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gobears
August 22nd, 2008, 10:02 AM
Just wondering people's thoughts on the, as Fort put it, People Magazine-ization of swimming. Does promoting a sport to reach the masses and create national interest necessarily mean selling a part of one's soul? I tend to think it does. Look at beach volleyball. They are really popular now. Not the men, thank you. But the women. Why? The skimpy suits. The hugging and butt slapping. The cheerleaders. Though I keep reading the explanations about the women's suits and how they aren't the main reason for the popularity of the sport, I'm not stupid. If it's not about the sex-factor, why doesn't men's beach volleyball enjoy the same support/ratings?

Fortunately, so far, swimming hasn't had to go that route. But, as Susan Von der Lippe pointed out in a Floswimming article at Trials, some of the swimming events have become more of a circus. For swimming to be so popular, it seems that Phelps has to become a celebrity. Things have to appeal to the masses--who don't want a serious story. They want flash. They want controversy. Gary Hall Jr. fits into this picture well. I argued to my family that, as much as I don't appreciate the antics of Hall, he brings some something flashy to swimming. And people like to watch that.

So, how much soul-selling do we need to do to appeal, as a sport, to the masses?

smontanaro
August 22nd, 2008, 10:24 AM
As a former (not very good) volleyball player and longtime fan of the sport, I will point out one reason the women's game is more popular (aside from the *ahem* costumes) is that the play involves longer rallies. For a long time on the men's side - indoors and on the beach - most play consists of serve, pass, set, spike. It's really pretty rare to see a long rally in men's volleyball. That makes the women's game more fan-friendly.

For women who lament that they aren't seeing the tanned, buff men's beach players revealed in all their hunkiness on the toob, I suspect the reason is simply that the players are required to wear numbers. That means shirts. In most beach tournaments I've ever seen they play shirtless.

Skip

ande
August 22nd, 2008, 10:34 AM
We haven't sold our souls

Michael Phelps is a celebrity
Many people are interested in celebrities

He's drawn a lot of attention to swimming
It's a good thing, enjoy it




Just wondering people's thoughts on the, as Fort put it, People Magazine-ization of swimming. Does promoting a sport to reach the masses and create national interest necessarily mean selling a part of one's soul? I tend to think it does. Look at beach volleyball. They are really popular now. Not the men, thank you. But the women. Why? The skimpy suits. The hugging and butt slapping. The cheerleaders. Though I keep reading the explanations about the women's suits and how they aren't the main reason for the popularity of the sport, I'm not stupid. If it's not about the sex-factor, why doesn't men's beach volleyball enjoy the same support/ratings?

Fortunately, so far, swimming hasn't had to go that route. But, as Susan Von der Lippe pointed out in a Floswimming article at Trials, some of the swimming events have become more of a circus. For swimming to be so popular, it seems that Phelps has to become a celebrity. Things have to appeal to the masses--who don't want a serious story. They want flash. They want controversy. Gary Hall Jr. fits into this picture well. I argued to my family that, as much as I don't appreciate the antics of Hall, he brings some something flashy to swimming. And people like to watch that.

So, how much soul-selling do we need to do to appeal, as a sport, to the masses?

Paul Smith
August 22nd, 2008, 10:36 AM
Interesting comparison with VB Amy. I played beach VB for years and remember how upset so many of us were when they changed the rules to rally scoring, smaller courts and net antenna's to make the game more fan/TV friendly....and look how well its worked.

If you ave never been to or watched one on TV check out all the things they have going on to make it exciting (aside from all the skin)...music, vendor tents, drawings....all the things many of us have floated as ideas to try and make swim meets more fun.

gobears
August 22nd, 2008, 10:37 AM
As a former (not very good) volleyball player and longtime fan of the sport, I will point out one reason the women's game is more popular (aside from the *ahem* costumes) is that the play involves longer rallies. For a long time on the men's side - indoors and on the beach - most play consists of serve, pass, set, spike. It's really pretty rare to see a long rally in men's volleyball. That makes the women's game more fan-friendly.

For women who lament that they aren't seeing the tanned, buff men's beach players revealed in all their hunkiness on the toob, I suspect the reason is simply that the players are required to wear numbers. That means shirts. In most beach tournaments I've ever seen they play shirtless.

Skip

Hmmm...well, maybe the longer rallies help the women's game be more exciting. I still think women's beach volleyball's popularity is MUCH more about the bikini's than the game. If you Google beach volleyball the first image you see is a crotch shot of a player from behind! As far as the men's shirts with their required numbers, again, I'm not stupid. Will the men's numbers not fit on a pair of board shorts????!!!

aquageek
August 22nd, 2008, 10:48 AM
So, how much soul-selling do we need to do to appeal, as a sport, to the masses?

Beats me, ask Amanda Beard.

Lump
August 22nd, 2008, 10:58 AM
To me "who cares". If the same money and fame was tossed around when I was swimming I would have loved it. My swimming got me a free college education, but a little extra cash would have been nice!

It still goes back to the bottom line: You have to succeed in the pool first.

gobears
August 22nd, 2008, 11:05 AM
We haven't sold our souls

Michael Phelps is a celebrity
Many people are interested in celebrities

He's drawn a lot of attention to swimming
It's a good thing, enjoy it

I'm enjoying it a lot. And, I don't think we've completely sold out. But, I wonder how much is required for us to get the kind of publicity we're seeking. Do we need antics like Amanda Beard's and Gary Hall Jr.'s or can we be huge without what I consider somewhat cheesy stuff?

Lump
August 22nd, 2008, 11:10 AM
I'm enjoying it a lot. And, I don't think we've completely sold out. But, I wonder how much is required for us to get the kind of publicity we're seeking. Do we need antics like Amanda Beard's and Gary Hall Jr.'s or can we be huge without what I consider somewhat cheesy stuff?

There will be part of the general public that eats it up and the other part that has something between the ears to see them for what they are. Its like anything these days.....read between the lines.

pwolf66
August 22nd, 2008, 11:51 AM
Don't swimmers (or other elite athletes) sell thier souls to thier sport already with 2-a-days, year round training, social sacrifices, etc?

Why is it considered selling thier souls to reap some monetary rewards for all that sacrifice?

The Fortress
August 22nd, 2008, 12:00 PM
I think Amy's point is that it's what you do to reap the monetary rewards.

I think USA swimming would probably benefit from going the mass appeal People Magazine route with the attendant flash and controversy. No publicity is bad publicity? There'd still be the serious side as well. Maybe Phelps can date more celebrities than Lance ...

bcm119
August 22nd, 2008, 12:09 PM
We haven't sold our souls

Michael Phelps is a celebrity
Many people are interested in celebrities

He's drawn a lot of attention to swimming
It's a good thing, enjoy it

I agree with Ande.

But it will all be over in 3 months. Swimming will never be huge. Its a hard sport with no "free lunch"-- you get out of it exactly what you put in. The majority of our younger generation is not interested in such things.

Allen Stark
August 23rd, 2008, 02:17 PM
The more people know about swimming,the more swimmers will join.Thousands of little boys now want to be like Phelps.Every Olympics causes a surge in USA S numbers,but this year may cause a flood.I expect Phelps' fame to last more than 3 mo,as I expect to see him every 10 min on TV selling something(and more power to him.)

aquageek
August 23rd, 2008, 04:58 PM
We had our club's season kick off party today. You want to talk about awesome - two Beijing gold medalists atteded. The kids got to wear the medals and have their pix taken. Not one soul was sold for this, all free.

hofffam
August 23rd, 2008, 05:02 PM
We aren't anywhere near "selling our soul" in swimming. I don't think GHJr by the way does anything good for swimming. I think he is full of crap most of the time. What is does and says is all about Gary, not for the benefit of swimming. Amanda Beard's antics are all about Amanda Beard Inc. and not about swimming.

I have heard people my age who didn't know who Spitz was but know who Phelps is. They have been blown away by his skill and excellence.

I see nothing wrong with highlighting fit athletic bodies competing on a world stage. We also see some superb swimming by athletes who are not beauties.

So I firmly believe swimming can tolerate a vast amount more publicity before we get close to "selling our soul."

gobears
August 23rd, 2008, 05:47 PM
We aren't anywhere near "selling our soul" in swimming. I don't think GHJr by the way does anything good for swimming. I think he is full of crap most of the time. What is does and says is all about Gary, not for the benefit of swimming. Amanda Beard's antics are all about Amanda Beard Inc. and not about swimming.

I have heard people my age who didn't know who Spitz was but know who Phelps is. They have been blown away by his skill and excellence.

I see nothing wrong with highlighting fit athletic bodies competing on a world stage. We also see some superb swimming by athletes who are not beauties.

So I firmly believe swimming can tolerate a vast amount more publicity before we get close to "selling our soul."

I see your point, but would argue that someone like GHJ's or Amanda Beard's antics (though somewhat lame IMHO) increase interest in the sport for the average joe. I'd love it if someone like Phelps could continue to make swimming more mainstream in terms of audience/respect/etc. However, I wonder if it would take more than an incredible "nice guy" to keep swimming in the spotlight long-term.

I'd probably rather see swimming remain less glamourous and less popular than other sports if it popularity means totally selling out.

I dread the day we see women swimmers in clear LZR suits slapping each other on the butt and groping each other after every win...:shakeshead:

If (god forbid) that happens, I hope we at least get to see the guys doing the same :banana:

hofffam
August 23rd, 2008, 06:47 PM
I think GHJ doesn't reach anyone except hard core swimmers. He almost never races and is essentially invisible. His schtick is completely ineffective. I don't think anyone under the age of 15 knows who he is. The Smiths and a few others here are regulars at GHJ's website and it is mostly macho posturing mixed in with a few interesting discussions about who is using PEDs.

Beard is far more visible and many people know who she is. And I agree that most publicity about her highlights her swimming accomplishments. But I think many don't like her kind of publicity. I am not offended - I just don't trust her motives.

cwilson
August 23rd, 2008, 07:42 PM
Totally agree with Lump...Unfortunately, I tend to believe that a HUGE portion of the general public will be drawn to the "antics" and sensationalism.
There will be part of the general public that eats it up and the other part that has something between the ears to see them for what they are. Its like anything these days.....read between the lines.

PArob83
August 24th, 2008, 09:08 AM
We had our club's season kick off party today. You want to talk about awesome - two Beijing gold medalists atteded. The kids got to wear the medals and have their pix taken. Not one soul was sold for this, all free.

Thats awesome, I hope it shapes up for a good season.

And yes I do believe Phelps' 'fame' will last longer then 3 months, though it will probably die down a bit then... But seeing as he Accomplished something that has not been done it will hold on for a while (assuming nobody breaks the record or gets 8/9 medals in 2012.)
I do hope this helps awareness of swimming another thing that can help allot is simply getting coverage in the local papers/media.

geochuck
August 24th, 2008, 11:03 AM
Every masters club should have someone who can write a little blurb they should send in a little story about any meet they have participated in to the local newspapers.

Example - Geek wins in Portland , his Fly was superb it brought back memories of his great duels with Michael Phelps when he was twenty and Phelps was 8 years old.

A brief press release is a good idea.

craiglll@yahoo.com
August 24th, 2008, 11:18 AM
More people do some type of water exercising daily than participate in any other activity. Speedo is a multi-national corporation. what more has to be done?

ViveBene
August 24th, 2008, 11:56 AM
Every masters club should have someone who can write a little blurb they should send in a little story about any meet they have participated in to the local newspapers.

Example - Geek wins in Portland , his Fly was superb it brought back memories of his great duels with Michael Phelps when he was twenty and Phelps was 8 years old.

A brief press release is a good idea.

I agree completely about the news item in the local paper. Everyone reads the local paper. Send team news, too. If you can't write, provide all the facts to the local newspaper editor and let that person put it together. Best to put in the local connection: "Geek, Shipley School '72..." or "Geek, proprietor of Bisbee's Malt Shop and organizer of annual kayak river race..." and close with "the Masters group swims at [place and time]."

VB (former freelance journalist)

craiglll@yahoo.com
August 24th, 2008, 09:46 PM
Interesting comparison with VB Amy. I played beach VB for years and remember how upset so many of us were when they changed the rules to rally scoring, smaller courts and net antenna's to make the game more fan/TV friendly....and look how well its worked.

If you ave never been to or watched one on TV check out all the things they have going on to make it exciting (aside from all the skin)...music, vendor tents, drawings....all the things many of us have floated as ideas to try and make swim meets more fun.

Along this same line, one of the most fun and exciting sports events I've ever been to is an indoor rowing event. They use Ergo Concept II machines. they draw much larger crowds than any swim meet masters has put on (I've never been to nationals). People scream and encourage the rowers. Also it is a family event where all age groups participate. I Don't think this is possible because of time. There are vendors, music and lots of excitement generated by the announcer. There are also great rivalries that have existed for years, some go through generations.

LindsayNB
August 24th, 2008, 10:00 PM
One of the problems with swimming as a spectator sport relative to volleyball is that a swim meet is sort of like a volleyball tournament where each game is decided on the first serve and then new teams are brought in. All the popular sports have much more complexity and interplay between competitors and last longer than swimming does.

Perhaps if you took all the swimming events and combined them into one long relay which could be swum in any order it would make more interesting viewing.