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Participation is key at recreation show

Published Oct. 13, 2005

The Florida Suncoast Dome looks like a toy store. Children and adults can fill their wish lists with speedboats and recreational vehicles; they can improve their fishing casts and their golf swings; and they can spend money.

The Florida Sports and Recreation Show, with an emphasis on participation, runs through Sunday.

"It's a chance to give the consumers a look at all types of sports," said Angelo Spicola, president of the Florida State Trade Shows. "We're trying to give people an introduction to a variety of sports, especially in the summer, when all the kids get out of school."

The PGA booth offers a couple of free swings into a net while an instructor checks a golfer's form and a speed gun measures the swing. Instructors work on your grip and your stance.

"Participation, that's the name of the game," Spicola said. "That's how you get people involved and that's how you get kids interested early."

At a booth for the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, which trumpets graduates like Monica Seles and Andre Agassi, there was a reduced version of a tennis court with instructors giving lessons on the backhand and the serve.

There are clothes, jewelry and pool tables, and clinics for fishing, karate, cooking, boxing and archery.

There are Paintball guns, a 1990s version of tag or hide and seek. This game has staining consequences, and equipment like goggles, guns and suits can be purchased.

There are big items. The sea-lover, with $62,000 to spend, can have a 50-foot cabin cruiser. Or, if you choose to relax in the water closer to home, there's a jet tub for $1,099.

The Sports Showcase has porcelain baseball cards available, with players like Jose Canseco's signature in 24 karat gold.

Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for children. Today, children under 18 are free.