Jai-Alai Chalk Talk Hall of Fame

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Re(1): The real reasons for the state of the sport...

Posted on January 30, 2007 at 01:26:32 AM by King Booker

PMG, tell me you did not just say that.

It's more of that defeatist attitude that is the problem. All I see are excuses. How about some answers? In life you either lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way. In business you either lead or get run out of business.

By your account then McDonalds would be out of business, you know with all those new restaurants out there how could they ever expect to compete. Same goes for the NFL, with all those new sporting options, how could they ever dream of competing with all those X-Games? Disney World? Gone. Too many things to do in Orlando with all the new theme parks, themed restaurants, not to mention hotels packed with amenities. Same goes for network tv.

1990 Florida population- 13 million. 2005 Florida population- 21 million. Of course there is more to do. The fact is that successful businesses find ways to make themselves relevant to the times. Something this sport has not been able to do.

I never said anything about more tournaments, but how about announcing the date more than two or three weeks in advance? That's one thing Orlando does right, the Citrus is always the third weekend in January. The NAJF was packed, not only because of the great play, but because people knew when it was and could book their plane tickets and hotels in advance. Name one tournament from the Big 2 since the NAJF that someone like me could really plan ahead for. And I'm only like 5 hours away. What about the CT, RI, and NY crowds? In fact, Dania did give us about a month notice for Berdi and Felix. And I was able to make plans and get my old keister down there. But if I lived in CT, doubt that I could've, even if I wanted to.

I don't pretend to have all the answers, and I don't think any one person does. How many people are actually involved legitimately in the creative process of the frontons in the last 2 decades? Pretty much only the owners and GM's, who've all pretty much been the same over that time. If you don't believe me, then ask the fronton's mid level managers how much input they actually get. Since they're mainly loyal company guys they probably won't say much. But that roll of the eyes pretty much says it all.

Relevant sports in the new millenium have personalities. Tiger Woods, Shaq, Barry Bonds, Terrell Owens. Not everyone may like them, but they sure get everyone's attention. As soon as a Jai-Alai player gets some life they become outcasts. The new fans want life from their athletes. Old school Jai-Alai wants robots. 25 year old fans aren't drawn to robots.

By that same token more marketing won't get it done. Innovative marketing just might help, though. When was the last time you could say to yourself that the frontons did something innovative? Cutting edge? Risky? Not just another dollar night or t-shirt giveaway. Miami's bobbleheads were nice, but they would've been innovative if they did them a couple of years earlier, before every major sports team in the states had already had bobblehead days.

Could not have Dania or Miami secured tickets to the Super Bowl or NBA Championship games? You don't think people would come out to have a chance to win some of those? How about a Nintendo Wii or and Playstation 3 when they were released? People waited in line for days to get their hands on one of those. And that was to pay for goodness sakes! What about a chance to win one? That poor lady drank water til she died to just have a chance at a Wii for her kids. That is extremely sad, but don't you think people might have shown up for a chance to win one at a fronton? And they might have just been exposed to the world's fastest and most exciting sport while they were there.

Again, the time for excuses is over. Might as well just shut the doors. Whining about the lotto and Indian casinos has done nothing good for the frontons. If I spent the last twenty years whining about my faults and how I couldn't get a job, then I'd be living on the streets today. All those new college grads with computer skills, how could I ever compete? Easy, I made myself relevant to the new world and technology.

Goiko, Storza, Arriaga and Egi are awesome athletes. Jai-Alai is a truly exciting sport. Someone can spend $100 bucks for a Dolphins ticket, $20 to park, $6 bucks for each beer, or they can spend $2 bucks to go to the fronton with free parking and dollar beers. And they might just win some cash while they're there. This sport has more going for it than some of us think. Maybe it's time the people in charge of the sport actually believed in the product again.

And Jody, the Fort did somewhat okay with the singles format last year, but this year it is not faring as well. And that is with an improved roster. Jai-Alai is best as a doubles sport. I'll close with this. I remember quite a few years back, a pretty well known sportscaster named Jim Nantz was asked who he thought was the best athlete in the world. Know who he said? Benny Bueno. And I'm pretty sure he wasn't talking about his singles performance. You have to put your best foot forward to succeed in this world.


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