolescents going through in their participation in sports.  Let me lay it out like this –

When I play Ultimate Frisbee with the students at FSU, it’s just a game.

When I play a pick up game of basketball at the gym, it’s just a game.

When I play in a city league softball game, it’s just a game.

Even when I compete in an Ironman triathlon, it’s just a game. (Perhaps that is why I scored a lay-up in a kid’s driveway basketball game that was on the course at mile 131 of Ironman Florida.)

You see, none of those things have a whole lot to do with my total identity. They are not the reason I believe I was put here on this earth.

But I knew that to those college basketball players on scholarship at a major university that this was way more than a game. Nope, this was a huge part of their identity. It may be the biggest part of developing who they are now and who they are going to be.

I think the key is to look at these athletes and our own adolescent athletes in the sense of adolescent development during the course of history.

Adolescence did not exist 100 years ago. When you were old enough, your work on the family farm or the family business simply grew more and more until that became your identity. Perhaps the GI Bill after World War II became the biggest thing to change that when it allowed all those soldiers coming home from the war to broaden their horizons from the family farm and onto higher education.

Culturally, the emphasis on higher education has broadened the range of adolescence greatly. In China in 1980, half of the 16-year-olds were employed. As continuing education became more heavily emphasized, this number was cut in half by 1990. So what does all this talk about adolescence have to do with your sporting event?

As a therapist who works with many adolescents, it is so interesting to see the desperate search for identity and the many (often dangerous) avenues it can take. A sense of identity is a huge draw for gang life, drug cultures, and many other “dark” adventures kid take on.

One of the many reasons adults don’t take their kids’ athletics seriously is that they don’t understand that the child’s search for identity may have become grounded, pounded and surrounded within their own sports’ culture.

Think of the number of hours spent in practice with the same kids and coaches over and over again. Then think about how no one other than teammates really understand the straining of training that your kid has gone through at school.

Now you let that pressure build into a once-a-month, once-a-quarter or twice-a-year performance test known as a tournament or a meet, and  you start to see why your sweet little angel may become the Tasmanian Devil around tournament or meet time.

I am not at all saying it is OK for your adolescent athlete to become rude and obnoxious around a competition. Rather, I am saying it may be one of life’s great teaching moments on how to deal with frustrations, pressures, poor decisions by those who are in authority, etc.

It might be good for you as a parent to start a conversation with your adolescent a day or two before the tournament using the following phrases:

“I know this meet means a lot to you, how are you feeling?”

“At the last meet things didn’t go so well. Let’s talk about a safety plan for what to do if things start to build up, like walking to the parking lot, etc.

“I’m proud of how hard you’ve worked.”

Adolescence is a pressure-packed time where every moment may feel like the ONLY moment in a kid’s life. Sports participation allows a kid to build a positive identity and develop skills such as a good work ethic, habits, organization, creative problem solving, and, yes, even anger management.

Trust me, from what I’ve seen on the streets, I’m happy to have my adolescent develop part of her identity from a sporting event rather than many of the other options out there.

Paul Peavy, http://www.paulpeavy.com, is an experienced licensed mental health therapist, sports participant, sport parent and all-around funny guy who uses humor to share his message. Contact Paul at paul@paulpeavy.com.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

University Sports Venues – How To Create An A+ Event Experience

By Bruce Knittle

University facilities are considered prime locations for sports events for a variety of reasons. After all, the facilities are usually immaculately maintained, and athletes say they love competing where college athletes play. But once a location is secured, challenges can exist. Below are tips for overcoming challenges and producing a great event at a university venue.

Read The Contract Carefully

Frequently, colleges have standard contracts that apply to a diverse range of entities. Before signing anything, planners need to know specifically what is important to their event before reaching any agreement. 

Usually there is room in university contracts for negotiation on certain issues, except for items such as the amount of insurance required. Rather than worrying later, it is advantageous having everything of significance put to writing.

Find Someone You Trust

While the sports event planner will usually be working with the athletic department, this is not always the case. Whichever department is responsible, it is wise to form a positive relationship with the person in charge. If problems arise, having someone to go to whom you trust is imperative.

When working with college administrators, you will want to know which personnel will be assigned to your event. Sometimes, college students, eager for experience, will be your best helpers, and will not mind working longer hours.

Understand Safety & Medical Policies

Every school has a safety and medical policy that the event organizer should be aware of. He or she then needs to relay this information to all event participants.

There is nothing more important than providing a safe environment, and having the proper event security is essential. If added security is warranted, these considerations need to be addressed before the event.

Colleges, of course, have their own medical staff available to them. Sports event planners will need to find out if school healthcare personnel would be available for the event. If there is school medical care provided, this should be stated in the contract.

Add University Staff To Your Planning Team

When planning your event, engage volunteers who are either college staff or students as members of your planning team. These individuals are familiar with the school, and will help the event planner navigate through any facility issues that arise.

Having members of the collegiate community on your team can also help with marketing your event. This local influence can help develop goodwill for your event through positive word of mouth.

Think About Dorms For Housing

One advantage of hosting an event on a college campus is university dormitories are a convenient mode of lodging. If arrangements are preplanned, these dormitories are inexpensive alternatives to hotel arrangements.

Especially when hosting a tournament with numerous teams involved, having dormitories available so close to the actual event, will appeal to participants.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment