Advancing the sport

vtmechengvtmecheng Posts: 82 Baller
My wife and I have spent some time over the past year talking about why skiing has lost popularity from our parents' generation. Additionally, we are seeing fewer wakeboards and wakeskates. I have two thoughts on why this is happening. My generation, mid 30s to 40s, isn't buying into boating. I have friends who would love to have a boat and have good jobs but a boat is still out of reach. We have a hypothesis that the popularity of these water sports has declined due to the increased price of boat ownership and the increased cost of living. We spend money on cell phones, internet, and all kinds of electronics that our parents didn't have available. Plus, we spend more for the things they had, like cars, because we "need" all the fun electronics. That takes up all of our disposable income. We can't forget student loans that go on forever. Then, just like cars, boats are more expensive because they need touch screens and bangin' sound systems. Gas is also expensive, impacting getting the boat to the water and your time on the water. It makes sense that the boat would be the first thing to go for most people.

My second point is that people are over weight. Water sports are physically demanding and being fat and out of shape isn't conducive to them. At some point, the average person just can't do it without feeling like crap for days, if they can do it at all.

The TL;DR: Boating is expensive and we have less disposable income for it. Also, people are getting fatter and physically unfit, making water sports harder. That's two huge hurdles to get past. What do you all think?


  • Fam-manFam-man Posts: 125 Baller
    Interesting thoughts.
    What about the expectation for instant gratification? Skiing or wake boarding is rarely an instant success scenario.
  • Orlando76Orlando76 Posts: 561 Crazy Baller
    i wrote a ten page response on why I disagree with you only to realize heck, I pretty much agree with you even though I don’t want too.
  • vtmechengvtmecheng Posts: 82 Baller
    The addiction for instant gratification is a problem today. I have noticed that even when we take people out, they get up, and have fun it's still just a one time thing. Just too much money for most of them to buy into it.

    All that said, I do wonder why wake surfing has become a go to for those that do jump into water sports. Is it because it's easier to do at the start or because it takes less physical ability? I saw a guy drinking a beer while wake surfing so it can't be too taxing (I haven't tried it).
  • mopowpowmopowpow Posts: 303 Baller
    Another problem is not being able to get smooth public water for water sports. The lakes are just too busy, and the boats keep getting bigger. We used to have property on a natural lake in northern Iowa. When we started out the average boat size was 18'-20'. When we sold 20 years later, most boats were deep V and around 25', or larger. It was getting scary to have our 1993 Sport Nautique on the lake during the afternoon. We had pretty much given up on waterskiing, except early mornings during mid-week. The water was trashed by 10am for wakeboarding. Wake surfing and tubing were really the only options left.
  • skibrainskibrain Posts: 890 Crazy Baller
    edited November 2017
    @vtmecheng I’m 57 and have been skiing for 50 yrs. Agree with some stuff, but it doesn’t take an expensive boat to be able to waterski. A ton of skiing in my early years behind 20 hp and 40 hp boats. When our kids were little, I sold a motorcycle for $800 and bought a $2500 boat with 90 hp. Light enough to pull behind our old minivan, fast enough to barefoot behind, lots of fun into -15 an -22 off freeskiing. Yes we had a kneeboard and pulled tubes, but our kids and a pile of their friends learned to ski and slalom on the cheap. That boat is long gone and I ski behind much nicer boats now but it was with that boat that I recruited a couple regular ski partners. One I share a Malibu with 20 yrs later. If people are motivated it doesn’t require fancy, specialized gear to get started.
  • gregygregy Posts: 2,394 Mega Baller
    @skibrain I agree, there is so much focus on these expensive new boats. Even some of the runabouts are getting expensive. My friend just spent 65k on pontoon boat.

    I had a blast as a kid skiing in the river behind a 25hp flat bottom boat. There's some good deals on older used ski boats that you can have a lot of fun with, you can add speed control for $1000 or less. Or society is focused on keeping up with "keeping up with the Jones". All that said I think there is more to it than money. Seems a lot of people don't leave there living rooms for entertainment these days.
  • AdamCordAdamCord Posts: 500 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    edited November 2017
    I’m tempted to bolt some skegs and a rudder onto one of these and integrate Zero Off. 230hp and $14,699
  • thagerthager Posts: 3,859 Mega Baller
    Great, then you won't have to wait for someone to come screw up the water! B)
    Stir vigorously then leave!
  • vtmechengvtmecheng Posts: 82 Baller
    Interesting points. I do think the keeping up mentally is a factor. People are embarrassed so easily these days if they don't have something nice. I remember being embarrassed as a kid because we were one of the last to still have a huge station wagon (Now looking back, that was a great car that could take the 5 of us with a ton of stuff, tow a boat, and fit a sheet of drywall in the back). This mentality really does hinder being happy.

    At the same time, the nice boats keep getting more expensive. Like @gregy said, even pontoon boats can degrade the bank account. I would say that boat manufacturers need to make lower end ski boats but a couple year old Chaparral H2O serious is plenty for just having fun free skiing. Problem is, the cost of tech takes precedence for most.

    Maybe it's just that people don't want to leave their living rooms. I just am amazed at how skiing is almost unknown these days. So many of my coworkers don't even know what I mean when I say "I was water skiing."
  • skibrainskibrain Posts: 890 Crazy Baller
    Most of us on the site enjoy/prefer/have navigated to very narrow, specific parameters of what waterskiing is, or how we personally define “the sport.” That is all great, and yes at some point giving a developing skier the opportunity to round some buoys on a course behind a “real” boat can be part of that journey.

    But cast the net wide. Encourage it at whatever level you can make it happen. Let’s be the last ones to criticize anyone who isn’t doing it with the “right” equipment. Maybe an older family I/O if that’s what you’ve got. Or better, a 25 year old aluminum fishing boat with a tiller-steer 50 might have a surprisingly small wake for a little ripper, and be light enough to be towed behind any vehicle on the road.

    The myth in ANY sport that you can’t begin and have a lot of fun without super specialized gear is counter productive. Care what anybody thinks? I’ve found waterskiers as a whole to be about the most welcoming community and on the water gracious individuals. quick to lend a hand or a offer a pull.
  • LeonLLeonL Posts: 1,944 Crazy Baller
    @wannabeballer , well that sucks. I think that one of worst things that ever happened to cause a decline in slalom skiing was the growth in numbers of private sites. This coming from a private lake skier. What got me interested was watching moderately skilled slalom skiers throwing big spray on a public lake. If people don't see a specific sport how would they ever get interested?
    Our site is within a 1 hour drive of the 2 largest cities in KY with a total population of over 900K. If you take in the full radius of this one hour distance you're well over one million. We currently have 7, count 'em, 7 members. There is public lake about 45 minutes from our site that maintains a slalom course and has nearly 30 members. That's good but hardly a drop in the proverbial bucket considering the population. We get none of them to our tournaments, however. I applaud them, as they instill much more interest in the sport than we ever could. I still wish we could get some of them to ski at our site and perhaps grow tournament skiing.
    Leon Leonard Stillwater Lake KY - SR Driver SR Judge
  • parkerc2112parkerc2112 Posts: 96 Baller
    I used to Ski Lake austin 30 years ago behind a 15 ft Glastron tri hull with 90 Johnson(3000$ used). The people with MC and nautiques would gawk at the skill behind that old tiny pos boat.
    It’s simply comes down to the fact that no one takes the time, energy or effort anymore. Might have to be away their phone for a couple hours.
  • dave2balldave2ball Posts: 381 Baller
    All are very good points. I agree with most. As far as wakeboarding a person or family will invest in the area of 150-175K which does not includes a proper tow vehicle. It’s a keeping up with the Jones ideology. They must have the last eat and greatest. Not too many families can afford this long term. If you look around you see more G boat for sale now. You also have length restrictions on many lake. Many do not allow boats over 20 feet and do not allow wake enhanced boats. That will push skiers out to do something else.
    3 event skiing has pretty much cut its own throat. USA Water ski holding high standards on tow boats, the fact that the MFG’s have added all this electronic equipment that increases the price as said earlier, the public waterways not allowing slalom courses to be put on and used responsibly and finally the costs of private ski sites have pushed out.
    This has become a rich family sport. For the sport to advance and become popular lots of thing need to change.
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 4,578 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Watch the traffic on a public lake in a high rent district. Nothing but wake and surf boats boarding, surfing, or tubing...almost no one skiing. A few die hards in the early morning hours.

    I live rural in a low rent district on a public lake...again almost no one skis. Shoot I don't even ski here I go south 10 miles to run buoys on our ski swamp. My kids board and tube...and surf behind a friends boat when he's around.

    Sometimes the gateway drug...what is it here? The gateway is not skiing then become a boarder or surfer. The gateway to being on the water is boarding/surfing/tubing. How to create some skiing out of that I'm not quite sure.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • eyepeelereyepeeler Posts: 128 Baller
    $70,000 ski boats + $2,000 skis + $40 ski rides + Constant injury +$60 chiropractor visits + Few good public sites + Million dollar private sites = I sold all of my ski stuff and bought tax free bonds instead and I am a lot happier!!
  • dnewtondnewton Posts: 4 Baller
    At the age of 25, seems like none of my friends even think it’s that cool. They all fall once and think that are never going to be good.
  • RazorRoss3RazorRoss3 Posts: 1,212 Mega Baller
    As I have said in similar discussions for years, advancing the sport means making it reasonably affordable and realistic for collegiate skiers to keep skiing post grad. They’re mostly 3-event skiers, they enjoy it, and it is the fastest growing segment of USA waterski but has very little flow through to post collegiate events because ince you aren’t going in on everything with 20 other people they are priced out of the sport and can’t find access to water.
  • jcampjcamp Posts: 635 Crazy Baller
    @vtmecheng I think you sum it up really well. And @JAS I couldn't agree with you more. Then you add that people just work more now, and less of that work is shift work (used to be in at 7am, out at 3pm then at the lake the rest of the day) and people just don't have as much time for these types of activities anymore.
  • LoopSkiLoopSki Posts: 173 Solid Baller
    The price of new skis is ridiculous
  • BeekerBeeker Posts: 21 Baller
    @LoopSki That's the truth, I love my D3 Quest, But I would love to add an ARC to my Quiver someday!
  • HortonHorton Posts: 23,979 Administrator
    You guys have no idea what skiing costs until you live in Southern California.

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  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 1,916 Crazy Baller
    Ski sites near metro city centers would be your solution. Get 1 ski club located downtownish in 10 big cities and the sport will grow.
  • ScottScottScottScott Posts: 343 Solid Baller
    Compared to other sports, I don't necessarily find skiing to be THAT expensive. Compare the equipment to golf equipment. The more serious you get, the more it costs, in many sports. But most sports can be done frugally. OR, if you really want to break the bank, get into (or have kids get into) equestrian sports. I had 2 girls, both riding horses. (owned 2 horses, boarding, lessons, shows, etc.) Think a ski is expensive.....go shopping for saddles. We were having trouble finding the right saddle to fit one horse we had.....we had to trailer the horse to the tack shop, they brought out a stack of saddles, and of course the most expensive saddle was the one that fit the best....
  • KelvinKelvin Posts: 954 Crazy Baller
    @ScottScott Plus, horses eat even when you aren't riding them. Boats don't use gas just sitting in the lift.
    Kelvin Kelm, Lakes of Katy, Katy Texas
  • RazorRoss3RazorRoss3 Posts: 1,212 Mega Baller
    @WIRiverRat not to mention a Wisconsin has something like 10,000 lakes and 7 collegiate waterski teams. Across the board access and visibility are easier to come by so you see more people joining the party.
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