On the day that Oracle BMW got knocked out of the America's Cup I watched the BBC news sport roundup. And what did I see? rugby, football, tennis, golf, and motorbikes, but no boats.
As Yachting World has also noticed, the America's Cup just isn't getting any coverage or indeed significant following. It's a shame as its one of sailing's top trophies, so what can the organisers do about it? Well apart from including a ball somewhere in the activity (don't laugh, thats clearly the common denominator in most of TV sports) how about this:
1. Make sure it's shown live. It makes a huge difference to watch recorded sailing, when you know the result, to seeing it live - and compare the figures for a football World Cup game to the replays. Make sure who ever gets the rights puts them out live (i.e. not like Sky here in the UK)
2. That means schedule the races at times convenient for broadcasters. Yes it's a bore but thats the reality of modern life
3. It also means have regular races. In the UK Formula 1 is regularly on one network on weekend afternoons, and that can build habits (and anyhow the first time half the audience will just be going "What the?")
4. Make the course shorter. The best bit is seeing the boats going round the mark raising and dropping sails and generally fighting for position. The long beat to windward in particular slooowwwsss things down. And Formula 1 has shown TV audiences are very happy watching vehicles going round and round and round and round and.....
5. Have more multi-boat races - much more exciting to see a fleet battle it out than just two.
6. Bring in cheerleaders. Just an idea.
I'd say also get more teams involved - so more countries have a local team to support - but I'm sure the organisers have been trying hard to get that already.
Of course there are also things the teams can do too:
7. Bring in the WAGS. Thats the wives and girlfriends, and it kept the UK tabloids busy all summer with their stories of shopping, clothes, drink, and general bad behaviour. At least one of the sailing WAGS should have a single out, another do a kiss and tell, and another be the subject of a reality tv show.
8. Behave badly. For heavens sake what has happened to the reputation of the sailor? In the Volvo there were all these really nice chaps spending time with their wives and being really good dads to their kids. What happened to girl in every port? Look at the England cricket team: complete failures again but Andrew Flintoff did the right thing in going out late drinking, been seen with series of girls in nightclubs, and then falling off a pedalo! Now thats the way to get a bit of attention for your sport.
9. Scandals. How about having one of the teams throw a couple of races due to a payoff from some far-Eastern betting syndicate?
10. Sinking. Why are all the boats still afloat? Surely what the America's Cup needs is a sinking or two or at least break a mast!
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