A Rare Look Inside Chicago’s Top Sports Teams — and Support for Orthopedic Research

At the Chicago Sports Summit, attendees will hear from sports industry leaders and discuss the latest topics — from risky moves to pickleball
Two people have a discussion at the Chicago Sports Summit.

How will the explosion of pickleball and NASCAR on city streets influence Chicago’s unrivaled sports scene? Some of the top names in Chicago sports will take a shot at this question — and a variety of other sports topics — at the seventh annual Chicago Sports Summit.

The Summit, which is hosted by Midwest Orthopaedics at RUSH, will be held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023, from 8 to 11 a.m. It is open to the public.

Proceeds from this year’s event will support orthopedic research at RUSH, which has been ranked the top orthopedic program in Illinois for nine years in a row, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Support for orthopedic research that helps all patients

RUSH has earned an international reputation for the care it provides elite athletes, as well as non-professionals who also struggle with torn knee ligaments, dislocated shoulders, and foot and ankle injuries.

“The challenges we have in high-level sports are the exact same challenges we deal with on a daily basis with our patients who want to remain active and pain-free,” said Brian Cole, MD, MBA, managing director of Midwest Orthopaedics at RUSH and head team physician for the Chicago Bulls.

Supporting orthopedic research is critical because the body of evidence that guides clinical decision-making in sports medicine doubles every five years, Cole added.

“Research is a very big part of what we do as clinicians every day at RUSH,” Cole said. “Because we have the ability to collaborate with experts in physics, biochemistry, anatomy, biomechanics and basic science subspecialties, we’re able to bring a clinical problem to the lab to make a difference in patient care.”

To date, the Chicago Sports Summit has raised nearly $500,000 to benefit orthopedic research at RUSH as well as youth sports organizations in Chicagoland.

A star roster of VIP panelists

At the Summit, leaders from pro and college sports organizations, as well as experts in the business of athletics and sports medicine, will engage in interactive panels on timely topics such as:

  • The state of NIL (name, image and likeness) in college sports
  • Chicago’s emerging sports, including pro pickleball and NASCAR
  • Game plans from Chicago’s pro team leadership
  • The risk of caring for pro athletes

Panels will be moderated by popular Chicago sports anchors.

Insights on what’s next in Chicago sports

Joe Saslow, director in business development for Thirty-5 Capital, the private equity firm which owns the Chicago Slice, the city’s new pro pickleball team, and ProXR Pickleball, will be part of the panel discussing how emerging sports are changing the landscape.

“We’ve seen an explosive growth of pickleball, and I’m excited about how amateur participation can translate into professional viewership,” Saslow said.

Julie Giese, president of the Chicago Street Course for NASCAR, will also offer insights on this year’s inaugural street race in Grant Park during the panel.

Inside the C-suite of Chicago’s top teams

Another panel at the Summit will bring together leaders from some of Chicago’s most beloved teams, including the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago Red Stars, to discuss challenges and plans for the future.

“At the Bulls, we are focused on cultivating our global fan base and evolving our customer experience,” said Ram Padmanabhan, the team’s chief operating officer. “So, I am curious to hear how other teams and sports seek to engage a new generation of fans in a world with more entertainment and content channels than ever before.”

Rachel Parrish, director of brand marketing and communications for the Chicago Red Stars, looks forward to representing women’s sports teams on the same panel. Besides examining the ongoing pay disparity in women’s sports, she also plans to address the value of investing in women’s teams.

“If you invest in women’s sports — whether in a professional organization or as a sponsorship — you see some of the highest ROI and highest engagement via impressions online,” she said.

Danny Wirtz, CEO of the Chicago Blackhawks, will also join the leadership panel.

A behind-the-scenes look at caring for pro athletes

This year’s Summit attendees will also hear from panelists on the potentially expensive risks faced by physicians caring for pro athletes. Non-physicians will also get an insider’s view of the decision-making process when a pro athlete returns to competition after an injury, said panelist Mark Bartelstein, CEO of Priority Sports & Entertainment, one of the top sports agencies in the country.

“There’s a tremendous balancing act that goes on between short-term versus long-term decisions,” said Bartelstein, who has been involved with the Summit for many years.


To attend the 2023 Chicago Sports Summit and support orthopedic research at RUSH, you may purchase tickets or sponsor a table. To learn about other sponsorship opportunities, please contact Ann Pitcher at ann@pitchercom.com.

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