One of the most exciting things about a ball is the seating arrangement.

At the end of the evening she decides whether the guest thinks the ball was a success or not.

Besides your life partner, do you sit in the neighborhood of an interesting, eloquent, possibly even attractive person, or next to someone who is a bit stuffy and boring?

That's why the host, the Deutsche Sporthilfe foundation, spends a lot of time dividing the 1,500 guests, who always appear in pairs, into the same number of seats at around 80 long tables.

Daniel Meuren

Editor in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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For the first time since 2007, the Sports Ball will be held in the Festhalle on Saturday.

Thomas Berlemann, who on Thursday extended his contract as CEO of Sporthilfe by three years until 2026, relies on the wealth of experience of numerous long-serving employees and an externally commissioned helper who is experienced in seating arrangements.

Experience of 51 balls

Within Sporthilfe, planning is described as a science in itself, for which there is no artificial intelligence to support it.

Human judgment is essential if sensitivities such as interpersonal dislikes are to be included in the allocation of seats.

Only a database serves as a reminder if complaints or special requests are already known from the past of 51 balls - the first took place in 1970 in the Centennial Hall.

In addition, the work on the correct seating arrangement is still classic manual work.

On a whiteboard that has been hanging for this purpose in the office of the Sporthilfe on the Otto-Fleck-Schneise for years, small name tags with magnets are moved until Friday until a result is reached, which in turn is only an interim result.

"If we get another cancellation, then we have to be flexible and reschedule until shortly before the ball," says a spokesman for Sporthilfe.

The aim is to show each guest as much appreciation as possible when choosing who to sit next to them.

The business bosses of the national partners, who enable Sporthilfe to provide financial support to the few hundred most promising German athletes, should feel that Sporthilfe appreciates their commitment with gratitude.

A business grandee who is inclined towards cycling could, for example, very well find a place next to the professional cyclist John Degenkolb, who lives in Eschborn, a tennis fan can hope for Angelique Kerber, and if you happen to like wrestling, the three-time world champion and Olympic medalist Frank Stäbler would be a candidate.

Probably the most coveted seat neighbor among the 100 or so active or passive sports stars, almost exclusively from Olympic sports, is probably Niklas Kaul.

The secret of which place the decathlon European champion gets will of course only be revealed on Saturday.

Acrobatics and climbing interludes between the courses

The other ingredients of the largest benefit event for sports promotion in all of Europe are well known.

The midnight show will celebrate Tim Bendzko singing, the 1500 guests will be cooked by Nelson Müller, who underlines the sustainability vow of the ball organizer with the choice of starter and intermediate course: The culinary evening starts vegan.

Between courses, visitors are entertained with acrobatics and climbing.

Paraclimber Tim Schaffrina will also demonstrate his skills.

The Frankfurter, who was paralyzed on one side after a brain hemorrhage in rehab five years ago, used his hobby as a "straw of hope", is one of the world's best climbers with a severe neurological impairment.

For Schaffrina and the other climbers there is a "climbing mountain" in the middle of the festival hall.

The artificial steep walls rise 15 meters into the dome of the hall, where they are also stored 12 meters above the ground until they are used around 9 p.m.

Jürgen Hassler, who with his agency Hassler Made is responsible for the entire dramaturgy of the ball, from hall design to direction, describes the installation as follows: "We use the dome structure to project its energy onto the vision of Sporthilfe," he said at the Tour of the ballroom.

"It will be one of the best balls ever because we charge the visitors with energy."

Frankfurt is financially committed to the status of sport

The spectacle, which should ultimately bring in a high six-digit amount for the promotion of competitive sports through income from donations and a raffle, is also possible thanks to the city of Frankfurt, which, like its long-term partner Lotto Hessen, is providing support of 400,000 euros, which Wiesbaden as previous host was no longer willing to pay.

"We want to give these athletes, who are so full of hope, a platform," says Sports Director Mike Josef (SPD).

The city not only benefits in terms of location marketing, millions of euros flow back into the value chain through hotel accommodation and various services.

"But the ball is not primarily a fiscal matter, it's about the importance of sport in our city."

Josef is present on the evening of the ball as the only candidate for the upcoming mayoral election.

In his function as head of the sports department, he wants to hold back, "because the focus should be on the athletes this evening," as he says.

Above all because "it's not football that draws attention to itself".