This is a little of a rehash of other threads but my phone rings a lot. In the last 24 hours I have gotten an earful from a few well know skiers about what water ski tournaments should and should not be. I am going to try to condense it all into a few snips.
Anecdote from skier we will call Lex:
Kid gets involved in BMX. Enters some races. Begs dad to come watch. When dad finally gets around to it he is astounded at how boring it is to watch and how unorganized it is. The dad goes out and buys trophies to give out for the next event. He also gets a Polaroid camera to take pictures of the kids with the trophies. Additionally he hires a DJ to play music during the competition. ½ the music old for the parents and ½ current music for the kids. Dad repeats this every event.
The top 3 or 5 kids win trophies and get pictures of themselves with the trophies to take to school the next week. Other kids want a trophy and within a month or so a lot more kids are practicing and competing. The local bike shop is seeing sales up. More and more kids are aspiring to win the trophies.
Lex was suggesting that simply chasing a piece of hardware might be a motivator for some skiers – mostly the kids. I am not sure it is the magic bullet to save the sport but it seems like an easy thing to do.
I think it would be pretty cool to win a 4 foot tall trophy.
Lex also makes the point that we usually don't even know how won a 3 round tournament. What place did any skier some in? I guess you know how you place in any round but beyond that who knows?
One thing I saw at the Centurion BallOfSpray Cash Prize Events is that everyone loves getting a check. I handed out checks this year for as much as $1,000 and as little as $7.41. The winners of the big check are a bit happier but the winners of those little checks are usually pretty darn entertained. It is a trophy either way. People love it. My take away from the Cash Prize events is that it is not rocket surgery to design a water ski event that is far superior to the normal tournament. I challenge every tournament organizer out there to add some sort of game on top of your basic event. DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!
A skier we will call “Taco” made me think about the word “Trials”. Water ski tournaments were once competitions. In most of the country they are usually “Trials”. I think most of us already think about it this way but Taco defined it for me. If I am only going to try to get a score for the rankings list then it is a “trial” and not a competition. Most of us agree that a competition sounds more fun than a trial?
Skier we will call “Alvin” works in the industry. He tells me what I already know. Slalom ski sales have little to do with the size of USAWS membership. Ski sales are up at the same time that USAWS membership continues to shrink. Skiing is fun and standard tournaments are terribly boring.
All of this makes me think I need reconsider the value of the team concept. Not that it fits with the above talk about trophies but that it is an additional motivator. @JeffSurdej
you have me thinking....
Does anyone know anyone in the trophy business? If so, have them contact me. I have a proposal for them that they cannot reject.