History of the NSGA

Julia Hawkins, pictured here at age 103, took the world by storm with her running pursuits as a centenarian in the National Senior Games.

In 1985 in St. Louis, MO, a group of seven men and women formed the original leadership for what was initially known as the US National Senior Sports Organization (aka USNSO). 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 USNSO was incorporated in 1987 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 by USNSO, and the “dba” name was changed to the National Senior Games Association. For approximately 10 years thereafter, NSGA was allowed to call its signature event “National Senior Games – The Senior Olympics.”

The NSGA exists today as a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of competitive sports, physical fitness and active aging to adults ages 50+.

The National Senior Games, a 20+ sport, biennial competition for men and women 50 and over, is the largest qualified multi-sport event in the world for seniors.

NSGA Member Organizations hold annual games with qualifying competitions in the year preceding The Games. Athletes that meet specific criteria while participating in Qualifying State Senior Games qualify to participate. To date, the NSGA has held 19 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 10,530
 2019  Albuquerque, NM 20 13,882
 2022  Fort Lauderdale, FL 21 12,065
 2023  Pittsburgh, PA/Columbus, OH 21 11,681
 2025  Des Moines, IA TBD TBD
 *Reflects more stringent qualifying standards