SportsFest is going on TV to promote a healthy future for you and itself

A weekly series will begin in April spotlighting health and fitness and looki ahead to the 17th annual SportsFest.

When most people think of SportsFest, they think of a variety of tournament-styled events unfolding at Cedar Beach and other nearby venues.

And, the high school boys and girls basketball tournaments, which feature close to 100 teams between them, are generally considered the centerpiece of the four-day extravaganza.

But in an effort to the bolster the event's financial standing, and at the same time, make people healthier, SportsFest will begin a weekly television show in April on Service Electric TV2 that will lead right into the 17th annual SportsFest, scheduled for July 18-21.

The show will be called "SportsFest Warm Up!" and will feature three different segments each week designed to spotlight health-related area businesses as well as many of the events that will take place during SportFest.

"The purpose of the show is to educate people about health and fitness," said Ray Atiyeh, the president and executive director of SportsFest. "We want to help to start getting people off their butt and into shape."

Atiyeh said that SportFest's mission statement was originally about showcasing the Allentown parks, but now it includes the desire "to encourage health and fitness for the benefit of our youth and the wellness of our community."

"We're kicking it up a notch," Atiyeh said. "This show is going to be the first of its kind in the Lehigh Valley and will offer opportunities for health and fitness experts and practitioners the chance to display and demonstrate their products and services."

Topics are expected to include health supplements, nutrition, Cardio, injury prevention, self-defense and much more.

He said the TV show will hopefully spark interest in the SportFest's Health and Fitness Expo.

He said that the health and fitness aspect will not be in competition with the tournaments, but rather "it will complement the tournaments that have been very successful for us in terms of attracting participants and spectators."

But Atiyeh said that he's hopeful that the TV show will attract sponsors to SportsFest that will help to keep it going.

"The tournaments we run are still a good idea, but it needs to be enhanced," he said. "We're hoping that our TV show and the health and fitness expo will generate a lot of interest and sponsorship. We want to get SportsFest to a point where it can stand on its own feet and remain strong. We want it to become a natural thing where sponsors will come to us instead of us having to go after them.

"Sponsorship, frankly, is very difficult. It's very time-consuming. We're going to give this a try and see if it works."

Andy Himmelwright, the general manager of Service Electric TV2, believes the show will be good for SportsFest, which TV2 has covered since its inception.

"The whole aspect of the show is to give SportsFest more exposure leading up to the event and make more people aware of the different events that go on at SportsFest and to give recognition to the sponsors leading up to the event," Himmelwright said. "The tournament directors who run the events will also be part of the show and there will be demonstrations..

"From the health and fitness expo end of it, which SportsFest has really been trying to grown, the show will provide many healthy tips for people."

In the past, Service Electric has televised a preview show for SportsFest and then a highlights show after it has taken place.

"This series is actually an expansion of the preview show that we've always done," Himmelwright said. "With these half-hour shows, we'll be able to go more in-depth."

Atiyeh said that more changes are coming for SportsFest designed to make it easier for spectators to view more sports in a more confined area.

But for now the focus is on "Warm Up!" show. Several segments have been taped already and Atiyeh is seeking more sponsors to come aboard now so that segments can be taped in time to be aired in the April to July period.

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