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Rain Man
July 11th, 2002, 11:36 AM
The award for the most ridiculous, self-absorbed, overzealous all sports entertainment network in the world goes to...

ESPN, for the 10th year running.

They have once again proven that outside the 4 major sports, Tiger Woods, and the Williams sisters, you're really not much of an athlete. Unless you count token consideration of Cael Sanderson and -ahem- Sarah Hughes (don't even get me started on figure skating).

No offense to college athlete of the year Sue Bird (UConn BB) but a certain swimmer from Cal who set at least 6 AR and 1 WR over the short course season would have had my vote.

Anyone else? Natalie Coughlin, female college athlete of the year as awarded by the USMS discussion crew?

-RM

Bert Bergen
July 11th, 2002, 12:34 PM
I second. Welcome to the American Sports Landscape. Unless you participate in the Big 4 1/2 (B,B,F, H,soccer), or have the draw (Tiger) or controversy (Williams sisters), respect for et al, will never happen...nice token nod to Sanderson, Bird, bowling, fishing (?!), skiing, horse racing at the end; even then, they threw in Barryoids and Marshall Faulk. Why even bother?

Steve Ruiter
July 11th, 2002, 01:27 PM
For me its all about participation and the benefits thereof (physical conditioning, longer lifespan, achievement, the joy of movement, camraderie, peace and quiet at 5:30am, competition, etc.), not recognition or money.

If your objective is recognition, money and fame, very few will achieve their goals, even in the major sports.

Ion Beza
July 11th, 2002, 03:35 PM
Originally posted by Rain Man

...
...but a certain swimmer from Cal who set at least 6 AR and 1 WR over the short course season would have had my vote.

Anyone else? Natalie Coughlin, female college athlete of the year as awarded by the USMS discussion crew?

-RM
Personally, considering that sports are training the physical conditioning, I consider golf a game and not a sport, and I consider baseball a marginal sport.
In US, I am appalled to see them taking space in newspapers and TV, making me wonder: so, where are the sports?.

I remember when I was in Tennessee in the spring of 2000, in small print in the newspaper was that "...Thorpe..." (no first name and nationality) "...broke the world record in 200 free..." (no education to this being a 200 meter as opposed to the wide spread American belief in yards) "...in 45 seconds." (a blunder because it was in reality 1:45.xx);
I have on tape the ESPN coverage of the 2000 US Olympic Swimming Trials as showing a few strokes of the winners, while neglecting phenomenal athletes who prepared for years, stepped on the blocks, then raced until the end.

Regarding Anthony Ervin as the male college athlete of the year, and Natalie Coughlin as the female college athlete of the year, yes they have earned it, with gift and work.
I would welcome if them, their team mates, and their competitors were getting exposure to mainstream recognition.

I guess Swimming World magazine does that, and much more.
Promoting the magazine and swimming web sites as alternatives to mainstream media, is slowly changing the culture of the media.

cinc3100
July 11th, 2002, 06:35 PM
The Epsy is a disappointment. But I'm a figure skating fan and figure skating like synchorzied swimming is much harder than people image. But leaving off Natalie Couglin was unfair. There is too many pro sports involved with the Espy awards Actually, I would have like to see Couglin go against Hughes like she did Kwan in the sullivan awards. Couglin receives most of her media coverage in the bay area similar to Diane Mcmannius who receives it from the Orange County Register. If those swimmers are not from the local area people will ignore them.

aquageek
July 11th, 2002, 09:03 PM
I realize the ESPYs are really, really bad but let's face it, they cover the sports that most Americans watch. We, as dedicated swimmers, think swimming should win every ESPY, but it won't now or ever. Just gain satisfaction in something you enjoy and let ABC and ESPN do their thing, which they generally do quite well when it comes to sports, especially baseball and college football.

Now, about this comment about golf and baseball barely being sports. Why don't you try to hit a tiny white ball into a tiny white hole from 500 yards away in 4 strokes. Or, try hitting another tiny ball going 93 mph being thrown at you from a raised mound with a little wooden stick. I love swimming as much as the next guy on this discussion forum but please don't knock all sports and those who participate in them. That just gives swimmers a bad name.

Ion Beza
July 11th, 2002, 10:16 PM
Originally posted by aquageek

...
Now, about this comment about golf and baseball barely being sports. Why don't you try to hit a tiny white ball into a tiny white hole from 500 yards away in 4 strokes. Or, try hitting another tiny ball going 93 mph being thrown at you from a raised mound with a little wooden stick.
...

That's games of technique, not fitness sports:
any picture of these, shows unfit participants of the style 5'11" with waistline 36 or more.

Ion Beza
July 11th, 2002, 10:41 PM
Originally posted by aquageek

...
I love swimming as much as the next guy on this discussion forum but please don't knock all sports and those who participate in them. That just gives swimmers a bad name.
I weigh your plea to be respectful about "...all sports...", against the fact that golf and baseball monopolize revenues (as in overpaid players), monopolize media and TV coverage, while golf is a technical game and baseball barely has some fitness.

Golf's and baseball's monopoly is at the expense of swimming, track and field, skiing, which are sports, not games.

cinc3100
July 11th, 2002, 11:43 PM
Ion, at least swimming is a little more popular than water polo. Outside of your state of California few states have water polo in high school. And water polo during the olympics is either shown real early in the morning or late at nite.

KenChertoff
July 12th, 2002, 12:17 AM
It really shouldn't be a surprise that the ESPY's are effectively limited to the "big four" sports. ESPN isn't really in the business of providing sports coverage for athletes -- it provides entertainment for spectators. Just like the Oscars (which generally only recognize major studio movies), the ESPY's are basically a way to promote an (entertainment) industry, so the focus is on the money-making "products."

But we swim because of the benefits we get from swimming. It may be frustrating to not see our sport get the recognition it deserves, but we shouldn't be motivated or influenced by ESPN.

aquageek
July 12th, 2002, 08:42 AM
Ion, you make some interesting, but flawed comments.

Are athletes overpaid or are they just living in America where the free market drives pay? Maybe it's called supply and demand. I guess you would turn down gobs of money if someone offered it to you for swimming. After all, that would make you overpaid.

I hear they had/have neat little rules in East Germany, China, Cuba and the former USSR that made sure athletes couldn't make any money. Plus, as an added bonus in those reputable countries, you got to take steroids for free and not even know it. So, I guess I will reluctantly take our system over the alternatives out there.

Next, why don't you tell Bo Jackson, Andruw Jones, Alex Rodriquez or Mike Piazza that all they do is technique, not sports. Better yet, watch a replay of Torii Hunter's catch at the All Star game the other night. There was no sports ability in that? That's just his technique of being able jump incredibly high and time a catch over a wall preventing a homerun, huh?

I would challenge you to name one single baseball position player that is out of shape. I've seen a pitcher or two that could shed some pounds but never a position player. And, other than Craig Stadler and John Daly, name another top 50 golfer who is overweight. Stadler and Daly aren't top 50, by the way.

This swimming is better than all other sports attitude is silly. Anyone who participates in an activity that improves their phsycial conditioning, not to mention the positive mental aspects, shouldn't be criticized or debased because you think what they do isn't as good as swimming.

Kevin in MD
July 12th, 2002, 10:27 AM
quote
Golf's and baseball's monopoly is at the expense of swimming, track and field, skiing, which are sports, not games.

/quote

Golf and baseball don't do anythign at the expense of swimming. There is no national constant pot of money for tv time and sports participation. People pay to play and watch both baseball and golf. Nothing precludes them from doing the same for swimming.

Television networks and radio in turn respond to what people seem to spend their money on.

Philip Arcuni
July 12th, 2002, 12:07 PM
Allright, I give up.

What is the Espy award, and who won it this year?

Whatever it is, it sure got your attention. Since ESPN needs attention to make money, I guess it worked.

Rob Copeland
July 12th, 2002, 02:08 PM
A complete list of the 2002 ESPY Award winners is listed below.
Best Male Athlete - Tiger Woods
Best Female Athlete - Venus Williams
Best Team - Los Angeles Lakers
Best Game - Yankees-Diamondbacks World Series Game 7
Best Coach - Phil Jackson
Best Record-Breaking Performance - Tiger Woods winning a fourth straight Major
Best Play - Derek Jeter shovel throw on errant play in Game 3 of 2001 AL Divisional Series
Best Breakthrough Athlete - Tom Brady
Best Comeback Athlete - Jennifer Capriati
Best Sports Movie - The Rookie
Best Moment - Barry Bonds breaking Mark McGwire's HR record
Best Driver - Michael Schumacher
Best Major League Baseball Player - Barry Bonds
Best NFL Player - Marshall Faulk
Best NBA Player - Shaquille O'Neal
Best WNBA Player - Lisa Leslie
Best U.S. Olympian - Sarah Hughes
Best Bowler - Pete Weber
Best Boxer - Lennox Lewis
Best Forum Poster Ion Beza
Best Male College Athlete - Cael Sanderson
Best Female College Athlete - Sue Bird
Best Male Golfer - Tiger Woods
Best Female Golfer - Annika Sorenstam
Best NHL Player - Jarome Iginla
Best Jockey - Victor Espinoza
Best Male Soccer Player - Landon Donovan
Best Female Soccer Player - Tiffeny Milbrett
Best Male Tennis Player - Lleyton Hewitt
Best Female Tennis Player - Venus Williams
Best Male Track and Field Athlete - Maurice Greene
Best Female Track and Field Athlete - Marion Jones
Best Outdoors Athlete - Kevin VanDam
Best Action Sports Athlete - Kelly Clark
Best Disabled Athlete - Erik Weihenmayer

wannabeafish
July 12th, 2002, 02:36 PM
I just wanted to add one thing, directed mainly to Ion...

So is swimming a sport just because of the fitness of those that do it? I see unfit swimmers and golfers alike. Both take years to excel, hours and hours to become good at them, and a true love for the sport.

I think anything that causes people to get off the couch, dedicate themselves wholeheartedly, push themselves beyond their limits to acheive a goal - physically - that is a sport.

Ion Beza
July 12th, 2002, 04:41 PM
I give a generic answer, since I fell behind in individual replies about what is sport, with examples of swimming, baseball and golf.
My generic answer should address points made by aquageek, though.

Every day, newspaper coverage gives me ammunition for what I claim, namely that golf is a game, baseball is a marginal sport and swimming is a sport.
TV is even a non-presence in my spare time, after watching TV a few times and decided that it has almost nothing to say, unless is an event I am chasing in advance, like the 2000 Olympics.

I take today's newspaper, The San Diego Union Tribune.
In page D6, I see an article about one player, and it goes on for three full pages of numerous other such examples.
A picture shows an overweight man in his late 20s or early 30s, corresponding to the image I saw a few times on TV of grandpas-like players with overflowing waistlines patheteically trying to run.
The article says that he played for a World Series championship team, and that he has a "...market value - perhaps $10 million annually or more.".
Because it is reported pitchers and hitters take steroids for power, I can grant them some weightlifting power, pitching and hitting techniques, but on body fat proof they are aerobically disabled, and swimming fast is all aerobic fitness.

Today's The San Diego Union Tribune doesn't have golf in it, but yesterday it had, and I didn't keep it since I didn't know about this discussion yet.
However, almost every day I see in the paper, top golf players grossly unfit physically.
Golf is almost entirely a technical game, with walking being its only physical requirement, and that kind of walking is no better than me going to the grocery store.
A mocking cartoon once in the paper by Willey, did show two golfers, physically unfit, but taking pride in the 'sportsy' wheels of their carts.

In the San Diego Union Tribune of March 4, 2002, I read:
the "...aerobic capacity, as measured by maximal oxygen uptake tests..." is greatest among all sports in descending order in "...cross-country skiers, swimmers and marathoners.".

The books 'Four Champions, One Gold Medal' by Chuck Warner and 'Gold in the Water' by P. H. Mullen, describe respectively the cardiovascular of Bobby Hackett and Thomas Wilkins:
Bobby Hackett swam 15:03.xx in 1500 meters freestyle at age 16 in 1976 Montreal Olympics, for a silver medal, a time worth 4th. place in 1996 Atlanta Olympics whith competitors much older and further developed than the age of 16;
Tom Wilkens won bronze in 200 meter I.M. in the 2000 Sydney Olympics;
the resting heart rate is 36 beats per minute, the heart rate in full swimming effort is over 200 beats per minute and maintained there for more than five minutes, the heart rate descends from over 200 beats per minute to less than 100 beats per minute in one minute rest.

Such trained heart rate effort by swimmers, similarly forced onto top notch golfers, top notch baseball players and couch potatoes, is going to give golfers, baseball players and couch potatoes a heart attack.

Getting lower than the Olympic swimmers, but still staying in the league of succesfull swimmers, this link:

www.usswim.org/swimkids/template.pl?opt=bios

provides insight into the fitness of US Swimming qualifiers, each having developed the physique to be a player in the sport of swimming, and each being athletically and aerobically fit: look in it for the men's height to weight ratio, that swimming has at this level.

It is this that mainstream US media is uneducated about, and like I wrote yesterday, it reports wrongly that: "Thorpe set a new record in 200 free in 45 seconds.", has entertainment like golf and baseball mixed in the sports pages, and doesn't pay recognition to the most athletically fit people.

Bert Bergen
July 12th, 2002, 05:29 PM
For Aquageek-
Sorry, but go look at Mo Vaughn (retired Cecil Fielder also) and tell me he is a finely tuned athlete...other points well taken though. There is athletic talent and skill in MLB (Hunter was a prime example). It's about the entertainment dollar and millions attend baseball games each year; thousands per game: sponsors pay where the fans are; owners pay where the revenue is. It is a state of this union.

Paul Smith
July 12th, 2002, 06:02 PM
Putting aside the interesting debate of "sport vs. game" and which has the better athletes in this discussion, one relevant and overlooked point in these sports success is entertainment value.

Truth be told, anyone other than a somehwat knowledgable swimmer attending a swim meet (with the exception of NCAAs, Olympics, etc.) is going to be bored to death! If we ever want more mainstream attention and fan interest we need to look at how we can make meets more fun and exciting for everyone (often times including the swimmers).

Personally I'd love to have music played, large screen graphics with trivia/athlete profiles (Indy did that a coupe years ago), great announcers always make a big difference, beer and pizza even (I draw the line at cheerleaders, although I nominate Matt S to research that further)?

I've had a couple of discussions with folks from USMS about marketing our sport and although there seems to be some interest a lot of people also seem to like the "status quo". In the old forum I was even beat up a little for suggesting the need to send press releases to local media for USMS nationals! My concern is that age group swimming in particular is at risk unless something is done to get more people interested and invloved.

Matt S
July 12th, 2002, 06:24 PM
I have my own personal rule of thumb for evaluating what I consider to be sports. I don't believe there is are any discrete categories, but rather a sliding scale continuum from "sport" to "hobby" (or psychatric disorder, depending on your point of view). To figure out where something falls on the sports scale, calculate a subjective kind of ratio. On the top you put cardio-vascular fitness and overall athleticism required to play the game. Baseball and football still score pretty high in this regard because even though they do not require the same kind of endurance that a marathon or 400 IM requires, the kind of raw ahtletic ability to make a catch like Torii Hunter's, or run a 4.3 40, leap 3 feet into the air and then catch a football throw 50 yards on a rope with a denfensive back draped all over you takes phenomenal athletic ability.

On the bottom side of the ratio put the amount of money you have to spend on gear to be able to play the game. Track and field scores very high because gear is minimal, and athletic ability is high. Bass fishing would be at the other end of the scale. As one of my favorite radio loudmouths, Jim Rome, would say, golf is a sport...barely. Swimming is very high, or pretty high, depending on whether you amortize the cost of running the pool/paying the open water lifeguards.

Please note that I did not say any activity is more valid or worthwhile than another. It's just my own rule of thumb for evaluating "sport" vs. ... psychiatric disorder.

Just my opinion. I could be, and frequently am, completely wrong. (Just ask my wife.)

Matt

aquageek
July 12th, 2002, 08:23 PM
I was very worried Mo Vaughn would be used to foil my argument and, sure enough, he was mentioned. Oh well, I think he may have been a DH when in the American League and not a position player. Nonetheless, that is my sorry attempt to exclude him.

I give up on Ion. I won't change his mind. Swimming is the only sport there is according to him. All others are fat, lazy people of marginally developed technical ability. To that I answer, I hope he never sees my beer belly yet odd ability to swim quite fast. That may confuse him to great lengths.

Now, off to a baseball game to enjoy the thundering herds in the infield and outfield. If I get lucky the players may stop grazing on the grass and perform some sporting feat.

Bert Bergen - you got me, I'll admit it. Mo Vaughn was the jab but Cecil Fielder was the knockout punch!

Ion Beza
July 12th, 2002, 08:50 PM
Originally posted by Bert Bergen

...
It's about the entertainment dollar and millions attend baseball games each year; thousands per game: sponsors pay where the fans are; owners pay where the revenue is. It is a state of this union.
'Fans' follow the media footsteps like sheep.

In the media, including ESPN discussed here, a more professional knowledge about sports is overdue.

aquageek
July 12th, 2002, 09:15 PM
Ion:

I am completely convinced you watch no sports. How in the great blue waters of my local YMCA can you honestly state the media needs more professional knowledge of sports?

I can't even think of the last sportscast I watched where one of the commentators or analysts wasn't a noted athlete or coach from that particular sport, including our beloved swimming. You can rant all you want about various facets of the media but there is no way you can claim there is a lack of professional knowledge of sports in the media. Heck, even in that crazy wood choppin' festival they have on ESPN every summer there are former champs doing the commentary.

Curling could be the exception as no one really seems to understand that sport, even those who chase that big puck around with the funky broom. I've probably offended any Canadiens now, sorry.

cinc3100
July 12th, 2002, 11:30 PM
I grew up watching the Lakers and the Dodgers and Angels as a kid in southern california. The pro game sports always get more attention. But in the late 1960's and 1970's, swimming was what people put their kids into besides softball or little baseball or track and field. Now there is a sport call soccer which has drawed a lot of the boys and girls from southern california into that sport. I predict that within 10 years soccer which is a sport done more by people under 25 years old will take a bite out of baseball and football and basketball and the espy awards will award soccer players more. Don't knock golf and tennis they along with figure skating are sports where women can make as much as men or more. As for swimming it is more expensive than track and field but a lot more cheaper than figure skating where parents go into debt to pay their kids training. So probably track and field does draw people more from different income levels than does swimming and definately more so than figure skating. So it is based more upon natural ability than the two other sports.

Ion Beza
July 13th, 2002, 12:16 AM
aqua,

the TV bosses don't know much about sports, but decide the sports shows anyway based on the local sterotypes of a place, and overwhelm the population with their cliches, then care about resulting ratings and commercial revenue; the population follows gullibly; I lived in Romania for 18 years, France for 11, Canada for 6 and US for 6, and saw it being done in each country to the level of the local popular culture of a few decision makers for TV.

A good example is the 2000 US Olympic Trials in swimming, a poorly made ESPN program, which for example was showing from the 14.59.xx in 1500 free by Erik Vendt just a few finishing strokes. All athletes who prepared it, stepped on the blocks and raced it from start to finish, were't shown, and this is the fault of the TV commentator, who knows better than the ESPN bossses since is a famous swimmer, but didn't stand up to educate the ESPN bosses and defend swimming for a better prepared coverage.

KeatherSwim
July 13th, 2002, 12:19 AM
Leaving the sports vs. game debate aside, intersting and funny in some cases as it is (and thanks to Rob Copeland for the ESPY to Ion for the most posts - I needed the laugh tonight)...

Did tennis get as much hype and TV coverage *before* the Williams' phenoms as it does now? I play it myself, but never paid much attention to the pro aspect of it until the last few years. I seem to recall growing up, that tennis was about like swimming in that it was a country club sport not destined for TV greatness. Now tennis has broken that mold, personally I think mainly because of a few greats that have sprung up.

Our famed swimmers (at least famed to us) are phenomenal in our minds, and I find myself asking... how much more do they have to do? Swim through hoops, literally?

So is it all the sport in general or how much do you think has to do with individual players in general and their media attractiveness.

cinc3100
July 13th, 2002, 01:30 AM
The williams sisters were not the first tennis players to have come from the wrong side of the tracks. Little Mo was a top tennis player in the 1950's. Also, both Dawn Fraser and Shirley Babashoff can from families that were more blue-collar. Shirley's dad work two jobs, so the faimily could afford a little-tract house in Fountain Valley. Many of the swimmers in the 1970's did come from upper-middle class backgrounds. What is interesting that two Anglo swimmers came from poorer backgrounds than hispanics like Pablo Morales and Dara Torres. Which also disproves another sterotype of swimming, the upper-middle class anglo.

KenChertoff
July 13th, 2002, 10:23 AM
Originally posted by KeatherSwim
Did tennis get as much hype and TV coverage *before* the Williams' phenoms as it does now? I play it myself, but never paid much attention to the pro aspect of it until the last few years. I seem to recall growing up, that tennis was about like swimming in that it was a country club sport not destined for TV greatness. Now tennis has broken that mold, personally I think mainly because of a few greats that have sprung up.



That's an interesting point. There have occasionally been periods when tennis has gotten a lot of attention -- particularly when Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe were at their peaks and behaving badly. The same for Andre Agassi before he grew up. But when Pete Sampras was the top player, the media seemed bored. (Likewise, figure skating never got as much attention as during the Tonya Harding scandal.) Which I guess shows that the media is mostly interested in spectacle. Of course, it may also mean that for swimming to get attention, the swimmers would have to have tantrums and generally act like jerks -- I think I'd rather do without the attention, in that case :).

aquageek
July 13th, 2002, 10:46 AM
Ion:

You continue to make confusing and outlandish statements. Never in the history of the free swimming universe have we been able to watch so many sport simultaneously. I know this because last night I counted one blizillgillion sports shows on TV. Have you ever heard of Fox Sports Net? I think they may have carried a minor league cow tippin' contest the other night. Big Tex the Louisiana Tipper won, by the way.

The market for sports is the most competitive in all of TV, with every sport trying to gain attention amid the other 250 stations that carry just about everything else. I was recently able to watch the SEC swimming championships on one of the Fox Net channels.

If there is a sporting event you want to watch in America, between the satellite dish and the internet, you can almost bank on it being available these days.

It a thing called supply and demand, a beautiful thing and probably something not frequently experienced in Romania, especially when the Ruskies called the shots.

Ion Beza
July 13th, 2002, 12:03 PM
In order to not be "...befuddled" aqua, read better my posts, then address their content.

A small correction in what I wrote: the 2000 US Olympic Trials in swimming, was covered by NBC; ESPN covered with similar defects the 2000 NCAA swimming.

2000 Olympic Trials in swimming and 2000 NCAA in swimming were covered in US respectively by NBC, and ESPN, and that was to the 'understanding' of popular US culture by NBC and ESPN bosses; there were not 250 stations to chose from.

Ion Beza
July 13th, 2002, 01:05 PM
Originally posted by Ion Beza
In order to not be "...befuddled" aqua, read better my posts, then address their content.

A small correction in what I wrote: the 2000 US Olympic Trials in swimming, was covered by NBC; ESPN covered with similar defects the 2000 NCAA swimming.

2000 Olympic Trials in swimming and 2000 NCAA in swimming were covered in US respectively by NBC and ESPN, and that was to the 'understanding' of popular US culture by NBC and ESPN bosses;
my point is that there is no 'supply and demand' quality when TV bosses and 'fans' feed each other cliches;
each time there was one station monopolyzing swimming reports, with TV commentators complying to the TV bosses;
there were not 250 'supply and demand' stations to chose from, matching in US 200 000 registerd US swimmers, 40,000 registered USMS swimmers, 60 million casual swimmers, and all of these swimmers' families.

aquageek
July 13th, 2002, 02:41 PM
OK, I will do nothing but watch swimming as millions of Americans participate in no other sports.

To those 60+ million who attend baseball every year, sorry. Same for the millions who enjoy college footbal and basketball, along with the pros.

We will be a unisport nation, not bothered by other great sports, if they even are sports and not matters of technique.

You win, Ion, I am convinced. The others be damned!

Ion Beza
July 13th, 2002, 06:26 PM
Originally posted by aquageek
OK, I will do nothing but watch swimming...
...

Swimming, basketball, track and field (Maurice Greene (US) run the day before yesterday 100 meters in 9.89, which is better than the physical fitness of the 'ESPN Male athlete of the year 2002'), volley ball, hand ball, gymnastics, skiing, water polo, wrestling, kayak, cycling, tennis:
now we start talking sports with their respective physical fitness, and plenty of sports to choose from.

Bert Petersen
July 13th, 2002, 11:34 PM
Ever notice that we "play" football, water polo, etc.? But we do not play track and field, gymnastics ,etc. That is how you tell a game from a sport..........................:p

Tom Ellison
July 13th, 2002, 11:48 PM
Tall Paul has in figured out. Viewers who WATCH sports and networks who provide entertainment and sell commercial time on their network drive these awards. Sports and games are intertwined to the point where there is no differentiation between them.

I don't put much stock in these awards because money issues, politics and ratings are the driving force behind them.

Paul is right when he points out how boring swimming is for most uneducated (to swimming) viewers. Swimming is not a spectator sport. Networks create awards that serve THEIR INTERESTS and let face it; their interests are not necessarily pinning the medal on the real sports achievers of our time.

Look for the money and usually you will find the reasoning behind these awards. Power, influence and money are all intertwined. My comments here are not a value judgement, they are simply an observation as to why swimming has been snubbed for so many years.

KeatherSwim
July 13th, 2002, 11:54 PM
Originally posted by KenChertoff


That's an interesting point. There have occasionally been periods when tennis has gotten a lot of attention -- particularly when Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe were at their peaks and behaving badly. The same for Andre Agassi before he grew up. But when Pete Sampras was the top player, the media seemed bored. (Likewise, figure skating never got as much attention as during the Tonya Harding scandal.) Which I guess shows that the media is mostly interested in spectacle. Of course, it may also mean that for swimming to get attention, the swimmers would have to have tantrums and generally act like jerks -- I think I'd rather do without the attention, in that case :).


Hmmm... I think you said it better than I did. Popularity seems to wax and wane. Like with figure skating, even though I believe they have less competetive events during the course of a year, they have all sorts of specials, Skate this and Skate that, but unless there is a scandal, you kind of have to catch the specials by accident. So at least they get a little media coverage Meanwhile, swim this's and swim that's aren't covered at all.... so we're back to jumping through hoops or immoral havoc on behalf of our swimmers whom I think behave rather admirably compared to other "sports" people out there.

You're right... I'd rather forget the media attention.

cinc3100
July 14th, 2002, 12:48 AM
Swimmers also have bad behavior as well but not as extreme as Tonya Harding. Someone told me that has a general interest in sports that years ago a woman in the olympic village asked Matt Blondi if he was a basketabll player, and he and his friends made fun of the woman for not knowing he was a famous swimmer. Also, swimming on one team where we had a lot of really good swimmers as a kid, many of the better swimmers kind of made fun of me. So swimmers are not immune to rude behavior.

KenChertoff
July 14th, 2002, 10:47 AM
Originally posted by cinc310
Swimmers also have bad behavior as well but not as extreme as Tonya Harding. Someone told me that has a general interest in sports that years ago a woman in the olympic village asked Matt Blondi if he was a basketabll player, and he and his friends made fun of the woman for not knowing he was a famous swimmer. Also, swimming on one team where we had a lot of really good swimmers as a kid, many of the better swimmers kind of made fun of me. So swimmers are not immune to rude behavior.

True and unfortunate, but generally in private and nowhere near as prevalent. In fact, I've personally encountered some very obnoxious behavior from a well-known Olympian who was visiting my home pool (I won't mention his name). Nevertheless, you almost never see the kind of public tantrums that John McEnroe was famous for when calls went against him (remember: "You can NOT be serious!). which is what gets media attention.

KeatherSwim
July 14th, 2002, 02:05 PM
Originally posted by cinc310
Swimmers also have bad behavior as well but not as extreme as Tonya Harding. Someone told me that has a general interest in sports that years ago a woman in the olympic village asked Matt Blondi if he was a basketabll player, and he and his friends made fun of the woman for not knowing he was a famous swimmer. Also, swimming on one team where we had a lot of really good swimmers as a kid, many of the better swimmers kind of made fun of me. So swimmers are not immune to rude behavior.


Oh this is totally true... no one is immue from unacceptable behavior, pro, amateur, or sports unlinclined. But *comparatively* I think, like Ken pointed out, we see it a lot more in the more "covered" sports. John McEnroe? :) I would go even farther and say I was thinking in terms of Micheal Ervin's inability to keep his hands to himself, and oh geez... what's the boxer's name??? Well, you know. And Darryl Strawberry's libation of certain substances. And lest we forget OJ's temper (sometimes possibly manifesting itself in permanent ways.. I'm trying to be diplomatic here). Swimmers certainly aren't immune. Didn't Gary Hall Jr. have some issues? But I think I'd love to do a dissertation on media coverage and "problems" in sports. I think, personally, swimming would be at the top with the least. Pro players might respond that the media coverage makes things so difficult. Yeah. Hard life, isn't it?

Slow Lane
July 14th, 2002, 07:04 PM
Originally posted by Bert Petersen
Ever notice that we "play" football, water polo, etc.? But we do not play track and field, gymnastics ,etc. That is how you tell a game from a sport..........................:p

I can't believe you do not consider water polo a sport. For shame.

kaelonj
July 14th, 2002, 07:40 PM
I would have to second the for shame of Bert Peterson, Water Polo not a sport - WOW! then why did they use Terry Schroeder as a model for the Statue at the Colesium in Los Angeles.

For Ion, I noticed you didn't mention Ice Hockey, Soccer or Boxing as sports, I'm sure this is an oversight, then again George Foreman in the later years would not be the ideal athletic body (but still a very fit athlete in my book). You put down wrestling as a sport (I'll assume not WWF - but then again....), what about sumo wrestling (once again not the 'fit' athlete but still an athlete). How about fencing (no not barb wire - but sword play - speed, finesse doesn't take a lot of strength to play/participate).

To say golf is not a sport, I would challenge anyone to go out and hit a golf ball 300+ yards, that takes skill and strength, I know I can swim faster than Tiger Woods and bench Press more than him, but I know he can definitely hit a golf ball farther me, same goes for Mo Vaughn who can hit and probably throw a baseball farther than I ever will.

Lastly to blast the TV for not covering the the entire Olympics 1500 is wrong. How often do you at a swim meet watch every heat of a 1500 (unless of course you are swimming it). I have seen swimmers leave during the 1500 so what makes you think Joe Public would be entranced of this physical endeavor.

Bottom line would you like to be congratulated by someone who knows nothing about you and say good job even though you had a horrible swim or would you rather have that from your peers when you do it right and have earned it.

Jeff

Rain Man
July 14th, 2002, 08:34 PM
Swimming is NOT the be all and end all of competitive sport. It would however be nice if its deserving athletes were recognized on occasion to perhaps popularize the sport a little better than it is now. To not give female college athlete of the year to Ms. Coughlin is like not giving golfer of the year to Tiger Woods. Well maybe not THAT bad but close. I really think it went to Sue Bird because the only women's college team ESPN knew the WHOLE nation would be familiar with was UConn BB.

I'm not even going to enter the sport vs. not a sport discussion other than to say every game/sport/exhibition/display we see on TV advertised as part of the "sporting world" contains individuals who are EXTREMELY talented at their respective game/sport/exhiition/display.

-RM

Ion Beza
July 14th, 2002, 09:21 PM
To Tall Paul, Tom Ellison and Jeff Kaelon stating that on TV swimming appears boring:

in www.usswim.org, Australians are posting a lot about TV channels competing for swimming coverage, and the quality of these programs, including Grant Hackett (Aus) 1500 meter free races, with the slowest of his opponents in finals being shown from introduction in the marshalling area until the end of the race he fights for.

Now we are talking about 'supply and demand'.

To Jeff about me omitting some sports: yes, about ice hockey, fencing, speed skating and boxing; boxing is in fact a complete sport, but I omitted it because is extremely violent; ten days ago, a boxer died one day after a match, because of the blows he received.

cinc3100
July 14th, 2002, 11:12 PM
One thing I can say about these other sports is that one doesn't need to be tall. There are few swimmers on the national team near normal height. I myself was probably only an average swimmer because of my height around 5'4". The other sports like hockey and golf let people of normal succeed. Sports like gymnastics and figure skating enable short people to succed.

cinc3100
July 15th, 2002, 01:58 AM
Aside thinking about Gary Hall Jr's problems. He isn't the first swimmer to smoke pot. Years ago I remember a top swimmer name Zachery Zack who was a sprint freestyler in the late 1960-'s and early1970's. In those days being got with pot met losing your swimming career. The AAU kick him out. Anyone else remember this guy.

cinc3100
July 15th, 2002, 02:13 AM
Well Ion, the aussies are as crazy about swimming as some high schools in California are about water polo. Its just that most places in the world are not that crazy about swimming. Swimming is least more popular as a particapting sport today than the late 1960's. In those days, the state of California particulary in the Santa Clara area dominated the sport. Sptiz, Meyer, and so on from Santa Clara or Arden Hills. Granted there were good clubs in the midwest and back east in those days. But the 1960's and the 1970's were the height of California in swimming. Now we see the best male swimmer not coming from California but Maryland. So as particapting sport the other states are getting their share.

aquageek
July 15th, 2002, 08:39 AM
That is about as ludicrous an analogy as one can make. We all know the Australians are absolutely nuts about swimming. It's their national pastime. But, that certainly doesn't mean American have to emulate those Aussies, does it? When your other competing sports are cricket and Australian Rules Football, even the 1500 metre swim looks like the NCAA finals.

Did you know that Bay Watch was the most watched show in the world? But, it was mostly an amusing little comic adventure for 99.9% of Americans. I'm not jumpin' on the Bay Watch bandwagon and I'm not going to do a lot of things that people the world over get all crazy about. Hey, it is common in many places to eat horse meat but don't serve up Mr. Ed to me, no thanks.

We have our national pastime and it's called baseball. We also have great swimming and tons of pools. Go take a dip and stop worrying about what those Aussies are up to.

Might I also point out that every single American child must play soccer - it is a requirement. I know this because my 3 year old daughter takes ballet and swims and I am getting some hate mail and crank calls. For 35 years we've been told soccer will sweep the nation and it never has save every few years for the World Cup.

I looked up the definition of sport last night. The definition varies but one called it a source of diversion. Given that, I consider this discussion forum a true sport.

cinc3100
July 15th, 2002, 11:05 AM
Its not a crazy analogy. Most states wonder why California does play water polo so much and think that water polo is that a important sport. When I grew up in Orange County in the 1970's, some schools were just as glad that their schools won the CIF title in water polo as much as Football. In fact about 85 percent of the mens and women's national team in Water Polo comes from California. The Aussies of course are the only ones who love swimming. So swimming will not be as popular in other countries and other parts of the United States will not end up playing water polo as much as California.

kaelonj
July 15th, 2002, 11:31 AM
Ion,

Once again you have shown how illogical/flawed your thinking is. You omitted boxing as a sport because of a boxer who died because of injuries received from his sport - so following that logic then Basketball isn't a sport because Hank Gathers, Cycling isn't a sport because of Fabio Casteratelli (sorry for my spelling - but he was killed after a crash during the tour de France several years ago) for that matter swimming and triathlon wouldn't be a sport either because of the drowning during the recent Ironman Utah race.

Yes I do think it is a slap in the face when the swimming world seems to go unnoticed about their achievements, but the bottom line as I said before who is better at deciding what is a worthy swimming endeavor swimmers or non-swimmers?

Jeff

Tom Ellison
July 15th, 2002, 11:48 AM
Ion:
I said swimming is boring to the uneducated viewer. To me, swimming is far from boring. To most American TV viewiers...I dare say swimming is not a real thrill to watch.

Heck, I am not attempting to detract from a sport I love...I simply pointed out that the average Joe watching his beloved TV...is not a ratings plus for swimming. Let's face it...if the ratings do not support it...we will see very little... if... any..of it...Money drives the bus!

Paul Smith
July 15th, 2002, 12:21 PM
Rather than continuing this "pissing match" as to what is a sport or a game, how about a focusing on our shared passion: swimming?

The common theme in this thread is our mutually shared love of our sport and our frustration with the lack of publicity. My "challenge" to everyone is to take you complaints outside this forum and beat up on the folks who are responisble for lack of coverage.

With 60+ million people out there who enjoy swimming, either for fitness, competition, etc. we can make quite a "lobby" if we were better organized and more vocal. How many people here have emailed, faxed, called or written any of the sports channels and challenged them to provide more/better coverage? I'm guilty.

The other thing that needs to take place (which no one responded to, I guess complaining is better than providing solutions!), is a fundamental change in how we "don't" provide entertainment value at our meets. Got any ideas? Or should we all just keep bitching about lack of respect for our sport and who's an "athlete" and who'd not!!!

Philip Arcuni
July 15th, 2002, 01:08 PM
The format of preliminaries, finals, is dreadfully boring. Also, good swimmers rarely last more than a few years, so the general audience does not get too familiar with the swimmers. In other sports like basketball or baseball a good player will often play professionally for 20 years. Excitement and some sort of perceived personal relationship (if only through the newspaper) is what makes a sport popular. As much as I hate to say it, on-deck seeding may be participant friendly, but not spectator friendly, especially when events are seeded by time, and not by age group.

But the swimming organizations have known this for quite a while (even if USMS hasn't quite got it.) That is why you are seeing some pretty exciting new meet formats. One example is the team competition between Australia, U.S., Europe, and the rest of the World that occurred last year. Another example is the pro SCM circuit that seems pretty successful, at least in terms of world records and attendance (and taught me something; I did not think swimmers could swim so fast so often.)

Another format that I have heard about is elimination rounds of sprinters. You get a lot of good 50 meter freestylers together. They swim against each other in small groups. The winners of these groups swim against the winners of other groups, and the winners of these groups swim against the winners of . . . and the ultimate winner gets some money. You can do variations, such as different strokes or multiple strokes, single or double elimination, or vary the amount of rest between races.

Relays are good for excitement - in college meets they are by far the most exciting part of the meet. If swimming were to utilize natural rivalries some interest could be generated. In USMS, for example, a Pacific - NEM relay competition would be fun.

But advertising won't really do it - the event itself has to be exciting. As an aside, USMS has an advantage that swimmers are around for a long time. Wouldn't it be fun to track all of the really fast Olympians as they mature and age?

Ian Smith
July 15th, 2002, 02:18 PM
The Krayzelburg interview below says it how it is (especially the last two paragraphs) - it was like this 40 years ago already when I swam competitively. He should get into masters where he can swim instead of having to watch. Relatively new to masters myself, one of the things it has going for it is that there are no heats, semi-finals & finals - boring to watch and painful to go through - I don't miss it at all - and I was a sprinter - just imagine having to go through 1500 eliminations!


Olympic Champion Krayzelburg Can't Stand Watching

April 09, 2002

MOSCOW (Reuters) - U.S. triple Olympic gold medallist Lenny Krayzelburg says American swimmers get little recognition and the sport is unpopular in their country.

"Swimming is not popular in America, it doesn't make any money," Krayzelburg was quoted as saying in Tuesday's edition of Russian daily Izvestia. "The U.S. national championships are held in empty arenas, just like in Russia, if you don't count friends and relatives."

Krayzelburg was born in Ukraine but moved with his family to the United States at the age of 12. He underwent shoulder surgery last year but did some commentating for television at the Moscow world short-course championships which ended on Sunday.

Asked if he had any influence in the American sporting community, Krayzelburg, who won gold in the 100 and 200 meters backstroke and medley relay at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, replied: "What makes you think that?

"I am a triple Olympic champion, but only in swimming, and swimming in America is not the type of sport in which people pay attention to those who compete in it.

"In America, they pay attention only to those who can fill 20,000-seat arenas to capacity."

"In America, only a handful of swimmers can make a living by doing what they do, all the others have to have other jobs. "But I think I make more money than anyone else in swimming in America."

Krayzelburg says he wants to stay in the sport until the 2004 Olympics in Athens and then turn to television journalism. "I want to become a TV sports journalist and I have already done some work for small cable companies in America," he said.

"But I don't want to become a swimming commentator. Anything else, but not swimming," he added. "I don't like watching swimming, it's very boring.

"Maybe some finals are a bit interesting but the rest is completely rubbish."

Ion Beza
July 15th, 2002, 04:27 PM
I think, the interview with Lenny Krayzelburg misdiagnose swimming as not having enough content value to US spectators, because "...it's boring.".
He should stand up to US TV bosses, with a better swimming attitude than that.

Golf is on US TV, and that's akin to watch the grass grow.

Swimming as it is now, has way more substance than that, but is not packaged as a big entertainment in US.

That's mainly because the culture worships money, and to be considered 'worthy', swimming needs to give out prize money, way more at the US Swiming level, and start doing it at the USMS level.
For example, as a beginning, the US Swimming recently put out a one million dollars prize money for the American who can beat the world record in 1500 meter free in Olympics and get a gold medal.
USMS needs to institute some prize money too, then you will see the US TV buzzing around USMS meets.

Originally posted by Paul Smith

...
The other thing that needs to take place (which no one responded to, I guess complaining is better than providing solutions!), is a fundamental change in how we "don't" provide entertainment value at our meets. Got any ideas?
...


Aside from prize money, I think the example given by Cynthia about Matt Biondi (US) when he laughed at a journalist who didn't know he is a famous swimmer, is another recipe of entertainment understood by TV: Biondi's brash attitude made that journalist and friends being 'offended', so they remember him now.
Anthony Ervin (US) went faster than Biondi ever did in 100 meter free and 100 yards free, but like Sampras (US) in tennis, he is a gentleman in the shadows, while the TV bosses look for bad boys to fuel entertainment.

In Australia, confidence that swimming is top, works in a smaller market than the US, thanks to sponsorships and cocky swimmers attitude, and last year Gary Hall Jr. (US) considered moving there in order to be immersed in a swimming culture.

In US, alternative media to the mainstream media, like the Swimming World and Swim magazines are , like the web sites are, plus prize money and a confident, brash attitude about the substance of the sport from participants like us, these have chances to instill a swimming culture in US that attracts sponsorship and attention.

Rain Man
July 15th, 2002, 04:54 PM
You have on more than one occasion taken a thread and turned it into your own personal ramblings not content to cease until you have swayed majority opinion your way. Most often they wisely give up.

Stop being so ridiculous, you refuse to accept any opinion other than your own, and I doubt you even read what most of them are saying anyway.

Swimming is not a big sport in this country. Never has, maybe never will. I don't think Masters' Swimming of all places needs to hand out prize money. USA-S maybe could, but where will they get it from? Television revenues? Get serious, name a network that is going to offer up gobs of money to air a sport that to an average viewer...

1. Makes no sense, where's the scoring?
2. Can't do on their own, what percentage of the population do you think can swim butterfly?

It's also a timed sport, which never have fared well with American sports viewers. It's like Track and Field, but everyone can at least run, and that's why a little more Track is seen on TV than swimming.

Thanks for turning what was supposed to be a little pro-swimming jab at ESPN into a less-than-comical hack job claiming that the Australians know it best because they realize swimming is the only sport in the world. But truth is they love their football and rugby just as much, if not more. Move to Queensland then. Maybe they'll give you some prize money to swim 2:13 in the over-35 age group 200m free.

-RM

KeatherSwim
July 15th, 2002, 07:32 PM
I seem to recall someone else suggesting this about 3,000 pages back. During the Olympics, there are athelets profiles (usually geared to those who have overcome... something... to get to where they are). I think it makes the coverage in general more fun to watch - you feel like you get to "know" the competitors better... then again, I have heard people complain that they wanted less athlete life stories and more action.

Is it you can't win for loosing?

And re Gary Hall, Jr. I suppose we could get into having to draw a line between typical (I know he'snot the only youngster to do weed) no-no's, and serious problems that are more life-threatening than doing a bong. But we'd need to go to sociology today's forum for that. :) But he also was the swimmer, I seem to recall, who got a lot of attention for his air-guitar playing that drew some nice, and some not so nice media attention and rivalry between us and the Aussies. I suppose if the playful jabbing is kept on a friendly level, that kind of attetion can help draw people to watch something they might not normally, as long as the competitors don't over do it and draw negative attention. That would stand, of course, for any sport... not just swimming.:p ;)

Ion Beza
July 15th, 2002, 08:18 PM
Originally posted by Rain Man
You have on more than one occasion taken a thread and turned it into your own personal ramblings not content to cease until you have swayed majority opinion your way. Most often they wisely give up.

Stop being so ridiculous, you refuse to accept any opinion other than your own, and I doubt you even read what most of them are saying anyway.

Swimming is not a big sport in this country. Never has, maybe never will. I don't think Masters' Swimming of all places needs to hand out prize money. USA-S maybe could, but where will they get it from? Television revenues? Get serious, name a network that is going to offer up gobs of money to air a sport that to an average viewer...

1. Makes no sense, where's the scoring?
2. Can't do on their own, what percentage of the population do you think can swim butterfly?

It's also a timed sport, which never have fared well with American sports viewers. It's like Track and Field, but everyone can at least run, and that's why a little more Track is seen on TV than swimming.

Thanks for turning what was supposed to be a little pro-swimming jab at ESPN into a less-than-comical hack job claiming that the Australians know it best because they realize swimming is the only sport in the world. But truth is they love their football and rugby just as much, if not more. Move to Queensland then. Maybe they'll give you some prize money to swim 2:13 in the over-35 age group 200m free.

-RM
I would like you Rain Man to discuss the points when you understand the content, not to roll on the floor kicking and screaming again.

Ion Beza
July 15th, 2002, 08:41 PM
Originally posted by KeatherSwim

...
But he also was the swimmer, I seem to recall, who got a lot of attention for his air-guitar playing that drew some nice, and some not so nice media attention and rivalry between us and the Aussies. I suppose if the playful jabbing is kept on a friendly level, that kind of attetion can help draw people to watch something they might not normally, as long as the competitors don't over do it and draw negative attention. That would stand, of course, for any sport... not just swimming.:p ;)
Next year there is a dual competition US versus Australia, in Indianapolis, for 'bragging rights' since a controversy in 2001 World Champioships, and the hype should attract media.

This angle of "...playful jabbing..." also contributes to generating media interest.

cinc3100
July 15th, 2002, 11:42 PM
I don't know that much about Gary Hall Jr but I knew his dad a little. In the summer of 1972, when he was out of college he came to workout with the Huntington Beach Team I was on and was nice to me he always said, hi Cindy when he saw me before practice. Some people may not like the Halls because Gary Hall Jr grandfather is Charles Keating. However, just because grandfather was involved in a savings and loan scandal doesn't mean particularly Gary Hall Jr is a rotten apple. As for money some swimmers did profit from the sport while others didn't among the elite. Donna Devarona being in broadcasting for 4 decades since she won her medal in 1964. Both Gaines and Naber have been involved in covering swimming on TV and Naber other sports. Gaines even still makes money from advertsements like Enless pools. Summer Sanders has her own show showcasing different people that could in different sports win gold at Athens. Janet Evans in an info commercial about exercise. Before the last olympics, Amy Van Dynken a couple million dollrs in endorsments. Like Track and field only a handful of people make money.

cinc3100
July 16th, 2002, 12:00 AM
I remember watching a nationals at Mission Viejo in the late 1970's. At that time half of the parents in Mission Viejo put their kids in swimming. No wonder at that time they were probably the best team in the nation. Anyway, it wasn't a bad size group for swimming. I think that where Lenny K lives that people are jaded toward most sports. Some are into the Lakers because they are winning or when the Dodgers win but LA is not a real sports town. And there are so many top sportpeople there . There are people that follow Tennis and Lindsey Davenport lives in Newport Beach. Figure Skaters Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen live there besides the pro- team sports people. Lenny K just gets lost in the group there. But he is right most places in the States don't have much interest in watching swimming.

aquageek
July 16th, 2002, 10:05 AM
You keep referring to these "TV bosses." If there is a secret society of bosses their jobs depend solely on their ratings. If Americans gave a wet whoop about swimming, it would be on a lot more. It's not some conspiracy, it's called CAPITALISM.

You go on and on about golf. Take a look at golf lately. It is killing the ratings due to Tiger. What you state as watching grass grow is viewed by the rest of the world as historical winning. Maybe swimming needs to emulate golf. I bet if swimming could generate this type of publicity, it would be on a lot more.

Your Australian rantings are so out in left field (that's a baseball reference, Ion) that they are without any merit. Why can't you just appreciate the Aussies for what they have and the same with us? Is it so bad that we kick butt in all sports (save luge and cricket) and they are only good at swimming?

You went over the top with comments about the media buzzing at USMS meets. I swam a 25.52 free at my last SCY meet and it was my best ever after two years back swimming. How many people in their right mind want to watch some 34 year old dude swim his best time ever and be many, many seconds behind world record pace, not to mention others guys in his own age group? While it may have been my greatest day ever and my team was happy for me, who cares beyond that? Here's the promo at CBS - "Why watch Tiger go for the grand slam when you can watch old cats swim sort of fast?" I bet you could get dozens of viewers worldwide.

I suggest you surface from time to time and realize there are land based sports that are very popular, fun to watch/play and can enhance the quality of one's life.

cinc3100
July 16th, 2002, 11:21 AM
We kick butt in all sports. Then why is it that the China and Russia dominate Diving. And our men's Water Polo has not medaled since 1984. Also, we use to dominate Sychorized Swimming. Now Russia and Japan do. Most of the rowing and boat events at the olympics are dominated by Europeian countries. And in winter sports until this last olympics the Europeians dominated. Gymnastics we do good some times and other times we are not in the running. And the most popular viewed sport by women in this country, Figure Skating is dominated by Russia. So, there are a lot of sports that the United States is not number one.

kaelonj
July 16th, 2002, 12:16 PM
I think maybe Ion has found his calling, since he feels the TV Sports industry does swimming such an injustice then he should follow his capitilistic urges and go forth and conquer. I believe that is how things are suppose to be done, if you believe televised swimming is such a vast untapped market in the US then start making your contacts now (sponsors, television stations, agents, etc.) and sell the sport. Personally I would rather watch a sporting event in person, good luck.

Jeff

Philip Arcuni
July 16th, 2002, 12:45 PM
I've almost given up watching, either on television or in person (which is probably why I've never heard of the ESPY award.) I can't stand the ads, the crowds, the sitting around doing nothing, the pharmocological freaks and related suspicions, the spoiled athletes, and the dominance of money.

I'll read about it in the newspaper, but those mega-businesses aren't getting any of my money.

I'd rather participate - either as athlete or as an official.

aquageek
July 16th, 2002, 12:55 PM
Read the post again, cinc. I said kick butt, not number one. What is the greatest thing that any other country does in the Olympics? The answer is beat the USA in a sport.

It is a rare sport we are not in the top 5. Take a look at the last few Olympics. Our medal counts are awesome. Heck, our scrub college and minor league baseball players beat the world in the last Olympics.

Every sport you mention the US has medaled in the past 20 years, usually more than once. I must admit ignorance on synchronized swimming.

As to figure skating, you are wrong. 68' - gold, 76' - gold, 92' - gold, 98' - gold, 02' - gold.

emmett
July 16th, 2002, 03:05 PM
Another big difference in golf is that there is a HUGE $$ value in the market for golf equipment/supplies/apparel/facilities etc. There is a huge number of people who regularly or occasionally venture onto the links (and practice facilities) and actively seek to do something vaguely reminiscent of what they see the pros do on TV. THESE people make up a large portion of the golf audience. Each of these people readily parts with cash to get that equipment/supplies/apparel/facilities etc. Golf equipment manufacturers pump money into golf because the simple act of watching golf causes more people to go out and spend $ in the golf market.

Roughly the same can be said of fishing - which has SCADS more television coverage than swimming.

By comparison, swimmers are notoriously stingy with the money they spend on their sport. Face it - as long as a couple Speedos and a pair of goggles are the only required equipment for swimming, there never will be much $$ in the swimming equipment market. Plus there are WAY fewer people who head out to pools in an attempt to do something vaguely reminiscent of what the pros do. Yes there are loads of people who "swim" from time to time, but a much smaller percentage really SWIM the way we think of it. Those who merely "swim" simply aren't highly likely to be in the audience for televized swimming.

If some entity were to decree that all sports (and games) were to get equal time on TV regardless of the financial viability of producing and airing such shows, who should pick up the tab?

Those who feel there really is a huge untapped market for TV swimming might consider going into the Pay per View business. That should keep them busy for awhile.

Ion Beza
July 16th, 2002, 03:09 PM
I keep thinking that if an activity, a sport for example like USMS, doesn't give out prize money, and have sponsors heavily involved, then in this culture the activity is deemed a wortless hobby by unmotivated participants, and by the TV.
Prize money in USMS can be raised for the first time with a $2 surcharge in annual memebership, and to be given out as a $80,000 in a meet like the Long Course Nationals.

Aside from this claim, I am addressing the following two posts for minor corrections, not grounbreaking corrections, to the topic of what sports are entertaining on TV.

Originally posted by kaelonj

...
then he should follow his capitilistic urges and go forth and conquer.
...
Jeff
Jeff,
I have capitalistic urges behind about seven other human values that I consider more important than money; when people around me put money as their top priority in life, it does annoy me a lot; my post about 'prize money' addresses other people's top priorities.


Originally posted by aquageek

...
Our medal counts are awesome.
...

Countries like my native Romania, have more medal counts per capita than US, including swimming in the 2000 Olympics.

aquageek
July 16th, 2002, 03:22 PM
Good grief, man, where to next? Average number of medals won per the country's ant population. If per capita is the standard, rule out the US, China, Japan, USSR/Russia, Germany (east or west), etc. I prefer to use a figure that you can count, not some arbitrary calculation. Remember the old adage about liars and figures.

If Romania is the standard by which all is to be judged, how many hours per year of swimming on TV do you get there? My guess is that it's about 1/1,000,000 of what we get in the US with all the sports channels here.

I don't understand. You don't value capitalism but want us all to lobby the "TV bosses" for more swimming based on the potential market of swimmers, i.e. dollars. You can't have it both ways. Communism was so successful in making all things equal. Maybe that would be the preferred system for sports in the US.

Rain Man
July 16th, 2002, 03:48 PM
Ion:

I hesitate to do this (re-enter this discussion), but... how can you suggest that there should be prize money at a USMS competition???? Are you serious? I highly doubt one other person involved in this discussion would see that as a positive thing.

Like the one response said, who wants to pay to watch middle-age men and women swim semi-fast when they can watch the best in the world in the other sports that ARE televised?

And I take issue with your comment about not reading your posts and to stop rolling around kicking and whining, or whatever it was, something to that effect. I did read your posts thoroughly just to be sure I was reading what I thought I read... and I daresay you may be somewhat out of your mind on this issue.

No one wants to watch swimming except for every four years in this little competition they have called the Olympics. Why watch then? Because those are the best swimmers at the time swimming for the grandest prize in the sport. Outside two weeks in August or September of every 4th year, face it, no one really cares.

It won't be on TV because the guys behind the scene paying to produce the coverage know that no one is going to watch, therefore they would be purely philanthropical broadcasters of a relatively uninteresting sport. There aren't many people in the TV industry looking to lose money.

I'm almost shocked NBC has already committed to airing the Duel in the Pool. I figured we'd see taped highlights 3 weeks later on ESPN2. They are probably prepared to take a bath on that event, given the amount of money they are going to have to spend to promote and promote and promote and find out that more people tuned into the 3rd round of the WhoCares.com Celebrity Golf Classic instead.

Swimming = boring. Outside the 3 minutes before and after a race that you have a truly vested interest in, most swimmers themselves are bored out of their mind at a meet. How exciting is watching 6 heats of prelims 400m freestlye?

I'm prepared for any response.

-RM

Philip Arcuni
July 16th, 2002, 03:50 PM
Emmett said:


By comparison, swimmers are notoriously stingy with the money they spend on their sport. Face it - as long as a couple Speedos and a pair of goggles are the only required equipment for swimming, there never will be much $$ in the swimming equipment market.

I just spent $$$$ for an orange and black thigh-to-neck racing suit! Good thing my wife doesn't know!

kaelonj
July 16th, 2002, 04:14 PM
As a thought for arguements sake (these are arbitrary numbers, and my figures are more than likely off - but if someone would like to recalculate feel free). USMS advertises we are over 42,000 members, USA swimming advertises over 2,300 swim clubs - lets say 150 swimmers for each club - we are looking at roughly 400,000 swimmers - the US population is guesstamated roughly of 287,540,000 so roughly swimmers make up about .15% of the population in the United States. That is definitely not a very big market (as I said I am guessing and rounding off here with numbers).

As for the money issue, Emmett is right on track - these athletes that make millions of dollars make more out of endorsements of products consumers will buy - Lance Armstrong wins one of the most prestigious bike races, the one million dollar purse he divides up to his team (racers and support crew) of course the money he makes from endorsements from being the winner (ie Nike, Trek, Oakley, United States Postal Service, etc) is far more than the TDF prize.

Ion you mentioned how people that put a high priority on money bother you, yet you want to contribute to that same system by offering prize money to get better athletes at swim meets?

Jeff

Tom Ellison
July 16th, 2002, 05:54 PM
Maybe we could have a post called ION...Then we could get around to talking about ION like we always end up doing here anyway....

KeatherSwim
July 16th, 2002, 07:00 PM
I must be one of the exceptions to the rule about not spending money on my sport. I spend more money on keeping myself in swim suits than I do my regular clothes. They cost more than my running shoes, and they aren't cheap. Sigh.
:rolleyes:

And I personally feel that having a prize at the LCN or any USMS would defeat one of it's central points. Pro's earn money for their sport. Does the term Pro-swimmer apply to anyone here? I thought, someone correct me if I am wrong, Master's was not geared to that.

Aside from the fact that I'd rather swim to swim. not to have my sport televised. Not that my heat (like 20th) would ever get televised. :D

Speaking of televised sports...

I don't pay attention to golf unless Tiger is on. Frankly, it's not his golfing ability, but the fact that let's face it ladies... he's a doll (men, I don't expect you to, nor want you to comment on that). :) I like Tennis, but really pay little attention to it unless Pete Samprass is on and while because it's a sport I actually play, I appreciate his skills more than I can Tiger's... well..... I watch him on TV as well because I like the view.

So why, when I think I cannot be the only person to tune into a show because of the player (s) (I have a thing for Andy Pettite too(baseball for anyone underground during the last few World Series), would people not want to watch our sport at least for the asthetic value, which has to be more attractive than being covered in helmuts and pads?

Yeah.... I'm being just *slightly* sarcastic here.

:D

Ion Beza
July 16th, 2002, 08:31 PM
I read your entire response, but I will focus on this:

Originally posted by Rain Man
Ion:
...
Swimming = boring.
...
I'm prepared for any response.

-RM
There are points that I had already enumerated, suggesting that swimming is not boring.

One point, is that on TV there are sporting events, more boring than swimming, but fueled by big sponsors: golf, car racing.

Another point, is that there are nations that made swimming appear to be entertaining on TV, and I gave an example worth emulating.

Another point, is that prize money can be raised in USMS through membership, and given away in a well hyped event, for example a match of All Star USMS versus college swimmers, or for example a Long Course Nationals presented on TV like Swim magazine does it on paper; I won't be good enough to make the example of the All Star, but I would root for swimmers I know.

Finally, a last point, that I am making now for the first time, is that USMS is also promoted by going to workouts every day, then by going to competitions and letting people, acquainted with you at work for example, know about your swimming benefits and ethics:
how many people here, who labeled me in this thread as being 'crazy', 'out of line', and 'ridiculous', stand up for USMS with their acquaintances, by going to 2002 Long Course Nationals, after 2001 Long Course Nationals, after 2000 Long Course Nationals, and so on?
At my work, people do know that I do this, and to them I was the image of higher standards, when for example I was preparing for the 2002 Short Course Nationals in Hawaii.

aquageek
July 16th, 2002, 09:26 PM
Beauty or boredom is definitely in the eye of the beholder.

Being from Charlotte, NC, I can say I know a lot more about car racing than someone from So Cal. What you find boring is hands down the fastest growing spectator sport in the nation, bar none. What you describe as boring has the most loyal fan base of any major sport, hence the corporate appeal. What you describe as boring grew from basically nothing into a multi million dollar industry doing nothing more than what you are advocating - namely by presenting a family oriented, homegrown appeal that all fans can relate to. NASCAR is from the school of hard knocks and made it's money the hard way.

Most, if not all, sports would kill to have the loyalty and positive image that NASCAR has. You think the NBA might like to improve their image?

Lastly, I am so glad you brag to your friends about all your meets. My co-workers know I am a swimmer and some has come along with me. It doesn't make you better or give you higher standards, it just means you like to self promote.

Swimming has nothing to do with higher standards any more than any other sports. It is a sport, that's it. Higher standards are derived from other areas, most notably religion.

Rain Man
July 16th, 2002, 09:38 PM
Geez man, I am not questioning your credibility. From what I understand you are one of the more dedicated USMS members, constantly (over)focusing on your swimming. You attend a lot of meets and are pro-swimming almost to a fault.

I don't think people are labelling you the person as crazy. Maybe they are but I'm not one to judge. I do think that your line of thinking on this issue is a little out of whack, if you will.

Prize money should only be for pros. That means those who are good enough at their respective skill to be labelled a professional. You probably have a job, let's say accounting (as an example). If you are a highly skilled accountant you go get a job as an accountant, and they pay you. Same with sports. It may be a good idea to have prize money in swimming, but only at the highest levels. That would be some sort of US circuit similar to the World Cup circuit.

But then the question is, where do you get the money. Face it, you are living in what you wish were a swimming utopia, problem is reality is 1/10th of a percent of Americans have a clue about competetive swimming. USA-S threw around the idea of adding a surcharge to membership, something nominal say 5-10 US$ to throw into a "general sport promotion" fund. I'm not sure how it was received. I would imagine poorly because I have yet to hear anything else about it. But I imagine part of it would have gone to prize money and/or TV time.

Hey, if you want swimming to be popular in America, and have legitimate ideas for how to go about it, more power to you. I think you are barking up the wrong tree here though, there are a lit people with years of swimming experience responding to you who have realized that it probably won't work. Accept swimming for what it is, enjoy it, and hopefully our athletes get some well-deserved attention on occasion... which is the gripe I originally intended.

Respectfully,
RM

Bert Bergen
July 16th, 2002, 11:58 PM
Lord, we have gotten off a bit. First of all (sorry Aquageek), I can't stand NASCAR. Nor can I stand the personalities and moral graveyard that is the NBA. Conversely, however, I think to many non-swimmers (and a few actual swimmers), swimming IS boring. My point is that we all have our own interests and passions. NASCAR IS fine and does present good role models. I have NO issues with it. The media and sponsors go where the crowds and attendance are. Our sport (swimming) is not one that is considered as marketable in this country with the alternatives presented. Look at the sports WORLD: Soccer is king in South America, England, and many others-but not here. American Football is huge here, but you cannot sell it to the Australians or Eastern Europe. Swimming and Aussie Rules Football are the world to Australia. This example with various sports can go on and on. This will likely not change in the near future. Swimming cannot be molded to fit a marketing idea or sponsors image. "Dash for Cash" events, relay meet format, USA vs AUS; these may be one-shot hits, but they wouldn't sustain the interest of the viewer, sponsor, and likely swimmer.

HOWEVER, TO TRY TO ATTACH PRIZE MONEY TO USMS EVENTS WOULD BE A TRAVESTY. We do this for the fun, the friendships, the personal goals, and the honest (we hope) competition. Leave the money to the big boys, the pros. We don't need the issues (on a significantly smaller scale) that are affecting our pro leagues related to money. Let's just swim. I, for one, would NEVER accept part of my USMS membership going to prize monies for the best in our association--we all compete and swim together. There is no need to attach that crap to what we do.

cinc3100
July 17th, 2002, 12:00 AM
I'm not wrong about figure skating. The only event dominated by the US is the ladies event. Pairs, Ice Dance and Men have been won by mainly the Russians since 1994. We have not win the male event since Brain B did in 1988. In water polo part of the problem is that most of the United States has never developed much of a base outside of California. Image if the US national swim team was made up of only swimmers from Californa, many countries would beat us. In fact there was almost an all California team in 1968, but most of the country outside of some good AAU teams back east and colleges had not develop the type of programs that where available at Santa Clara and Arden Hills in the late 1960's. Many foreign countries still didn't workout double in those days.

cinc3100
July 17th, 2002, 12:06 AM
As for prize money I think that maybe it should be more available in open swim. Andy Bray who placed 2nd at a 25 K open swim gets to go to the pan-pacific games. Which is an accomplishment since he is 43 years old. I think that master and open water swimmers in their 30's and 40's have a better chance to compete against the elite in open swim and win some prize money.

MetroSwim
July 17th, 2002, 12:43 AM
Ion

Have a look at the USMS Rule Book and read the USMS mission statement and preamble. Then look through the rules and find anything having to do with prize money. Giving out money for anything other than supporting swim programs and encouraging fitness and participation is outside the scope of why USMS exists.

Masters is a grass roots organization, and it has been my impression that the majority of members don't even compete (I seem to recall that something to the effect that less than 40% of us actually enter meets). How would prize money really do anything for more than a handful of the 42,000 USMS members?

I certainly hope you are just trying to provoke a dialogue with your viewpoints, otherwise it would appear that you may not really get the fundamental reason that most of us are involved with USMS.

We do it for many, many reasons, but to do it for money is pretty much the LAST reason, and perhaps that is what sets us apart from many of the sports that you look down on.

If you feel that strongly about prize money, why don't you make it an item for discussion at the convention. See how far that goes.

We have enough issues with the fine points of USMS rules and guidelines in competitions that do not involve anything other than personal achievement and maybe a medal or two. I wouldn't want to even begin to contemplate what would happen if money were at stake.

Ion Beza
July 17th, 2002, 09:36 AM
Originally posted by MetroSwim
Ion
...
I certainly hope you are just trying to provoke a dialogue with your viewpoints, otherwise it would appear that you may not really get the fundamental reason that most of us are involved with USMS.
...

Yes.

I stated earlier that money is a drawing force in this culture, which would entice more people, TV into the USMS meets, but is not a high priority in my book.

MetroSwim
July 17th, 2002, 11:14 AM
You may have stated it, but the way you wrote it nobody really picked it up.

It kinda seems like this happens a lot.

Paul Smith
July 17th, 2002, 11:55 AM
Whatever anyone on this thread thinks about Ion, he is the only one who has stepped up to the challenge of providing ideas as to how we can grow and promote the sport of swimming.

It's real easy to sit at your computer and trash a person and his ideas. It's also very easy to sit at your computer and find every reason why an idea won't work. Ion, I don't agree with all your ideas but I applaud your passion for swimming and willingness to step up and take the hits.

Aquageek, Rain Man and all the rest of you who are getting so riled about Ion have not provided one original thought of your own that is postive and creative and helps promote our sport. But boy you all are sure good at personal attacks, Im really impressed!

Sometime back Emmett gave an example of soliciting donations which were raffles off to the volunteers (and participants I think) which I though was a great incentive. A team here in Colorado attempted to organize a "dash for cash" masters meet that most likely would have one off great if it were'nt for our state being on fire (by the way, everyone I spoke to loved the idea of having something different such as cash prizes).

Organizations such as the Adult Swimming group are thinking "outside the box" on the competitive side and getting people interested, I would hope those of us on the USMS side would be open to exploring the same!

Philip Arcuni
July 17th, 2002, 12:52 PM
I agree with Paul both in his defense of Ion and his desire to promote our sport. Except Paul has stepped up to the 'challenge', and not just Ion (and I think I contributed something also, if not that creative.)

Our Olympians are our best promotional resource. We have quite a few, but a few more, and higher profile ones, would help alot. If Don Schollander, Mark Spitz, John Nabor, Mary T., Janet Evans, and other well known swimmers participated regularly, publicity and participation in USMS would increase greatly. I remember my big disappointment with Spitz in the 70's was how he did not take on the responsibility to promote the sport that his success required him to do. This is a way for him and others to help, just by swimming!

And unlike some of you, I can imagine in a distant future a 'Masters Swimming Tour.' (but the meets have to be more fun, like I discussed in my last post on this thread.) After all, people pay to watch old geezers play golf, many of whom can't drive farther than the average college player. Already we are seeing Olympic swimmers older than 30 (and women, no less!), something totally unexpected 30 years ago.

Rain Man
July 17th, 2002, 01:14 PM
Here's a suggestion, but it's not original... it should be state-mandated that all kids in elementary school learn how to swim, then from there it would be the moderators' responsibilities to encourage those with even an inkling of potential to try and make the next step towards swimming competitively.

Learn to swim programs are dropping off the face of the earth. They used to be school funded, now they have to be paid for by the participants. When that happened, it severly limited the amount of people that would be exposed to true swimming during their developmental years. That type of program should be reinstated.

And here's another that kind of goes along with that... I used to lap swim in a city park that had a 50mx25y pool. The recreational half of the pool was swarmed with kids who loved the water, many were minorities. Some used to even venture over to the lap side and swim on occasion just to try it out.

One little girl, probably 8 saw a guy in the lane next to me with a kickboard and asked her older brother for one. He got her one, the lifeguard came over and said "You can't play in that pool." How nice is that?!?! So she imitated the older guy and kicked with the board for about 6 lengths. I'm surprised she even bothered after being yelled at. That's a kid who should be encouraged.

But anyway, the club that works out there costs about $80/month to belong. Do you think those city kids can afford that? There is a perfect opportunity for a city-sponsored club team with a nominal fee, where the city could pay for coaches, equipment, and pool time is free (a city-owned park). Think of what could be done by opening up the sport to another 200-300 kids that could otherwise not have afforded it. And that's just one city.

Where's the initiative to do this? Is USA-S going to do something like this? The sport has to be built from the ground up. Recruiting more participation at USMS meets is a reactive measure. Being sure that we have a swimming-conscious nation from the elementary years is a proactive measure.

I estimate it would cost a city between 75 and 100K to run a city-sponsored club. That would pay for coach salaries, assistant wages, pool equipment, swim suits, caps, goggles, meet entry fees for the swimmers. The swimmers in return maybe pay $10/month to belong. Not much but enough that if they pay it, they'll stick with it. And they should be assured that every part of their $10 is used in return for them. In a city with 120,000 taxpayers, this is less than a dollar a year to support a worthwile program.

It's not as if I have said Ion's ideas are horrible and left it at that, I have given reasoning behind why they won't work. That's kind of a negative approach (but dad - he started it! :rolleyes: ) but it will be difficult to create a general interest in swimming among the American population unless that American population is immersed in the sport. That's why it's popular in Australia. We in the US are immersed in LL Baseball, hence MLB on TV every night.

Oh well.

<YAWN>
-RM

kaelonj
July 17th, 2002, 02:09 PM
I apologize for my glass half empty view, but it comes from personal/professional experience. Lately there has been a lot of budget cuts in Portland Parks and Recreation - this summer they shut down two of their pools because of lack of funds, other facilities have shut down or severly cut back on services, even Seattle is having a rough time of it.

I was actually responsible for a program similiar to what Rain man mentions. Our program started at the beginning of the school year where we took High School students from the local school district and began training them to be swim instructors, after two months these newly trained instructors would then teach swim lessons to the school districts 3rd and 4th grade elementary students. As budgeting became tighter, the Park and Recreation district decided they didn'y want to pay my portion of salary while I was conducting this program because it didn't benefit the Parks District and the School district didn't want to pay my portion of the salary to conduct this program so it was dropped. The facility I worked at was actually quite profitable in regards to pools (we usually covered 90% or better of our operating costs - the national average I believe is under 50%). This is just one example, another example is we recently had several drowings along a stretch of river, the cities have decided to buck-up and pay to have lifeguards stationed there which will cost them about 50k (and this took a while to resolve and several deaths). I just can't see a city/agency spending 75k on a program when it can't even find enough money to keep its facilities open.

I know I sound very negative, swimming is definitely very worthwhile as a sport, hobby, distraction whatever you want to call, but reality is it takes alot of money to keep a pool open compared to a soccer field, baseball diamond or a basketball court.

Ion Beza
July 17th, 2002, 03:25 PM
Originally posted by Paul Smith
Whatever anyone on this thread thinks about Ion, he is the only one who has stepped up to the challenge of providing ideas as to how we can grow and promote the sport of swimming.

It's real easy to sit at your computer and trash a person and his ideas. It's also very easy to sit at your computer and find every reason why an idea won't work. Ion, I don't agree with all your ideas but I applaud your passion for swimming and willingness to step up and take the hits.

Aquageek, Rain Man and all the rest of you who are getting so riled about Ion have not provided one original thought of your own that is postive and creative and helps promote our sport. But boy you all are sure good at personal attacks, Im really impressed!
...

Thank you Paul.
I feel the same about this.

I know Paul, from the forum and three encounters in competitions, as a courageous and talented man, a leader.

Ion Beza
July 17th, 2002, 09:14 PM
When I joined this forum in the spring of 2001, I was getting an impression of stale conservatism, and of a consensus that the participation in competitions and bragging about times, is a 'sin' since these should better be 'inner secret pleasures'.

For example, at that time, one topic was about 'shocking' Jenny Thompson having posed topless -with covering hands though- in Sports Illustrated, but me after eleven years spent in France I was being used -while in my 20s- to about 50% of young fit women being topless in public pools, and another topic was about "...growing up..." which allegedly happens when one doesn't compete and doesn't brag about times, to which I counteracted by posting my best times as a late starter in the sport.

Originally posted by Paul Smith

...
Organizations such as the Adult Swimming group are thinking "outside the box" on the competitive side and getting people interested, I would hope those of us on the USMS side would be open to exploring the same!
What ideas by the "...Adult Swimming group..." "...on the competitive side ... getting people interested..." is this about?

cinc3100
July 18th, 2002, 09:04 PM
Rain man mention about inner city youth. One population that has grown in Southern California and Arizona are hispanics. I contacted the usa local of Southern California and they told me that USA swimming once had a grant for the city of Santa Ana and now Disneyland does. Most people outside of the southwest are unaware of the large number of immirgrants from Mexico who work at low paying jobs to support their family. And Rain man is correct that many are unable to pay money for USA swim teams and the Parents who sometimes work two jobs have no time for lap swimming and masters. In Tucson the recreation and parks program has made swimming free for children and the fee for the summer league is just 6 dollars. By high school, if one kid from a poor background does good at state, then the year round teams may waver the fee. Just getting a feet thru a free learn to swim program and a cheap summer league and uusally a not to expense high school program may help. But like Jeff from Portland states, it depends on local budgets.

cinc3100
July 19th, 2002, 12:05 PM
Here I go again. Philip was talking about famous olympicians involved in masters swimming. I think Spitz helps coached a masters team. Both Evans and Blondi are just in their 30's, might not be interested since they are still young. Shane Gould did get involved with master's swimming in her country. Her American counterpart Shirley Babashoff didn't. I saw Susie Atwood in a meet a few years back. And a few olympians have pop up here and there in masters swimming. Maybe, with many they don't want to compete in meets where they would swim several seconds slower.

Leonard Jansen
July 19th, 2002, 01:37 PM
I think that Ion has hit upon the ultimate idea for publicizing master's swimming: nudity.

If we make the nationals an all-nude competition and then publicize THAT, you'll have to use a pry-bar and lithium grease to squeeze the reporters into the venue. Of course, it would remain to be seen how many swimmers would actually show up...

Hey, I bet the Adult Swimming Association would consider it.

:-D

-LBJ

kaelonj
July 19th, 2002, 02:15 PM
Actually Leonard that might make the sport more spectator friendly, and of course the revenue of the broadcasting on cable (pay per view or play boy channel).

Sorry to drum up an old area, but the comment a ways back in regards to Olympic performance by countries. Other than a few sports most US athletes stay and play in the United States (soccer, indoor volleyball and water polo are about the only ones where an athlete can go abroad and make more money than in the US). But how many athletes from other nations live and train in the United States ( Inge de Braijn trained here in the Northwest, as well as other swimmers and if I recall correctly a lot of the ice skaters train here in the U.S. along with several countries bobsled teams). A little more food for thought one place the US excels at is team sports - counts as one gold medal yet 6 swimmers can geta medal for a placing relay team and don't forget basketball - I think 15 gold medals are awarded to the winning team - so the medal per capita ratio would be a little different.

Ion Beza
July 25th, 2002, 08:45 PM
This is a ramification into the discussion here about the worth of swimming in the media.

Originally posted by kaelonj

...
Sorry to drum up an old area, but the comment a ways back in regards to Olympic performance by countries.
...
But how many athletes from other nations live and train in the United States...
...

As a ramification, there is this answer:
it's a two ways street in opportunities, like the former president Reagan was seeing the free trade in professions.

1) For example, coach Jozsef Nagy (Hun) made Mike Borrowman (US) a 200 meter world record in breaststroke at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, a mark that stands today; Borrowman writes: "No one else wanted to try to understand him or do the work he was demanding.". When Nagy and Borrowman went to train at Curl-Burke Swim Club, the coach Rick Curl learned from coach Nagy what he is implementing today on breaststroker Ed Moses (US).

2) Noemi Lung (Rom) a silver medallist in 400 meter IM at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and one of the 100% products from Romania, is coaching now in Florida.

cinc3100
July 25th, 2002, 09:12 PM
Anyways, the United States isn't the only place with foreign coaches and sportspeople. Alex Popov and his coach live and workout in Australia. But the Aussies benefit from it that's why they hired a Russian coach for their swimmers. Afterall, the old state system that gave coaches and retired sportspeople nice little apartments and other extras came to a halt with the fall of the old communist system. So, a lot of Russian and Eastern European coaches and sportspeople went to the United States and the rest of the West.

Ion Beza
July 30th, 2002, 07:44 PM
Everybody watch the "...worth of swimming in the mainstream media..." in US today and tomorrow.
You will see again the cliches I mentioned in this thread that make games being travestied as sports, while missing out what the alternative media like www.swimnews.com and www.swiminfo.com report as phenomenal feats in a real sport, swimming:

1) Ian Thorpe (Aus) competing in the CommonWealth Games in Manchester, England, swims a new world record in 400 meter freestyle in 3:40.08.

2)
a) Pieter van den Hoogenband (Ned) and Alex Popov (age 30, Rus), battle in the semi finals of the Europen Champoinships in Berlin, Germany, in 100 meter freestyle in respectively 47.97 (second fastest ever) and 48.70 (faster then his winning times in 1992 and 1996 Olympics);

b) Karoly Guttler (Hun), at age 34, swims 100 meter breast in 1:01.3x;

c) Coman from my country, Romania, wins bronze in 400 meter freestyle, with 3:48.78;
his best is 3:47.xx from the 2000 Olympics, though.

d) many performances in semi finals of 100 meter freestyle women and 200 meter IM men.

d) the meet is broadcast live in Europe each day for three hours, by the TV chain Eurosport;
the battle between Popov and van den Hoogenband is hyped for tomorrow's final:
"Do you have patience?" asks Popov.

aquageek
July 31st, 2002, 08:28 AM
I see you have to chum the water about sports yet again with your comments about media bias and real sports.

Can't you just let it go and realize some of us like all sort of sports, regardless of your definition of them? Some of us are also relatively happy with 40+ sports channels delivering a vast variety of sport.

Stick to the swimming, leave the jabs behind.

Ion Beza
July 31st, 2002, 01:10 PM
Originally posted by aquageek
I see you have to chum the water about sports yet again with your comments about media bias and real sports.

Can't you just let it go and realize some of us like all sort of sports, regardless of your definition of them? Some of us are also relatively happy with 40+ sports channels delivering a vast variety of sport.

Stick to the swimming, leave the jabs behind.
I say again that swimming performances are being under reported -relative to other activities-, in the media here.

No wonder the wrong awards follow this.

cinc3100
July 31st, 2002, 01:14 PM
I understand about you wanting more swimming coverage. Way back in the 1970's nationals use to be on the main stations. Now nationals and the NCAA's and the Worlds is shown on different cable networks. But local papers will mention about swimming if their is a strong program in the area. The Arizona Daily Star mention about how some of the local swimmers at the Janet Evans meet and the sectional meet. Coming aross the LA Times and the Orange County Register on the internet, I notice there were a couple articles about Lenny K versus Aaron Persoil. The Times preferred Lenny K since he lives in that area and the Register preferred of course Aaron Persoil since he is from Orange County. Sorry about missspelling Aaron's name.

Ion Beza
July 31st, 2002, 02:38 PM
Originally posted by cinc310

...
But local papers will mention about swimming if their is a strong program in the area.
...

They do mention international events in other areas though, but neglect international swimming.
People's information is a result of these news, believing that's all there is to life.

I saw it many times in US, for example in the years 1999 and 2000, when I was in Tennessee, and I see it in this forum:
a frequent common approach is aware of immediate family and some local community.

A worldly progressive approach is aware of foreign languages, cultures and international news about the best.

To summarize -from many posts- what promotes swimming:
1) awareness about the best; web sites like www.swimnews.com and www.swiminfo.com provide this;
2) going to Masters workouts every day or at least frequently and being in physical shape so that acquaintances see the benefits;
3) going to long term goal competitions;
4) a recognition system.

mdhammer
July 31st, 2002, 07:18 PM
"I say again that swimming performances are being under reported -relative to other activities-, in the media here. "

Ion, don't you mean to add "in my opinion" at the end of this?

I personally feel that the true love of sport is participating it and/or following it even if it doesn't make "SportsCenter". No one swims to become rich & famous ... that's the beauty of true sport. I rather enjoy the anonymity of it.

cinc3100
July 31st, 2002, 10:50 PM
That's true that most swimmers with the exception of people like Esther Williams, who was a movie star of the late 1940's and 1950's, don't profit from the sport. On other hand, I think its ok for Michael Phillips to have taken endorsements even though he can't swim in college. As for us ,many 11 to 15 year olds can swim faster. So of course we do it for our enjoyment. And I believe that masters swimming has more adults that participate compared to many other sports like track and field.

aquageek
August 1st, 2002, 08:14 AM
As much as we love swimming, we are minor compared to the thundering herds of runners. I think that's one of the things that sets us apart.

The RRCA boasts a membership of 200,000 which is almost 5X USMS. It's not hard to walk out your front door and start running compared to getting to the pool at the odd hours they seem to let Masters practice.

The Peachtree Road Race this year had over 55,000 participants. I heard it took longer to start running than to actually run the race.

Although with the freakish heat, even by Southern standards, we've had this year, it seems many runners are opting for the pool now.

cinc3100
August 1st, 2002, 03:33 PM
Like me rephase what I'm talking about. Running from 1 mile and over, there are a lot of adults runners. However, Masters Track and field starts for women at age 35 and up and men for over 40 years old. So many people are denied a chance at running sprint events as an adult until their 30's or 40's. So there are a lot more adults that compete at 50 meter freestyle than the 100 meter dash Also, the field events like hammer and the polt volt ,there are probably alot less adults that do that than swim.

Matt S
August 2nd, 2002, 03:07 PM
I think Ion and Cindy have a point. Swimming does get less media coverage than you would expect based on the number of participants. You can argue that swimming simply does not interest many Americans, but that argument does not withstand closer examination.

First, there is the claim that fewer people swim than play baseball/basketball, etc. OK, then explain why there are so many fans of these sports who HAVE HARDLY EVER PLAYED THE GAME IN THEIR LIVES! (Or like me, one week each of little league and jr. high football each before I decided these sports were not for me.) I know that there are a lot of golfers out there, many more than swimmers, but enough to justify 3 pro tours (PGA, LPGA and Seniors [Masters Golf for money! For the love of Pete!]) on the TV every single weekend?! And, there is no way you can convince me that any but a handful of people actually do any of those absurd "World's Stongest Man" competitions that fill up all the dead air time on ESPN2. The membership in USA Swimming and USMS (plus maybe some of the kids swimming for their high school, colleges or in YMCA/Summer Rec Leagues) amount to a fairly significant number of people. If it was purely numbers, you would expect an occaisional meet on one of the sports oriented channels.

Then there is the fall back argument that the team sports are simply more interesting for a casual fan. There is some truth to that. I'd love to watch all 16 minutes or so of a world class 1500m free, but that is because I have swam the event, and have some notion of the pacing and guts that event takes, same thing to a lesser extent for track events. I don't expect my family, or even my teammates to find that sort of thing interesting. However, why is track & field, which has the same problem as swimming in the U.S., so much more popular in Europe? Why is swimming so popular in Australia? I can buy the idea that more Australians swim, but you can't convince me that those vodka quaffing, Galois smoking Europeans have more people involved in track and field than the U.S. And to finally dismiss this argument, someone explain why water polo is not more popular here. It suffers from an even more profound lack of attention than swimming in the U.S. In terms of being a watchable sport, however, it is much better than soccer: (1) people actually score (!!) a reasonable number of goals, (2) the ball moves from the defensive to the offensive side of play more quickly, although not quite as fast as hockey or basketball (two other similar sports), & (3) it does not suffer from soccer's infuriating offsides rule whose sole purpose seems to be to choke-off any reasonable scoring chance. I neither liked nor appreciated basketball or hockey until after I played some organized water polo. So why can't you EVER catch a water polo game on TV?

I think the answer to all these questions is that the sporting, broadcasting, and advertising industries decide what is marketable, and then package it for our consumption. I'm not saying this is a vast conspiracy; I'm just observing it is a big, self-reinforcing loop. Because people have historically watched the "big 4" sports in the U.S. and Canada (which includes college footbal and basketball, but not hockey or baseball; explain that as anything other than a historic circumstance), the networks will show their games, which will interest the advertisers as a way to sell their products, which will generate ad revenue, which will cause the advertisers to demand more of the same because it is a "proven" medium, and the cycle reinforces itself. In France they watch the Tour de France; in Brazil it's soccer; in Australia it's swimming; and in the U.S. it's the "big 4." We see what we see because a cadre of professional sports writers and network producers have a consensus of opinion that football matters 24/7, but swimming only for one week every 4 years.

Now having said that, should we swimmers launch a crusade to get our sport more media coverage? I think the answer to that is mostly no we shouldn't. Would some more media coverage help us increase our membership which would allow us to have bigger and better events, and incidentally offer to more people a wonderful form or exercise for any age? Sure! But, that is well short of turning into the next NBA, or even the next WNBA (which became what it is because the NBA put its reputation, contacts, advertisers, and financial reserves behind it, not because women's professional basketball became more worthy as a sport or more watchable than it has been already for the last several decades). Does swimming get slighted by the sports media? Sure does. However, that is a different question than whether we can do something about it, and if we can would that necessarily be a good thing. Let's use media attention as a tool, not an end, and let's be realistic about why the media pays attention to certain sports.

Matt

emmett
August 2nd, 2002, 04:22 PM
"the sporting, broadcasting, and advertising industries decide what is marketable, and then package it for our consumption"

Don't forget promoters. Some of that "dead time" is purchased by promoters who act as middlemen, selling advertising, producing the show and keeping what profits may accrue. But they still make judgements about what is marketable and what is not. But that's the capitalist system and I wouldn't have it any other way.

If we (or some subset of "we") really think we have a commercially viable broadcast product AND we (or some subset of "we") think that product SHOULD be broadcast then we (or some subset of we) should get off the the mark, MAKE it happen and reap (or endure) whatever financial rewards ensue.

Most communities have public access channels where nearly ANYONE can get ANYTHING televised for dirt cheap. Not long ago I chanced across such a channel where two guys were hosting a show where the general concept was to watch girls in bikini's roll around in all manner of semi-liquid materials - 1000 gallons of creamed corn at the moment I caught it. I got the impression they do this regularly. Their show is filmed on a digital camcorder costing under $2000.

Could we get a higher quality product on the air? Undoubtedly. Could we get and keep a bigger audience? Undoubtedly.
If the USMS membership, as represented by the HOD at convention, thought it would be money well spent, a 30 or 60 minute show about a USMS nationals meet could be produced (possibly by volunteers, perhaps even the very swimmers who are so fired up to see Masters swimming on TV) and distributed for LMSCs to air on access channels. Or, if sufficient money was spent to do a professional production (EXTREMELY expensive), USMS might even be able to get enough sponsorship support to buy some of that ESPN dead time Matt was talking about. Or how about trying to get PBS involved. If the Magliozzi brothers can foist Car Talk on NPR then ANYTHING is possible!

Yes, I'm talking about inauspicious beginnings here. But after a number of inauspicious beginnings WWF/E now gets loads of TV time - and we have some ofthe same basics going for us - athletic guys and gals with good physiques wearing very little! Hey, somebody get Vince McMahon on the phone!

Endlessly moaning about swimming not getting its due coverage is utterly pointless - and has about as much mass entertainment appeal as one of Matt's 1500's :)

Ion Beza
August 2nd, 2002, 07:37 PM
I agree with Matt.

As for the idea that it is a consummer market here with many channels to choose from when looking for any sports including swimming, I discarded it by giving in a past post here the example of the year 2000 in US:
it was poor coverage of NCAA swimming offered by one single channel, ESPN, not many competing channels to choose from, and poor coverage of Olympic Trials swimming offered by one single channel, NBC, not many competing channels to choose from;
this contrasts to many channels in Australia competing for appeal when reporting the 2000 Australian Trials and 2002 CommonWealth Games.
I would rather think that the culture here in US is conditioned in entrenched insular steretypes.

Right now in Europe, Eurosport broadcasts live, the Europeans Championships in Berlin, Germany, to many European countries. The hype of this event is at the correct level in many European countries.

emmett
August 2nd, 2002, 09:12 PM
Ion,

So what was your point?

Matt S
August 2nd, 2002, 09:38 PM
Emmett,

You have greater faith in the impartiality of the market. (But your accomplishment making swim coaching pay as a capitalist enterprise is impressive.) I happen to think the dice are loaded in this game, but the point I eventually stumbled into making was "so, what?" Let's ask ourselves what we want to do as an organization, then try to generate coverage to meet that goal. I'm not sure I would want the organization to do the things it would have to do if maximum media exposure was the overarching goal. (Visions of these god-aweful "reality" TV shows, and humiliating, every man for himself game shows pop into my head. My feeling is we would have to turn ourselves into a WWF-style side show to get a significant number of people watching, for all the wrong reasons.)

I LIKE your idea of producing our own coverage of Nationals, and finding a way to broadcast it. Public access might not be where we want to start because it would be limited to the local viewing area. Then again, if we produce it, and ask our members in each little area to get it on their local access system... hm? This might work.

In the past, NE Masters got NPR's "Only a Game" to do a short piece on their meet. It was fine as far as it went, but it was 10 minutes at two different times on one weekend, then it disappeared into the vast collective unconscious.

Basically, I LIKE your ideas because they involve us producing the product ourselves, then finding a market for it. We control the content, rather than engaging in degrading "notice me" displays for a sports establishment that has already decided ahead of time what it wants to show anyway.

Matt

aquageek
August 2nd, 2002, 10:08 PM
The incessant complaining about some mysterious media powers or "Big 4" bias or whatever the term du jour is now is completely and totally ridiculous.

This is America, guys. If someone can make a buck off of it, they will broadcast it. Do you think the media televises all these sports you love to hate in order to lose money? Don't you know at some point in history each of the big sports also had to clamor for more attention. They are just 60 years ahead of us swimmers.

Start the grassroots campaign, have people swim naked while taking quiz questions or whatever. I can absolutely guarantee you that if the networks see an interest, it will get broadcast.

I can't believe with all the real issues we are facing with the media this is one of any importance right now, or ever. Go swim and let's move on. There is not some anti-swimming lobby at the networks. It all comes down to Econ 101 - supply and demand. It's that simple.

cinc3100
August 2nd, 2002, 10:39 PM
There are a lot of fans of sports that have people that have never participated in that sport. Figure skating and Gymnastics that have big fan followings among women are two such sports. Anyways, even figure skating had to be tape delayed because of Hockey and this was the nationals where over 18,000 people watched girls and ladies skated in Los Angeles before the olympics. Most sports coverage are geared to demogrpahics of 18 to 49 year old males. So sometimes even women popular sports don't get coverage as well as more male popualr sports. Swimming is a sport that public does not have much interest. To change that I don't know, gymnastics didn't come popular until the 1970's.

Ion Beza
August 2nd, 2002, 11:29 PM
Originally posted by Matt S

...
...involve us producing the product ourselves, then finding a market for it. We control the content, rather than engaging in degrading "notice me" displays for a sports establishment that has already decided ahead of time what it wants to show anyway.

Matt
It makes sense, and I was mentioning alternative media keeping vibrant swimming web sites, personally participating in workouts and competitions;
Matt adds a Masters coverage of Nationals on TV, but sponsors need to produce this.

emmett
August 3rd, 2002, 04:39 PM
Matt sez: "You have greater faith in the impartiality of the market.... I happen to think the dice are loaded in this game, but the point I eventually stumbled into making was 'so, what?' "

Actually I was being a bit tongue in cheek - hence the "or some subset of 'we'". I, personally, don't think getting us on TV has great value (so I don't think USMS should sink gobs of volunteer or $$ resources into such an effort). Of even LESS value is griping about it. What DOES have great value is word of mouth promotion of what we do. Also of great value is the placement of articles about Masters in external publications (publications OTHER than Swim Mag etc). I'd venture a guess that the overwhelming majority of people who come to Masters have exposure to one or both of those figuring prominently along whatever path led them to USMS. I don't that that will change any time soon.

There is nothing "impartial" about the market for any given product. It is VERY partial toward those willing to risk their $$ in the production and distribution end and VERY partial toward those who would consume (in this case, sit still in front of the TV long enough to have commercial messages pumped into them).

Hey....production of broadcast material for RADIO is WAY cheaper than TV production. How about full end-to-end coverage of USMS Nats on the old squalk box!!! Yeah! THAT's the TICKET! :D

Paul Smith
August 4th, 2002, 11:01 AM
My interest in this topic extends to my fear of what is happening to swimming in the US in general. We've all read the stories of how many college programs have been dropped and there's a fantastic article in swim technique about the current "crisis".

With the loss of college teams, the hige drop out of boys in the sport, mothballing of pools and lack of ability to build new and maintain older facilities, we've got some problems.

I've "challenged" people on this thread to think outside the box as to how we can build our sport (refering to swimming in general, but also masters), one of the benefits I believe would be more media coverage (for those of us who tape NCAAs and fast forward through the 70% commercials).

The bigger benefit however is that maybe we can help stem the tide of of the slow death of competivive swimming that seems to be taking place in our sport.

cinc3100
August 4th, 2002, 11:48 AM
What I didn't agree with the college article is that there are only slightly less males that are attending college than females. In fact asian males attend college more than white females. And hispanics and blacks are less likely to attend college whether they are male and female than whites and asians.So there is no big decreased of white males attending college. Also, many swimmers such as Gary Hall Jr, only spend a year swimming in NCAA's and are successful swimmers. The NCAA's will not allow swimmers to have endorsements,hence more top swimmers will drop out of college swimming than will stay, because they can't make money. Also, the NCAA's until about the 1980's favored male programs over female programs. Shirley Babashoff swam only 2 years at a community college and one year at UCLA. But know one complain about her dropping out of college to take endorsement money, on the other hand, if Jack Babashoff would have done that, then Alabama where he was attending school would have persuaded him to stay.

Leonard Jansen
August 5th, 2002, 09:01 AM
Hmmmm.... OK, here's an attempt to think outside the box:

Suppose we have a professional tape made of the nationals - say a 1/2 hour highlight tape made by a USMS member. (Someone out of all our members must own a video company.) We get the tape in exchange for promotion of the company somehow - at the meet, on the tape, whatever... Copies are made and then sent to volunteers who have signed up for time (long in advance) on a local community access channel of their cable network. The tape is then played as their time slot allotment.

I am not versed in all the details of this and don't delude myself that it will save the swimming world and I suspect that it might be more applicable to larger metro areas than in places like where I live (the boonies), but it seems low-cost enough and better than just wringing our hands.

Perhaps some colleges would be willing to make good quality tapes of their swim teams/meets (use the media-type majors as slave labor) and then show those also.

OK, fire away!

kaelonj
August 5th, 2002, 12:05 PM
I don't have the answers, but some food for thought:

Back in the late eighties in So. Cal we use to watch swimming and waterpolo on a cable station Prime Ticket (mostly UCLA, USC, Cal, Stanford and Pepperdine) they would also air NCAA swimming and water polo championships. I believe that station no longer exists. Not to say swimming and waterpolo isn't ready for a rebirth in the TV market.

The second thought is would all this attention spoil what we have come to love. Previous forums there has been complaints about the size of nationals, timelines etc. Just think what would happen if we did double or triple the participation at nationals - some people complained about taking the 4 to 5 days off to travel and particiapate, what would happen if that became 7 or 8 days for the meet.

The last thought is the ever present economic question. Swimming costs money, utilities (water, electricity, gas) chemicals (chlorine, C02, acid, soda ash, calcium) man power (lifeguard, maintenance, coach) and insurance. Most pools have some governmental tie in - either by a Parks and Rec Dept (City, County, Special Service District) or by a school. When it comes budget time it seems Parks and Rec are the first ones cut, schools, police, fire are usually safe - but the schools have there dilemas build a pool or another 6 classrooms to accomadate the growing population - we know what the general voting public would choose. Of course I realize that with more exposure of swimmng as a valuable lesson it may help dodge the budget ax, but I really doubt it.

I would compare my feelings towards swimming to Yosemite. When I go to Yosemite I don't want to be in the overcrowded tourists environment - stick to the backroads and enjoy things where commercialism hasn't spoiled the beauty.

Ion Beza
August 5th, 2002, 01:38 PM
Regarding overcrowding, it can be avoided at Nationals by enforcing strict National Qualifying Times, and by having layers of smaller competitions without Qualifying Times.

The last post -by Leonard- on how to produce and broadcasts a cheap USMS Nationals coverage, is the way to explore, I think.

IndyGirl
August 5th, 2002, 08:41 PM
Hey Ion, strict National Qualifying times? Did I hear you talking about elitism?

How about participation and a great time? And yes, great competition as well?

Rain Man
August 6th, 2002, 01:40 AM
Anyway, regarding the issue of publicizing the great sport of swimming, I have a few things to share.

First, swimming is a sport that few (if any) non-participants actually get in to. How many swimming fans do you know that did not swim? I don't know any. Not that this is right, but it is just simple reality.

Why is golf so popular? 2 words- Tiger Woods. What would need to happen for our sport to take off on the American level is for a swimming star on the parallel of TW to appear on the scene. What is the chance of that? Well, small but possible. It would behoove the USA-S oranization to over-publicize the potential "star" candidates. That is the only chance.

Swimming isn't going to become a specator sport overnight. It's NOT popular. It is NOT trivial. It IS a very difficult sport. We need the appropriate personalties to take it to the next level (coverage-wise). I wish we could. I personally think it is virtually impossible. Without opening the sport to the inner-city youth and the urban poor we are stuck with what we have. White suburbia wealthy opportunistic swimmers. Expand the horizions, we need all the help we can get.

Go swimming. Let's get the ball rolling. Let's start a fricken brainstorm of ideas for what to do. There is so much that can be done. We just need the ideas, the commitment, and the people to make it happen.

-RM

cinc3100
August 6th, 2002, 02:17 AM
Well, some parts of the United States had to move from their white base, Southern California in point. Many of the age groupers are still upper-middle class but are more becoming asian rather than white. Also, hispanics that have made it to the middle class or beyond are also moving up the ladder of swimming in Southern California. The white population in LA and Orange which are strong holds of swimming has decline in the 1990's, so the clubs brought in more non-whites. Also, even expensive sports like Figure Skating have about 30 percent asian and 15 percent hispanics in the area of Southern California. Blacks are less of a factor there, since their population is smaller than the asian population in Southern California. However as stated before asians have the money to do swimming or much more expensive sports like figure skating than hispanics as a whole, since they are more likely to be college educated. But as Rain man stated, you need to appeal more to the lower income which in many places in the southwest tend to be hispanic, where soccer or baseball or boxing are king.l

aquageek
August 6th, 2002, 08:05 AM
Ion:

You want to improve the image and accessibility of USMS swimming, that is obvious. Then, you state we should enforce strict National Qualifying Times, and by having layers of smaller competitions without Qualifying Times. You can't have it both ways.

I reviewed the Fact Sheet on USMS swimming. No where does it mention qualifying times. In fact, what it does say is USMS is "Open to all adult swimmers (fitness, triathlete, competitive, and non-competitive) dedicated to improving their fitness through swimming ."

We've all been through phases of life where we had to qualify to swim. USMS is not about exclusion, in my opinion.

Leonard Jansen
August 6th, 2002, 09:15 AM
Several more ideas:

Idea one:
Once a year, towards the end of the college competitive swim season, we send out a mass mailing to EVERY college swim coach in the country (all NCAA divisions, NAIA, etc). The mailing would contain copies of an invitation for graduating seniors to join USMS (maybe at a sharply discounted rate for the first year or for the first few years ???) and outlining the benefits of being in USMS. It also would contain a list of masters teams/facilities that they could join.

In the cover letter to the coach, we explain that due to the serious problems with declining numbers of programs, etc, that we are trying a grassroots approach to keeping people in the sport (read: alums with money to donate to their favorite college swim team program) and also to be the swimming parents in the bleachers for the next generation.

Idea two:
A mass mailing to every YMCA/YWCA/YMHA/etc with a flyer and membership apps for USMS. There are many people who swim at the local YMCA who don't even know about USMS. Most Y's have a bulletin board where they will put up things like this if asked nicely. Again, the same spiel in the cover letter about the grassroots approach/benefits/etc applies.

Idea three:
Put together a "How to Start a Master's Swim Team/Program" brochure and mail it to all the aquatic directors at all the Y's. (Maybe this brochure already exists???)

Idea four:
If possible, buy the membership mailing list of the US Triathlon Federation (or whatever they go by) and mass mail them similar to idea two, above. The pitch here is improved times through organized practices/competitions. Most of the run-of-the-mill triathletes I know are, at best, mediocre swimmers.

Finally:
Commit to do this for, say, three years (one year is too short a period), and assess and track the impact in terms of # of people/clubs/programs gained every year. This will allow you to decide if it is worth continuing.

OK, kill me.

Paul Smith
August 6th, 2002, 09:39 AM
Two weeks ago at a meet in AZ I met a masters swimmer who recently moved there from the east coast and is in the media industry. This gentleman has been involved with producing tv "specials" in the past and his recent return to masters swimming had prompted his interest in posibly doing something in that area.

What we discussed was how you would package and market such a feature, he made it clear that he felt there would be no problems getting someone from Fox or ESPN on board if the show focused on some of the incredible things that people such as Laura Val, Rich Abrahams, Jim McConica, etc. etc are doing. The key would be making it more of a general human interest story and not showing endless hours (seconds?) of actually racing.

The challenge for something like this is finacing, something that our sport has very little of. That's why my interest is not in promoting Masters, rather I would like to see more cooperation between USS, FINA, USOC, etc. in builing "the sport". Our challenges are not how many people can masters nationals support, our challenge is whether swimming can survive at the age group, high school, college, Olympic levels.

Leonard Jansen
August 6th, 2002, 11:26 AM
Paul -

I agree that survival of the sport at the younger levels is the true goal/target. However, robustness of the sport at other levels helps the target group.

I agree that getting all the parties to work together is the solution, but realistically, have they ever been able to work together on something of this magnitude? Herding cats might be easier.

Increasing master's participation is something that we could try and could potentially:
a) Provide $ to the target groups through donations to colleges, local programs and the like. The upper age groups actually have the most money/influence/connections.
b) Provide a larger base of kids who get funneled into swimming through their parents who are kept in the sport as participants and don't just "drift away" after college. The wider the base, the taller the peak.
c) Provides a larger base of volunteers to work at meets for the target groups.

An object lesson here would be racewalking, the event I came from. About 18 years ago, there was a shift towards focusing on the "elite" and making the sport less egalitarian. Since that time there has been a marked decline in older participation and, with it, a decline in volunteerism, real races (as opposed to local unjudged walks, power walks, and that sort of crap), participation in the nationals, coaching, and $ into the event. Consequently, although we have a very few good athletes, we have no depth whatsoever behind them. Things look BAD.

Yes, if you have a limited pool of development money, as do we, spend it carefully. Within the mandate of USMS as it currently stands, that means promoting masters and "cheerleading" the other groups to do their part.

- Leonard (Last in the 100 free, but first in your heart)

cinc3100
August 6th, 2002, 11:56 AM
I known about Masters swimming since the 1970's. But when I finished community college swimming back then, the age started at 25 years old and I went out to get a job like everyone else. I started lap swimming for a few years now but didn't join masters until I wanted to compete again. I know that masters allows you to be unattached and not apart of a team which is advantage for someone like myself since I'm not close to the nearest masters team and working out on my own works out better with my hours at work. But many lap people probably think you have to belong to a masters team to particapate. Maybe, Master can get the word out that you don't have to belong to a club.

Ion Beza
August 6th, 2002, 12:18 PM
Originally posted by Paul Smith

...
What we discussed was how you would package and market such a feature, he made it clear that he felt there would be no problems getting someone from Fox or ESPN on board if the show focused on some of the incredible things that people such as Laura Val, Rich Abrahams, Jim McConica, etc. etc are doing. The key would be making it more of a general human interest story and not showing endless hours (seconds?) of actually racing.

The challenge for something like this is finacing, something that our sport has very little of.
...

1) Finance-wise, I see Emmett and Leonard's posts addressing cheap production of a TV program about swimming;
input money flowing in between USMS, USS Swimming, USOC is also conceivable.

2) Content-wise, I would put the "...human interest story..." in the backgroung of showing the thrill and pain of racing, not on the foreground.
The reason for that, is to educate the public on racing and the process of bettering oneself through fitness effort.
Examples of lack of education on fitness racing are when last Saturday, The San Diego Union Tribune newspaper reported that an ESPN commentator stated that marathon runners are idiots, when ESPN and NBC reported in 2000 the swimming in NCAA and the US Olympic Trials with a few swimming strokes of some winners and lenghty generic syrupy stories, but no sport thrilling races, so the public still doesn't get it about the sport.

Originally posted by Paul Smith

...
That's why my interest is not in promoting Masters, rather I would like to see more cooperation between USS, FINA, USOC, etc. in builing "the sport". Our challenges are not how many people can masters nationals support, our challenge is whether swimming can survive at the age group, high school, college, Olympic levels.
Alternative media like www.swiminfo.com reported yesterday that USMS swimmer Paul Carter (US), age 45, swam 100 meter fly Long Course in 56.4x, next to news from the European Championships and the Common Wealth Games.
It's a small step in intermingling USMS, USOC and US Swimming, and it needs expanding into more co-operation, including financial.

kaelonj
August 6th, 2002, 01:44 PM
Ion,

I think showing the thrill and pain of racing (primarily the pain) would discourage people from getting invovled in swimming. I think (which may be the problem) triathlons in a way suffer from this, years ago in the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon - forgive my failing memory but I believe it was Julie Moss - who was in first place but collapsed just prior to the finish line, she eventually crawled across the finish line but did not win the race. This made for great TV drama, but the general public perception is who are these crazy idiots who push their bodies to that point of complete exhaustion. The vast majority of triathlons are not Ironman distances but shorter races that take most people around 2 to 3 hours to finish, yet when you mention you have done a triathlon/are a triathlete most people think of the Ironman races and that you must be some kind of compulsive fitness freak.

The idea of putting the human intrest story in front of the racing would appeal to the general viewers more. Take for example Gary Hall - fast swimmer sure, so what. But when you put in that he is an insulin dependent diabetic - now all of a sudden you have a whole new audience, maybe diabetics won't take up swimming but at least they won't limit their thinking to the old school thought of being a diabetic you have to limit your physical exercise. Lance Armstrong is another example of this in regards to his battle with cancer - Greg Lemond was the first Amercian to win the Tour de France and up until this year had won the same number of Tours as Lance (3), lets not forget he missed a couple of years because of a hunting accident, but Lance I believe became more famous than Greg after just winning his first Tour because of his overcoming cancer (human intrest side of things rather than the sport). To get more publicity/involvement you need to address areas that are going to make people want to watch, you can go anywhere and watch races (swimmers, runners, bicyclists, boats, cars, dogs, horses...whatever)if all you want to do is watch a race, but the drama and overcoming of obstacles is what is going to get people involved- they need to be able to connect to that person in some way, either by the sport or by personal battles.

Ion Beza
August 9th, 2002, 02:16 PM
I read that the writer George Bernard Shaw wrote:

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.

Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.".

I agree with the quote.

Let's work together now on the latest of this thread 'unreasonable' in US ideas, which is to have a cheap production of a TV coverage of Masters Swimming Nationals, or any other Masters Swimming program, and which unreasonably I say is not boring and can be distributed locally in many states.

Mark in MD
August 9th, 2002, 02:40 PM
Great ideas here. But, from a "public image" point of view, why not refer to "cheap production" as a low-budget production? It might raise the public's perception of us a notch or two. Just a thought here. Of course, I'll wager that this might get resolved (a little humor here) in Cleveland at the Saturday night's get-together. :p

All the best.

Mark

Rob Copeland
August 9th, 2002, 04:34 PM
Ion - Great quote from George Bernard Shaw !!

How about -
"He who endeavors to serve, to benefit, and improve the world, is like a swimmer, who struggles against a rapid current, in a river lashed into angry waves by the winds. Often they roar over his head, often they beat him back and baffle him. Most men yield to the stress of the current... Only here and there the stout, strong heart and vigorous arms struggle on toward ultimate success."
from Albert Pike

Ion, continue to be strong of heart and vigorous...

And, good luck in Cleveland!!

Ion Beza
August 9th, 2002, 09:55 PM
Originally posted by Rob Copeland

...
And, good luck in Cleveland!!
Thank you, Rob.

cinc3100
August 9th, 2002, 11:41 PM
Good luck Ion.

Ion Beza
August 10th, 2002, 12:33 AM
Originally posted by cinc310
Good luck Ion.
Cynthia,
you really have the vocation of an extroverted 'call center customer support', like your 'Profile' indicates.

That's good for everyone you '...support'.

MegSmath
August 20th, 2002, 09:06 AM
Well, to all those who have been clamoring for the entertainment world to take notice of swimming, I have some good news/bad news. The good news is that a movie called "Swimfan" is about to be released (maybe it's already been released in some parts of the country). The bad news is that it's basically an aquatic "Fatal Attraction"! A high school swimming star is stalked by an obsessed fan, whom he had a one-night stand with!

The conventional wisdom in Hollywood is that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Hope that's true!

cinc3100
August 20th, 2002, 10:23 PM
Yeah, I saw that one running trailers at the movie theatres. But they could have done the Mark Spitz story about 25 years ago . Greg L the diver had a story. The Esther Williams story is another one that could have been done. Esther Williams was a third place finisher at the 1948 olympics in backstroke and was apart of the old Los Angeles athletic club. She made several movies were she did sychorized swimming in them and was famous in the 1950's. She has done broadcasting for the worlds and olympics for sychorized swimming. Janet Evans who happens to live in west Los Angeles and was born in nearby Orange County is another swimmer hollywood could have written a movie about.

MegSmath
August 21st, 2002, 01:12 PM
There has been a movie about Greg Louganis ("Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story," 1996). It was based on Greg's autobiography (which was a great book). The thing is, Hollywood wants human interest. No offense to Janet Evans or Mark Spitz, but they were so single-minded in their pursuit of swimming excellence that they weren't very interesting otherwise. Those of us on this discussion forum would find a documentary about Janet Evans's training regimen fascinating, but it wouldn't appeal to the general public, and Hollywood doesn't deliberately set out to lose money on a movie (although it might seem that way sometimes!). They decided to make a movie about Greg Louganis not because he was the greatest diver in history, but because he was adopted, gay, and abused by his lover, who gave him AIDS. In other words, because he's lived an interesting, though very sad, life. There have been many great sports movies (my personal favorite: "A League of their Own"), but they have all focused more on the athlete's personal life than on the sport itself. This is why Paul Smith's contact said that the best way to package a special about USMS Nationals would be to focus on a few of the elite swimmers and how they live their lives outside of the pool.

I'm not saying this is the way I personally would like to see a swim meet covered. In fact, in 1992 I took 2 weeks of vacation and bought the pay-per-view coverage of the Olympics so that I could stay home and watch every single heat of every single swimming race. There were no commercials, and no up-close-and-personal features. Just the swimming, with only a little "expert" commentary. I loved it. But everyone else I knew thought I was insane. Most people prefer the (no pun intended) watered-down coverage of sports. They like the pathos (why just watch Gail Devers run the hurdles when you can also hear about her struggle with Graves disease?), and the breathless interviews ("How did it FEEL to break the world record?"), and all the schmaltz.

And so, when Hollywood decides to make a movie about a swimmer, we get "Swimfan." C'est la vie.

cinc3100
August 21st, 2002, 03:36 PM
Esther Williams I would take any day over swim fan. As for Mark Spitz his life was in some ways as colorful as Greg Louganis ,he predicted before the Mexico Olympics that he would win 6 or 7 gold medals. But ended up not winning an individual gold. Also, Spitz's was known for his ego and before he was married he was known for his romances with the ladies. Also, while this is not important today, most swimmers were white and protestant rather than jewish. And back in those days there were more remarks aimed at jews according to Spitz's coach at Arden Hill. But doing a Spitz movie now is too late. And Janet Evans was the all american girl from the suburbs who made it big in swimming in an area that was noted for top swimmers particularly in the 1970's and 1980's. That's why she was able to get commericals as long as she did because she was not far from Hollywood.

MegSmath
August 21st, 2002, 04:33 PM
Originally posted by cinc310
Esther Williams I would take any day over swim fan.

You said it!!!!

emmett
August 21st, 2002, 05:33 PM
I just went to the swimfan site and watched the trailer. At the very least they managed to use ACTUAL SWIMMERS for the swimming scenes. One of my pet peeves about TV/Hollywood is how often they show us footage of a character who, supposedly, is an excellent swimmer, but actually is an aquatic buffoon.

I'm willing to overlook the storyline and schlock just to see real swimming on the Big Screen. Who knows, this movie may be just the tip of an iceberg of TV/Hollywwod offerings to include a dose of realistic swimming. If so, then perhaps there will be one or two with a palatable plot too.

cinc3100
August 21st, 2002, 07:58 PM
That's not hard for them to have actual swimmers. Many stuntpeople probably did swimming in high school and college, as breastroker stated in the past, their are plenty of ex-swimmers in Southern California where most movies are made. I recently saw the surfer movie Blue Crush and none of the characters had romantic obsessions. In fact they acted like regular people. Its true that old TV shows and movies had almost beginning swimmers in the movies.

Matt S
August 21st, 2002, 10:45 PM
Has anyone seen the movie "Ordinary People"? The swim meet scene was shot at my College (Lake Forest) my freshman year, in our college pool (where I buried my face in the chlorinated water for more hours than I'd care to add-up over the course of a 4-year career), and using actual Lake Forest Swim Club swimmers. I guess we college boys were too old to play the part of high school swimmers. I can assure you, though, that none of them was going flat-out for that 50 free they filmed. I was there in the crowd for the first 45 minutes of the 8 hours of filming that they used to get the 30 second clip you saw in the movie. They must have done at least 30 takes, and no one was trying to go particularly fast after the first two or so.

Of course, the lead character USED TO BE on the swim team, before he had to deal with all the ISSUES that are the focus of the movie. Ditto the short-lived TV drama "James at 15" (and at 16). It seems the fact that someone USED TO BE a swimmer is far more interesting to Hollywood, than ACTUALLY BEING a swimmer. I guess all those hours working out cut down on your chance to have interesting plot complications.

Enough of my old, boring stories...

Matt

cinc3100
August 21st, 2002, 11:47 PM
I remember that scene a little out of ordinary people. Remember the boating accident scene more. Lance Kerwin who played James at 15 and 16 knew how to swim since he was into surfing. He got into drugs and now in his early 40's is in involved with a chirstian program thru his church to help those with substance abuse problems like he had.

Dennis Tesch
August 23rd, 2002, 12:02 AM
I don't know why we worry so much about these other sports. Swimming will be around forever. With the way the so called four sports are headed with salary caps, owners, cost of tickets... they will all end up just like "Enron". It is going to take a couple of decades and it will happen.

Stop being like the Jones. Focus on what we can do for swimming, not what we don't have. Determine our path and follow it.

michaelmoore
August 24th, 2002, 12:30 AM
>

michaelmoore
August 24th, 2002, 12:33 AM
Originally posted by aquageek


I would challenge you to name one single baseball position player that is out of shape. I've seen a pitcher or two that could shed some pounds but never a position player.



Since you asked: I saw the Mets-Giants game Wednesday night at Pac Bell Park. For a player out of shape, how about Mo Vaughn of the Mets - Listed as 6' 1" 275 pounds. (I would guess he weighed more). Good home run hitter, but I dont think he has two many doubles.

michael

michaelmoore
August 24th, 2002, 12:51 AM
Originally posted by aquageek


I would challenge you to name one single baseball position player that is out of shape. I've seen a pitcher or two that could shed some pounds but never a position player.



Since you asked: I saw the Mets-Giants game Wednesday night at Pac Bell Park. For a player out of shape, how about Mo Vaughn of the Mets - Listed as 6' 1" 275 pounds. (I would guess he weighed more). Good home run hitter, but I dont think he has two many doubles.

michael

Paul Smith
August 24th, 2002, 09:03 AM
Lets see how well ESPN does this time around for the US Nationals which will be broadcast next Wednesday/Thursday around 2pm (EST). If they blow it and received a few hundred angry emails from the folks on this forum asking for better coverage you think anyone would listen?

PS: I'm looking forward to watching Natalie go under 1:00 in the 100m backstroke AFTER kicking the bottom of the pool several times!

Ion Beza
August 25th, 2002, 12:45 AM
Originally posted by cinc310

...
The Esther Williams story is another one that could have been done.
...

I just finished reading 'The Million Dollar Mermaid', an autobiography by Esther Williams.

She qualified in the 100 meter freestyle for the 1940 Olympics that were canceled, then pioneered synchronized swimming through a Hollywood movie career that included non-swimming movies too, drama movies.

At the beginning of the book, she chooses partially by instinct her path in life, like young people do.
At the end of the book, in philosophical retrospective after 60 years of life, she writes:

'To my surprise, the women who were waiting to talk to me were gold medalists from all different sports, not just swimmers. They didn't want my autograph; they wanted to thank me for what I'd said to them.
...
We can't all win Olympic gold medals. Even I never won one. But the message applies to all of us because each of us in our own way has races to run and swim. And with sufficient endurance and courage, we all can achieve some kind of victory in our lives.
...
Before the plane began to move toward takeoff, the flight attendant said, "Are you really Esther Williams?"
"Yes," I said. "I really am. Thank you for asking."'.

cinc3100
August 25th, 2002, 01:11 AM
Way to go Ion. I don't know where I heard she was a backstroker. She was a top freestyler back in 1940. I need to read that autobiography.