SATURDAY, JANUARY 28, 2012 - While scanning the internet this weekend and coming upon the American Power Boat Association's new website I began to think to myself how far behind the sport of racing is compared to other sports and business in general. Boat racing teams, especially, have put forth very little, if any, investment in web-based technologies over the past two decades as it has become available.
As I have admitted on many occassions, I am very much a novice when it comes to technology, but as a business owner I communicate with probably 50 percent of my clients now days via email and the web. Our company emails invoices, receives payments electronically, provides bids via the web and receives business regularly through our corporate website. Unfortunately, the sport of boat racing has been left far behind in the quest for technology, and until this week when the APBA uploaded it's new website at www.apba-racing.com, the sanctioning body of our sport has been unwilling to change with the times. Hopefully, it isn't too late for the sport to make a come back, but my personal opinion is that boat racing will continue to fade away over the next few decades as leagues, clubs and racers themselves lose the interest of fans and financial supporters.
Why will this happen? Because the sport hasn't looked for new ways to involve its fans, to increase its sponsorships and to broaden its appeal to new audiences. The sanctioning body has failed to lead and the leagues, clubs and 99 percent of the racers have followed right along this path of unknowingly dooming themselves and their sport to a sideline event on a local town's summer festival schedule. I have heard more than one league official and sanctioning body leader tell me that boat racing will never be NASCAR. They are right. It won't. And the reason is because NASCAR is led by innovators who know how to brand itself, brand its products and cater to what the public wants.
Coming from that NASCAR mentality, it is a lot of fun to build fan excitement around our team, our outreach mission, and our new sport of tunnel boat racing. Getting sponsorship, keeping sponsorship and growing the sport isn't rocket science. It just requires some leadership and the willingness to change.
If you don't have a working website, a way to communicate with your fans, and most importantly - an outlet and audience where your sponsors can see that they are getting something in return for their investment then the chances of growth for the sport, league, club or team is pretty much a pipe dream. I hope the ABPA's recent new website, new Propeller magazine and new effort to embrace it's fans and racers is something that the sanctioning body's leagues, clubs and racers will also attempt.
If they don't the sunset is all that remains for the sport!