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With World Games in Sight, Birmingham Gets Ready for the Spotlight

7 Oct, 2021

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Birmingham, Alabama is ready for its turn on the catwalk. With announcements on venues, sports, schedules security and a whole lot more, the World Games in July 2022 are taking ascendancy in a city often associated with college football.

The World Games, taking place July 7-17, 2022, have been years in the making. And while they might have been tripped up in 2020 (who wasn’t?), they’re on track and ready to be presented to the international sports community.

According to the World Games website, all venues have been confirmed as follows:

Oak Mountain State Park will play host to several water-based competitions, including not just Waterski/Wakeboardbut Canoe Marathon and Orienteering (middle distance).

Since it was established by the Alabama State Lands Act of 1927, Oak Mountain State Park has grown to 9,940 acres, making it Alabama’s largest state park. With the largest land-area, one of the widest varieties of outdoor activities of any state park, and its proximity to Birmingham, Oak Mountain is a popular destination.

At Barber Motorsports Park, organizers will be holding two events in the Air Sports category: Drone Racing and Canopy Piloting.

The Barber Motorsports Park is an 880-acre, multi-purpose racing facility located on the eastern fringes of Birmingham, Alabama. It was built by George Barber and includes the Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum, which has been named “World’s Largest Motorcycle Museum” by Guinness World Records. The Park, which opened in 2003, has a 17-turn, 2.38-mile (3.83 km) road course, designed by Alan Wilson, viewable from several naturally wooded or grass-covered banks.

Flying Disc events will take place on the campus of John Carroll Catholic High School.

The Hoover Metropolitan Complex, a multi-sport complex  in Hoover, Alabama, will host softball, the schedule for which was just released. The complex has five NCAA-regulation sized baseball and softball fields, five multi-purpose fields for lacrosse, soccer or football, and 16 hard tennis courts.

Founded in 1946, John Carroll is home to more than 500 students and focuses on student development through spiritual growth, academics, the arts, athletics, and discipline in a religious environment.

Avondale Parkwill host archery. This 37-acre tree-filled park features a lake, an amphitheater, baseball diamonds and other attractions.

Legion Field will host the flag football competition. The stadium, a historic property with a capacity of 71,594, was opened in 1927. Currently, Legion is the home field for the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Birmingham Blazers football team. Legion Field also hosts the annual Magic City Classic and the Steel City Classic each year. The playing surface is artificial turf.

Birmingham CrossPlex, a 750,000 square foot multi-sport complex, will host speed skating, wheelchair rugby,indoor and outdoor speed skating, wheelchair rugby, lifesaving, finswimming (Google it here) and canoe polo (Google that one too). Fun fact: The CrossPlex has an indoor track and the banking of that track can be adjusted hydraulically. It is one of only a few such facilities in the world.

Boutwell Auditorium, a 5,000-seat multi-use arena that was constructed in 1924, will stage martial arts competition. Martial arts contested at the World Games are sumo, kickboxing and Muay Thai, often called Thai boxing or Thai Kickboxing.

The University of Alabama at Birminghamwill host lacrosse, racquetball, squash, tug of war and boules sports. UAB is a public research university and hosted racquetball and other events for the National Senior Games in 2017.

Birmingham Southern Collegewill host fistball (Birmingham has announced itself as the presenting sponsor of this event), sprint orienteering, karate, wushu and ju-jitsu. Birmingham–Southern College is a private liberal arts college and a member of the SAC.

Protective Stadiumis the setting for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the World Games 2022 and is due to be the permanent home of the Birmingham Blazers football team.

Sloss Furnaces Park will host sport climbing, dancesport (breaking), parkour, which is a part of the gymnastics event and beach handball. Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark began as a museum in 1983, providing visitors with a unique experience and valuable insight into Birmingham’s industrial past.

The Railroad Park in the heart of the city is the start and finish of Duathlon and Sprint Relay Orienteering (here’s an explanation).

The Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex will stage dance sport, gymnastics, bowling, korfball, floorball, powerlifting and billiards

Additionally, renovations of the Legacy Arena, expected to host gymnastics and dance, are scheduled to be completed in April 2022.

Oak Mountain State Parkwill host waterskiing, wakeboarding, the canoe marathon and middle-distance orienteering. The park is a publicly owned recreation area located approximately 20 miles south of Birmingham in the northeast quadrant of the city of Pelham,

Birmingham, which is rich in sports venues, was the host of the National Senior Games in 2017, which offers competition in more than 25 sports. It also offers a vibrant city with restaurants, shopping and attractions.

Volunteerism is not going to be a problem, either. According to Inside The Games, with more than 1,500 people from 60 countries already expressing an interest, according to chief executive Nick Sellers. About 2,500 volunteers will be needed in all.

And according to Inside The Games, security is being planned to the nth degree. Tests have been staged to demonstrate response plans around hypothetical public safety incidents.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Birmingham 2022 organizers, the City of Birmingham, Jefferson County Emergency Management, state and local first responders and law enforcement officials took part, along with representatives from the International World Games Association. Among the items discussed were pre-incident and incident information sharing procedures.

And Birmingham itself is going from strength to strength. On December 1-2, the city will host representatives of National Olympic Committees (NOC) and National Sports Organizations (NSO) to discuss how best to support athletes at the 11th edition of The World Games.

For companies, individuals and those who want to commemorate something special, the World Games organizing committee has also launched a commemorative brick program.

The World Games, first held in 1981, are an international multi-sport event meant for sports, disciplines and events not contested in the Olympic Games, although there is some crossover in sports like archery, gymnastics, sport climbing, breakdancing, karate and softball – as well as others.

Sports are divided into groupings. Each sport may include various disciplines; for example, dance sport includes Latin, rock’n’roll, standard and breaking. For definitions of sports, and disciplines offered at the World Games, click here.

Artistic Sports

  • Dance Sport
  • Gymnastics
  • Roller Sports

Ball Sports

  • Canoe (Polo)
  • Fistball
  • Floorball
  • Handball
  • Korfball
  • Lacrosse (women’s)
  • Racquetball
  • Softball
  • Squash

Martial Arts

  • Ju-Jitsu
  • Karate
  • Kickboxing
  • Muay Thai
  • Sumo

Precision Sports

  • Archery
  • Billiards
  • Boules Sports
  • Bowling

Strength Sports

  • Tug of War
  • Powerlifting

Trend Sports

  • Air Sports
  • Canoe (Marathon)
  • Finswimming
  • Flying Disc
  • Lifesaving
  • Orienteering
  • Roller Sports
  • Sport Climbing
  • Waterski & Wakeboard

Invitational Sports

  • Duathlon
  • Flag Football
  • Lacrosse (Men’s)
  • Wheelchair Rugby

(The frantic clattering you hear is everyone Googling the sports they don’t know, likely starting all the way back with dancesport in an attempt to impress their friends with their broad-ranging knowledge of little-known sports in the U.S.)

 

The 11th edition of the World Games is due to feature 3,600 athletes from more 100 countries.

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