Exploring NSF Past and Present

This year is going to mark my third time attending the National Sports Forum (NSF). My first time attending NSF was 2 years ago in Cincinnati, OH. Having been my first time attending this show, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I found out very quickly that this is one of the most outgoing and social groups that I’ve ever worked with. From the NSF employees all the way through to the actual attendees, everyone is very nice and always wanting to meet and talk to new people. I could sense there was this “togetherness” feeling that the group has, the kind you have with your close group of college friends. You may not see each other every day, but every time you do see each other, you pick right back up where you left off.

One memory stands out when I think back to that first trip in Cincinnati: the newcomer’s breakfast. It is meant to help first timers get to know each other. Each table is appointed a member of the NSF steering committee to help guide conversations along. Our “head of the table” was the Assoc. AD/Marketing for Iowa State University, Mary Pink. She was very welcoming and helped us all open up and talk about who we are and what company we work for. Then after a while, each table leader had to stand up and introduce their table to the rest of the group.


I’ll never forget what happened shortly after sitting down at our table; a man came over and pulled up his chair to sit next to me. He introduced himself and was extremely nice and charismatic with our entire table. I had some side table conversations asking him about the forum and what to expect, and he had nothing but the nicest things to say about it and that the forum “is what you make it”. Basically meaning, if you are willing to meet new people, get outside of your comfort zone and have a good time, you’re going to get a lot out of it – but you have to want to do that. Before the breakfast was over he excused himself saying he had to go get ready for his speech that he was giving. He handed me his card, and on it said “Bonner Paddock”.

Now I had never heard about Bonner Paddock before and the speech he was referring to was the keynote speech later that morning. And wow! It was an amazing speech aone-more-stepnd very motivational. Bonner has cerebral palsy, and he has become the first person with that condition to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania as well as finish the Kona Ironman in Hawaii. The speech he gave was so inspirational and incredible, I couldn’t believe that I was sitting next to this man no more than an hour ago at breakfast and how humble of a person he really is. After the forum, I ordered his book to read more about his journeys and I strongly suggest it to anyone out there looking for a good book to motivate them.

This year, I’m looking forward to attending the forum once again. This time it will be held somewhere that’s a little closer to home than Cincinnati or Portland, and that is Minneapolis, MN. I work out of the Daktronics corporate office here in Brookings, SD, so having the forum be so close will definitely be a nice change. Instead of looking for multiple connecting flights out of our Sioux Falls, SD, airport, I will simply be able to pack up my car and take about a 4-hour drive to get there.

With this year’s forum being so close, I feel we have been move involved than we ever have before. Here is a preview of Daktronics’ involvement at NSF next week:

  • Super Panel – each year NSF has several Superpanel discussions that feature various executives from the sports industry. This year we were able to get our Vice President of Live Events and Spectaculars, Jay Parker, on one of these panels. The title is “What’s Next?” and will focus on upcoming trends and hot topics in the sports industry. The panel will be moderated by Bryan Rasch, Chief Innovation Officer for GMR Marketing, and joining Jay on the panel will be: Christian Lachel, Executive Creative Director & Vice President of BRC Imagination Arts, Nathan Lindberg, Director of Global Esports Sponsorships for Twitch, and Andy Hayman, the Head of Content Development & Production for GMR Marketing. This session will be held on Monday, February, 13, at 3:30 pm.
  • Display “Takeover” – We have reached out and asked if we could help two of the biggest events at the forum – the Opening Night Reception at U.S. Bank Stadium and the Budweiser Gala at Target Field – a little more special. Daktronics has an in-house creative services department that makes animations and videos for many different customers throughout the world. So we thought it would be cool to make some unique content and animations for all the LED displays at both facilities for these events and really “wow” those in attendance. This will consist of NSF trivia, venue fun facts and some shout-outs to other NSF sponsors.
  • Teaser Video – we wanted to work with the NSF staff to put together a video that would be pushed out via social media a week or so before the forum started to help entice people to sign up. We wanted this video to focus on what attendees will get from the forum and highlight the facilities that they will get to see when at the forum. While not many people may know, Daktronics also has a manufacturing plant in Redwood Falls, MN, and this manufacturing plant helped to create the displays that attendees will see at U.S. Bank Stadium and Target Field, so we wanted a way to include that in the video as well.

  • “Generating Revenue Outside the White Lines” – At our breakout session this year we will discuss the many different options that venues have for generating additional revenue outside of the main seating bowl. Concourses, suites and outside the facility all offer plenty of options for digital signage to bring value to advertisers year-round, not just on game day.
  • Virtual Reality – At our tradeshow booth this year, we will bring a couple Samsung Gear VR headsets and showcase some of the work our creative services department has done to show potential customers what their new LED displays will look like in a virtual world.
  • The Daktronics Stage – at the main hall we will be providing 2 LED towers as well as an LED podium that will tie in with all the different presentations happening there.

I am definitely looking forward to seeing everyone next week, making some new connections and having another successful year at NSF! Safe travels everyone!

profile-pictureThis article is by Matt Anderson
in College Sports Marketing.
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