Mike Eak of the West Coast District, with the encouragement of MANY, is doing his best to increase the number of young people involved in Shuffleboard. The current FSA President is supporting Mike. Each of us should direct our attention to TAKE ACTION consistent with the objective of increasing youth involvement!!
DIETER HUSSMANN SAID THIS in JANUARY OF 2008:
DIETER WRITING IN 2008: I would like to add a few personal comments: Let me start by forestalling the conclusion – it’s all up to you!
You might call it megalomania for a rookie to appoint himself as judge on a game that exists for about a hundred years as it is, but then again, considering the potential of Shuffleboard, I feel it is my duty to share my views about the future of Shuffleboard with you.
Living outside North America seems to be an advantage in this case. It lets me argue without any prejudice, without being blocked by the daily business in the Shuffleboard circuit, without the danger of not to see the trees for the forest. I believe every one of us is driven by his wish to secure the future of Shuffleboard and to let it have the reputation it deserves.
As we agree on the objective to achieve, we should find out about the starting point and the best way to reach our target.
Let’s face the bad news: Shuffleboard in North America probably suffers from the worst image you can think of in terms of sports or leisure activities. The number of Shufflers is decreasing in a frightening and increasing degree; same applies to the Shuffleboard facilities. As there are virtually no young Shufflers, the probability of a change to this situation is close to zero, therefore leading into a vicious circle. Shuffleboard is clearly represented inadequate in public awareness and potential sponsors’ business life.
Before you stop reading further because this is all too frustrating, there is some good news as well: you already (still) have ten thousands of Shufflers and still have facilities in beautiful located spots (you have your Wimbledon in St. Petersburg since the 1920s). The majority of people who have never heard about Shuffleboard and who start playing for the first time, love the game of Shuffleboard. Not being influenced by the public image, they view it as an ideal family leisure activity (which it truly is). My experience is based on the development of Shuffleboard in Germany, where we started to play only two years ago. With only small efforts of promotion the number of Shufflers is constantly rising, so is the number of courts. The German Shuffleboard Association consists of members of all ages, from 10 to 75. We encourage especially the young people to give it a try and our latest joiners, all of them teenagers in their well-known difficult ages, prove our methods to be correct. The participation of young players will lead to a positive image with arguments for the attraction of sponsors and with good prospects for Shuffleboard to survive. As a first result we have members in more and more states of Germany and we are in contact with potential sponsors, willing to have a closer look at this new and interesting thing called Shuffleboard.
Now, don’t let me be misunderstood. I am not saying Germany is the saviour of Shuffleboard, but it’s one of a good example of what is possible, another one is the Friday Night Shuffle in St. Pete. Wilbur (Estes) and Terry (Rainwater) both have mentioned a lot of measures pointing into the right direction, most mentionable promotion, young people, time and money. Isolated, all of these measures must fail. Does advertising in a newspaper for itself promise new Shufflers? Would you change your mind about the car you dislike the most, just because an advertisement tells you to? Moreover, you won’t find any high school kids without investing time and money in the right manner.
The only way out is to revive Shuffleboard from inside, it is a bundle of measures, taken by a professional individual, embedded and under surveillance of a Shuffleboard organization. It is obvious that this is a full-time job (and even more) and as such it must be compensated.
Where does the money come from? As long as we don’t find any major sponsors, I really like Terry’s idea of an annual membership fee. The money raised is to be used to find the key, the “Holy Grail” to it all: access to and acceptance from young people.
As I tried to point out earlier, it is most difficult to change an existing image of something unpopular. That’s why we need to get in touch with children at the age of 10 or 11. Most of them should be free of prejudices and willing to look for something interesting to play. Teach them to play by offering them an opportunity to play when and where they want, under their preferred circumstances (music, food + drinks). Find formats of play they like, with action and cheering. If that means some changes for the game of Shuffleboard – fine. Mankind has survived because and not although it has adopted evolution. Find accessories that help Shuffleboard look “cool” (Shirts, Cues), build an attractive and maintained website, let them get in touch with the best players and build their idols. If, for whatever reasons, they cannot come to you, make sure you come to them.
Having done that first step everything else will develop. You will notice the development of minor leagues, the rising interest of the kids’ parents, rising memberships, more money involved, sponsors and all the other achievements mentioned by Wilbur and Terry.
It is good to see many of you caring about the future of Shuffleboard, but talking and writing will not be sufficient. Shuffleboard needs your action. On your next FSA meeting, I would love to hear about a discussion and a motion to drive this topic further ahead and then look around for a professional expert who is enthusiastic enough to really start this rocket.
As I said: it’s all up to you! Dieter Hussmann, President GSA 2008 01 23