History of the NSGA

In 1985 in St. Louis, MO, a group of seven men and women formed the original leadership for what was initially known as the National Senior Olympics Organization (NSOO). The vision: to promote healthy lifestyles for adults through education, fitness and sport.

In the fall of 1985 they hosted a meeting of individuals who were currently conducting games for seniors in their 33 states. That group planned the first National Senior Olympic Games, held in 1987 in St. Louis. The games were a great success with 2,500 competitors. The NSOO was formalized during the games with a Board of Directors elected, articles of incorporation filed in the State of Missouri and by-laws adopted. Over 100,000 spectators viewed the first Games ceremonies featuring Bob Hope at the St. Louis Riverfront Arch.

The second National Games also took place in St. Louis in 1989, hosting 3,500 seniors and were covered by the New York Times, ESPN and Good Morning America.

In 1990 an agreement was reached with the United States Olympic Committee based on their objection to the use of the term Olympic in the organization’s corporate name and the name was changed to the U.S. National Senior Sports Organization, and the organization began working under the name National Senior Games Association. The organization continued to name its signature event the National Senior Games - The Senior Olympics and, through a grandfather clause, States that were using the name Senior Olympics at the time of the USOC agreement were allowed to continue that privilege.

The NSGA exists today as a non-profit organization dedicated to motivating active adults to lead a healthy lifestyle through the senior games movement.

The Games, a 19-sport, biennial competition for men and women 50 and over, is the largest multi-sport event in the world for seniors. Those core sports are as follows:

Sport Events
Archery Compound Fingers/Compound Release/Recurve/
Barebow Compound Fingers/Barebow Recurve
Badminton Singles/Doubles/Mixed Doubles
Bowling Singles/Doubles/Mixed Doubles
Non-Ambulatory - Singles/Doubles/Mixed Doubles
Cycling 5K/10K (Time Trials),
20K/40K (Road Races)
Golf 54-hole Scratch Play
Horseshoes Singles
Non-Ambulatory Singles
Pickleball Singles/Doubles/Mixed Doubles
Race Walk 1500M/ 5K
Racquetball Singles/Doubles/Mixed Doubles
Road Race 5K/10K
Shuffleboard Singles/Open Doubles
Non-Ambulatory Singles/Open Doubles
(short course yds.)
Backstroke: 50, 100, 200-Y
Breaststroke: 50, 100, 200-Y
Butterfly: 50, 100, 200-Y
Freestyle: 50, 100, 200, 500-Y
Individual Medley: 100, 200, 400-Y
Table Tennis Singles/Doubles/Mixed Doubles
Tennis Singles/Doubles/Mixed Doubles
Track & Field 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1500M;
Discus, Hammer, High Jump, Javelin, Long Jump, Pole Vault, Shot Put, Triple Jump
Triathlon 400M Swim, 20K Cycle, 5K Run
Team Sports: Basketball, Softball, Volleyball

NSGA Member Organizations hold annual games with qualifying competitions in the year preceding The Games. Athletes that meet specific criteria while participating in the State Senior Games qualify to participate. To date, the NSGA has held 15 summer national championships. The cities and the approximate number of athletes are noted below.

Year Host City # of Sports # of Athletes
1987 St. Louis, MO 15 2,500
1989 St. Louis, MO 16 3,400
1991 Syracuse, NY 18 5,000
1993 Baton Rouge, LA 18 7,200
1995 San Antonio, TX 18 8,200
1997 Tucson, AZ 18 10,300
1999 Orlando, FL 18 12,000
2001 Baton Rouge, LA 18 8,700*
2003 Hampton Roads, VA 18 10,700
2005 Pittsburgh, PA 18 11,000
2007 Louisville, KY 18 12,000
2009 Palo Alto, CA 18 10,000
2011 Houston, TX 18 10,100
2013 Cleveland, OH 19     10,881    
2015 Bloomington/Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN 19 9,989
2017 Birmingham, AL 19

*Reflects more stringent qualifying standards