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Defining Bridge

Having read the spate of posts recently on declining table counts, loss of revenue at  regionals, lack of player retention etc, It occurs to me that before we begin to make any changes and bring in the latest and greatest new idea. We have to define what bridge is and what our bridge organization is all about.

Is bridge a competitive game played in a social environment.

Or is it possibly a social game played in a semi competitive environment.

The ACBL is our NBO, what are its goals? To promote and sustain the game of bridge. 

The ACBL up until now has paid lip service to option one while catering to option 2. It is time the League made a decision on the Direction it wants to go.

My thought is that the emphasis here needs to be on sustain. The only way to sustain anything is by giving it the means to sustain itself. In our case new players. It really doesn't matter how cheap we make master points, if we do not have any one to buy them selling them becomes an exercise in futility.

 How do we get New Players. Chris Barrere suggests ( hopefully tongue in cheek) giving free beer to any one under 21. But on a more serious note the only way to sustain the membership is teaching new players and keeping them involved.

 There are no short cuts, it takes hard work dedication, a good team of teachers and volunteers. A unit or district who are prepared to promote and occasionally finance the efforts.

The place that this occurs is at the clubs. The units and districts need the clubs in order to provide players to the regionals and sectionals. The money made by those organizations should be going to help the clubs and the units promote teaching and recruiting efforts.

In my district that copay is 0. Nada Zilch. We give money to the league, to the Western Conference( until September) We pay for a newspaper that however good it is, never attracted a solitary new player to bridge.

My districts great promotion to bring in new players? They offered to print labels to put on old bridge bulletins to be handed out at doctors and dental surgeries. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that didnt seem to work out very well.

Last year in unit 525 we promoted learn Bridge in a day, and made sure there were follow up lessons, we paid for first year membership for anyone that paid for the second 6 week course. This year we promoted Laguna Woods LBIAD  and paid for the teachers. The retention is high, but the proof of concept is that the latest sectional was up 6% and that was mainly in the NLM and lower sections.

This is the place the league needs to be, in the trenches with the Units and districts promoting anyone who is bringing in new players.

Selling master points to those we already have? Not such a good plan, it doesn't seem to have worked up until now.

The clubs are the Life blood of the league, if one more ACBL officer gives me that hackneyed sop again I will be physically sick. Platitudes are equivalent to master points in the coffee buying stakes.

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