The history of today's Atlanta Braves traces back to 1876 in Boston, where the team played as the Red Stockings. In the more than 100 years since, the club lived like a nomadic tribe, claiming two World Series titles in separate cities before finally landing in Atlanta in 1966. There, they found reason to settle down, winning an unprecedented 14 consecutive division titles, as well as another World Series in 1995. Throughout the years, many of baseball's all-time greats have donned the Braves uniform, including Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Cy Young. Opened in 1997, Turner Field serves as the club's home turf, relaying the action on a 29'x38' BravesVision video board as a 27' neon tomahawk menaces visiting players and vegetables alike.
Lake Lanier is no stranger to aquatic adventurers: boats and jet skis regularly zoom across its surface. But it's never seen something quite like the Flyboard, a jetpack-esque contraption that uses sprays of water to propel its rider through the lake and up to heights of 40 feet. The central board sends two massive jets of H20 wherever its commander’s feet desire, while two arm-bound stabilizers enable the rider to perform twists and backflips, as well as enact revenge on any duck who dares steal their hot-dog. Instructor Bryan Keenan employs the skills that he displayed at the 2012 World Cup for Flyboarding to get his students ready for flight.
Hittersbox Baseball lets hitters battle against pros without ever leaving the batting cage. With its ProBatter PX2 Professional Baseball System—one of several training tools used by major leaguers—a virtual pitcher winds up just as a ball is launched through a hole in the video screen by a pitching machine hidden behind it. For a greater challenge, batters can change the location, pitch type, and sequence of pitches, or just close their eyes.
After practice, Pro Mirror video training allows players to relive their swings and analyze any pitfalls by watching five minutes of batting-cage video. These modern takes on traditional baseball practice, which Hittersbox coaches use for beginners and serious players alike, boast approval from owner Jasha Balcom, a former Chicago Cub, as well as an elite list of major-league clients.
An ECHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes, the Gwinnett Gladiators skate constant circles in pursuit of the Kelly Cup. After joining the league in 2003, the team reached the playoffs in seven of its first nine seasons, netting one trip to the finals. Since its inception, the team has played at The Arena at Gwinnett Center, entertaining up to 13,000 fans with fast-paced hockey action and tense moments when the Gladiator's goalie sticks his tongue to the ice at crucial moments.
Founded in 2013, the Bikini Basketball Association is comprised of five female teams in Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, and Philadelphia. Though the association's name suggests that players hit the court wearing swimwear, they actually play in tight-fitting spandex athletic gear that does not billow in the wind like traditional jerseys, threatening to fill with air and lift players off the court and out of the gymnasium.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Robert Herzog dropped off his laundry, picked up his mail, and took the local C train to work instead of the express A train. When he arrived for work at the north World Trade Center tower that morning, nearly 300 of his coworkers were dead. Stunned by his inexplicable escape from death, Herzog battled through his trauma by focusing on the good things in his life. Earlier that year, he met his wife-to-be playing coed softball. He had enjoyed the league but felt he could do better. Tempered by the sense of charity and community that was so ubiquitous after September 11, he opened ZogSports—a sports league that donates 10% of its profits to charity—in 2002.
Since then, leagues have spread from New York and the northeast out to Atlanta and the Twin Cities. Casual competitors in their 20s and 30s team up in touch-football leagues and indoor-volleyball leagues, making new friends on the field, at postgame happy hours, and at preseason press conferences.
When teams sign up for ZogSports's leagues, they choose a charity to represent. From there, teams compete to win the league championship, come up with the funniest team name, or order the most drinks at the bar after the game, all of which earn them money for their charity of choice. To date, the company has donated more than $1.5 million to various charities.