3 Takeaways From Connect Sports 2017

Connect Sports New Orleans
Another Connect Sports is in the books. In addition to the beignets and po’boys living up to the hype, there’s plenty of food for thought from our time in New Orleans. If any one theme can sum up the show, it’s that the same keys to success on the field apply to scoring big when planning memorable events. Consider these examples.


USA Football’s Senior Director of Strategic Operations Beth Porreca described it best during a sports services panel led by Huddle Up Group’s Jon Schmieder. “Positive relationships between the rights holder event team and the local host event team are critical,” said Porreca. Daniel Rush, CMP, CASE, vice president of global sports and event sales for MGM Resorts International, added to Porreca’s point. “Flexibility is key—specifically finding ways to say ‘yes’ rather than defaulting to ‘no,’” he said. The basic point is that what’s good for event owners is also good for host venues and vice versa.


If you don’t believe in yourself, your team or your event, you won’t succeed. Just take the example former sports agent Molly Fletcher presented during her keynote speech. She left her Michigan home for Atlanta with little more than the cash she earned from coaching summer tennis lessons. With no permanent place to live (she slept on a friend’s sofa to start) or job, Fletcher sold an image of confidence and creativity. Quickly, she landed a job coaching tennis at an apartment complex. Among the perks: Fletcher didn’t pay rent for nine years—long enough to build her resume up to eventually represent the likes of Atlanta-based sports stars John Smoltz and Doc Rivers.


D.J. Allen, co-founder and president of Xs & Os of Success, provided arguably the conference’s most emotional moment during his keynote before our Game Changers awards presentation. Allen admitted losing perspective early in life, to the point he couldn’t be satisfied despite the terrific success he enjoyed as UNLV’s senior associate athletic director. When his son was diagnosed with autism, Allen learned to face his challenges head on. Now always sporting a smile, Allen is a powerful agent of positivity, reinforcing the lesson that life is a team sport. Stories like Allen’s inspire others and offer a reminder that sports are important (especially in this business), but not the only thing to worry about.