We’ve all heard that eSports is making huge gains, but a few others have been quietly growing as well. And as they continue to make strides in attendance and prominence, they may have the potential to impact the sport facility (and ultimately, facility-specific construction) industry.
Recently recognized as having Observer status (it’s one step shy of international recognition) by the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF, formerly known as SportAccord), these sports governing bodies are working to increase their international profile:
The World Armwrestling Federation: Armwrestling continues to make gains in recognition, with competitions for both able-bodied arm wrestlers and those with disabilities. The sport is mainly contested indoors on specific equipment.
The World Dodgeball Association: The organization is preparing to hold its World Cup in Madison Square Garden in New York City. The inaugural 2016 Dodgeball World Cup took place in Manchester, England. There are four 2017 Continental World Cup Qualifying Competitions to determine the top 10 qualifying nations for each of the three respective men’s, women’s and mixed competition categories.
The Federation for International FootGolf: FootGolf, a sport that has been popping up on golf courses nationwide, makes use of soccer skills, and has been hailed as a way to help use golf courses that are not getting the use they need. Stateside, the sport is governed by the American Footgolf League.
The International Union of Kettlebell Lifting: Kettlebells, long associated with athletic clubs, are coming into their own as not only a form of fitness but the basis of a competitive sport on a worldwide basis; in fact, there is a schedule of events hosted by IUKL in 2017.
The International Federation of Poker: Not just for casinos (or the WSOP) anymore the Federation is the governing body of sports poker, promoting poker and its Match Poker variation as a skill game and a mind sport. Match Poker Match Poker is a team sport incorporating regular Texas Hold’em. Cards are delivered electronically via a digital device. After a pre-determined number of hands the team with the most points wins. All action is recorded electronically enabling real-time automated scoring, animated replay and detailed analysis.
The International Pole Sports Federation: As a quick clarification, this is pole dancing, rather than pole vaulting or javelin throw. The sport has already met with the IOC, in addition to GAISF, and notes that it has been confirmed as a signatory of the World Anti-Doping Agency Code. Pole sports includes multiple disciplines within the sport (much the same way gymnastics does) and additionally has a Paralympic version, known as Para Pole.
International Table Soccer Federation: Table soccer (some call it foosball) as an international sport? Yep. In fact, it has players worldwide (with the USA at the top), as well as official vendors. The sport even has its own app.
The logical question is generally the following: Will these become Olympic sports? For the time being, they are not – although some sports, such as pole, have already met with the IOC regarding possible inclusion. Being granted Observer status through GAISF, according to an article in Inside The Games, is intended to allow newer sports federations to “take advantage of the GAISF network to grow and develop.” These groups can take part in the annual GAISF International Federation (IF) Forum and attend the GAISF General Assembly, but will have no voting rights. It is seen as the first step towards full GAISF membership with the body pledging to work with observers so they can meet the criteria required.