Sports Events Offering Virtual Experiences

By Sherri Middleton

In this new world of sports events being cancelled from the NCAA March Madness to high school and youth level sports, rights holders are now reaching out to members to assure that sports and life will continue on.

The reminder is that remaining healthy, active and involved is still essential.

SportsEvents Magazine posted yesterday that although TrackTown Youth League events were cancelled in Portland, Ore., because of the timing of the events on schedule in the next weeks, the organization still provided online resources and a way to earn a ribbon for participation by going online.

It’s this sort of different way of thinking that will continue our mission as a sports industry of keeping people active – even if they are working out alone.

The United States Polo Association (USPA) also cancelled events but offered fans and athletes a way to watch archive footage of the sport through Global Polo Entertainment. The network offers replays and highlights of polo events and offers polo action through on-demand game footage, original news and highlights at.

USA Sailing offered a new video channel to keep sailors connected to the sport with videos and live content and the Drone Racing League (DRL) unveiled DRL Academy, a STEM Project to support students studying remotely.

USA BMX already offers a STEM project and the Professional Disc Golf Association encourages getting outdoors while self-distancing.

USA Cycling issued a statement and new message: Because Bikes Can Keep Us Together that asks individuals and communities to support business. The organization is asking registrants from upcoming events to allow the organizer to keep the fees or be patient while refunds are processed.

That’s the message we are hearing across the U.S. If you’ve signed up to compete, please be patient with the staff. If you’d like a refund. Many organizations will oblige.

Our planners tell me that they are still responsible for the insurance, government fees or expenditures for events that were planned.

Recreation programs like the ones in Macon-Bibb County’s Recreation Department are now offering physical activity to the community. “Our motto is ‘Building healthy communities through people, parks and programs,’” according to Recreation Department director, Robert Walker. “Our children are at home, parents are trying to work while teaching them, people are worried and stressed over what the future holds…and we believe we can help alleviate the stress by providing health and wellness classes.”

Macon-Bibb is providing a daily live broadcast at 11 a.m. and a pre-recorded video posted at 3 p.m. from the recreation center on its Facebook channels for each of the recreation center locations.

Small Town Baseball’s Rick Westfall announced that five more teams have registered for tournament play which takes place from June through July. “Our first tournaments are still months away, so we are completely planning on being back on the fields way before then,” Westfall’s message said.

Esports leagues have also been affected by social distancing policies but many have moved to online-only play with new schedules being announced daily. The National Association of Collegiate Esports has suspended competition until April 13 and will continue to update members on when competition will return.

Jones Soda, the first corporate sponsor of The Race All-Star Esports Battle that launched in mid-March by Torque Esports when major motorsports events were cancelled, has a new strategy to reach its fans.

Jones is sponsoring four rounds of the five-week simracing championship that started March 21. The next three rounds take place at 1 p.m. EST on Saturday, March 28, April 4 and April 11 on YouTube.

Highlights of the competition include a virtual version of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway featuring Indy winners Juan Pablo Montoya and Tonty Kanaan and professional gamers to a Legends Trophy battle pitting older superstar drivers like Emerson Fittipaldi, Dario Franchitti, Johnny Herbert and Helio Castroneves. Winners will share a $10,000 pot. Click here to learn more.

In Mississippi, the State Games of Mississippi said it still plans to hold the Olympic-style games scheduled for June but in the event that opening ceremonies or events are not able to take place at that time because of postponement or cancellation, a ‘Big Celebration’ with at least two of the largest sports tournaments will take place at a later date to highlight the athletes and sponsors, according to Executive Director Carolyn Smith. “We have all our promotional items (t-shirts, posters and programs) printed with our sponsors’ logos and these items will indeed be used in some way.”

Registration is scheduled to open on April 20 for the State Games of Mississippi that is celebrating its 29th year. The games feature athletes in more than 37 sports. Last year, more than 5,500 athletes competed. For more information, visit [email protected].

The International Skating Union (ISU) announced that while the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2020 were not able to take place in Milan, Italy because of the COVID-19 crisis, streaming content will be available beginning March 28 through Sunday, April 5 for the pairs short program, pairs free skating program, ladies short and free skating programs, ice dance rhythm, men short program, men free skating and an exhibition gala.

Watch for streaming content on the Skating ISU YouTube channel beginning Saturday, March 28 at 12 CET.

In Atlanta, the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) launched a resource page around #WeAreATL to support its membership organizations as the hospitality community adjusts to the pandemic. “Atlanta’s hospitality industry is a strong community and ACVB remains committed to its members,” said William Pate, president and CEO, ACVB. “These businesses are an important part of Atlanta’s economy and are essential for us to serve our meetings and conventions.”

Resources include fundraising efforts on behalf of hospitality employees, restaurants with pickup and delivery services. Another way to give is through virtual tip jars, ACVB posted a link to virtual tours here.

In Orlando, the Orange County Convention Center’s Center-to-Table Gardens and Centerplate provided more than 1,000 heads of lettuce to local organizations such as Giving Hope and United Against Poverty Inc.

The Center-to-Table Gardens are located in the Westwood Lobby and feature a 2,000 square foot aeroponic garden that yields edible greens from a chemical-free environment. A total of 81 towers with 44 planting spots on each tower produce ingredients for many of the meals prepared at the convention center. For more information, visit www.occc.net

Also, Wayne Moss, executive director of the National Council of Youth Sports offers resources for small businesses that may be helpful to sports rights holders. For more information, click here.

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) announced that it has joined forces with Go 4 Ellis, a mobile per-diem job platform to connect thousands of athletic trainers with understaffed hospitals and healthcare systems in the U.S. Athletic trainers are health care professionals trained in a variety of medical competencies, such as triage, intake, patient assessment and sterilization.

The Go4Ellis app provides health care systems and governmental health departments with access to qualified athletic trainers. For more information, visit www.ATsReadyToHelp.com or call 1-833-GO4-ATCS.

As I talk to more industry executives, I’ll keep you updated.