The biggest cluster of circles is perhaps the United States. The sport is played by about 5,000,000 people and only about 15,000 of them are regular competitors in tournaments. By looking at the numbers mentioned above, it is already noticeable that most of the players for some unknown reason, do not play tournaments or compete at all. For sure lack of tournaments and accessibility to them is not an issue. There are several tournaments all over the country year around. It is definitely not good for the sport that the leading country for the game does not have the majority or not even a quarter of their players competing. In order for the sport to grow again the first thing that needs to be fixed are those ratios. More people need to play tournaments in all divisions. Tournaments and events like the US open, for example, are crucial for the exposure of the sport. The tournaments bring sponsors, TV time, photos, videos and newspaper articles that bring info about this tremendous sport worldwide.
The unknown reasons are difficult to point it out since people have different preferences and priorities when it comes to sports and hobbies. However one simple theory might be the answer why most of the people do not participate. Most of the people do not know that racquetball associations even exist. The only people that know are the people already inside. Therefore it is important for us to do whatever it takes to break these circles and let the info leak out to all players nationwide. It is also important for us to work hard and let the benefits, entertainment information and success stories, also spread out to non racquetball players. If an average person finds out about racquetball and have someone to show them the basics or have someone to help them get started, they will play the sport with frequency.
It is up to the players to spread the word and help the people around them. 15,000 out of 5,000,000 is not a good number however 15,000 people nationwide wearing racquetball shirts, taking pictures of events, putting videos on you tube, discussing tournaments with family and co-workers, blogging, helping random people at the gym with the basics, is a very good number. Now imagine the same effect worldwide. In Paris, for example, there is a gentleman that works really hard to promote the sport in his part of the world. He was able to convince the club to build 4 courts and he already has about 50 people playing regularly at the club. He already runs a very successful tournament once a year that brings players from all over the world. He even run tournaments just for beginners so people don’t feel left out or discouraged to continue playing. That is the real racquetball spirit and good example of a complete open circle. Of course there are a lot of people around the world, and mostly in the USA, that do as much as the gentleman in France, however we need more people like them.
We need more people to help promote our sport not only here but worldwide. Racquetball will sell itself if more info is available around the world. If nobody does anything and the circles continue to be closed our sport will die slowly in the near future.