In the convention city blog, the writer makes a note that the NATA is seeking a cost effective (under $200 hotel rooms) with a solid entertainment package. The article actually states “it is paramount” which made me wonder why so many people are up in arms about the Las Vegas 2013 convention and lack of attendance at the learning events. If our national organization is promoting entertainment and networking as part of the lure to attend the annual meeting, it should almost be expected that this would occur in the city that never sleeps.
As I said, I am a young professional and I have quickly learned how important networking is in this profession. Much like any of other professional conference, we pay large amounts of money to register, travel and attend these meetings. The issue is that the culture of networking has become synonymous with alcohol. Dry events rarely take place at NATA. I am not saying the convention should be alcohol free and athletic trainers should not have great time reconnecting with mentors and colleagues. I am a supporter of alcohol at alumni party and connecting over drinks. I am simply stating the culture of drinking at these annual meetings has skewed what the actual purpose is while also creating a barrier for inclusion. Just at a logistic standpoint, a hangover basically wipes a day out of your annual meeting agenda that you paid money for. The mature decision making skills are thrown out the window after a few drinks and your reputation is quickly molded based on the impression of the profession’s top decision makers watch you drink.
Zachary Winkelmann MS, LAT, ATC