In the Huddle with SXsports

By Laura Bennett

The 2015 South by Southwest music, film and interactive conference and festival is just days away and you can smell the excitement in the air as thousands prepare for the colossal 10-day event to take over downtown Austin. Since its inception in 1987, SXSW has grown into an international congregation of creativity and ingenuity, evolving each year along with the industries that it celebrates.


Photo by Kyle Murphy

A fairly new addition to the Interactive portion of the fest is SXsports, which was introduced in 2014 with a goal of “exploring cultural impact and the human experience, tackling the future of sport in all its forms and embracing entertainment and innovation.” With an impressive lineup of featured speakers including former NBA star Charles Barkley and UFC Champion Ronda Rousey, we can’t help but get excited about SXsports and the impact it will have on the Erwin Center as a venue that hosts professional and collegiate sporting events.

Head of SXsports, Rebecca Feferman, gave us some insight on the new and exciting addition to SXSW. Check out her thoughts on the importance of creating this portion of the fest, what attendees can look forward to and what the future holds for SXsports!

What brought on the creation of SXsports?
SXSW has featured sport-related programming in both the Interactive conference and Film Festival for many years, and we felt it was an area ripe for expansion. In 2014 we launched the SXsports track as part of our Convergence programming, and expanded on the content and branded it to increase visibility within the sports industry. The footprint includes three days of panels, affiliated film screenings, nighttime events and lounges, and it’s open to all SXSW Film, Interactive, Gold and Platinum badgeholders.

What are some major highlights of this year’s sports programming?
Too many great ones to choose from! But we’re really excited about having a really diverse bunch of panelists from all areas of the world of sports – people like Charles Barkley, UFC fighters Ronda Rousey and Jessica Eye, Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman, Indianapolis Colts Punter Pat McAfee, FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles, and Jane Randel from NO among so many others.

We’re also really excited about our new Problem Solvers sessions, where we start each day with these interactive discussions designed to help reach actionable solutions to evolving challenges in the sports landscape – covering issues like compensating college athletes for their likenesses (with UT’s own Emmanuel Acho), crowdfunding for non-traditional athletes and more.

What will the this portion of the festival look like in the next few years? Meaning what is the end-goal vision for SXsports?
We’ll have to wait and see! We see sports as an area with tremendous growth potential, where SXSW can become THE destination to explore the cultural and technological perspectives on sport in a way no one else can. But for now, we’re taking it one day at a time and are incredibly proud of the program we’ve put together in only our second year.

If you’re able to get your hands on a Film, Interactive, Gold or Platinum badge, the SXsports panels are definitely worth checking out!

Visit the Frank Erwin Center website to see who's coming, and subscribe to Be the First to Know to get a jump on upcoming pre-sales and ticket giveaways.

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