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,, 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

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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.

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What’s The Parent’s Role At A Sports Event? To Be A Parent!

By Paul Peavy, MS, LMHC

I have great news. I have discovered what a parent’s job is at an athletic event. It is…wait for it…TO BE A PARENT!

Yep. Your child already has a coach—or three or four. Your child already has pressure to perform so it is not to be a pressure adder. Your child may already be confused as to what to do so it is not your job to be a confusion adder. There are officials who actually have the authority to make the final decision, so it is not your job to be the bleacher referee.  There will already be official referee jeerers, so it is not your job to promote yourself to Head Referee Jeerer.

If you are tempted to give your child advice, you might want to run it by the coach first. Because you might say to the coach, “Well if my kid leads with his hips won’t his follow through be more pure?” The coach can answer in a couple of ways, “Great idea! Will you tell him that at lunch and I’ll follow through when we warm up.” Or he might say, “Actually, research now shows that leading with the shoulders causes more force as the hips follow, so I’ve been trying to get junior to slow his hips down.” Either way it’s better than you telling Junior to lead with his hips while his coach tells him to slow his hips down leading to paralysis of the hip by contradicting analysis.

The best way to deal with a kid is to open it up to let your kid tell you about it, “How’d that feel?” “What was going through your head as you started?” “Well, that was interesting,” is a safe statement that might get your child to open up.

Also constantly nagging your child to hydrate, be on time, have his or her equipment leads to either dependency or rebellion on the child’s part. “I don’t have to have to remember anything, Mom will have it,” or “I will show him I can go all day without drinking my Gatorade, he thinks he knows everything.”

Okay, I started to start this blog with something like “It’s as simple as…being a parent.” That of course is the most complicated thing in the world. It is like walking through a minefield. But I trust you have figured out what works in avoiding the minefield in encouraging your child  when he or she is not at a sporting event so I assume you know those mines are probably more potent when you add the pressure of an  athletic event.

Here’s what I do know is simple advice. There is no need to add pressure. Your child feels it on his or her own. There is no need to yell at your child, an official, or a coach. This is the absolute surest way to make your child not perform his or her best. Be a positive reinforcer, be a sympathetic ear, be an arm around your kid’s shoulder. Be the kind of parent you wish you had had when you were a kid playing a kid’s game.


Paul Peavy is a Licensed Psychotherapist who has found a unique and energetic way to help people. As a former stand-up comic he knows one way to get people unstuck is to get them to lighten up, laugh, and live! Paul competes in Ironman triathlons with his wife.


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SportsEvents Names 2014 Readers’ Choice Award Winners

Readers' Choice LogoGULF SHORES, Ala.—SportsEvents Media Group, the leading industry publication focused exclusively on helping sports event planners produce excellent competitions in the United States and Canada, has announced its 2014 class of Readers’ Choice Award winners.

A complete list of winners is listed in the January 2014 issue of SportsEvents or can be found online at

Sports event professionals were asked to name the sports commission, convention and visitors bureaus, or sports events venues that they believe display exemplary creativity and professionalism toward the groups they host. Nominations were received from readers throughout the year, and the top picks were selected based on the results from an online voting system.

“Our online voting system allowed us to gather thousands of nominations and votes cast by sports event planners around the country for the 2014 Readers Choice Awards,” said Kristen McIntosh, SportsEvents editor. “These award winners have gone above and beyond to provide the quality sports infrastructure, services and commitment today’s discerning sports event planners demand. These winners have truly set the bar high for the sports events they host.”

About SportsEvents Media Group
SportsEvents Media Group, publisher of SportsEvents magazine, is the industry leader in providing products and services designed to connect sports events organizers with sports commissions, CVBs, hotels, insurance companies and other sports events industry suppliers.

The sports events industry’s only true multi-media company unites sports event buyers and suppliers with the leading monthly magazine (SportsEvents), online (, through social media with Facebook and Twitter, and with face-to-face conferences and trade shows—S.P.O.R.T.S. – The Relationship Conference. S.P.O.R.T.S 2014 will be held Sept. 8-11 in Annapolis, Md. For more information, please visit

About Covey Communications Corp.
Founded and owned by J. Talty O’Connor, Covey Communications Corp. is a multimedia company that publishes nationally distributed magazines for targeted markets. In addition to SportsEvents Magazine and its family of publications, Covey Communications Corp. also publishes ConventionSouth, Condo Owner and Crossties, all of which are B2B publications.

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Granny’s Gone Wild!

By Paul Peavy

Well, it finally happened. Crazy, mad granny pushed a swim meet official into the pool for disqualifying her granddaughter because her granddaughter broke a rule. It looked a little like this…

While this was a classic funny scene in a “Beverly Hillbillies” episode, and the buzz around the pool was always followed with laughter, it is truly a sad story. It is sad for that little girl. It is a sad pronouncement of the state of youth sports.

It is amazing we tell our kids to follow the rules, respect authority, do what your teachers say but somehow arguing with an umpire, a referee, or an official is okay. If the point of sports is to be a microcosm of life that you can teach discipline, hard work, overcoming adversity, dealing with teammates, etc. Where does “abuse the authority figures that are in place to keep structure, organization and fairness” come in?

My first experience came with baseball. It was somehow OK, even cool, and, yes, a tradition for the manager to go out and get in an umpire’s face spray words mixed with saliva, kick dirt and even throw dirt on an umpire’s shoes. And the great result from these arguments was that the umpires never—I mean never—changed their minds. Then I noticed basketball coaches having a hissy fit on every…single…itty…bitty call. It must be right to teach their players that they never, ever do anything wrong and they are always a victim. Nope, it could not be that my ballplayer was lazy in handling the ball or just missed a jumper. It had to be the referee’s fault for blowing the call.

The interesting thing is that in swimming there is an appeal process. Your coach can go to the head official in a calm, organized manner and appeal the call. But it is not done in front of all the other swimmers, fans, parents and coaches. One of the things I have learned in conflict resolution training is to not leave the other person’s pride in tact and not let the problem become a matter of pride or stubbornness. Do not attack the other person’s dignity. You can bet the personal attack becomes the bigger issue rather than whether or not the swimmer touched the wall with two hands. I believe it was labeled as, “Do not let the other party let being upset about the upset become the most important thing.”

What you are teaching your child is that the way you handle conflict is that it is okay for you yell at the teacher and even push them if they don’t change their mind. You may think I am exaggerating but the picture in your child’s brain is burned in there permanently.

So, what to do about this kind of behavior at your event? I would have a mandatory meeting that coaches or an experienced parent is required to have at the beginning of the event. Here are the things I would point out:

  1. We are here to have a positive experience.
  2. Officials are humans, and humans make mistakes.
  3. Your child is a human and makes mistakes.
  4. Do not berate the officials. If you do you are being a terrible reflection on our team and what we stand for.
  5. There is a way to disagree or protest in a calm dignified manner. If you see the need for this please let the coach know and he or she will follow through with the procedure.
  6. Teach your kids that life is full of ups and downs, and sometimes is fair and sometimes it is not. For the most part, though, they will be given another chance to succeed somewhere down life’s path.

And if you disagree with me, please feel free to reply or email. But please I’d rather you not make a YouTube video and pronounce that I am a scumbag. (Actually, I’d probably be flattered if you took the time to do that, but you might regret that kind of publicity later.)

Paul Peavy is a Licensed Psychotherapist who has found a unique and energetic way to help people. As a former stand-up comic he knows one way to get people unstuck is to get them to lighten up, laugh, and live! In over ten years of dedication to getting people moving toward rediscovering the joy in life here are some of the highlights of America’s favorite Stand-up Therapist! Paul also competes in Ironman triathlons with his wife.;

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5 Ideas For Helping You Grow Your Membership

5 Ideas To Help You Grow Your Membership

By Bruce Knittle

With almost every sports organization seeking to expand and strengthen its membership, there are a few models upon which to draw certain lessons. One such entity with a sound membership expansion strategy is the United States Tennis Association (USTA).

The USTA was originally formed in 1881 as the United States National Lawn Tennis Association, and subsequently shortened to its current name. From its inception to present, the USTA has abided by certain principles that have driven their membership strategies throughout the years.

The following are examples from the USTA, which can prove relevant to sports organizations, associations, and event owners.


1. Value The Mission Statement

The mission statement of the USTA is the same as in its beginning constitution—to promote and develop the growth of tennis. This is a simple message that still guides the 17 geographical sections comprising the organization.

One of these divisions, the USTA Texas section, in putting forth its 2013 strategic plan, places this same vision as a top priority. Anyone connected to this and other sections, will be working toward similar objectives.

The Amateur Athletic Union is an example of a sports organization, with its 56 separate districts, all adhering to the same message of the AAU. This communication is “to be dedicated exclusively to the promotion and development of amateur sports and physical fitness programs.” All membership expansion is based with this principle at the forefront.


2. Embrace Community Partners

The USTA has long been a leader in expanding member participation by utilizing community tennis partners. They recognize those organizations that provide tennis programming for their respective locales. The USTA shows its support by offering a full spectrum of play opportunities through these community tennis events.

These programs provide tennis at the grass roots level, which is crucial to growing the sport’s membership.

Event planners and rights holders alike would do well in trying to embrace their surrounding communities. This will help with increasing membership, and developing goodwill from the local communities.


3. Promote Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion is a strategic priority for the USTA, and one of its core values. USTA recognizes it has an obligation to lead in removing barriers so that tennis reflects all of America.

This inclusion pertains to membership initiatives, as well as all programs, volunteers and staff.

It is always a good idea for an organization or an event to have diversity programs for as many groups as possible. This will serve an ancillary purpose of expanding membership to demographic segments not previously considered.


4. Add Tournament & League Play Options

By continually increasing its tournament and league participation, the USTA creates new opportunities for membership growth. One recent illustration of this is the development of competitive opportunities for 10 and under-aged tennis. In creating new initiatives that involve youngsters in the sport, the hope is that these children will be tennis players for life.

There are numerous other organizations working to expand their membership base by reaching out to the youth demographic segment. The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) is an example of an organization that hosts many types of sports offerings for youngsters of varying ages. USSSA also recognizes the need to escalate its brand through these many categories of events and tournaments.


5. Think Creatively

The USTA continually turns to creativity to increase tennis participation and membership. One example of this resourceful thinking is a commitment to wheelchair tennis. The USTA is the national governing body of both Olympic and Paralympic tennis. Included in its sphere are the Pan American games and World Team Cup tennis events.

Many sports organizations and event planners would do well to emulate the programming opportunities the USTA provides for wheelchair bound individuals. A whole new market has been created by this outreach and commitment from the USTA.

On a personal note, while attending the U.S. Open this year, one of the more enjoyable aspects of the event for myself and others, was watching wheelchair tennis competition.

Overall, the USTA, through the above and other illustrations, is an example to all-sized sports organizations of how to increase their membership and brand. And what can be more relevant to a sports entity’s long-termed growth as its membership.



Bruce Knittle is the President of Knittle Sports Solutions, Inc., a full service sports consulting firm based in Long Island, New York. Knittle Sports Solutions offers advisory services to sports organizations in many geographic regions. Previously, Bruce was a successful camp owner, and director of sports programs for many years.

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How To Make Fun Runs…Fun!


By Paul Peavy

I read a recent SportsEvents article about the sports commission in Louisville, Ky., adding lots of  “Fun Runs” to their inventory of sports events, and I started to wonder what really makes these runs so fun.

After putting on a run where runners were splattered with powder paint at every mile and people said they had an absolute blast I reviewed what we had done well and asked others who had participated in other fun runs what had made them so fun.


To mock the real estate sales people you need three things—volunteers, volunteers and volunteers. You need lots of people. You need lots of loud, enthusiastic people.

I can think of two events I went to where volunteers were quiet, unenthusiastic people who were supposed to be giving very important directions using loud, loud voices and exaggerated body language. Because the volunteers did not possess either of these traits, athletes missed their turn or ran into other athletes or course hazards.

My advice is to specifically recruit groups or individual volunteers who will be loud and enthusiastic. Our paint splatterers were teen-aged members of a swim team. They were naturally loud and expressive, but I encouraged them to be loud, silly, wear costumes or do whatever they wanted to create enthusiasm. The only other thing I told them was that we were going to be socialists with the paint. Everybody got the same amount of enthusiastic attention as they would give their best friend.


Lack of hydration and nutrition is a problem I have heard too frequently among runners. Organizers simply have to have more than you can imagine they might need. You might even attract  untrained runners or athletes who will be on the course longer than some others, so having plenty of water on the course is really imperative. Don’t offer enough hydration, and you will definitely give your fun runs a non-fun feel.


An enthusiastic announcer and music everywhere is extremely energizing. Plant cheap boom boxes along the course. Have cheerleaders and drum corps from high schools and middle schools playing along the course. Many of these groups are looking for opportunities to perform.

Interestingly, one thing you can skimp on is a clock. You have new and experienced runners who are coming to this event just to have fun, so they might not want a pesky clock reminding them that they may not be having as much fun as they thought. (Besides the serious obsessive compulsive runner will have his or her own watch. And heart rate monitor. And GPS. And coach talking them through their pacing. And smartphone sending them biofeedback of each vital organ’s reaction to each step.)

Be creative. Have jugglers. Have bears on unicycles. It is a FUN run!

Oh by the way, I had Elvis on a bike lead out our run. And yes, the lead runner kept challenging him to a race so halfway through our race Elvis threw down the bike and we had a mile and half duel between Elvis and a top high school runner. Top that for a FUN run!

Paul Peavy is a Licensed Psychotherapist who has found a unique and energetic way to help people. As a former stand-up comic he knows one way to get people unstuck is to get them to lighten up, laugh, and live! In over ten years of dedication to getting people moving toward rediscovering the joy in life here are some of the highlights of America’s favorite Stand-up Therapist! Paul also competes in Ironman triathlons with his wife.



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