Taking videos like this, in this time of social growth, is supposed to help grow our sport. As things are, they don't. Sure, when we share a video, our connections (some) get to share in what we are seeing and doing. At larger events, like the US Open, our feeds blow up all at the same time with most posts looking very similar to one another. And if you're into racquetball, you'll know what's going on. Very rarely are you inspired to share one of these clips.
Yet, with all the attention, at the end of the day it doesn't do anything to address growth. It can even be argued that our complacency is only passing over the keys to accessing growth to the social platforms. Their advertisers have no idea they are reaching racquetball enthusiasts, because their money goes straight to the social platforms we are so heavily reliant on. There is no incentive to know who we are as an individual group. We aren't driving racquetball players in any direction ourselves and allowing these networks to lump us in with other "related" groups. Someone else is profiting on our little videos.
We need professional video. Those with the keys to the inspiration need to task for that inspiration and sacrifice resources up front or develop the right partnerships with that as the goal. For the pro tours, there is a need to create engaging story lines. Yes, its sport, but the phone - social media thing works best for pro tours when its used by players to post comments about their games and match-ups and get real about what they think about the players they are playing. But then fans have to have something to watch. Yes, we have streaming. We even have recent videos of matches played at the last tour stop. But if that is our product, we will remain a dying sport because as is, it is not inspiring. The few new players that find racquetball will most likely be those introduced to the game by their parents. And when they get older, will most likely fall off to some degree. Where is the inpiration?
I like that the each of the pro tours now make it easier to see recordings of their last matches. Though each are using a different platform to do it, they all still have the same problem.
The IRT Network's revamped site, though much easier to navigate than the previous version, seems to still be a work in progress. Though, for the time being, you don't even have to be logged in to view matches from this season. That is great, and maybe should be considered an alternative model to streaming.
One idea is that they refocuse the resources from trying to produce live streaming, to just grabbing high quality video of matches, then stipping the matches down to shorter yet detailed highlighted clips. Record them with high quality cameras, with time spent getting the clear images. Then go back and edit them, not having to deal with glitchy stream interuptions. Squash does this and is successful at not only drawing people but also, keeping them watching. (Without some drama to look for, I don't last long watching today's pro racquetball matches. Without cool angles, it's just watching two players trade shots mostly. And who wants to wait around for great rallies?)
Culturally, it's a short-sighted, engage me now society that has to be pushed to inspiration. Yea, I know it's about money. But we aren't even in the same stadium with those who are finding the money now. And with things in decline as they are, it's a matter of "what can we do?" Strip it down and start over... and aggregate and own our own data. Right now, some other parties own our numbers. Someone in the know told me, "I am afraid the numbers for 2013 and 2014 will show an accelerated tick downward for racquetball, once they come out. Would not be surprised to see squash and racquetball be the same size in US 8 years from now." So I have to ask, Who's making money from me watching?
Look, I spent more time watching this whole video than I did waiting for action on any recent racquetball video. (It inspired me to write this entry.) I was driven to interest in these matches because the two of the players in the second highlighted match were controversially exchanging tweets about each other They played yesterday and this was made available today. Listen to the crowd... and they didn't even have to tell them to cheer.