Today, I checked to see how many players where signed up for the World Outdoor Racquetball Championships and I was encouraged by players from Missouri, who are sending a contingent of 11 players to this year's chips. In my last entry, I eluded to how I felt about the event trending back to a mostly California thing. (I will note, there are other states with good representation, but I'll add most of those names are familiar regulars able to drive.) I still feel the same about the trending, and I will attribute the big Missouri group to their players picking up Outdoor hard recently. They will have a great time, I'm positive of this, and it will only fuel what they are feeling about playing outdoors. They will be on a outdoor racquetball safari in... wait! Holy geez...
I just went to the the WOR website to see if they had the countdown clock going and I see it's been revamped. 7 days, 8 hours and 45 minutes on that thing. I got feedback when I said a few weeks back that their site needed work with info. Hopefully the "do over" will spark some regular consistent info about things I don't already know in the world of outdoor racquetball.
Back to the chips: Florida: 1 player signed up as of this writing. They were bringing big groups, their own tent with accessible refreshments, event specific T-shirts and noise to past WOR Chips. Either Rob Mijares is bringing a boat load of stuff with him, to accompany his strong play or Florida sitings will be on the brink of extinction this year. Please don't tell me the McDonalds aren't going this year. (After what, 25 straight years...something like that? Must be global warming.)
I received a lot of feedback from my last post. People letting me know I didn't know what I was talking about and some telling me I was spot on. I also got corrected on the court dimensions at 3 Wall Ball in Vegas. They weren't built mostly to Marina Park in Huntington Beach, home of The Chips. I know my first year at 3 Wall, it felt like Marina, but they lowered the wall height to 16 feet from 20 feet. The courts are also different in where the service lines are placed, 3 feet further back, contributing to the courts faster feel due to players banging in close proximity earlier in the rallies. I think it would be fair to say, that I did notice the difference my last time playing on those courts.
I get why Mike Coulter and the 3 Wall Ball group designed and adjusted the measurements this way. They deliberately designed the courts to facilitate set ups in other locales. Quicker feeling rallies, shorter walls for cost effectiveness... they are learning a ton where this is concerned. So, that part of the development is there.
Is that enough for growth though? And how do you sustain it. I personally think sustaining it is a matter of two things, money and experience. It's not rocket science. But if I could do it, I would, no? I know it's a hard thing the way the sport is set up now. It's a time specific event, and all the resources aims at that.
I like the idea of dropping courts anywhere to play. Yet, the way I feel, it doesn't initially matter whether the courts are strategically placed to garner outside interest. Racquetballers will know about this stuff, whether it's before, during or after big events. Before works better at getting them to want to go. For instance, this past March saw an event, Beach Bash held in Hollywood Beach, Florida, that was sold out (200 players for 6 courts,) 9 weeks before the event. They pumped the location and hit the "get to it" push hard. There were some significant circumstances that helped things along, but big events should be selling out. That's where Racquetball wants to be.
It's a tasking for media thing. I mentioned seeing a portable court, like the one used at the US Open, more like a production studio. Outdoor racquetball is fast, fun and filled with road rash. I see it close up when I'm sticking my camera almost on the court, but that's me. How about those who don't know they would like watching our sport? Look, I don't know that I'm interested in some of RedBull's action sport videos until I see them. But when I see them, I'll give them a good 5 plus minutes, which is an eternity where content marketing is concerned. Tasking to produce in the same way as X Games type events might present way more opportunity for marketing ROI with deliverable media, which could mean way more dollars for an event. Or maybe it's me... maybe I just want to see some professional videos.
There were 98 people signed where signed up when I checked this morning. 107 now as I finish typing. Deadline is for signups online is Saturday. Sunday, 3pm (Central) with an additional 10 bucks.