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The state of water skiing in the USA from the BallOfSpray perspective

HortonHorton Posts: 28,773 Administrator
edited July 2015 in Rules/Politics/Issues
AWSA membership is now well under 10,000. On the west coast, tournament attendance is at an all-time low. In the last 10 years the number of tournaments has also plummeted in the west. These facts are indisputable. Competitive water skiing is in the worst condition of my lifetime.

BallOfSpray’s Google Analytics data paints a different picture. Before I state the numbers you have to understand that BallOfSpray is barely a grain of sand on the beach that is the internet. The only people that read this site are interested in water skiing enough to search the internet to find a web site about it. The casual water skier does not spend a lot of time on the internet reading the latest news and goings on.

In the last month BallOfSpray was visited by over 50,000 unique visitors*. In the last year nearly 6 million pages have been viewed. California accounts for almost 9% of the unique visitors in the US even though the state is in severe drought. Texas accounts for 7% and then Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, and Washington all account for 4% to 5%. Water Ski Mag subscription data shows a similar distribution.

What does any of this mean? If BallOfSpray has at least 5 times as much readership as the AWSA has membership how do you interpret that? I believe this shows that water skiing is much healthier than competitive water skiing.

Additional BallOfSpray info: Traffic in terms of page views has been plus or minus a few percent for about 4 years. Over the last 12 months traffic is up 3.66 % over the previous 12 months. I assume weather is responsible more than half of that variance. Most surprising for me is that new members are joining the forum at a much higher rate than previous years (I have not calculated a metric).

*Unique Visitors is not a perfect metric but it is an accepted standard. I cross check all my stats with server statistics reports and the forum software reports. No matter how I rehash the data => the Google data always seems to make sense.
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Comments

  • rodltg2rodltg2 Posts: 1,051 Crazy Baller
    So what this means to me and the way I feel , is that the current format is not working . USA Waterski is not attracting new members or holding on to the ones they do have . I myself did not renew this year , but I may so I can ski a 1 tournament. Yet waterskiing is growing. Someone needs to get there heads out of their ass's !
    Broussard
  • SkihackSkihack Posts: 448 Baller
    There is really nothing that can be done. Too many outside factors. Number one is Money. Skis are 1500 to 2000 dollars blank and the cost of boats going to 60,000 next year. I really don't see the sport coming back unless alot of cable set ups start popping up around the country. Competition skiing is way too expensive! There are alot of qualified skiers not attending to Regs and/or Nats. There are even some that could get on the podium that aren't going to Regs/Nats, now that one I cannot figure out!
  • HortonHorton Posts: 28,773 Administrator
    edited July 2015
    @rodltg2 I am not sure the sport is actually growing.

    Get in some events and then come to the Cash Prize. That format will not save the sport but I believe it is a step in the right direction.
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  • dislanddisland Posts: 1,381 Mega Baller
    I watched the cross fit games on TV this weekend. Here is a sport that didn't even exist as a competitive sport 15 years ago. I couldn't help think of the parallels to competitive skiing. Why are they able to grow so fast and have such an enthusiastic following. I am a former high level competitive strength athlete. I was way better at that than I am at skiing. I enjoyed it, but skiing is way more fun.
    Dave Island- Princeton Lakes
  • MattPMattP Posts: 6,094 Mega Baller
    @disland there are not lakes in every shopping center like Cross fit gyms.
  • dislanddisland Posts: 1,381 Mega Baller
    @MattP Of course, but they do a lot of really good things to promote the sport that Waterskiing could learn from
    Dave Island- Princeton Lakes
    MattP
  • rodltg2rodltg2 Posts: 1,051 Crazy Baller
    edited July 2015
    Either way the current format sucks in my opinion. The only reason I attend or ski in a tournament is when they are held at my home lake. We ski at at discounted rate, so I see it as just another ski day. I rather ski than sit on shore all day.

    But at my level ( m3 PB [email protected] in a tournament), I know I cant be competitive. I'm not about travel to other sites, pay $60 for maybe 8 passes to be assured last place. It really isn't fun for me.

    If read over an over about on this site about holding grass roots or different class tourneys , but they just aren't happening.

    USA Waterski is insane? "It's often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result"
    MickeyThompsonWaternutmmosley899
  • MattPMattP Posts: 6,094 Mega Baller
    edited July 2015
    @rodltg2 Is your goal in skiing tournaments to win or to compete against yourself, your goals, your PB, and chase your practice PB? Along with testing your mind and body in conditions when it comes to skiing heads up against the rankings list? The way that the RL works these days you really are skiing in trials and the only tournaments are States, Regionals, and Nationals.
    Skoot1123santangelo
  • dislanddisland Posts: 1,381 Mega Baller
    @rodltg2 did you see the BOS handicap tournament???
    Dave Island- Princeton Lakes
    MattP
  • dislanddisland Posts: 1,381 Mega Baller
    Some interesting ideas from cross fit, that could be applied to waterskiing

    1. team competiton
    2. unique events (remember 38 off spin it to win it) that was cool
    3. Open qualification- the first round of qualification takes place at your local gym. with local judges. Everything is posted on line. You see where you stack up against the whole world. You can do your open workout any time you want during the test window.
    Dave Island- Princeton Lakes
  • HortonHorton Posts: 28,773 Administrator
    @MattP everyone does it for their own reason. There is no right answer.
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  • DWDW Posts: 2,115 Mega Baller
    Interesting data. Further analysis on other sports might paint a similar picture. Perhaps as noted by the media is we are all becoming more addicted to electronic devices at the expense of actual participation and your data supports that premise. Additional analysis as to why people don't compete would be interesting, I can envision several reasons why: access becoming more difficult, costs rising, much less marketing and visibility of the sport, many alternate options, events not as compelling compared to other sports (time competing v. time waiting at event, solo v. team aspect). Additional challenge, it is pretty much an invisible sport.
    Than_BoganEd_Obermeier
  • SkihackSkihack Posts: 448 Baller
    I know this perspective will piss alot of folks off! But I believe it contributes to the decline of the sport. You have a young G3 skier who skis OW in the big events then skis in G3 in the Regionals. Come on now! What do the parents want to do here? Beat the crap out of the other competitors? I have no problem with pushing a high level skier to ski against the best, that's the way to push the skier to get better. But to return back from Open to ski in G3 is not cool man! And while it may be good for that individual, it doesn't nothing for the sport, in my opinion.
    HortonBroussardmmosley899
  • HortonHorton Posts: 28,773 Administrator
    @Skihack not the biggest problem but I agree
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  • IlivetoskiIlivetoski Posts: 1,186 Crazy Baller
    I talk to a lot of skiers who are avid skiers but won't compete. When I ask why they say "there is no way I will win". Think about how our sport is different from sports like football or basketball. It is almost impossible for me to go up against Nate smith and win. Why not make more tournaments handicapped? In basketball and football upsets happen regularly but in skiing because of how it is scored you will never have a skier from a much different ability level beat a seasoned skier. Also why not dedicate a couple of days a season to skiing at a public lake every year? Everyone should be able to get our of their backyards for one Saturday. Let's stop talking about what should be done and actually do something. At this rate, there wont be a tournament scene when @MattP and I are 40 or 50.
  • Stevie BoyStevie Boy Posts: 2,083 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Money! it cost Money to ski, grass roots is where it is at, if the colleges could run a league and webcast it, or get some sort of coverage one evening a week.
    Even if you start the dollar calculator, at the point where somebody has just got to stand on a mono ski, how many dollars later are they going to be at a standard where they could be competing at a reasonable level.

    Your average Joe is working hard to cover every day costs for his family, on top of that the kids want all the latest gizmo's and clothing to keep up with their peers, so that they remain kewl.

    For me the only way you are going to increase the entry levels into the sport would be cable setups, only one problem there, the young dudes want to wakeboard at the cable parks not participate in the discipline of slalom water skiing

    If Only I Was Perfect

    eyepeeler
  • Stevie BoyStevie Boy Posts: 2,083 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Just remembered, here in the UK we used to have Inter Club Competitions, these were several clubs that were a reasonable distance away from one another, that got together and run a series of competitions, bit like a mini league, it encouraged people to compete on behalf of there individual clubs, there was no officials required just people who knew the rules, people from both clubs would judge, generally it was kept light hearted and friendly with costs kept to a minimum.

    If Only I Was Perfect

    Waternutxrated
  • HortonHorton Posts: 28,773 Administrator
    edited January 2018
    @escmanaze

    Without the tournament part of the sport there are no standards. There would be no speed control. There would be no rules. There would be no standard anything. The rules and standards provide the yardstick we all use to measure our success or failure. It really is an individual sport. I ski against me but I want to know the balls are the right size and in the right place. I also want to know the boat is going the right speed.

    If there is a good jr scene on your area tournaments are a fantastic experience for kids.

    Competition drives skiers to look for an advantage and that drives ski sales. Ski sales drives product development and that means we get better gear. It keeps the ski companies alive.

    The tournament scene is a huge social factor
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  • DonTDonT Posts: 60 Baller
    so as I read this thread @escmanaze touches on things that I'm also pretty close to. I used to race road bikes - only to find that as I age, and my time for training decreases, I become less competitive. Do I want to pay $$ to get dropped off the back. So I ride both mountain and road to get my biking fix, and stay involved in the biking community by being a race official. That being said, I'm now interested in raising my level of water skiing - but not sure how in Utah to get to the "right" people that can help me. Sure I'm on the wait list for UWSC, but (and it's to a degree my own fault), I haven't been able to link up with the right people to help me progress - I know technically my skiing is a mess...but I'm willing to learn. Then perhaps I'll try a tournament or 2 - but I do love to ski, and like getting up early on Saturday to go out for a full pulls at Utah lake, and judging from this last saturday - there are others like me. At one time we have 4 boats or so pulling a skier in roughly the same area.

    So my rather long winded take - at least here there are a few people that enjoy skiing, competitively or not.
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,327 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Tall order. I could have skied a tourney this weekend but...

    I skied 2 sets at the swamp on Saturday. On Saturday I got a lot of things off of my "to do" list, and pulled my son and his friend knee boarding, swam from the boat with them, and later pulled my daughter knee-boarding. Went to watch community ed theater that night as my son played in the pit band.

    Sunday I skied two sets at the swamp, worked on a consulting project for two hours. Then my daughter learned to wake board and shortly thereafter to wake surf. My wife and I parked the boat on the calm side and drifted in the wind for an hour in the sun listening to music and jumping in the lake when we got too warm.

    Grilled out and then played cards with my wife and two kids laughing our butts off.

    Nice weekend. Didn't get the plane up in the air and it's been too long. Didn't get to the gym or play any tennis with my daughter. Didn't get to the go kart track with my son or out for hot wings with my son. Didn't work in any barefooting. Didn't fly down to Iowa and see my Mom. Didn't go out to dinner with my wife...but I could have gone to a tournament.

    Will hit the skiwatch fall double.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
    aupatkingBulldogHallpassrockdog
  • rodltg2rodltg2 Posts: 1,051 Crazy Baller
    Also not to mention tournaments are so BORING!
    HortonE_TWaternuteyepeeler
  • HortonHorton Posts: 28,773 Administrator
    @rodltg2 no. Say it is not so.... Ok you are right.
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  • gregygregy Posts: 2,583 Mega Baller
    edited July 2015
    Water sports has splintered off in to so many subgroups. When I was a kid in the 70s and 80s skiing was about it. You skied, tubed. Skurfer I saw in magazines for a long time but didn't see a lot on the water but. My brother and I would bring surfboards and pull behind the boat but even then our primary recreation was water skiing. Even Jet skis were stand on top and they took some time to learn to ride, some skiers I knew people who had Jet skis but skiing was still the primary activity it centered around was skiing behind a boat.

    Now you have whole sub groups that do nothing but Wakeboard, Wakesurf, jetski, etc. One of my old ski buddies is now kite surfing and spends a lot of time and money doing it. Cost of entry into wakeboard or surfing, I mean you could buy a lot on some private ski lakes for what one of those boats sell for and still have money to buy a good used ski boat. It would be very uncomfortable to ski behind a wake or surf boat. Yet the boat manufactures sells are in the multi-millions every year. We did it all with one boat, a glastron for many years. We had a ton of fun with it.

    Then you have pontoons, those things are ridiculously expensive and involve nothing but cruising around the lake and drinking. There selling a ton of those things at 75K to 125k range. Your very unlikely to do any kind of water sport behind a pontoon.

    Point? is I wonder if you looked at water sports / users as a whole now and compared it to watersports back then if the numbers would be that different.
    Hallpass
  • gregygregy Posts: 2,583 Mega Baller
    edited July 2015
    By the way I learned to ski at 5 years of age. First tournament I skied in was at 19 in college. Except for seeing the occasional Pro tour tournament I didn't know a tournament scene existed and I believe I was in the majority on that.

    My interest in skiing had died some but was rejuvenated thanks to the college team. And that was the only time I went to a tournament with any concern of being competitive.
  • aupatkingaupatking Posts: 1,447 Mega Baller
    edited July 2015
    We had 100+ people at local tournaments on the causeway off Mobile Bay when I was a kid. I went to the Malibu Cup in Tuscaloosa a couple weeks ago. Besides Nate's family, my friend and I were the audience. Everyone else was skiing, or in some support role.
    What are the industry numbers on ski sales? How is it that everyone you meet says they have skied/do ski and none of them have any clue that competition skiing even exists? Has the private lake scene killed skiing? Is there a way to get the general skiing public back to competitions? Some of it is that event is not an event anymore. Like @MrJones said, we have nothing going on but the rent between rounds. It doesn't have to cost much. A basketball goal or a volleyball net are pretty easy to set up. Music on a PA? Simple things to make the few people who are showing up happy to stay and hang out. Both my wife, and a couple guys who are waaayyy better than me wives say the same thing, the events are worse than dentist appointments for spectators.
    Those are all separate ideas/issues but they have to be addressed
  • rodltg2rodltg2 Posts: 1,051 Crazy Baller
    Sites like villa Lagos that have a wakeboard / wakesurf lake and a ski lake should be the future. Combine the tournaments. Activities for kids , bar for spectators and Big Party to cap it off !
    aupatking86Centurion
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