Being the forward thinker that he is, the first thing Butch Spyridon did after learning the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville had been named Event of the Year last week by Sports Business Journal was make sure FIFA was aware.

Nashville is in play for the 2026 FIFA World Cup and any accolades the 2019 NFL Draft receives, Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp, believes will benefit the city’s chances of landing another great spectacle. 

“I am surprised we’re still talking about the 2019 NFL Draft and the sports world is still talking about it in a good way,” Spyridon said. “For me, the greatest benefit was being able to take a screen shot from the Sports Business Journal post on Twitter and send it to FIFA in Switzerland and say, ‘Just wanted to share.'”

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Spyridon heard back Monday from FIFA officials, who he said were impressed.

“As we’re talking about the next big event, being able to use something like (the NFL Draft) and a third party acknowledgement like this, validates Nashville,” Spyridon said. “We’re quick to say it was the NFL’s event. It was their nomination (for the Sports Business Journal award) and they did the work. But they were quick to share the true partnership in a text they sent to me and that means as much as anything. It was a partnership and we worked well together.”

The NFL Draft, which drew more than a half million fans to Nashville, beat out the other nominees: 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend, 2020 NBA All-Star Game, Miami Open Tennis Tournament and WrestleMania 35.

The event award came on the heels of Nashville being selected “Best Sports City” by Sports Business Journal last December and kept the Music City on a roll, according to Nashville Sports Council president and CEO Scott Ramsey.

“What an honor for Nashville to not only be named the country’s Best Sports City, but also play host to the Sports Business Journal’s Sports Event of the Year,” Ramsey said. “The future of sports is bright in Nashville and we look forward to helping keep the city a top destination for years to come.” 

For all the Sports Business Journal winners visit SBJ Awards.

Summitt, Plant highlight Cheatham County Hall of Fame class

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The inaugural Cheatham County Sports Hall of Fame class includes legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt, current International Boxing Federation super middleweight champ Caleb Plant, former basketball star Ryan Stack and longtime coach Ralph Spangler

Summitt was born in Clarksville, but moved with her family as a teen to Henrietta in Cheatham County because Clarksville High did not have a girls basketball team at the time.

She became a starter as a freshman and remained with the first team until she graduated in 1970. Summitt spent 38 years as the coach at Tennessee where she won 1,098 games and eight national championships. She died in 2016.

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Plant graduated from Sycamore High in 2010, became a Golden Gloves champ in 2011, and won the IBF super middleweight title on Jan. 13, 2019. He successfully defended the title for the second time last February.

The 6-foot-11 Stack averaged 19.0 points and 11.3 rebounds as a senior (1993-94) at Cheatham County Central. He went on to play at South Carolina and then became the first basketball player from Cheatham County to be drafted into the NBA when the Cleveland Cavs selected him in the second round.

Spangler, who died in 2013, led the Cheatham County Central football team to three undefeated seasons (1956, 1959, 1968). He also coached the boys and girls basketball teams and the baseball team.

Spangler ended his career coaching at Sycamore Junior High. The football stadium at Sycamore Senior High is named in his honor.

Others in the class include Cheatham Country Central basketball players Mildred Sanders Bidwell and the late AgnesCagle Loyd, who played for Nashville Business College and were members of the first Women’s World Basketball Championship team in 1953; Corky Albright, who covered high school sports in Cheatham County for more than 25 years while working for WQSV radio; and the 2019 Cheatham County Central girls basketball team, which won the Class AA state championship.

The induction will be Oct. 23 at Gateway Assembly of God Church in Ashland City beginning with a reception at 4 p.m. Former Channel 2 sports director John Dwyer will be master of ceremonies.

Gale Sayers statue erected at Kansas

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A bronze statue of Gale Sayers, who served as Tennessee State’s interim athletics director in the 1980s, was unveiled at halftime of Kansas’ football game last week against Oklahoma State at Booth Memorial Stadium.

A statue of fellow Kansas great John Hadl also was unveiled.

Sayers, who died on Sept. 23, became TSU’s interim AD on Sept. 16, 1985 and remained in the position until June 30, 1986.

Sayers’ uniform No. 48 was sketched on the 25-yard lines on both sides of the field last week.

Sayers, a running back at Kansas (1962-64), had 2,675 career rushing yards and 3,917 all-purpose yards. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

Hadl, who played quarterback, halfback, defensive back and punter at Kansas (1959-61), was a two-time All-American.

Biggest ever Nashville Fit Show is Oct. 17

Whitney Wiser is promoter and organizer of the Nashville Fit Show, which will be at Opryland Resort & Convention Center Oct. 17. (Photo: Submitted)

The third annual Nashville Fit Show, the world’s largest all-female National Physique Committee sanctioned competition, is Oct. 17 at Opryland Hotel & Convention Center with COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in place

The competition features all NPC divisions, including women’s physique, figure, fitness, wellness and bikini. There also will be a fitness expo with a wide range of vendors present.

The show, which serves as a national qualifier, usually takes place in May, but was delayed due to the pandemic. It also was moved to a larger venue to assure the athletes and attendees are able to practice social distancing.

The ballroom seats approximately 7,000, but capacity will be limited to 500.

Show promoter and organizer Whitney Wiser will also share her journey in the fitness industry, which included a number of hardships and setbacks, and present the inaugural Whitney Wiser Overcomer Award to a participant who has carried on after beating the odds.

Competition and prejudging begins at 10 a.m. and the finals will be at 5 p.m. The expo hours are from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. For tickets or more information visit nashvillefitshow.com.

Sounds offer deal for new season ticket holders

After having their 2020 season canceled due to the pandemic, the Nashville Sounds plan to return to action in 2021 and launched a season ticket campaign this week.

Fans interested in becoming new season ticket members can place a $100 deposit per seat to secure their spot in line for seat selection at First Horizon Park.

Deposits can be placed at milb.com/nashville/tickets/deposit.

New season ticket members can choose from full-season, half-season and 18-game ticket plans. The 2021 schedule will be announced at a later date.

Evans hires second TSU assistant

Jaye Nayreau (Photo: Tennessee State Athletics)

Jaye Nayreau has joined the TSU women’s basketball coaching staff as an assistant.

Nayreau spent last season on the staff at Florida A&M and before that was an assistant at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas.

Nayreau is the second assistant Ty Evans has hired since being named TSU’s coach on Aug. 19. Evans hired former MTSU star Keisha McClinic as associate head coach on Sept. 15. 

Maxwell loses in Mid-Amateur playoff

Cookeville native Lee Maxwell, a former Tennessee Tech golfer, finished second in a three-way playoff Tuesday in the Tennessee Mid-Amateur Golf Championship at TPC Southwind in Memphis.

Matt Cooper from Memphis birdied the first extra hole to claim the win. Todd Burgan was finished third.

Former MTSU golfer Payne Denman and Corey Rochelle from Lawrenceburg tied for fourth (6-over). Tennessee Golf Foundation president and former MTSU golf coach Whit Turnbow and former Belmont golfer Brenton Flynn tied for seventh with one other (8-over).

Derrick Mason co-chair of Cancer Society event

Derrick Mason (Photo: Submitted)

Former Titans receiver Derrick Mason and Nashville Electric Service’s engineering supervisor and community leader Rashed Fakhruddin are co-chairing the American Cancer Society’s Fitness Crawl to Fight Breast Cancer and Real Men Wear Pink campaign this year.

As part of Fakhruddin’s Real Men Wear Pink campaign, 18 different fitness studios in Nashville are hosting donation-based classes or donation opportunities. Each candidate is tasked to wear pink every day in October and raise at least $2,500.

The funds raised go directly to the American Cancer Society. For more information or a list of the participating fitness studios visit American Cancer Society Fitness Crawl.

Blind Awareness Golf tourney coming up

The 20th annual Blind Awareness Golf Scramble will be Oct. 14 at Old Fort Golf Course in Murfreesboro. The tournament is sponsored by the Murfreesboro Breakfast Rotary Club and Friends of Tennessee School for the Blind. 

It begins at 12:30 p.m. and the entry fee is $150 per player and $600 per team. Corporate sponsorship is still available.

Contact Greg Tidwell (615-642-9534) or Andy Joiner (615-812-8274) for more information or visit Blind Awareness Golf Scramble.

If you have an item for Midstate Chatter contact Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter. 

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