Slosar still a fan, keeps emphasis on fun
John Slosar is a veteran of some 20 Hong Kong Sevens but he is looking forward to this year's event with a more than usual sense of anticipation - it will be his first as Cathay Pacific's chief executive and corporate co-host of the big event.
But despite the airline's 31 years as a major sponsor, Slosar sees the Sevens as much more than a corporate opportunity.
'I think the Sevens transcends corporations and sponsorship', he says. 'It's an iconic event in its own right that has become an integral part of the fabric of Hong Kong. Everybody loves it - it's a Hong Kong event, certainly not just an expat event.'
Slosar remembers sitting on the concrete benches of the old Football Club in the early days of the Sevens and has been hooked ever since. 'On Sunday afternoon, when the Championship showdown matches come around, I don't think you can find more intense sporting competition anywhere in the world,' he says.
'Sure, a World Cup Final can be absorbing - but it runs over 80 minutes. In the Sevens, all that action is compressed into 20 minutes. You just can't beat it.'
American-born, Cambridge-educated Slosar, a Swire man for over 30 years, was a latecomer to the Anglo sports of rugby and cricket.
Born and raised near Cleveland, Ohio, he grew up supporting the Cleveland Browns NFL team, the Cleveland Cavaliers in basketball and, in baseball, the Cleveland Indians.
'Somebody's got to do it', he quips, noting that none of the teams has been wildly successful.
Nowadays, he roots for his 'home team', Hong Kong, but admits to pangs of patriotism when he sees the US team run out onto Hong Kong Stadium.
'It's great to see the Americans having a go at rugby, and the USA are of course still the reigning champions of Olympic rugby, having won the last Olympic event in 1924, but I'm afraid it has been all downhill over the past 90 years and the skills seem to have been lost. It would be interesting if some of those fantastic athletes who play NFL football could ever master rugby skills.'
Slosar is a serious convert to rugby and recalls playing a couple of games in an in-house competition in Japan some years ago.
'They put me at fullback, as far away from the action as possible! But I managed to prove I could catch - and kick - so I made something of a contribution,' he says.
He even had a season playing cricket for the Kai Tak team which was captained by then company chief Rod Eddington, a one-time Australian State representative.
But rugby is more his game.
For a number of years he helped to coach mini-rugby teams 'where vagueness on the finer points of the rules didn't really matter that much' - and he is a keen supporter of his 15-year-old son, John, who is a flanker for the Sandy Bay Under-16 side.
As co-sponsor host of the tournament, Slosar does not overlook the networking possibilities the Sevens offers, especially the chance to catch up with friends and associates who come to town from all over Asia and other parts of the world.
'That's important, but the bottom line is that the Sevens are fun,' he says. 'It's great sport. It's a great atmosphere. It's a great crowd. It's the complete package. That's why it's so successful.'