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Pizza Sports are Here to Stay, and Competitors Are Set to Become Stars

Tips for gaining a competitive edge in this year's acrobatic events, broadcast on ESPN3!

USPT veteran Ryan LaRose hits the floor with a couple of flashy tricks in a 2008 dough spinning competition.

Pizza Sports Have Arrived!

For nearly 20 years, the U.S. Pizza Team (USPT) has been a labor of love for PMQ publisher Steve Green, his family and staff. As I mentioned in this space last month, their work paid off splendidly in January when the USPT’s Winter Trials, held at the Mid-America Restaurant Expo in Columbus, Ohio, was aired live on ESPN3. Both the event and the broadcast were so successful, more USPT trial contests will air on ESPN3 throughout the remainder of 2019, and before long, you’ll see pizza acrobatics champs like Jamie Culliton and Scott Volpe grinning on your box of Wheaties every morning at breakfast.

OK, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but you never know. At the very least, we can say with confidence that pizza sports, bearing the imprimatur of the world’s No. 1 sports network, have arrived in the U.S. And while not just anyone can become a full-fledged member of the U.S. Pizza Team—it’s a distinction that must be earned—competition in the team’s events is wide open to pizzeria owners, managers and employees anywhere in the country.

So what does that mean to you, gentle reader? It means your pizzeria can earn national TV exposure simply by competing in the USPT’s various trial events this year. With that in mind, here are a few tips for taking full advantage of the opportunity:

Practice, practice, practice. Just like any athlete, you need to show up ready to compete. Dedicate some time to getting your routine down pat. (See our cover story, “The Spin Doctors,” on page 30 for acrobatics world champion Jamie Culliton’s advice on this subject.)

Take risks in your routine. The bolder and more difficult the routine, the bigger the impression you’ll make on the judges—even if you drop your dough now and then in the middle of a trick.

Dress the part. You’re on national TV, for heaven’s sake. Ditch the sweatpants and the grungy T-shirt and create a distinctive, memorable look for yourself. Feel free to wear a shirt or jacket sporting your pizzeria’s logo but add a touch of flair to stand out. Look your best!

Have fun. Keep loose, stay relaxed and enjoy yourself. The beauty of USPT competitions is that petty rivalries are virtually nonexistent—pizza folks look after one another and cheer each other on. In other words, you’re among friends!



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