Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Showdown in Hotlanta

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 2005 NPC Nationals here in ATL. It was an exciting time as I got to meet (and get pics with) Jay Cutler, Ronnie Coleman, Bob Cicherillo, and the yoda of bodybuilding, Mr. Charles Glass. Hopefully I will have a link to the pics sometime later this week. It was an awesome experience to meet some of my idols.

But the ticket prices were crazy, as are all bodybuilding tickets. (I actually had a free ticket) The cheapest ticket for the finals was $50 and ranged up to $100. Friday's night prejudging was $25 for each the men's and women's or $45 for both. I can understand charging high prices for the sport's biggest shows (ie, Mr. O, Arnold Classic, Show of Strength). However, by pricing tickets so high for national amateur shows, many fans are kept from attending and the sport continues its marginalization.

Beyond that, bodybuilding has done a poor job of bringing in new fans. There is little or no effort to expose bodybuilding to a larger audience. How often do you see bodybuilding competitions on ESPN? How many people even know who the reigning Mr. Olympia is?

Bodybuilding, as a sport, promotes a healthy lifestyle, discipline, nutrition, etc. And our society has started (on some levels) to embrace a more healthy outlook. Bodybuilding should be exploiting America's growing gym culture. Now, there are those who would say that the gargantuan size of elite bodybuilders like Coleman, Cutler et al turn off the viewing public. And there is some merit to that argument. But the new judging guidelines will hopefully bring about a more aesthetic look in the coming years. In addition, bodybuilding does so little to market itself as entertainment. There are dozens of interesting, provocative and endearing bodybuilders out there who the American viewing public could easily identify with and root for.

The past few years have seen an explosion of other once marginal or regional sports (NASCAR, arena football, ultimate fighting). All of them have succeeded because they knew how to market their stars and their stories. Bodybuilding could rise up too if only there was some plan to make attending shows affordable, televising events on cable (not pay per view) and showing off their stars.


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