How to bring back the crowds?
National sporting associations here, are faced with the reality that it is not a given to get spectators to attend their events.
Most, if not all, are at their wits end, to woe persons through the gates of the various venues when hosting competitions/tournaments/activities.
Whilst these associations grapple with the problem of reasonable attendance, area committees who organize competitions in their respective communities, are assured of near bumper crowds at their events.
However, events which are organised at the community levels, are flavoured with entertainment packages, hence, attract not necessarily sports enthusiasts, but persons who are the feters.
Therefore, national associations are in a bind, as their main objective is to get spectators whose attendance would help fuel the sporting disciplines. In short, the purists are their target group.
But the reality of this conundrum is compounded by the fact that sports in St Vincent and the Grenadines, does not have the spectator appeal anymore, so efforts to up attendance, have to be redoubled.
This is against the backdrop that persons need not have to leave their homes to attend a sporting event, as there are several other international options to choose from, whether on television, or via the many technological platforms which are available.
Added, there are other outlets of indulgence at persons’ desires to utilise their time, rather than attend a sporting function.
So whilst we bemoan the performances of some of our representative teams, the situation is not bettered, when at the local level, players do not get the crowd support to act as that fillip.
National sports associations especially, the ones who are mainly hurt by this drop off, have to be more creative in their public relations and selling of their activities.
Hence, in this planning and execution, it cannot be the pure sporting activity that must be sold, but an event worth attending.
Persons today, because of the change in appeal, are no longer interested in simply showing up at a sporting activity, but must have a pull factor. Packages, incentives and other tangible attractions have to part of the marketing strategies.
Simply making announcements of one’s fixtures, via the various sports bulletins on local radio and television stations, can no longer cut it.
All media platforms have to be engaged to get information out, not only keep persons in the know, but get them to attend and participate in the events.
Similarly, affiliate teams / clubs who participate in the various national competitions, must themselves begin to market themselves, especially through social media, which is the in-thing at this time.
Teams/ clubs which are homogenous in nature, have again “to build a vibe” among persons from their locale, and view their participation as beneficial to the spirit and betterment of the community from which these teams/ clubs emerge.
Additionally, these teams/clubs must engage others in the community and make it an inclusive operation, where that sense of ownership and belonging is fostered.
Players as well have to begin to market themselves; invite their friends to matches, and constantly be promoting their team as well.
Too, national sports associations should begin to plan in unison, so as to prevent clashes, thus giving one another the biggest share of the public’s attention.
It cannot be seen as competition, but each association working together, share best practices, all for the enhancement of sports in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
In making such suggestions through this medium, it must be borne in mind that, we will not relive the past when following national competitions and national teams was a given, thus ensuring maximum spectatorship and support.
What is pertinent, is that efforts are made to place sports as a viable social avenue, where our communities can move away from segregation, thereby assisting our young people to discover that sense of identity and self-worth.
To get to the main aim of getting the crowds back to sporting events, by employing all pathways possible though, the national sporting orgnisations too, have to be mindful of their civic responsibilities, and not deviate from the social norms.