Play It Safe: The Recap

This past Wednesday, SportsEvents hosted the first webinar of the “Play It Safe” virtual education series. For the first topic, information on how planners and coaches can get athletes safely back in the game upon returning from Covid-19 delays was the burning question. As part of the webinar, a panel of three experts joined the discussion led by moderator Catherine Dorrough of Kenilworth Media.

Play It Safe took place on Wednesday, June 23 online.

Included in the webinar discussion were panelists Chris Snyder who serves as the Vice President of Operations for i9 Sports, Dr. Michele Labotz, a Sports Medicine Physician with InterMed, and Phil Andrews, the CEO & General Secretary of USA Weightlifting. Later in the webinar, Micayla Eve Rivin, the Director of Community Outreach for Let’s Empower, Advocate, and Do, Inc. (LEAD) joined the panel in the live roundtable portion to discuss the mental health aspect of returning to sports.

During the main session, moderator Catherine Durrough asked the panelists a series of questions regarding their domains and athletes returning to sports. Snyder mentioned how “one thing we were not prepared for was the socializing time. These athletes have been seeing each other only on zoom calls for the last year, and the social aspect of getting back in the game was important to rebuild team comradery.”

Dr. Labotz mentioned, “a hidden benefit of the pandemic-if allowed to say such a thing—is that it forced athletes to step back and think about other ways to stay active and engaged aside from sports. We are hoping the aspect of fun has come back to the athletes instead of the dread coming back into practice.”

Andrews adds onto the statement that “the athletes started to see the fun in the sport again. We had been doing virtual camps but it was not until we returned to in-person training that we really got to see the athletes get into it again. They were having fun doing social media challenges, seeing who could lift the most, and more.”

During the roundtable portion, Rivin joined the panel to discuss the impacts returning to sports after Covid-19 can have on mental health. Rivin spoke on how “LEAD is available as a training option for coaches and teams to help recognize mental health illnesses in young adolescents and what to do if you recognize symptoms.”

The official website for LEAD states that “LEAD provides athletic professionals with practical skills, tools, and strategies to prevent mental health crises and ensure safe and high-quality athletic programs. LEAD’s evidence-based courses move “beyond talk” with its tangible takeaways, catalyzing injury-recovery, and building resilience in athletic communities across the country.” It was also spoken how important it is to have a mental health system in place, especially upon returning to sports after more than a year in which the athletes are potentially not going to be as conditioned as they were previously.

This led to the phrase “human first, athlete second” which every panelist agreed with. This became the topic and motto for the whole panel during the roundtable discussion leading Snyder and Andrews to agree that when they reminded others of that statement—or a version of it—that it made more sense to spectators wondering why they were not potentially up to a previous level. This further led into a discussion on how it was important that planners and tournament producers lessen the playing times.

Snyder suggested, “taking the tournament from eight games down to five for each team. Furthermore, not having teams playing two games back-to-back with a two-hour break and returning to play again is crucial. Since the athletes missed the social aspect so much, this would be a great opportunity to schedule in socializing times or events for the tournament. If a tournament organizer wanted to keep the eight games, another way to combat that would be to extend the tournament days. For example, making the tournament four days instead of three days to allow for longer rest periods as well as to allow time to integrate those social aspects.”

In turn, this would allow for more days spent in the host city, which would increase tournament revenue. If you enjoyed the recap of the first webinar and are wondering how to learn more valuable information for FREE, check out the information for our second webinar below with our “Play It Safe” virtual education series!

The Playbook for Success: With the help of updated safety protocols, in-person events and competitions are taking place across the country and around the world. And while pulling off a safe and successful event is possible, planners must play by a new set of rules requiring additional planning, heightened cleaning protocols, active communication with attendees, and ongoing collaboration with facility managers and vendors. Grab a seat at the table as SportsEvents and ConventionSouth present a top-notch line-up of facility managers, cleaning experts, health professionals, and sports event industry leaders who will share the latest information designed to keep your athletes and fans safe and instill confidence within your own event team as in-person events make a comeback.

 Sign up HERE!