Atlanta: Why Watching Sudsy And Kane Commentate Is Better Than Watching Kane Play... This Time
Straight to it. Kane Waselelchuk didn't feel he was up to playing at his normal, extra-high level. The Suivant Consultant Pro-Am Grand Slam in Atlanta this weekend is something that has been anticipated for months because there just hasn't been anything big taking place for the International Racquetball Tour during this time. Now, the biggest name on tour just said, basically, I don't feel like playing.
Listen to him speak here. It's a cool platform for him to comfortably expound on what is going on in his world. He eludes to the variables being much more intense with factors that can affect a draw given our present circumstances. Access to courts, training difficulties during this time of quarantine all affecting how prepared players can be heading into Atlanta. He mentions how he thinks this time is really all about who is the sharpest not who has the most skill. And that's it right there. He didn't feel the call to be sharp and decided it's just not worth it to play. More to lose than to gain... especially without a proper sponsor. That's right, there is that too.
I'll admit I've been on and have understood both sides of the "what Kane should be doing issue" as a fan. For Kane, it is par for the course to hear people jumping on him for not playing, or not posting or not doing what you think he should be doing. But the fact is, that only he knows all the facts and it's always really, only, just about, what he wants to do and not do.
Just look at the stage that is set for him as the top guy. A slew of young, crazy-talented, hungry players are converging on Atlanta. Most of them with way better access to courts and high-level training partners than Kane has access to. (Not that that really is the problem though.) And then there is all the stuff going on with him personally at this stage of his tenure. It all comes down to it's just not worth the risk of losing. And I will say now and going forward... he should be paid to lose. And I think the IRT should be thinking this way too.
Pay Kane To Lose
Ok. Let's not get crazy yet. Kane isn't losing any time soon. He just didn't see the value in him playing. All those high energy, talented players from Mexico and South America just chomping at the bit to get a chance to beat Kane. Imagine just for a second how Mexican or Bolivian media would flip if one of their players beat Kane in an event. Sheesh, Bolivia's newspapers would be flying all over Facebook feeds. If you look really-really long at this space here, you'll find that there just might be serious traction for the IRT if they could focus on it. Paying Kane to lose would be a perfect way to grab onto any traction you can foster for those young players in Mexico, Bolivia, etc. But how do you do it?
When you see the IRT roll in with cases of camera equipment for streaming, it's not such a far throw from that to video production. What the IRT has to ask itself, I think, is whether or not this production is "in-house"? The answer should be yes. And I will tell you why. God knows they carry around enough equipment to be able to put quality videos together. Custom video production should be operational in-house the same way streaming is when they're checking all the boxes on to do lists at events. Creating videos in-house and dramatizing the scenarios shouldn't be far removed from streaming them operationally. In-house could deliver if you can balance costs to produce something with a goal of a shared return that makes it back when you hit any specific marks. Imagine a spot in Mexico or Bolivia where the hype has been built up between the winner of this event and Kane. Stops or Challenge Events or a series, (do events always have to be full blown open entry stops to be successful for the tour?)... whatever. Just try to imagine pushing for opportunities south of the border, where racquetball is still a thing. Lean on guys close to your operation to help find some doors... or just scratch up a storm on as many doors as you can.
The Value Of Kane Just Being There
Exclusive Club Members
Kane totally is feeling his "value in him being there". I don't blame him. Everyone knows. Just look at the Vegas event. We know he already had his instructional sessions planned. So we know he's already committed to being in Atlanta for that. But he knows there is more than just that. So, if you're the IRT and you know he will be there and open to other things, (now that he isn't focused on playing,) you can think to change up streaming plans a bit. Can you grab as much video as possible of Kane talking with and about those players? (You have an extra camera and mic set up in those cases? You could be doing this for all these kinds of opportunities.) As a fan I'm asking and saying to myself, he's going to maybe be able to sit in commentary with another active legend in Sudsy, who is becoming more and more well versed in front of a camera? Talking and delivering perspective with Kane as they watch the biggest draw of young talent since the 2019 US Open? You mean I can get to see and hear that this weekend? Will I have to wait for special matches to see that?
As I quickly look at the schedule and I think of how this year could be very much like 2020, I'm feeling there are a ton of lessons that can be learned here. I think to myself, instead of just streaming and getting photos to repurpose on FB and Instagram for the next 6 months, the IRT should be jumping at looking to pay him more to lose and how to tell that story as part of an overall plan to be proactive this year.... as many times as they can before all the windows close.