Ramblings of a spoRtsman
attract fans, hopefully generate income and,
yes, become a business. Creators conceive a
competition in the belief they are creating
something interesting, entertaining and,
ultimately, resonant with a fan base. Some do
strike a particular chord and quickly become
popular; others miss the mark completely and
never really make it out of the starting blocks.
But... If you’re involved in the running
of a sports competition that’s falling out
of fashion and regard it as a business, it’s
your duty, your number one priority to
maintain or increase the fan base. After all,
there’s a Route One relationship between
eyeballs and income. No fans, no business.
So what do you do?
Do you change the competition to
make it more attractive to fans? If so, how
far do you go? Do you manipulate the
competition, in order to create a more
compelling and interesting story? Do you
change the way it’s presented? Do you
change the way it’s promoted, marketed
and broadcast? So many questions.
Answer the wrong one...or answer the
right one wrongly and your business is dead.
I will let you in on a little secret. Well,
not really a secret, but anyway... I am
a purist! There, I’ve said it.
I do not believe one should mess with
the rules of engagement of a sporting
competition, or manipulate the results in any
way for the sake of (allegedly) improving the
show and attracting more fans. Doing so
breaks a sacred bond of trust and credibility,
which I believe is a key foundation of sport
for competitors and fans alike. You may, by
way of manipulation, create an entertaining
show, attract more fans and keep your
business alive, but I believe it has no
further value as a “sport” and therefore
doesn’t interest me any more.
Never mind just motorsports. You
touch the Olympics and everything it
stands for, for example, and I would be
forever sorry. (Hopefully you would, too.)
As always, sweeping statements can
sound very powerful, but in motorsports
the devil’s in the details. It’s complicated.
Nevertheless, I guess what I’m trying to
say is: May the best man (and machine in
our case) win. I always want to see the best
man win, even if it’s by a country mile. And
even if it’s the same man all the time...
Sometimes it may not be a great show, in
an entertainment sense, but at least I know
that guy is the best and no one messed
with the rules of engagement for his
benefit. He should be admired for his feats.
Utopia, I know. And yet, for those of us
who are deeply involved in the inner
workings of motorsports in various ways,
we’d do well to remember: Improve it in
every way you can think of; modernize it,
by all means; make it a better business.
But never, ever break that bond.
the Purity of comPetition
The purity of sport.
Athlete vs. athlete,
and may the best
one win. It’s the
essence of true
has been – and it
should never, ever
be diluted by the
of business, says
Gil de Ferran.