SGMA looks to future with new events, continues Super Show re-assessment

In what could be viewed as one more step away from its big event, The Super Show, the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association has announced two new events that will look toward the future rather than continue with traditions of the past.
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In what could be viewed as one more step away from its big event, The Super Show, the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association has announced two new events that will look toward the future rather than continue with traditions of the past.

The SGMA Industry Leaders Summit will be aimed at executives, CEOs and senior management as a place to discuss global issues that affect every company and to find solutions, while the SGMA Sports and Technology Convergence will bring together the technology industry with sporting goods in a format that recognizes sports and fitness of the future is changing.

Both are now scheduled to kickoff in October 2006 in Los Angeles and are expected to overlap slightly, allowing a closing speech and the dinner of the executive summit to be the opening events of the technology event. The dinner that overlaps is set to be a celebration of the SGMA's 100th anniversary with awards and lots of hoopla.

"It's ambitious; it's a new direction," SGMA President Tom Cove told SNEWS®. "It's serving our industry in the way we think is important."

Meanwhile, The Super Show will continue in 2006 as planned (Jan. 23-25, in Orlando, Fla.) although Cove admits it is up for a "head-to-toe reassessment."

"The show is a separate question," Cove said. "The announcement of these two new events reflects SGMA's understanding of what the industry needs as well as some new thinking as to how we can serve it better. We continue to look at The Super Show."

Industry Leaders Summit   
Targeted for the "thought leaders" of the industry, the two-day event is expected to bring together up to about 100 top executives and senior management to listen to a couple of keynotes from inside and outside the industry, take part in panels, participate in break-out sessions, and get actively involved in roundtables or facilitated sessions.

The aim is to take a hard look at "the issues that keep you up at night," Cove said, including everything from the future of the Chinese consumer market, to the continuing question of mergers and acquisitions, to private labeling, to the changing relationships between brands, retailers and manufacturers.

"It's the things the top folks complain about when they're in the bar and they've let their hair down," Cove said. "Everything about this is designed to be different and of a 'certain tone.'"

But Cove also explained that the focus won't just be on discussing the key internal issues that affect everybody, but also on finding solutions.

"We're creating an agenda and a format that will force the issues a little bit," he said. "Ideally, everybody there will get a chance to speak … about what they're passionate about and good things will come from that.

"We at the SGMA will follow-up. That's what we're about," he added. "One of the problems in the past is that there has been no follow-up."

Sports and Technology Convergence
Tackling technology with a sports focus for the first time anywhere in one place, the "convergence" will target a much broader audience, including those at electronics and technology companies from Sony and Apple to Blue Tooth and Motorola to sporting goods companies already dabbling in a convergence such as Nike and adidas to all the product developers, designers, inventors, marketing people and others who have an interest in the growing area.

"First, we as an industry have been late to it," said Cove. "Second, we have seen the buying power going toward electronics -- even cell phones, com' on -- and, third, the leaders are embracing technology -- the adidas smart shoe and everything that's happening in fitness with monitoring and feedback….

"It's our sense our industry has to embrace the category to catapult us back to the top of the consumer goods chain," he said. "We say, 'Kids aren't exercising anymore.' Well, they're just looking for different ways."

This year at the Consumer Electronics Show in January for the first time there was a fitness gaming pavilion and "exergaming" was the talk of the huge E3 conference in Los Angeles in May. (For more on the Exergaming topic, see the GearTrends® Fitness 2005 magazine, available starting in August at the Health & Fitness Business show and, in September, online at www.geartrends.com.)

"This has got to be something we embrace," he added, calling the technology event an "intellectual exposition."

To include some seminars, lectures and panel discussions, the two- or three-day event will also have some feel of an expo but in a less traditional way -- more interactive, he said, since this category is all about the experience.  

Still, he added, it's not a trade show in the formal, booths-in-a-row, buying and selling way.

These new events have been under discussion for months and board members have put their stamp of approval on them.

SNEWS® View: We give the SGMA "three cheers" for making this dramatic move. We have been saying for months and months -- well, OK, maybe for a couple of years -- that the SGMA had lots of potential to really make a difference. And that The Super Show of yore needed to be given a decent burial so it could be remembered for what it was and not what it has become. We think these two events are a huge step in the right direction -- and very likely a pretty gigantic step toward indeed putting The Super Show as it is today out of its misery (too bad that had to happen in the association's 100th anniversary year). The infusion of electronics and technology in the fitness, sports and outdoor industries has been one that although not ignored by fitness, sports and outdoors, certainly hasn't been completely embraced and welcomed by the industry as whole. This will do that. We betcha if the gates swing open, it'll be easier for the big guns of that world to tap into the knowledge and product available in sports in a way that will help both parties take a giant leap ahead. Then maybe the sporting goods industry can enter the, well, 21st century. It is indeed time we stopped moaning about video games ruining kids and acknowledge that the generation is different with different needs for its hobbies and activities -- needs that could be fitness- and sports-oriented if presented in the right manner. It's taken the new SGMA administration six months to rally the troops and finally nail this one down. We don't think it will take that long for it to figure out the epitaph of The Super Show and move on to events of the future like these.

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