Is it a sport?

Is it a sport?

Post by Wes Vo » Thu, 15 Jul 1993 07:01:54


Just as an interesting side note to the discussion (I don't think this is a
debate - is it?) regarding "Where's the sport in sport kites?"...

I mentioned to a group of friends here at work who are real sports fans (non-
kite flyers) that we were having a discussion along the lines of "What makes
something a sport."

The decision they made was that something is a sport if:
a) There are organized competitions, and
b) If it requires any physical exertion.

FWIW... Sounds like it's a sport to me, based on those standards.

But I admit; I really could care less what you call it. I fly because it's
fun, and it's a good family thing. Who cares if it's a sport or a hobby? I
feel that we all have more important things in our lives to worry about
than what the public thinks about our hobby (or sport) or how we can turn it
to our financial advantage. I would guess that most people who manufacture
kites do it because of their love of kites, and to fund their hobby!

But hey! What do I know? I'm just one of those novices who's never  been
to a competition and don't care what people call what I do. <G>

What a bunch of great people out here...

Steady Winds,

Wes

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Is it a sport?

Post by Larry Marsha » Thu, 15 Jul 1993 21:08:07


Quote:
>The decision they made was that something is a sport if:
>a) There are organized competitions, and
>b) If it requires any physical exertion.
>FWIW... Sounds like it's a sport to me, based on those standards.

While the sport vs art stuff abounds, the name game is not really the issue.
Steve has used the idea of raising kiting to the level of a sport with the
view that this will make it more popular.  As you suggest, it fits many
definitions of sport already and yet that has had no effect on its popularity
with TV sports networks (Grin).  

There is another approach that Steve has used and that is to distinguish
art from sport.  I can follow his logic here though the nay sayers could
always point to the poetry of a Michael Jordan slam dunk :-)  But, all that
water over the dam besides, the only way to set a situation where Steve
would be completely happy, and the public would be served as Marti suggests,
would be to separate the concept of competitions from public promotion of
kiting.  The rub here, of course, is that the pros would also like to be
compensated for their actions.  As Bob points out, once you've gotten a few
trophies, they lose their meaning, especially if you're paying lots of money
to participate.  Where would prize money come from if the competitions weren't
shows?  Thus, kiting, like so many other hobby/sport/recreation_activities is
left with trying to cause its competitions to be fun to watch for non-kiters.  
This will always compromise the nature of the contest.  

The only way to avoid this is to end up with a situation where the
equipment you use is perceived as having a real effect on the outcome.
If you can pull that off commercial money is available to fund good people
to win so they can be used in advertising.  This is what goes on in archery,
bass fishing, etc.  I don't think the kiting industry is sufficient for
this option and also wonder about the feasibility of the basic premise (I
won cuz I flew an ABC kite) would be.

Quote:
>But I admit; I really could care less what you call it. I fly because it's
>fun, and it's a good family thing. Who cares if it's a sport or a hobby? I
>feel that we all have more important things in our lives to worry about
>than what the public thinks about our hobby (or sport) or how we can turn it

Now you're getting to the meat of the issue.  The only reason to care about
any of this stuff is if you 1) want to compete and feel you can't under
current rules, or 2) you feel that the promotion of kiting to the masses is
important.  If you sift through most of the threads you'll see that Steve
seems concerned about number 1 whereas the others are talking about number 2.

Quote:
>But hey! What do I know? I'm just one of those novices who's never  been
>to a competition and don't care what people call what I do. <G>

Ah yes... I got involved for exactly that reason.  Steve seemed to be
suggesting that kiting centered on competition and would live and/or die
based upon the rules existent in those competitions.  I pretty much disagree
with that entire premise and have said so.  Now I'm waiting for Steve to
say "I didn't say that." (Grin).  

Quote:
>What a bunch of great people out here...

So far, that's exactly what I've found.  They've been incredibly helpful while
knowing there was little I could do in return.

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Is it a sport?

Post by Wes Vo » Fri, 16 Jul 1993 00:31:14

<*much stuff deleted from Larry to Wes in regards to funding competition*>

Quote:
>The only way to avoid this is to end up with a situation where the
>equipment you use is perceived as having a real effect on the outcome.
>If you can pull that off commercial money is available to fund good people
>to win so they can be used in advertising.  This is what goes on in archery,
>bass fishing, etc.  I don't think the kiting industry is sufficient for
>this option and also wonder about the feasibility of the basic premise (I
>won cuz I flew an ABC kite) would be.

Hm.. is it possible, for example, for a sponsor to gear (hats, jackets, etc.)
with their logo instead of that of the team? It seems to work for golf.. (Now
there's a thought - 3 days of kiting, with the winner taking home a new
Nissan! <G>)

As a novice coming into this, it would seem it is already somewhat like that.
I mean, I've never been to an event, but I would have to imagine there are
advertising banners on the flying field. There does seem to be a name
association with flyers and their kites. True, it may change from competition
to competition, but.. if someone is good, and I'm a kite manufacturer, I would
want to supply that person with my best kite, and have my name plastered all
over whatever he is doing. It is amazing to me how much free advertising is
given on baseball caps. Think about the last time you watched the sports
section of the news whenever they did an interview with any kind of player. It
is either on their jersey/shirt or hat. It gets filmed for the evening news.
It gets seen as people are milling around. It gets stared at on the field. It
just seems to me that it shouldn't be that tough to associate a kite product
to a person!
Wes

-----------------------------------------------------------
Disclaimer: These are just my opinions, and no one else's;
            no one else wants them; especially my employer!
___________________________________________________________

 
 
 

Is it a sport?

Post by Larry Marsha » Fri, 16 Jul 1993 01:48:17


Quote:
>>The only way to avoid this is to end up with a situation where the
>>equipment you use is perceived as having a real effect on the outcome.
>Hm.. is it possible, for example, for a sponsor to gear (hats, jackets, etc.)
>with their logo instead of that of the team? It seems to work for golf.. (Now

I think the only difference between us is one of scale.  It's already the
case that companies like Top-of-the-Line have sponsored teams and you can bet
they are flying TOL equipment and are walking billboards for that product.
But remember, I was suggesting this sort of sponsorship to affect sales.  The
degree to which the TOL gang winning affects sales is the determiner of how
much TOL is willing to sponsor such activities.

Let me describe more clearly the differences using something I know well; competitivearchery.  When I was shooting I was sponsored.  I was provided everything I needed, without cost.  I had the best that Precision Shooting Equipment had to offer.  I had
free arrow parts and a place to shoot.  I was supplied with travel money to big
shoots.  I suspect this is a similar level of support provided to the TOL guys.

But, as a for instance, when you compete at the Tropicana indoor meet you're competing for some part of over $100,000 in prize money.  This is something the TOL guys
don't have and is what Bob Hanson was referring to earlier.  That money also came
from sponsors who feel that staging large tournaments with first class "athletes"
is a useful tool in determining who's going to get the biggest chunk of a multi-
million dollar industry.  Why?  Cuz they can say that so-and-so won this-or-that using Jennings new whiz-bang, don't-gotta-aim-it arrow flinger.  

Now obviously the same thing could/does occur in terms of sales vs us by the pros
when it comes to kite flying.  But, the effect is much less.  Why?  First, there
is simply the grim reality that the market is so much smaller.  Secondly, so are
the companies advertising budgets and so they have a hard enough time paying for
an ad that contains a picture of their product.  They surely can't afford to
show glossys of their sponsored flyers very often if they want to survive.

Canon paid Andre Agassi a lot of money to say "Image is everything".  I'm sure
they recouped their expenditure many times.  For Marty to pay him to say "Katanas
are awesome" wouldn't be the best economic decision he ever made (Grin).

Quote:
>to competition, but.. if someone is good, and I'm a kite manufacturer, I would
>want to supply that person with my best kite, and have my name plastered all
>over whatever he is doing. It is amazing to me how much free advertising is

Agreed but this is pretty small potatoes.  Would you be willing to put up
$25,000 so that your guy could compete against the other guys if your annual
profit from the entire business was less than 10 times that?  There in lies
the rub to this form of advertising and it will remain a small, though important
phenomenon in many areas, including kiting.

One thing that nobody has mentioned in all these discussions is whether they
think it's fair to have sponsored teams competing against strict amateurs.  A
couple years ago I had an interesting conversation with a kite store owner on
this very issue.  Her view was that it was causing some of the problems that
we've been debating here.  

Interestingly, she wasn't arguing the standard line that those poor amateurs
can't compete against a well supplied team. Rather, she felt that at a major
event there would generally be a few very high caliber sponsored teams
who required a very high level of judging expertise to distinguish between
them whereas the majority of flyer's abilities were easily distinguishable
by the amateur judges in place at most contests.  At the time this seemed
very insightful on her part; it still does strike me as an important
component of this debate and for whom are the rules being written.

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Is it a sport?

Post by Wes Vo » Fri, 16 Jul 1993 07:57:13

Quote:


>Subject: Re: Is it a sport?
>Date: Wed, 14 Jul 1993 16:48:17 GMT

>>>The only way to avoid this is to end up with a situation where the
>>>equipment you use is perceived as having a real effect on the outcome.
>>Hm.. is it possible, for example, for a sponsor to gear (hats, jackets, etc.)
>>with their logo instead of that of the team? It seems to work for golf.. (Now
>I think the only difference between us is one of scale.  It's already the
>case that companies like Top-of-the-Line have sponsored teams and you can bet
>they are flying TOL equipment and are walking billboards for that product.
>But remember, I was suggesting this sort of sponsorship to affect sales.  The
>degree to which the TOL gang winning affects sales is the determiner of how
>much TOL is willing to sponsor such activities.

     <stuff deleted regarding archery and sponsorsip>

Quote:
>>to competition, but.. if someone is good, and I'm a kite manufacturer, I would
>>want to supply that person with my best kite, and have my name plastered all
>>over whatever he is doing. It is amazing to me how much free advertising is
>Agreed but this is pretty small potatoes.  Would you be willing to put up
>$25,000 so that your guy could compete against the other guys if your annual
>profit from the entire business was less than 10 times that?  There in lies
>the rub to this form of advertising and it will remain a small, though important
>phenomenon in many areas, including kiting.

I very much agree with you! I guess I had misunderstood the scope of the
conversation when we are talking about the money involved in sponsorship. I
don't think that sponsorship is cost effective at those kind of
financial levels!

However, as a relative novice, I can attest to how beneficial it can be for
a company to have a novice see their names over and over. I've been lucky to
have met many great people out here who are pros in their own right. I have a
feeling I have spent my money in a much more informed manner because of the
help of people out here.

But as a beginner, there are certain companies that are so omnipresent in the
trade magazines, reviews, notes, etc. that they feel safe to a novice. They
might not have the best kite or equipement for that novice's needs, but the
novice feels safe knowing that they won't make a really bad mistake either.
Certain companies like Peter Powell (on the back of just about every kite mag
I have bought), Revolution (I can't imagine David Britain flying anything
else, not because he can't or doesn't; just because that is all I have ever
seen him fly with in mags and videos), Top of the Line, etc. all have a
certain image of "safety" and professionalism because or their constant
exposure. The novice might later purchase other less well-known products later
as he learns more and gains confidence, but they make good low-risk first
purchases.

If I don't have the benefit of good knowledgable friends to consult with on my
first few purchases, I'm going to make them based on how comfortable I am with
the company and how solid they seem to be.

(This, IMHO, is why rec.kites is so great. It's like getting golf lessons and
equipment tips from many of the greats on the PGA tour. )

Will we ever be able to give away a car at a competition? I don't know, but I
doubt it - not enough money in it yet. Even if ESPN was interested in
covering a competition, would it make it on prime time? I wonder; I would
think not, but I can't count the times I turn it on and they are doing
something like JetSki's and I'm wondering to myself "That's a sport? That's
what peole do on vacation!" I'm sure that is the same thing people think of
with kites.

In my opinion, the best thing we could do to promote the growth of the kiting
industry is start working with the kids. Things like kite-building seminars,
festivals, etc. A chance to get a line in their hands and let them see the
more upscale kites as they get older and more serious.

Lately it seems that when I've been approached by someone while I've been
flying they mention one interest: They want to fly with their kid(s) as a
family bonding or father/son/mother/daughter  kind of thing.  We need to
promote it as a family thing you can do while you are having your july 4th
BBQ, or on a Saturday instead of going to the movies. We need to let them know
they can get started on kites that are less than $50 while they decide whether
they really want to pursue it. We need to let them see how friendly most
kiters are, and how willing they are to help and give advice. Show them there
is a support network out there if they have a question. That way they don't
buy one, get dejected and put it away and never touch it again. I think
companies that are doing clinics for beginners at these events are on to
something. Sell them on the experience, and they will sell themselves the
kite. And they will look first to the company that gave them that opportunity.

Just my opinion of course. I could be wrong; a lot of you have been out there
for years..

Wes

-----------------------------------------------------------
Disclaimer: These are just my opinions, and no one else's;
            no one else wants them; especially my employer!
___________________________________________________________

 
 
 

Is it a sport?

Post by Larry Marsha » Fri, 16 Jul 1993 20:59:51


Quote:
>If I don't have the benefit of good knowledgable friends to consult with on my
>first few purchases, I'm going to make them based on how comfortable I am with
>the company and how solid they seem to be.

This is what advertising is all about.  Fortunately for us, right now, a
kite company with money to spend on advertising will also be the ones
producing first class product.  I think we'll see that one-to-one relationship
degenerate somewhat as the market grows and people who don't fly kites
start trying to make money at it.  Then, as with so many other ads we see,
the glitz may catch the eye of a beginner but whether it is a sound product
will have to be determined by some other mechanism.

Quote:
>Will we ever be able to give away a car at a competition? I don't know, but I
>doubt it - not enough money in it yet. Even if ESPN was interested in
>covering a competition, would it make it on prime time? I wonder; I would

I really think this will be completely dependent upon how popular stunt
kite flying (or did we decide it should be called sport kite flying (grin) )
becomes with the masses.  I would have agreed with you until I started
seeing people making a living playing beach volleyball.  I think the
kite festival concept simply has to develop more and in ways that will
attract spectators and in ways that will convince them that they want
to buy a kite.  All the things you've mentioned in the rest of your msg
have to take place.  I think it is.  WHen I came home with a stunt kite
my wife didn't know what I was talking about.  Now she has fun flying.
Most of my friends didn't know what a stunt kite was.  Now several of them
own them and others are saying they will soon.  It's like a virus, you
just have to get these things near the people and they catch the fever :-)
Once that happens, you can bet that we'll see TV coverage of kite events
and it will happen whether "art" or "sport" are being judged (my opinion
of course).  Heck, I remember seeing hula-hoop and frisbee contests on
TV.

Quote:
>In my opinion, the best thing we could do to promote the growth of the kiting
>industry is start working with the kids. Things like kite-building seminars,
>festivals, etc. A chance to get a line in their hands and let them see the
>more upscale kites as they get older and more serious.

While I agree with working with kids I'm less convinced that this is where
growth of this activity will come from.  I think it's our first instinct
to believe that if we convince the kids they're neat we'll have growth.  The
same thing is said over and over again in the model airplane hobby.  Then people are surprised that there are no kids in the hobby.  Somehow the fact that it costs several hundred dollars and requires superb hand-eye coordination, to say
nothing of long attention spans to be become proficient at it (and the
fact that kids have none of these things) is lost on the advocates.

Actually I question the idea of "getting started" in kiting for $50 if
you're talking about setting up a set of Spectra lines with a decent kite
attached.  Kite rentals may permit cheap test flighting but I think it does
a dis-service to the potential kite flyer to hand them second class equipment
and expect them to enjoy things the way we do.  Inexpensive kites are getting
better, no doubt.  But I have yet to see anything where the total package costs
$50 and yet will actually perform.  Beginners need good equipment.  It's hard
to get cheap equipment to fly decently.  The thing is, spending a couple
hundred bucks on a hobby is peanuts relative to the so many things people do
to enjoy themselves.  I think what you're talking about is getting them
to a point where they see it as something they want to do and there, having
someone hand them the lines to a kite is the best way.

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Is it a sport?

Post by Larry Marsha » Tue, 20 Jul 1993 20:57:05


Quote:
>I understand what you mean about good equipment, but I kind of disagree.
>Probably because of the way I got started. I had seen them in Hawaii when I

Well, I wouldn't want to take my side of the argument too far :-)  Also,
the quality of a $50 kite has improved dramatically over the last few
years.  

Quote:
>However, most sports such as golf, etc. have the advantage in that your dad or
>someone takes you golfing the first few times and you get exposed to the sport
>with no investment on your part. Then you rent clubs. Then you buy used clubs.

Good point...this is where the helpful, kite-flying zealot can help with an
occasional "here, try mine" offer.  My poor old Spin-off is still getting
quite a work-out as I can't communicate the "don't pull harder if it's heading
for the ground" suggestion to new pilots (grin).  There are some advantages
to heavy fibreglass rods (grin).

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Is it a sport?

Post by Wes Vo » Wed, 21 Jul 1993 02:11:34

Quote:
>occasional "here, try mine" offer.  My poor old Spin-off is still getting
>quite a work-out as I can't communicate the "don't pull harder if it's heading
>for the ground" suggestion to new pilots (grin).  There are some advantages
>to heavy fibreglass rods (grin).

Funny you should mention that ...phenomenon! I was trying to teach my dad how
to fly this last weekend. He got it down, finally though.

I do believe, however, that you forgot one critical part of the process in
your description: The new pilot yelling "No. NO! NO! Oh NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Aw
%$#$#%^$#%^$#%$#!" <G>

I'll tell you one thing; I am grateful for how resilient most kites are built
now. It still amazes me that spars don't break when I think they should... I
really don't mind letting other people try my kites, because I'm not sure they
can be any harder on them than I am!

Wes

-----------------------------------------------------------
Disclaimer: These are just my opinions, and no one else's;
            no one else wants them; especially my employer!
___________________________________________________________

 
 
 

Is it a sport?

Post by Larry Marsha » Wed, 21 Jul 1993 21:35:41


Quote:
>I do believe, however, that you forgot one critical part of the process in
>your description: The new pilot yelling "No. NO! NO! Oh NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Aw
>%$#$#%^$#%^$#%$#!" <G>

You're right, I did leave that part out.  Didn't want to discourage any would-be
kite flyers (grin).

Quote:
>I'll tell you one thing; I am grateful for how resilient most kites are built
>now. It still amazes me that spars don't break when I think they should... I

Agreed..  I still remember my first excursion into stunt kites.  I bought that old
spin-off (it was new then) while on a business trip.  I was up late that night
practicing colorful language as I learned how to sleeve a line, filled with all
the anticipation appropriate for the night before first flight.  Well, the next
day I was very e***d.  There was lots of wind.  I was dreading the possibility
of a dead calm day (something that a model airplane fanatic like myself would never
do).  But what did I know... Lots of wind can be a problem if you don't know what
you're doing and the winds were gusting to 35-40km/hr.  Up the kite went, like a
rocket.  Down the kite came, like a stone.  A quick, but exhilarating flight that
was.  I "knew" it was broken as it had hit the ground with a force that would have
blown one of my airplanes to bits.  But, no, all that had happened was that one of
the ends of the cross-brace had come out of its socket.  Amazing these kite thingies.

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Is it a sport?

Post by Andrew Beatt » Wed, 21 Jul 1993 15:25:30

Quote:

>My poor old Spin-off is still getting
>quite a work-out as I can't communicate the "don't pull harder if it's heading
>for the ground" suggestion to new pilots (grin).  There are some advantages
>to heavy fibreglass rods (grin).

My 5m peel is my favorite kite for handing to a rank beginner.  It is difficult
to break and slow enough for me to tell them what to do, them to understand
what I'm saying, work out their right from their left and pull the right line
before the thing hits the ground.  For the timid/weak/young/scared, it is also
the only kite that can easily be flown by two people, one per line.

Andrew
--