SBJ/November 19 - 25, 2001/Opinion

Leisure sports boom, but sponsors still deaf

Mel Poole's article ["Numbers track movement of fans from big league stadiums to other sports," Oct. 29] was, as always, spot on!

About three or four years ago, one of the "Sports Power 50" made a similar observation, including "stick-and-ball sports have reached a saturation point and we need to reach out to the niche leisure sports to reach the consumer." This as his minions were busy dismantling many of their leisure sport on-premise programs!

While Poole uses percentiles to make his point, only three of those mentioned made the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (May 2000 report) top 30 — golf (No. 16), slow-pitch softball (No. 23) and touch football (No. 30).

Meanwhile, if you had to pick a leisure sport that not only ranked No. 11 on that same SGMA list, but even No. 3 on Greenfield Online's Teen Sport Report of top-tier sports for teen participation, would you believe it was pool?

Though typically only used for "utility programming," pool still garners higher ratings than many other televised sports including regular-season MLB, MLS, tennis, golf, etc. While you won't find many mobile homes with pool tables, you will find them in millions of middle to upscale homes, colleges and about 24,000 taverns and sports bars, all equipped with televisions to interact with.

My client's year-round program grew to almost 9,000 taverns last year on more than 700,000 nights generating over 14 million incremental patrons. You'd think my phone would be ringing off the hook, but as Poole suggests, folks seem to be drowning in a sea of old thinking. That or we need to have people leaping out of C-130s with a cue in their hand trying to catch up with a falling pool table!

Peter Bell
Monkton, Md.

Peter Bell is president of Event Marketing Inc.

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