Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Selling the Sport

In an effort to make this blog a little less self-centered, I bring you the following commentary...

Last week on television, I saw a commercial put out by the NCAA featuring fencers. It was a great commercial and can be viewed here: (go to TV Spots and click the one with the fencer - duh). This is part of a series of commercials, each featuring a different sport, promoting the fact that the NCAA prepares students for life. Kudos to the NCAA for choosing fencing for one of them (the other two were basketball and field hockey). I hope that, like myself, it stopped many people in their tracks and made them say: "Wow, that's a beautiful sport." Because it is, but it is hard to impress upon people sometimes and it would be grand if the spot prompted at least a few people to pick up the phone and call their local club to learn about it.

Fencing, when executed correctly, is marvelous to watch. I do admit to getting a little weak in the knees and fluttery in the chest when a handsome, white-clad man performs a perfect lunge or snaps into a fine fleche. So I make this plea to the USFA: If you got, flaunt it! Let the people know that they too can partake in the graceful assault. They don't have to be fancy, high budget TV commercials. A beautiful still shot targeted to the right audiences could do wonders. Let more people know that fencing is an accessible and thriving sport and that anyone can get involved at anytime.

And where are the fencing personalities? Admittedly, the masks make it more difficult to identify potential heroes, but I hope the USFA uses the upcoming Olympics to get a few fencer's names on the lips of the public (maybe we can rename one of them 'Tiger' - that seems to work). Surely it's possible. Myself, I have zero background in short track speed skating, but at this point, I'd know Apolo Ono if we happened into the same Starbucks. It's all just marketing, and I don't mean that as cynical as it sounds.

Fencing is filled with dedicated, devoted players, but currently the "national association" seems more like a patchwork of insular geographies. Some flourish and some barely survive. Provide some professionally designed marketing materials to local clubs to use at demonstrations and in their windows to provide a streamlined, unified front for all fencers. Put bumper stickers in our yearly registration packet. Make the USFA logo a recognizable symbol so people don't mistake us for US Foosball Assocation. There must be one...hi foosballers!...get your own damn logo.

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