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The Way Forward | Marcus Brown

HortonHorton Posts: 29,711 Administrator

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  • BulldogBulldog Posts: 1,033 Crazy Baller
    @MarcusBrown once again your passion is bang on with your article. Thank you again for all that you do and please know that you are a true hero to my children.... and to me.
    Mike Loeffler - "Someone somewhere is having a real problem today...My bad skiing is NOT one of them"
  • gregygregy Posts: 2,589 Mega Baller
    edited October 2015
    1987, I was starting my first job out of college not too long after that. I made about $9/hr. My ex was working and was making about the same. We bought our first house for about what a new ski boat cost today. We bought a new Mustang LX 5.0 that was loaded. We had a MC PS190 that was just a few years old and I don't remember being strapped for money. Now days people doing the same job I did back then make about $10/hour and I just don't see how you could get by on that much less be buying a house, car, boat, etc. Things just aren't the same as they were back then and cost of entry into tournament skiing has gone up.

    College is a great way to get young kids into skiing. I had skied since I was 7 but never skied in a course until college. Once out of college we need to figure out how to keep them into skiing.
  • DanoDano Posts: 145 Baller
    edited October 2015
    I've been around boats my whole life. My favourite child hood memories were on a boat. I started skiing at 6 or 7. a day on the lake is still my fave thing. Skiing or not. It's the lifestyle more than anything that keeps me involved. Early mornings, time with friends and family, sunshine, exercise, and relaxation all in one. I think Marcus's flow point series is on point when he shows what the lifestyle is all about. I think this needs to be pushed as much as the competitive skiing does.
  • aupatkingaupatking Posts: 1,549 Mega Baller
    Anyone know what Master Craft PS or Ski Nautique yearly sales were in '87? Or any year through 92? I'm wondering what the difference in sales numbers is from when marketing and promotion budgets were big.
    @MarcusBrown is right. I don't know how the companies building the products can expect to sell them for more than another 10 years. The Big Dawgs getting paid more than the pros is proof of an aging demographic. How many Oldsmobile's have you seen lately? Chase an aging market into the grave.
    It just seems that the more money the companies put into the pro events, the more their product is seen. And sales follow. I'm sure someone will tell me they are selling the same number of Nautique 200's today as 2001's, but like MB said, the market was 2,200,000,000 people smaller, so steady numbers is a huge decline. I know the boat companies are generally the title sponsors of tournaments, so are they not doing their part? Should the sponsorship/prize money have gone up in proportion with sales price?
    Where did the beer companies go? Was that where the money really came from?
    I agree with everything MB said. Now I've got nothing but questions
  • ALPJrALPJr Posts: 2,291 Mega Baller
    edited October 2015
    Great article @MarcusBrown ! I really appreciate what you do. And the team at HO for their commitment to the sport. Perhaps we need a pro waterski commissioner to oversee committees for sponsorship, marketing, tournament scheduling and competition rules. I nominate Marcus B.
  • aupatkingaupatking Posts: 1,549 Mega Baller
    That "like" @ALPJr is my "second"
  • HortonHorton Posts: 29,711 Administrator
    @TallSkinnyGuy very well said

    Support BallOfSpray by supporting the companies that support BallOfSpray

    Connelly  ★ Basta ★ DBSkis ★ Denali ★ Goode ★ Hobe Lake ★ HO Syndicate ★ MasterCraft

    Masterline ★ McClintock's ★ Performance Ski and Surf ★ Reflex ★ Radar 

    Stella Blue ★ Stokes ★ World WaterSki League


  • DanEDanE Posts: 926 Crazy Baller
    Even if world population is increasing I doubt potential skiers/buyers are.
    We have let the price of equipment rise to a level only a small piece of the population could ever afford getting involved.
    That in it self narrows down the demographic who can participate.
  • Fast351Fast351 Posts: 269 Baller
    This kind of follows what Marcus was saying a little bit (and others here have mentioned). The sport needs to be more interesting for kids.

    Here is the difficult part: the technology today has redefined what "interesting" is for kids. As kids, my brother and I did thinks like pull eachother around on a cart made from a broken canister vacuum cleaner. We played outside for hours with nothing but a soccer ball. Todays kids are not all that interested because it competes against game consoles, HDTV, and computers. So it has to be interesting.

    Look at snow skiing. The sport has evolved. There is now downhill side by side racing. There is exhibition downhill (sorry I don't know the name). I follow Mikaela Shiffrin on Facebook because she's exciting to watch. We need something like that in water skiing.

    What's weird is that we've shunned other towed sports, instead of joining forces. Wakeboarding and surfing have everything that skiing is looking for. X Games, sponsored events, dollars, etc. Let's hope that water skiing has a huge resurgence. It needs it.

    I like the idea of side by side competition. That would be interesting.
    Mike van Meeteren
  • John BrooksJohn Brooks Posts: 367 Crazy Baller
    I believe the growth needs to come from the ground up. If you want to have a strong high school football / baseball / ect program, the key is to make sure the little league programs are solid. Probably very similar for water skiing, our local clubs need to make sure we attract, retain and get involved with kids. If you have kids skiing, how many of their friends have you got involved?
  • WishWish Posts: 8,136 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Im guessing the youth participation is a bigger problem then we think. Here in FL (waterski capital of the world) there are all of 3 boys 1 skiers listed under USA WS rankings list. 3..
    >>> 11.25..a different kettle of fish. <<<
  • RazorRoss3RazorRoss3 Posts: 1,356 Mega Baller
    As I've said before, I think our best shot of getting televised again is to try and work with summer X games which airs on ESPN every summer, it may grow from that to w televised pro tour, who knows.
    As for access it has been documented that the highest sport growth is at the collegiate level. I think a club registry that can help these kids find ski clubs after college so they can stick with it easier is key because no one out of college can individually afford a boat and lake access but can likely afford membership dues. the college kids are definitely the tier of the sport where we lose the most members the moment they graduate, if we can keep them then you have a large base of younger people, with careers, buying waterski products growing the industry, increasing demand in the sport. That increased demand likely grows marketing budgets abd with any luck that combo tickles down to younger skiers as well who start seeing the sport earlier.
  • Fast351Fast351 Posts: 269 Baller
    Access in MN in particular is an issue. I'm lucky I have a lake place with another skier on it and we push each other, but I've been trying to get pulls with others that I can learn from (and to be fair since joining BoS, several locals have offered) but the local water ski club has a website that advertises ski nights for beginners, which would be a perfect venture for me, but the website is out of date and as far as I can tell it never happened this year.

    We have tons of lakes where free skiing is easy to do, and this is, after all, the place where water skiing was invented. If popularity here is an issue, I can't imagine how bad it would be in other places to get growth going.
    Mike van Meeteren
  • OmlandOmland Posts: 49 Baller
    While probably not popular I have to disagree with one aspect of Marcus Brown's post. I disagree with the statement: "if you’re one of those people that didn’t watch or didn’t like the US Open strictly because there were only 4 buoys, you are part of the problem."

    For me the 4 buoy course was simply not as fun as watching on a 6 buoy course and therefore watching the US Open over the webcast was not as enjoyable. I hardly think this makes me part of the declining participation problem in the sport of competitive waterskiing. I would probably agree with that statement if it was more along the lines of you are part of the problem if you complain about 4 buoys while doing nothing to help put these events on. It's not fair to sit on the sidelines and complain, I'll agree with that and it's why I didn't complain. While I would prefer a 6 buoy course I can understand why organizers of these events may choose to do 4. I also think it's probably worth trying to see if it does boost participation or awareness.

  • Razorskier1Razorskier1 Posts: 3,425 Mega Baller
    Seems to me the "senior tour"/BD is more about the skiers, less about growing the sport. Don't get me wrong, I love the BD, but that's because I'm a slalom junkie and all of the BD skiers are so frickin good -- they represent what I'm trying to be as just another old guy. I attended a couple of Bud Pro Tour events in Minneapolis back in the day, and the shoreline was packed. Not sure what worked then, but that isn't the sport now. Seems, perhaps, the sport has turned into a world record hunt rather than a spectator sport. Not sure how to revive interest. @MarcusBrown has better thoughts on that than I do.
    Jim Ross
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,805 Mega Baller
    I am part of the problem.

    The sport, as currently construed, meets my needs almost perfectly. I have no incentive to try to change it in any fundamental way.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • TallSkinnyGuyTallSkinnyGuy Posts: 550 Crazy Baller
    I would expect that getting slalom skiing into the Olympics would have a big, positive effect on the sport. Countries would invest more into training their athletes in the sport if they could potentially win an Olympic medal in it. I assume this has been attempted in the past -- is there currently a waterski governing body that continues to put effort into getting the sport into the Olympics?
  • RazorRoss3RazorRoss3 Posts: 1,356 Mega Baller
    I don't think the Olympics will ever happen. Name as many Olympic events as you can where the athlete is under power of a motor... The list is very short. Also being on TV once every four years is t really punching the right ticket which is why I've suggested summer X in the past. Annual, on ESPN, all events are extreme sports that draw crowds of young athletes, and the engine thing wouldn't make us look out of place.
  • klindyklindy Posts: 2,542 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    A couple tonights - first I agree with much of what's been said above from public venues, youth involvement, marketing, sponsorship, even being included in the Olympics.

    For those that don't know, years ago we set up USAWS to be the single governing body for towed water sports. A prerequisite for any attempt to be included in the Olympics. Part of the effort did include the obvious visiblity for the sport and any boost that can come from that. However a bigger (at least a very valuable benefit) incentive is perpetual funding from the US Olympic committee which is available for "medal" sports (there's also much more limited funding for PanAm sports which waterskiing is currently).

    The primary point is not about just the Olympic involvement but the fact that we have TWO organizations which oversee 'traditional 3-event waterskiing' - USAWS and AWSA. As a board member of AWSA I see some confusion on how responsibilities are divided up between the organizations. From my prospective AWSA should handle running tournaments, creating rules, maintaining ranking lists and selecting a National Champ - which is largely true today. USAWS should be responsible for all things that cross sports disciplines (pretty true today) and be a marketing engine. One other important function is waterways advocacy to keep public (and potentially private) water available to participate - but that's another topic.

    For even the 3-event Nationals the bulk of the burden for marketing is left to the LOC. Sure USAWS contracts with any associated nationwide vendor but who's promoting anything?? I'd suggest that the LOC is plenty busy enough running coax and setting up cameras to "get the word out".

    To clarify, there is some marketing that is done. I also understand there's a limited budget. And there's typically excellent press releases after the fact (where else do they go except But event promotion is an art and requires a special effort to do it right. Tagging along with other festivals and events are excellent ways to spread the effort and share the "reward".

    4-buoy course? Not ideal but if the choice is a highly visible location vs a private lake outside town, I'll take the 4-buoy course. Make it work - the show must go on! But if the only crowd you plan for is the family and friends of those who are skiing, go find that private site and ski all day and set some records.

    Keith Lindemulder
    AWSA Chairman of the Board
    AWSA Southern Region EVP
  • DooSPXDooSPX Posts: 328 Baller
    edited October 2015
    I for one pretty much agree 100% with MB. I too, understand the reason for the 4 bouy course. If it gets it in places where the public eye can see it, I'm good with that. I have attended the 4 bouy at Disney years ago, and I will say that it was very smart to have it there. I have been to Disney a few times after in recent years, and I look over the lake and then look at the crowd and always think what if there was a course out there with all of these people from all over the world, It would have to spark an interest of at least a few people and make them want to get into it.

    What got me into skiing was similar as another baller here. I grew up on the Potomac River, and became friends with a ripper and part time coach for VT WS team. I would watch him rip up and down the river behind his new 91 MC PS190, after befriending him he taught me to ski in return for mowing his river lot and helping wash the boat after the weekend. Years later, Thanks to him, I now have that passion and now own that very boat. I still return to our family River lot on the Potomac, and love watching some of the guys rip it up. One has a new LXi and one rips behind a beautiful MC BF200. I may not ever make it to extreme shortline or need to go spend 65K on a new ZO boat and 2K on a new Ski. I am very happy with my 91 PS190 and my 2010 HO CoX SL. I always try to get people to see Water Skiing, be it on a DVD, Online Video or bringing them on the boat, it doesn't matter. I try to get them to see it in my eyes. The fun, the drive, being behind the boat.

    I for one, didn't mind the Big Dawgs at the US Open this year, but I was surprised that they were paid as much as they were. I still want to thank them, and all the Open skiers for coming and competing at the US Open though and putting on a great show regardless of the purse size. Do wish it was higher for the Pro's though. Also agree about describing the rope length so newbies can understand it. I too have been asked over and over again what 32 off means. I believe it would be beneficial to start saying feet left of the rope along with line off the rope. Danno did a decent job, describing how far the handle was in relation to the bouy, but I think it was still over some peoples head. It was a start though. I end up describing it that way to newbies so they understand difficulty level though.
    I have thought about 3 event being on the X Games as well. We need a boat manufacture to step up, contact ESPN and the X Games committee, and get some other sponsors. I would think it would do well on there and would be one step of getting it back on cable TV. I miss the days growing up where I could turn on ESPN and watch my childhood water ski hero's.
    Jason Lord- 1991 MasterCraft Prostar 190 Powerslot-OJ CNC 4 blade
    2011 Best in Show 1987-2000 class MasterCraft Reunion
    Show boat - Weekend slalom tug
  • TallSkinnyGuyTallSkinnyGuy Posts: 550 Crazy Baller
    edited October 2015
    Slalom skiing is difficult to appreciate unless you participate in the sport. The X Games is about the show and the excitement. My grandmother (may she rest in peace) could watch wakeboarding or barefoot jumping on X Games and be impressed and intrigued. If she watched slalom skiing I would imagine her only comment would be something like "Are they trying to see who can make the highest spray?" I don't see the X Games owners ever being interested in slalom skiing unless it had already gained a significant grass roots appeal.

    On the other hand, the Olympics has all sorts of boring and/or obscure sports, but if the sport is in the Olympics then countries have motivation to develop athletes in those sports. I was bringing up the Olympics mainly because an Olympic sport gets more respect from government bodies. For example, if I am trying to get approval for installing a permanent slalom course in a public lake, if I can argue that slalom skiing is an Olympic sport and we need a way to develop our athletes I would guess this would make it easier to get approval. It would probably make it easier to get high school and college ski teams developed, etc.

    However, you may be right that the Olympics will never happen. Especially if nobody is trying to get skiing into the Olympics.
  • TallSkinnyGuyTallSkinnyGuy Posts: 550 Crazy Baller
    I agree with most of the items on Horton's list, but I think one of the biggest factors is the fracturing of boat-pulled sports. When I was really getting excited about waterskiing in the '80s, slalom skiing was the ultimate and what everyone I knew did behind the boat. A few of us also barefooted, but that was too extreme for most people. Recreational slalom skiing (free skiing) was attainable and attractive as a sport. I had a Skurfer, but it was actually pretty difficult to get up on and ride, so not many of my friends did it.

    As wakeboarding technology developed it became a sport that was easier to learn than slalom skiing and lots of fun -- thus, a higher return on time investment for most people. It became the focus for participating in a sport behind the boat. Now wake surfing is even easier to learn than wakeboarding and lots of people who want to do a sport behind a boat are shifting to that.

    As Marcus Brown said, there are now way more people in the world. However, those people who are interested in doing a sport behind a boat have more options and what most would consider better options than slalom skiing.
  • sb_dc_mbs_13sb_dc_mbs_13 Posts: 32 Baller
    I think @RazorRoss3 is exactly on point in talking about collegiate skiing and a registry. That would be great. I was an open water skier before college, but got absolutely got hooked through my team competing with NCWSA. Since then, I have been constantly searching for places to ski, but it is difficult (1) to find lakes with slalom courses, (2) sometimes cost prohibitive for recent grads to pay annual memberships if $50/$60 per set, and (3) not realistic for many to buy a boat right away. That unfortunately leaves myself and many of my former collegiate teammates on the outside looking in.

    A more thorough registry would be a great idea. I know that I have used wakescout at that is certainly helpful to a point, but I'm sure there are plenty of lakes and clubs it is missing.
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