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The Senior Olympics: Origins and Champions

Stay physically active during senior living Lincoln, CA. The Senior Olympics, known more formally as the National Senior Games Association (NSGA), is dedicated to encouraging the elderly to lead active lifestyles through sports.

Here’s what you need to know about the NSGA and its origins.

The start of a movement

The Senior Olympics was formed by seven women and men, who made up the first leadership committee of the games, in St. Louis, MO in 1985. These individuals were already hosting games for seniors in over 33 states. They envisioned a movement that would promote a healthy lifestyle among seniors through sports, fitness, and education.

The group held the inaugural National Senior Olympic Games two years later in 1987. With over 2,500 competitors and 100,000 spectators at the ceremonies, the games were a success. Legendary vaudeville act and standup comedian Bob Hope was special guest at the ceremonies at the iconic St. Louis Riverfront Arch.

National Senior Olympics Organization (NSOO) and Board of Directors were formally appointed during the games. They adopted by-laws and filed the articles of incorporation at the State of Missouri that same year.

The second installment of the games took place in 1989, also in St. Louis, with over 3,500 seniors in attendance and with media coverage by ESPN, New York Times, and Good Morning America.

In 1990, the non-profit ran afoul of the United States Olympic Committee, which objected to their use of the word “Olympics” in their corporate name. They reached an agreement with the committee, changing the organization’s name to National Senior Games Association (NSGA).

The NSGA continued to call its signature event “The Senior Olympics” through a clause that allowed certain states that used the name at the time of the agreement to do so.

At present, the signature event is simply called “The Games” – a biennial 19- sport competition for men and women aged 50 and older. It is the biggest multi- sports event for seniors in the world.

Member organizations traditionally conduct qualifying competitions, called the State Senior Games, the year before The Games in order to find athletes that meet the criteria for the main event.

The NSGA celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama, commemorating all the individuals who made the Senior Games Movement possible.

The NSGA today

To join the games, an individual must at least be 50 years old and qualified to participate through an official State Qualifying Game the year prior. Seniors can qualify through the state they reside in or in any state that accommodates out-of- state competitors.

Click here for more information on the NSGA’s state and association members.

The criteria differ by sport or event. In many cases, it’s unusual for the criteria to change drastically from one year to the next.

For most sports, the top four finishers for each age group and participants who meet minimum performance standards (MPS) in their respective sport will qualify for the national games.

There are exceptions, however:

  • Tennis – Only the top the finishers in every age group will qualify
  • Golf – Participants must finish first place or meet MPS or finish 1st
  • Triathlon – All finishers will qualify for nationals
  • Basketball, volleyball, and softball – The top three teams for each age group will qualify
  • Demonstration sports – No qualification required

Finishers of any rank/place may qualify for sports events with MPS if they meet or surpass the MPS for the age group they intend to participate in at the State Level.

For example, if the participant is 54 this year and joins the 50-54 age group at the State Games, they will move to the 55-59 age group the following year at Nationals, but they must meet the MPS for the 50-54 age group in order to qualify.

The NSGA is headed by a Board of Directors and Foundation Trustees, and is operated by staff members.

Learn more about senior living Lincoln, CA. Team Gillis is here to assist you. Call us at 916.303.6420 or 916.316.0815 or send an email to SteveGillis106(at)gmail(dotted)com.