I feel like this week I can't help but take notice of things that need to change and say... it's well past "about time." I'm looking for updates for USA National Singles and Mexico's "big" outdoor event and am left feeling the sport as a whole needs a serious re-vamp.
Aside from a tweet and a pic or two, The Mexico event is a black hole. Leo Vasquez is doing his media thing phoning in his vids and pics at National Doubles, which is way cool. But it's not what's being seen that's the problem there. It's what's not being seen. The US team qualifying divisions are seriously weak with interest and players trying to grab spots. I won't get into the details, because The Racquetball Blog has articulated things really well, and I don't want to be redundant. (That's what happens when you have a friend that has been doing this longer than you have.)
I've been doing this regularly now for just over a year... and back at the beginning, I mentioned a train ride I had with a head of a major racquetball manufacturer. I remember talking about targeting and how "traveling salesman" was a term that came to mind. And party because of the misallocation of marketing efforts today, getting on the national team is just something young talented American players have no interest in... or worse, have no means and incentive for commitment.
Ryan Mayer, Facebook-ed a response to my entry earlier this week, "I feel like that "sense of entitlement" trickles down throughout the sport...especially in the form of sponsorships. I wish racquetball would take a page from squash and be stingy with sponsorships. I am tired of seeing players sponsored not wearing their sponsors gear and tired of seeing so many people sponsored when they shouldn't be. In Squash, if you aren't a pro, coach, or club pro you are not sponsored. Racquetball manufacturers throwing out sponsorships like they are nothing has created a "sense of entitlement" that is hurting our sport. A bit off topic...my bad!"
A bit off topic? No. It might have seemed a bit indirect two days ago, but that is exactly what we are talking about this week. Resources and how companies are working in this new economy and engaging (or not engaging) younger players, new players while they are trying not to rock the boat with older relationships to players. Who exactly are we talking about when Ryan is talking about sponsored players? And how do they continue to hold racquetball manufacturers hostage? Especially in this new age? And believe me when I say this, it's here. Either you're in or your out. Posting stuff online, without serious, concentrated effort, going beyond data and committing resources correctly, sponsors will be left with the same marketing power as someone checking their Facebook page. And if you're target market is older, and just on Facebook... well, say bye-buy to growth.
New thinking is sometimes really hard facilitate. Especially with executives that have been doing what they are doing for a long time. I've sat in meetings and have seen just how hard it is to let go of things that have "worked" for a long time.
But where are we now? A ridiculously low number of players in the top spot divisions at Nationals. (Ben, remember you telling me how things aren't looking so good last year?) Where is the real, tangible commitment to young talent in our sport.
And I'm struggling to find really good, savvy content online.