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FIFA Still Trying to Nail Down U.S. World Cup Sites, Has Moved to Virtual Process

Posted By Mary Helen Sprecher, Thursday, July 2, 2020

Well, this is a new one. The FIFA World Cup 2026™ Candidate Host City Workshop will be held virtually on July 7 for all 17 U.S. bid cities as FIFA and U.S. Soccer take the next steps in the venue selection process.

FIFA and U.S. Soccer will hold virtual one-on-one sessions with each candidate host city after that, in order to gain more specific information on each facility and on the city as a whole. The FIFA World Cup 2026™, which will be hosted across Canada, Mexico and the United States, will be the first 48-team FIFA World Cup in history.

Under normal circumstances, the selection process would be taking place in person and in fact, it had begun earlier in 2020. Canada and Mexico already held workshops for candidate cities (Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto and Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey, respectively). The July 7 event was set for March; however, when COVID-19 intervened, all in-person visits were cancelled.

U.S. CANDIDATE HOST CITIES:

·        Atlanta

·        Baltimore

·        Boston

·        Cincinnati

·        Dallas

·        Denver

·        Houston 

·        Kansas City

·        Los Angeles

·        Miami

·        Nashville

·        New York/New Jersey

·        Orlando

·        Philadelphia

·        San Francisco Bay Area

·        Seattle

Last week, FIFA formally announced Australia and New Zealand as the hosts of the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

Tags:  Atlanta  Baltimore  Boston  Cincinnati  COVID-19  Dallas  Denver  FIFA  FIFA World Cup  host cities  Houston  international  Kansas City  Los Angeles  Miami  Nashviile  New Jersey  New York  Orland  Philadelphia  professional soccer  San Francisco  Seattle  site selection  soccer  venue selection 

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Russian Slap Fighting: The Niche Sport You Never Knew About … and It’s Coming to the U.S.

Posted By Administration, Monday, June 15, 2020

Yes, some sports have been able to survive through COVID-19. Esports is one of these. College bass fishing tournaments where competitors e-mail a photo of their catch being measured on a bump board (with the largest fish, inch-wise, winning) is another. Then there’s the plethora of virtual events where individuals could take part by running or cycling either at home or outdoors (preferably alone).

But something else that has gone on despite the pandemic, despite all other precautions being taken, is Russian Slap Fighting, the sport where grown men take turns slapping one another across the face until one of them fouls out or passes out. Yes, it's a contact sport. Yes, it's a spectator sport. And yes, it's drawing the crowds (and no, they're not doing the social distance thing).

It’s as strange and testosterone-fueled as it sounds. (Need to see it? Here’s a video link link). And by the way, there are plenty of other videos on YouTube, some narrated in English by a spectacularly profane announcer who uses the handle of Penguinz0. He’s an admirer, not a slapper, but he can still explain what’s going on.

The contestants in a slap fighting contest wear no special equipment – no gloves and no helmets (obviously). To maintain balance after being slapped, competitors hold on to a stand (some sturdier than others) that has been placed between them – although many require assistance to stay on their feet after being struck.

And there are rules, at least in the Russian form of the sport. Only the upper part of the palm can be used to strike only the cheek, without touching the jaw, temple or ear of the opponent – if you hit those, it’s a foul. Evading the slap (including merely flinching to one side) is also a foul. So is using any part of your hand other than the upper part of the palm. If a competitor commits two fouls, he loses the match.

Each man gets five slaps at his opponent. Assuming there are no fouls, a judge decides who fared better, and the winner proceeds to the next round. Occasionally, both contestants split the prize if neither has committed a foul and both have done well.

And yes, medics are on standby – and they are often needed to clean up wounds, revive unconscious patients and make the decision that someone has sustained an injury too severe to allow them to continue (no matter what the contestant might think).

“Anyone who is willing to take part can do so, but the person must understand that it is not fun, it is fun on the one hand, but it carries a high risk to life, risk of getting injured,” explained competition owner, Denis Kiyutsin, in an interview with a news program. “We explain it to everybody, we get everybody together, to explain the rules, what can and cannot be done, like a short briefing, there is at least one judge who is watching that the rules are followed, because people sometimes are cheating, deliberately breaking some rules, but this can lead to serious traumas with their opponent. Every person, by all means, should be aware that it is dangerous that there is risk to life, so every person signs an acknowledgment that he is aware of this,”

Oh, and by the way, this also takes place in the U.S.; one popular YouTube video shows a competition held in Branson, Missouri, where two individuals, known as Hillbilly Hippie (from Mountain Home, Arkansas) and Crazy Hawaiian (who hails from the islands of his namesake), went head to head for nearly 15 minutes before Hillbilly became too concussed to continue. If you want to see a video, it's here.

Slapping contests can be standalone events; in Russia, they began as an add-on to the weekend-long Siberian Power Show—which included bodybuilding, powerlifting, dance offs and a dumpling eating contest. 

“There have always been interesting fistfights in Russia. It happened spontaneously and was interesting. We were sitting and thinking how to diversify our (our event), we are looking at how to make sport more interesting, we have sports zones, and entertainment zones and slap competitions started with a spontaneous idea, why not try?” said Kiyutsin.

The undisputed superstar of Russian slapping is Vasily Pelmen who goes by the remarkable nickname of Dumpling. The mountain of a guy knocking his opponents out with one slap that you at the beginning of this blog? Yeah, that’s Dumpling.

Whether the sport catches on in the U.S. as anything more than a novelty remains to be seen. And it’s unlikely that it’ll ever need special facilities or equipment (other than perhaps punching bags or similar items). The sport’s sponsors tend to be dietary supplements and the commercials (you’ll see one in the first clip) show musclebound weightlifters.

But as mentioned previously, it’s one sport that, in Russia, at least, seems to have a blatant disregard for the pandemic.

“Sports are closed everywhere else,” says Penguinz0, “but in Russia, they’re still slapping each other around. The virus is probably afraid of slap fighting.”

Tags:  American Sports Builders Association  arenas  boxing  combat sports  combative sports  fieldhouses  fighting sports  hand to hand combat  hand-to-hand combat sports  indoor sports  indoor sports facilities  Russian Slap Fighting  wrestling 

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Creating Post-COVID-19 Sports Experiences...Safely

Posted By Mary Helen Sprecher, Thursday, June 4, 2020

We know that some sports are coming back from COVID-19 (even MLB has noted its plans to start in July) but what we don’t know is exactly how different localities will cope with social distancing guidelines and with rules pertaining to mass gatherings.

What we’ve seen so far, though has been a new industry springing up to keep people safe as they emerge from quarantine. And in short, it’s a Shark Tank-style wonder, with some incredibly creative examples of adaptive reuse.

The Fan in the Plastic BubbleUnderTheWeather, the maker of plastic pods, is having what you might call “a moment.” The zip-up plastic tents that parents have, in the past, used to watch their kids’ games in wet, windy and/or cold conditions, are finding new popularity as a means of creating personal space in a post-COVID-19 world.

And, when you think about it, it’s pretty brilliant. Right now, as parts of the U.S. try to restart sports, conditions are far from hospitable. In addition to having some record-breaking cold temperatures for May, many areas are still living under social distancing guidelines.

The plastic pods can hold from one to six people (you choose the size), creating a true “plastic bubble” for those who want to avoid others. (This article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that parents were using them for one of the area’s first youth baseball events in quite some time). Of course, the pods are made of 100 percent plastic so it’s likely they will be useful during cool or rainy times – but not as the weather heats up.

So what else is happening to keep people safe as they emerge from quarantine? Several concepts – with more hitting the market all the time, including…

Drones Being Used to Sanitize Stadiums: It’s a new take on the old crop duster idea. According to an article in Venues Now, U.S. companies including Rantizo Inc. of Iowa City, Iowa, OMI Environmental Solutions of Belle Chasse, Louisiana, and EagleHawk of Buffalo, New York, are offering amphitheaters, arenas, stadiums and other facilities the opportunity to have airborne sprayer drones disinfect and sanitize their facilities.  

All three use sprayed disinfectants and are marketing drones’ ability to sanitize seating areas and other spaces quickly and safely. In fact, work is already in place with a number of venues. Rantizo recently conducted tests at Principal Park, the Des Moines home of the Triple A Pacific Coast League’s Iowa Cubs, and EagleHawk has done the same at Sahlen Field, where the Buffalo Bisons of the Triple-A International League play. 

All three companies say the drones save on labor costs since it removes the need for individuals to go into stadiums and hose down seats with disinfectants. And for jobs that require a quick turnaround, more drones can be employed, getting the venue done in a shorter time.

New Computer Modeling to Show Where Spectators Can be Placed: Maybe you’re in an area where spectators are allowed but only if they sit certain distances away from one another. The Stadium Business noted that 3D Digital Venue has launched a new service to create virtual reconstructions and perform different types of simulations, showing where spectators can sit, given a stadium’s specific configuration.

Putting Fans in the Stands, Even if They Can’t Be There: Of course, if local ordinances are still forbidding mass gatherings completely, there's a way to put fans in the stands, sort of. In Germany, one soccer fan has developed an app that, for a fee, allow fans to upload an image of themselves that will be printed out and placed in the stands to root for their teams. It costs the equivalent of $20, with a portion of the fee going to COVID-19 relief.

While we don't yet know how long quarantine and social distancing restrictions will be in effect, it's interesting to imagine what ASBA's trade show might look like if these products are still on the market and still in demand.

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Sports Emerges from COVID-19 with New Ways to Keep Spectators Safe: Are You Aware of Them?

Posted By Mary Helen Sprecher, Monday, May 18, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, May 12, 2020

We know that some sports are coming back from COVID-19 (even MLB has noted its plans to start in July) but what we don’t know is exactly how different localities will cope with social distancing guidelines and with rules pertaining to mass gatherings.

What we’ve seen so far, though has been a new industry springing up to keep people safe as they emerge from quarantine. And in short, it’s a Shark Tank-style wonder, with some incredibly creative examples of adaptive reuse.

The Fan in the Plastic Bubble: UnderTheWeather, the maker of plastic pods, is having what you might call “a moment.” The zip-up plastic tents that parents have, in the past, used to watch their kids’ games in wet, windy and/or cold conditions, are finding new popularity as a means of creating personal space in a post-COVID-19 world.

And, when you think about it, it’s pretty brilliant. Right now, as parts of the U.S. try to restart sports, conditions are far from hospitable. In addition to having some record-breaking cold temperatures for May, many areas are still living under social distancing guidelines.

The plastic pods can hold from one to six people (you choose the size), creating a true “plastic bubble” for those who want to avoid others. (This article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that parents were using them for one of the area’s first youth baseball events in quite some time). Of course, the pods are made of 100 percent plastic so it’s likely they will be useful during cool or rainy times – but not as the weather heats up.

So what else is happening to keep people safe as they emerge from quarantine? Several concepts – with more hitting the market all the time, including…

Drones Being Used to Sanitize Stadiums: It’s a new take on the old crop duster idea. According to an article in Venues Now, U.S. companies including Rantizo Inc. of Iowa City, Iowa,OMI Environmental Solutions of Belle Chasse, Louisiana, and EagleHawk of Buffalo, New York, are offering amphitheaters, arenas, stadiums and other facilities the opportunity to have airborne sprayer drones disinfect and sanitize their facilities.  

All three use sprayed disinfectants and are marketing drones’ ability to sanitize seating areas and other spaces quickly and safely. In fact, work is already in place with a number of venues. Rantizo recently conducted tests at Principal Park, the Des Moines home of the Triple A Pacific Coast League’s Iowa Cubs, and EagleHawk has done the same at Sahlen Field, where the Buffalo Bisons of the Triple-A International League play. 

All three companies say the drones save on labor costs since it removes the need for individuals to go into stadiums and hose down seats with disinfectants. And for jobs that require a quick turnaround, more drones can be employed, getting the venue done in a shorter time.

New Computer Modeling to Show Where Spectators Can be Placed: Maybe you’re in an area where spectators are allowed but only if they sit certain distances away from one another. The Stadium Business noted that 3D Digital Venue has launched a new service to create virtual reconstructions and perform different types of simulations, showing where spectators can sit, given a stadium’s specific configuration.

Putting Fans in the Stands, Even if They Can’t Be There: Of course, if local ordinances are still forbidding mass gatherings completely, there's a way to put fans in the stands, sort of. In Germany, one soccer fan has developed an app that, for a fee, allow fans to upload an image of themselves that will be printed out and placed in the stands to root for their teams. It costs the equivalent of $20, with a portion of the fee going to COVID-19 relief.

While we don't yet know how long quarantine and social distancing restrictions will be in effect, it's interesting to imagine what ASBA's trade show might look like if these products are still on the market and still in demand.

Tags:  3-D modeling  arenas  cardboard spectators  computer modeling  coronavirus  COVID-19  disinfection  social distancing  spectator safety  sports in the age of COVID-19  stadiums 

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Expect an Extended Wait for an Announcement of the FIFA World Cup Sites in the U.S.

Posted By Mary Helen Sprecher, Monday, May 4, 2020
Updated: Friday, April 17, 2020

The ASBA members who helped bring the U.S. the 17 stadiums currently under consideration for FIFA World Cup action in 2026 are going to have to wait (along with everyone else) to find out whether their facilities will be in the spotlight. Thanks (or no thanks) to COVID-19, the decision-making process is being delayed, delivering one more blow to cities who had been hoping for some good news.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani, who also serves as vice-chair of North America’s 2026 men’s World Cup organizing committee, said that the pandemic’s outbreak has played havoc with the original timeline for picking the tournament’s host venues. A mid-March meeting in Dallas of representatives from the 17 competing U.S. cities was cancelled and has not yet been rescheduled. Similar meetings in Mexico and Canada were also cancelled.

FIFA officials were scheduled to perform site inspections on potential venues for practices and competitions in March and April. Those also have been cancelled. It is possible that the dates for a projected second round of tours, in October and November, might be used instead for the original site inspections – but only if the virus is sufficiently under control.

Either way, the announcement will not arrive in early 2021, as it was supposed to.

It now appears a decision would likely be made in the summer or fall of 2021, which is five years out from the World Cup.

All of that, however, is a remote concern at the moment, when cities are scrambling simply to recoup losses from cancelled sports events and conventions that were to take place this spring and summer.

A total of 23 cities across the United States and Mexico are bidding to host games in the 2026 World Cup. Here are the cities in alphabetical order and their stadiums:

  • Atlanta: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (capacity 71,000)
  • Baltimore: M&T Bank Stadium (71,008)
  • Boston/Foxborough: Gillette Stadium (65,892)
  • Cincinnati: Paul Brown Stadium (65,515)
  • Dallas/Arlington: AT&T Stadium (105,000)
  • Denver: Broncos Stadium at Mile High (76,125)
  • Houston: NRG Stadium (71,500)
  • Kansas City, Missouri: Arrowhead Stadium (76,416)
  • Los Angeles/Inglewood/Pasadena: New NFL stadium (80,000, with potential to expand); Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (around 78,500 after renovation); or the Rose Bowl (87,527)
  • Miami: Hard Rock Stadium (65,767)
  • Nashville: Nissan Stadium (69,143)
  • New York/East Rutherford, New Jersey: MetLife Stadium (82,500)
  • Orlando: Camping World Stadium (65,000)
  • Philadelphia: Lincoln Financial Field (69,328)
  • San Francisco/San Jose/Santa Clara: Levi’s Stadium (75,000)
  • Seattle: CenturyLink Field (69,000)
  • Washington, D.C. (venue is actually in Landover, Maryland): FedEx Field (82,000)

Canada

  • Edmonton, Alberta: Commonwealth Stadium (56,335)
  • Montreal: Olympic Stadium (61,004)
  • Toronto: BMO Field (36,000; expansion to 40,000 has been planned)

Mexico

  • Guadalajara: Estadio Chivas (45,364)
  • Mexico City: Estadio Azteca (capacity 87,000)
  • Monterrey: Estadio BBVA Bancomer (52,237)

The 2026 World Cup is probably the least of FIFA’s worries right now, as the organization is scrambling to reorganize the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.

 

Tags:  2026 World Cup  ball fields  ballfields  COVID-19  FIFA World Cup  football fields  international soccer  natural grass fields  soccer  soccer fields  sports fields  sports pitches  sportsfields  stadiums  synthetic turf fields 

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ASBA’s Awards Program is Open Now! Show Us Your Best Work!

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 27, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, March 31, 2020

ASBA has opened its awards program for 2020. Members have until deadline, June 1, 2020, to enter their best projects in these categories:

  • Indoor Tennis Facility, Outdoor Tennis Facility, Residential Tennis Facility
  • Indoor Pickleball Facility, Outdoor Pickleball Facility, Residential Pickleball Facility
  • Indoor Track Facility, Outdoor Track Facility, Track & Field Facility, Single Field Facility, Multi Field Facility
  • Courts & Recreational Multi-Purpose Field House Facility, Courts & Recreational Multi-Purpose Gymnasium Facility, Courts & Recreational Multi-Purpose Fitness & Wellness

Obviously, with plenty of categories, members of ASBA have plenty of opportunities to enter. And all the information you need to know in order to showcase your project(s) to the best of your ability can be found here. Don’t miss our special assistance tools available to you, including:

·        Videos with hints and tips for filling out the application form correctly

·        Notes about correct use of photos

·        Information about project construction dates for eligibility in the awards program

·        Awards program rules

·        Checklist for materials, payment and other important information

We’re looking forward to seeing your best work and to honoring it at the 2020 Technical Meeting in San Antonio so take the time now to enter that project. 

Have questions? Contact ASBA's Kaylee Derby at kderby@stringfellowgroup.net

P.S. If your business is still in the slow season or you’re waiting for it to get busy, put this time to use. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain! Remember that ASBA partners with excellent industry publications like Racquet Sports Industry and Coach & Athletic Director to bring further attention to the winning projects. Make sure yours has the best chance of getting some well-deserved recognition.

Tags:  ASBA  ASBA Awards  ASBA Awards Program  awards for sports facilities  Distinguished Facilities Awards  outstanding fields  outstanding pickleball facilities  outstanding sports facility construction  outstanding sports facility design  outstanding tennis courts  outstanding tracks 

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Big News from ASBA’s Publications Department!

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 20, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Maybe in all the upheaval and concerns that have been in the news, you might have overlooked some essential news from ASBA’s Publications Department, and both parts of it are pretty important.

Advertise in the Upcoming Fields Book: The much-loved publication, Sports Fields: A Construction and Maintenance Manual, will publish its next edition by the end of this summer and advertising is being accepted now!

Advertising in this publication is the best way to make sure a great audience is aware of what your company has to offer. The fields book is read by more than just ASBA members (including builders, design professionals and suppliers); it is a must-have reference for high schools, colleges, parks and recreation departments, athletic associations, trade associations, specifiers, coaches, athletic directors, field owners, municipalities, sportsplex managers, turf managers, groundskeepers and many others in the industry.

Chapters include “Planning and Design,” “Choosing a Surface,” “The Construction Process,” “Synthetic Turf,” and “Natural Grass,” There also are sections on getting started on the project, and on sources of information, including trade associations, reference books and governing bodies. In addition, there is an entire section of updated drawings and diagrams.

The book, which will be published in both hard copy and pdf, is kept by its buyers, and turned to again and again. Your message will be seen repeatedly. It’s not only available from ASBA; it’s sold on Amazon, giving your ad even more exposure.

High-visibility advertising positions are available, including inside covers, chapter dividers and in specific places throughout the book – but they’re available on a first-come, first-served basis, due to the popularity of this book.

If you’d like to advertise and haven’t seen a flyer yet, e-mail Cynthia@sportsbuilders.org so she can get you the relevant information.

The New Track Construction Manual Is Available Now: ASBA has published its new edition of Running Tracks: A Construction & Maintenance Manual.  The book is available in hard copy here and as a downloadable pdf here. The cost is $44.95 – shipping charges apply for copies being sent outside the U.S. or via expedited services (FedEx, etc.).

Why do you need this new edition? Because it contains all-new information, including a chapter on indoor track and field facilities. In addition, its technical content takes into account updated regulations concerning facilities at the NCAA and IAAF levels. The book also includes revised diagrams and illustrations, as well as updated information throughout.

Make sure the updated copy is on your bookshelf or in your digital toolbox because with many communities honoring advisories not to travel, running tracks will see a lot of use from casual runners whose health clubs are closed and who will feel the need to visit local high school or college facilities (if they can access them). That will, in all likelihood, lead to a need for maintenance on track and field facilities once schools reopen.

Better and brighter days are ahead – let's make sure we have the books to be ready for them! 

Tags:  advertise in the fields book  ASBA publications  buy the track book  Fields Book  Running Tracks: A Construction and Maintenance Man  Sports Fields: A Construction and Maintenance Manu  Track Book 

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Why a Demand for Climbing Gyms Will Increase Once COVID-19 Restrictions End

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 13, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, March 31, 2020

While COVID-19 has continued to wreak havoc on the sports calendar, it is useful to examine some trends of interest in specific sports that will be influencing the sports facility construction industry when the threat has passed.

One specific sport that was seeing enormous upticks of interest (prior to everything grinding to a halt) was sport climbing, which makes its medal debut at the summer Olympics next year. The sport has already established a place for itself on the international level in the World Games and interest continues to grow. Stateside, the sport is already seeing huge growth. In fact, to hear industry experts talk about it, it’s the darling of the Millennial demographic.

According to the most recent State of Climbing report from the American Alpine Club, that age group is not only trying out the sport, but they’re buying into it and prior to COVID-19, was taking out membership in the growing number of rock-climbing gyms around the nation. Also seemingly showing interest in climbing are functional fitness aficionados (i.e. the CrossFit contingent).

And climbing is social media-friendly, something else that appeals to Millennials. According to The Cut, “bouldering is very Instagrammable — the 2.7 million Instagram posts currently tagged #bouldering depict walls covered in bright, rainbow-colored lumps, and bodies which look inherently athletic, even virtuous, for attempting to navigate them.”

Back in the fall, The New York Times, which did an in-depth study of climbing among Millennials, noted, “Young professionals flock to [rock climbing gyms] after work because the exercise is intense, unstructured and sociable; the gyms may be one of the last urban locales where talking to strangers is encouraged."

And there's still going to be plenty of exposure for the sport, despite the stay-at-home restrictions. There are movies about climbing as well as multiple videos online about the sport, as well as at-home workouts to help individuals hone their strength in lieu of actually climbing -- meaning it's likely the interest will stay strong.

Many states have large population centers but still lack climbing gyms. And the success of the gyms in places without as many areas to climb actual rock formations (in other words, those not in mountainous or hilly areas but in the flatlands) has proven that people don’t need to be training for actual outdoor climbing in order to want to buy into this as a form of fitness. So it may be that sports builders serving indoor facilities as well as manufacturers of climbing walls will see an uptick once restrictions loosen.

In its 2018 Industry Report, the Climbing Wall Association projected revenue growth percentages well into the double digits for both 2019 and 2020, with the indoor climbing industry poised to break the billion-dollar mark in 2021. Gym operators were reporting strong growth in both membership and program offerings. Obviously, this was before the advent of COVID-19 and its restrictions – but it is likely business trends will begin to resume when the fitness economy opens back up.

So according to the experts, we can expect to see a demand for climbing gyms – or even just climbing walls in existing gyms – skyrocket when gyms reopen. And here too, there could be advantages. It may be that when facilities do start operating again, they may be limited to a lower capacity in order to allow individuals to keep a healthful distance from one another. By getting individuals to make appointments for use of both the wall and a belayer, the chance of overcrowding would be decreased – and an additional revenue stream could be realized.

Tags:  bouldering  climbing gyms  climbing walls  CrossFit  cross-training  functional fitness  gym membership  indoor recreation  indoor sports facilities  Olympic climbing  Olympic sport climbing  Olympic sports  outdoor recreation  rock climbing  sport climbing  sports in the age of COVID-19 

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Will the Increase in Americans' Exploration of Outdoor Recreation Spaces During COVID-19 Drive a Need for Sports Facility Construction and Maintenance Once Virus Threat Has Ended?

Posted By Mary Helen Sprecher, Monday, April 6, 2020
Updated: Thursday, March 26, 2020

Well, there might be a silver lining to the coronavirus, once it passes and the world’s health has returned – and oddly, it could benefit the sports facility industry.

Despite the fact that a recent study showed that outdoor recreation in the U.S. was down markedly in 2018, many individuals and families are using their quarantine time to explore the great outdoors. In fact, early observations show walking paths, local fishing holes, playgrounds, hiking trails and parks are all seeing an unprecedented uptick in visitors.

Ultimately, that has driven an awareness an awareness of municipal facilities, including local tennis and pickleball courts, basketball courts, volleyball courts (sand and regular) – and plenty of others.

On March 18, the National Park Service announced it would be waiving entrance fees indefinitely (however, according  to SGB Media, that decision came one day after the agency closed several large parks – including Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Everglades, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Point Reyes the Washington Memorial and the Statue of Liberty – following overcrowding concerns).

We actually already have early indications a trend toward the outdoors was beginning just prior to COVID-19. Georgia became the fifth state to partner with FLW and The Bass Federation (TBF) in offering bass fishing as a sanctioned varsity sport. The change, reported by the Georgia High School Association (GHSA), will go into effect for the 2020-2021 school year.

Another activity seeing a strong uptick is running. Outside Online noted, “As a number of people have already observed in the ominously mono-themed Twittersphere, running is the optimal sport for a time when everyone is encouraged to avoid crowded, enclosed spaces whenever possible.”

And with more people discovering running, it’s likely there will be more teens looking into track & field when quarantine measures are over and students return to school.

All of this activity has the potential to drive an uptick in the need to keep facilities. And while we have no way of knowing when the threat of the virus will pass, we know that China has begun opening some of its tourist attractions, shuttered since January 24. A timeline of the emergence of the virus in China, and its spread across the globe, can be found here. However, those seeking to establish a parallel timeline need to understand that a study published in March indicated that if Chinese authorities had acted three weeks earlier than they did, the number of coronavirus cases could have been reduced by 95 percent and the geographic spread of the virus limited. The timeline clearly demonstrates that China's cover-up and the delay in serious measures to contain the virus lasted about three weeks.

Ultimately, however, the country will emerge from the need for social distancing and from self-isolation and when it does, it will need sports more than ever – not just to watch but to participate in. And that will help drive economic recovery for our industry, as well as others.

Tags:  basketball courts  bass fishing  Bassmaster  coronavirus  COVID-19  FLW  hiking trails  jogging  jogging paths  national parks  outdoor recreation  pickleball courts  recreational sports  running  tennis courts  track & field  volleyball courts  walking paths 

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With the Olympics Postponed Until 2021, What Will Happen to the World Games in Alabama - at the Exact Same Time?

Posted By Mary Helen Sprecher, Monday, March 30, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, March 25, 2020

In all the uproar over COVID-19, we might have forgotten about an enormous international multi-sport event, scheduled to be held in July of next year. – in the U.S.

The quadrennial World Games, the multi-sport event similar to the Olympics, are scheduled to come to Birmingham, Alabama, from July 15-25, 2021.

The problem: The Olympics were supposed to be held from July 25-August 9 of this year – and it’s possible – if not downright likely – that the new dates for the Summer Games in Tokyo, once they’re rescheduled for next summer, will conflict.

The World Games isn’t going to be something easily dismissed. It’s a big event. Need proof of how big the numbers are? The Games will celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2021 (they began in 1981). Here is a by-the-numbers breakdown of the most recent games, held in Wroclaw, Poland:

240,000: The number of people present in the Wroclaw, who watched the Games

24: Number of venues

130: The number of countries receiving coverage of the Games (the Games were also carried 24/7 on the Olympic Channel)

1,600: How many volunteers it took to put on the Games

861: The number of media representatives (from 50 countries)

In Birmingham, officials are predicting the following numbers:

3,600: Number of athletes

100-plus: Number of countries that will be represented by those athletes

33: Number of sports to be contested

600-plus: The number of medals to be awarded

200: Number of gold medals

While the World Games are comparable to the Olympics in that they are an international multi-sport phenomenon, they are, in fact, markedly different.

Sports offered at the World Games, which are also scheduled to be contested in the Olympics in Tokyo (and which therefore might prove difficult to host) are as follows:

  • Archery
  • Baseball/Softball
  • Canoe
  • Gymnastics
  • Handball
  • Hockey
  • Karate
  • Rugby
  • Sport Climbing
  • Surfing

The sports to be contested at the World Games and not on the Olympic program (Side note; Let the Googling begin) are as follows:

  • Aikido
  • Air Sports
  • Baseball/Softball
  • Billiards
  • Bodybuilding
  • Boules Sports
  • Bowling
  • Casting
  • DanceSport
  • Fistball
  • Floorball
  • Flying Disc
  • Ju-Jitsu
  • Korfball
  • Lacrosse
  • Lifesaving
  • Muathai
  • Netball
  • Orienteering
  • Powerlifting (a different discipline from that of weightlifting)
  • Racquetball
  • Rollersports
  • Squash
  • Sumo
  • Tug Of War
  • Underwater Sports
  • Waterski and Wakeboard

While Birmingham is already active on the sports hosting scene, the World Games is expected to create a major impression on the city. While the Games are anticipated to cost $50 million, most of that funding will come from corporate sponsors. The payoff, though, is immense: a planned $256 million in economic impact.

The legacy of the Games is profound. After 2009, when Kaohsiung (southeast of Chinese Taipei) hosted, the logo of The World Games 2009 became the official city logo and Kaohsiung has gone on to host several other major sporting events, such as competitions in Sumo and Dance Sport.

The 2021 World Games will also mark the first time the event has been in the United States since, oddly, 40 years ago – when the first World Games ever took place, and were hosted in Santa Clara, California.

But what impact the rescheduling of the Olympics will have on the World Games is not yet known. The competition schedule on the World Games website, in which a program of events would be listed, stands blank. Will the World Games be forced to reschedule in order to accommodate the Olympics? The sports world will just have to wait to find out.

Tags:  Birmingham  coronavirus  COVID-19  multi-sport  Olympics  Tokyo  World Games 

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