Fun and Games At Your Next Conference

Hosting competitions, bowl games, and other types of contests during your annual conference is not just a fun idea but also a chance to highlight the skill and knowledge required of your members.

If you’ve been watching Jeopardy! recently, then you know that contestant James Holzhauer is on a winning streak. So far, he’s won $1.69 million in 22 games—and appears to be headed toward surpassing all-time money leader Ken Jennings’ $2.5 million.

His streak has also come with good news for the game show: Its ratings hit a 14-year high the week of April 29, with more than 14 million daily viewers. That was better than the same-day audiences for every Nielsen-rated show in prime time, including CBS’s broadcast leader The Big Bang Theory (12.49 million viewers) and the initial tune-in for HBO’s Game of Thrones (11.8 million, not including streaming).

Many people like me have been tuning in to cheer Holzhauer on and see if he can keep his streak up, and there are just as many others who are tuning in to watch him lose. But no matter what camp viewers fall into, it’s clear that people are entertained and talking about him.

It’s that same love of competition, as well as the drama and rivalry that come with it, that has led many associations to host game shows and trivia bowls during their annual conferences.

Take the American Association for PAs. At its annual meeting, which kicks off this weekend in Denver, it will be hosting the AAPA National Medical Challenge Bowl. Each year, more than 80 physician assistant programs from across the country participate in the high-energy competition in which student teams answer questions on a variety of clinical topics.

Teams, like last year’s winners from USC, train for months and spend hours practicing with their coaches, who are often faculty members from their programs.

Another group that hosts competitions during its annual conference is the American Water Works Association (AWWA). At next month’s Annual Conference & Exposition, it has a number of games that perfectly tie into the work its members and industry partners do. Along with a bowl-style game called Top Ops, there’s Hydrant Hysteria, where two-member teams assemble a hydrant as quickly as they can; Meter Madness, where contestants assemble a water meter from a bucket of parts; and Pipe Tapping, where water operators work against the clock to open a cement-lined, ductile iron pipe and install a tap.

What I like about the idea of holding games during annual conferences is that they add an element of fun and allow people to take part in a little friendly competition after a long day of learning. Plus, as is the case with AAPA and AWWA, they give you an opportunity to put the spotlight on your student members, highlight your industry’s next generation, and showcase the work your members do daily—and the knowledge and skill it requires.

Has your association hosted a game-style competition during your event? Tell us about your winning strategy in the comments.

The winners of the 2018 AAPA National Medical Challenge Bowl. The high-energy competition requires teams to train for months. (via AAPA's Facebook page)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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