The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

Archdiocese shakes up Sports Park management !

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SAN ANTONIO — The Archdiocese of San Antonio, which won a $16.1 million grant from Bexar County to construct Mission Concepcion Sports Park, has forced out its top managers after more than a year of operating losses.

The archdiocese is responsible for booking amateur sports events there for the next four decades. And while nobody expected it to earn a profit so soon, its cancellation of contracts after changing management has sent ripples through the amateur sports community.

“I refuse to play there anymore,” said Gil Martinez, Texas director for Orlando-based Youth Basketball of America, who estimated the facility would lose about $175,000 in yearly business from him, including an international tournament drawing teams from Mexico and South America. “It’s a nice venue. But it’s not the only venue in town.”

Source:   . . . BY ABE LEVY 

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Bill asks a ban on youth tackle football !

 

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Dr. Robert Cantu, Co-Director Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Boston University, Author: Concussions and Our Kids talks about the “Football bill A4529” and the way kids injure themselves while playing football during a press conference at the Legislative Office Building on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 in Albany N.Y. The bill would ban tackle football for kids 10 and under and head shots in soccer. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

Albany, New York . . . . . . . . . .

A state lawmaker is broadening his proposed ban on organized youth tackle football to include all kids younger than 14, citing what he described as mounting evidence of the vulnerability of children’s brains to even blows that fall short of causing concussions.

The current text of the bill, introduced in February, would have only prohibited tackling among players younger than 11.

But Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, joined at a Thursday news conference by a concussion expert from Boston University, said the risk to young teens’ still-developing brains is too great.

The Bronx Democrat also plans to introduce similar legislation to ban “heading” in organized youth soccer for kids younger than 14.

“Youngsters are particularly vulnerable,” said Dr. Robert Cantu, co-director of BU’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, which examines the degenerative condition linked to head trauma. “We have six youngsters in our brain bank at BU who … have chronic traumatic encephalopathy shown at the high school level. So this is an entity that is already developing in these players.”

Since Benedetto first introduced the legislation, the volume of the debate over of the safety of America’s most popular sport has increased, fueled in part by a $765 million concussion settlement agreed to in August between the National Football League and former players, and last month by a PBS documentary titled “League of Denial.”

The debate has also spread beyond football to sports like pro hockey, which in recent months has come under increasing criticism for sanctioning on-ice fighting.

Cantu, who wrote the book “Concussions and Our Kids,” said the argument that younger, smaller players don’t hit hard enough to cause serious injury isn’t backed up by science — in part because their heads are nearly full-grown but their necks are not yet strong enough to absorb the blows.

The result, he said, is a “bobblehead doll effect” that means “not a very hard blow to a youngster’s head will cause a much greater force to the brain than that same blow would to an adult’s head.”

“And that’s why youngsters who aren’t as big and strong and fast as high school, college and professional players, their brains are actually subjected to similar accelerations … because their necks are so weak, because their brains are so light,” Cantu said.

Several people involved in youth football in the Capital Region, however, said Benedetto’s ban could be “catastrophic” to the sport. And while recognizing the need for greater vigilance, they said increased safety could be achieved through better equipment and coaching.

Drew Giungo, president of Albany Pop Warner, said his organization has only had two reported concussions in the last five years after investing in $150 helmets that are reconditioned annually. Coaches, he added, have focused on teaching players the correct ways to hit and tackle.

“You don’t have to kill each other to teach,” said Giungo, who is also director of football operations at Christian Brothers Academy. “The contact is for the game. But during the week it’s about teaching technique, the skill.”

If it passed, the measure — which at this point seems to have little support from fellow lawmakers, and no sponsor in the state Senate — could gut Pop Warner’s 5-15 age demographic in New York.

Derek Brown, the former Giants tight end who now lives in Clifton Park, disputed Cantu’s contention that kids could be taught to tackle using dummies and then safely transition to live contact once they turn 14. He said the growing body of knowledge about concussions demands that the issue be taken seriously, but banning younger players from the game is not the answer. “We need to get back to the basics, teaching tackling the way it should be taught, teaching hitting the way it should be taught,” he said.

Brown himself didn’t start playing until 9th grade, but his own son — now 12 — started in 4th grade. “If he was a running back, I definitely would have high concerns,” Brown said. “The more I learn, and the more that has come out about (damage from concussions), it is something serious.”

Carol O’Malley, who stood alongside Benedetto and Cantu Thursday, said doctors believe her son, Ryan, is now suffering from the effects of years of collisions that began in youth football when he was seven.

“He was a fearless player, and he wanted to be in every play,” the Bronx woman said of her former quarterback and running back son, now 27. He also played in high school, and began exhibiting uncharacteristic aggression around the time he was getting ready to leave home forSacred Heart University.

A breakdown in 2004 began a six-year cycle of hospital stays, derailing his life until doctors finally began to suspect what was wrong, O’Malley said.

“There’s really nothing you can do when the damage is done to the brain,” she said. “I just hope that this bill is passed and that more children are protected, because I didn’t have that.”

jcarleo-evangelist@timesunion.com • 518-454-5445 • @JCEvangelist_TU

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Wegmans adds healthy choices to vending machines !

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Sirness Vending Services Inc. of Gates, NY is one of the largest vending machine companies in upstate New York. It handles about 2,000 machines of all stripes — soda, candy, chips, sandwiches, a familiar lineup, generally, of familiar choices.

Still, company general manager Tom Bach sees changes in the world of vending-machine food.

For years, government has been demanding that school districts eschew sugary soda and candy in favor of healthier choices, both in prepared meals for students and in vending machines. Businesses, too, want more choices in the machines set up in common rooms or break areas.

The U.S. Agriculture Department has effectively prohibited the sale of food like candy, cookies and sugary drinks, including sports drinks, in schools. The idea is to make it more difficult to avoid cafeteria meals by eating junk food out of vending machines.

When schools open next fall, vending machines will have to offer such things as whole wheat crackers, granola bars and dried fruits.

In the Rochester area, there is a corresponding effort, led by Wegmans Food Markets, to promote the idea of health and wellness to counter the alarming rise of obesity and diabetes.

When, in 2010, Bach saw some Wegmans products in a machine, the thought of a partnership was formed. “I thought, wouldn’t it be great if Sirness and Wegmans worked together on putting vending machines out there with healthy items, as a way to give people a choice,” Bach said.

The connections were made. Wegmans liked the idea and, looking ahead to the 2011 school year, the company and Sirness created machines emblazoned with the Wegmans name. They carried an array of salads and organic juices and fruit. They were set up in a few public schools in the Rochester area and some public venues, such as The Strong museum. Most of the products, then and now, carry the Wegmans brand.

“The machines were popular,” Bach said. “They worked well as a choice for people. They weren’t stuck with the usual things.”

Eighteen such machines are now in operation in the Rochester area — some in schools, others in public areas and businesses. “This is growing,” Bach said. “We have companies interested.”

There is a national trend percolating here. For years, vending machine choice involved picking one type of potato chip over another. Now, offering distinctly different kinds of food is gaining favor. A California company, Fresh Healthy Vending, is creating a franchise network. There are others, too.

“Our vision is to make healthy food more convenient than junk food,” Sean Kelly, CEO of H.U.M.A.N. Healthy Vending, also a California franchise company, toldForbesin July 2012.

Wegmans spokesperson Jo Natale said the partnership with Sirness is a good match with the grocer’s overall wellness initiative.

The supermarket chain several years ago started the “Eat Well, Live Well” campaign that encourages the public and other companies to emphasize smart eating choices and physical exercise as ways to control weight and develop fitness.

“This dovetails really well with our other wellness efforts,” Natale said. “There is a demand out there.”

Bach said his goal is not to have the Wegmans “healthy” vending machines supplant existing choices. It is rather to complement what’s already available.

“It’s about choice for people,” Bach said.

Source: Tom Tobin, writer

TTOBIN@DemocratandChronicle.com

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The Secret to Marketing Success !

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   If there’s one secret to marketing success, it’s this: attitude. I know…you were thinking data, or perhaps you were sure it was great creative, or segmentation or targeting, or channel mix, or “right time, right message, right customer.” Of course all of those are essential. But you’d be hard pressed to ensure you have the appropriate data, bold creative, or optimal strategy without the right attitude behind all of your marketing endeavors.

Why am I so sure of this? “Haven’t you ever met a curmudgeonly, yet successful marketer?” you ask.

I’m certain that attitude underpins marketing success because the Direct Marketing News 2013 40 Under 40 award winners have both in spades (see “Got Game?”).

As I read about our winners’ defining moments, words to live by, and best advice, it became abundantly clear that these young leaders let nothing stand in the way of their success—and the success of their companies and customers. Saying that they have a can-do attitude would be something of an understatement. Consider Adobe’s Loni Stark: Pacing around a parking garage questioning her abilities after a setback, Stark had an epiphany. “If I questioned whether I was good enough, how could I ever convince someone else to give me a chance at something more? I vowed to never be the one to limit my own potential from self-doubt. I would shoot for the moon and let the world try to tell me otherwise.”

Stark is not alone in her determination. Jeremy Bloom, an Olympic skier and former NFL player, has led his current team at Integrate to double revenues in only one year. At only 30, RadiumOne’s Gurbaksh Chahal is on his third company—after selling the first two for $40 million and $300 million, respectively.

BLK24’s Carrie Chitsey, a poker aficionado who’s also on company number three, says, “The only person who defines your success is you. There is never a good excuse for obstacles; there is always a solution if you are determined to succeed.”

Got attitude?

Being driven to succeed is only one part of the attitude equation. Two others are positivity and empathy. Consider the advice of Wacarra Yeomans of Responsys: “Be firm on things that matter, fair with your people, and always the first to smile.” Or the approach that Horizon Media’s Gene Turner takes: “I emphasize to our team that our clients’ successes should be our successes and their pain points should be our pain points.”

Ingrid Lindberg of Prime Therapeutics sums it up well in her personal motto: “Have the patience of a saint, the heart of a lion, and the tenacity of a street fighter.”

Reading about the positive attitudes behind the great successes of our 2013 40 Under 40 winners left me energized and inspired. I’m certain it will do the same for you.

Direct Marketing News

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