On day 2 of Connect Sports Marketplace, planners and suppliers got down to business. At appointments, seedlings for future deals were planted, and we hope to share success stories down the line. For now, let’s look back on the doings in Grapevine.
The Olympic Effect: Connect Sports is the first place many NGBs had a chance to meet under one roof since the Rio Games. A lot of deserved congratulations were handed out, and now the question will be what comes next after this summer’s success. USA Field Hockey had its best-ever finish; USA Fencing brought home four medals (fifth in the medal count); and USA BMX won gold and silver, among the many great moments for the country. That should mean youth participation and, in turn, more events. Interestingly, USA Rugby’s Aaron Kaylor predicts rugby sevens, played in the Olympics, will remain second fiddle, in terms of events, to the original version with 15 players per side.
Old Is New: So much attention is focused on youth sports, but seniors are out in force. Pickleball is an obvious example of a sport thriving as older individuals remain active longer in their life. Michael Robert Zellner, president of the International Shuffleboard Association, hopes to take his sport to destinations without roots in the game. The thinking is for the local/regional events to spark the formation of a local club and it snowballs from there. The shuffleboard crowd isn’t all old, Zellner says, noting a rising 19-year-old Brazil is drawing attention.
On Deck: Before appointments resume, there is a huge slate of action. It’s the size of Shaq, in fact. Sports planners and suppliers will get up close and personal with the NBA legend before today’s general session. There are several great education sessions as well. And, as always, keep an eye out for Hug E. Bear, Huddle Up Group’s mascot who debuted here in Grapevine.