Open Letter To ESPN

  [caption id="attachment_5890" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Major League Gaming on ESPN but no Triathlon? Can this be true?"]mlg_espn_broadcast[/caption] Open letters are becoming common place on this blog, but this one is directed right to the Executives of ESPN who have shunned us endurance athletes. You may be asking where this is coming from and I'm about to tell you.  Yesterday I went for a 30 minute run as part of my training for Ironman Texas and when I got home I flipped on the TV.  What I saw was a bunch of bare-chested men jumping rope, doing standing squats, upside down wall push-ups and pushing a sled that was loaded down with weights.  I think they were supposed to do this 3 or 4 times but I flipped the channel when I fell off my chair and slammed my head against the remote because it put me to sleep.  So when Jeff put up his post yesterday on how to become a better triathlete and the pictures were of him tossing tires and stacking tires and rolling tires I knew he was onto something and it ignited my fire to write a letter to the Executives over at ESPN. ------------------------------------------------------- Dear John Skipper and Norby Williamson -- I am writing this letter to appeal not only to your network motto of World Wide Leader In Sports and put triathlon on television but also to your financial prowess. Triathlon is a growing sport and the demographics show what an impact we can have on your bottom line.  In case you did not know this or need a reminder here are some key stats for you to consider (Thank you Run Skip Run for the stats):
  • ACTIVE
    • Average of $24,408 spent on triathlon related purchases per year
  • AFFLUENT
    • Average HHI: $161,300
    • Median HHI: $122,600
  • CORE
    • Median Age: 40
    • 84% are between 18 and 49
  • EDUCATED
    • 97% have attended college
    • 50% have post-graduate degrees
  • INFLUENTIAL
    • 93% gave triathlon advice in the past year on triathlon-related purchases to an average of 12+ people
  • RESPONSIVE
    • 69% purchased advertised products
    • 61% likely to upgrade to new gear
Source: 2006 Triathlete magazine subscriber study prepared by MRI. Let’s follow that up with some more specific information.
  • GENDER Male ………………………………………………74%; Female……………………………………………26%
  • HOUSEHOLD Married ………………………………………….73%; Single …………………………………………….27%; Children 17 or younger …………………….53%
  • FITNESS ACTIVITIES
  • Health-club participation ………………….79% Workouts per week Fewer than 10 …………………………………74% 10-14 …………………………………………….21% 15-19 ……………………………………………..2% 20+ ………………………………………………..2%
  • LEVEL OF PARTICIPATION Event participation …………….4 to 6 per year Beginner ………………………………………….8% Fitness/Training……………………………….41% Competitive ……………………………………51%
  • RUNNING Have run a marathon ……………………………………………………58% Have run a half-marathon …………………………………………….71% Average number of miles per week ………………………………..20 Pairs of running shoes owned…………………………………………..4 Pairs of running shoes purchased …………………………..3 pair/year
  • CYCLING Average number of miles per week …………………………………75 Number of bikes owned ……………………………………………….2.6 Number of bike shoes owned ……………………………………..2 pair
  • NUTRITION Consume sports drinks …………………………………………………89% Consume energy bars …………………………………………………..88% Consume energy gels ……………………………………………………83% Use daily vitamin/mineral supplements ………………………….79%
  • AUTOMOTIVE DEMOGRAPHICS Own/lease a vehicle ……………………………………………………..98% Median number of vehicles owned ……………………………………3 Own a car …………………………………………………………………69% Own an SUV………………………………………………………………..62% Own a pick-up truck …………………………………………………….24% Own a van/mini-van …………………………………………………….15% Purchased a vehicle in the last 12 months……………………….32% Plan to buy/lease a vehicle in the next 12 months …………….26% Plan to buy/lease an SUV in the next 12 months ……………..43% Plan to buy/lease a car in the next 12 months ………………….45% Plan to buy/lease a van/mini-van in the next 12 months…….12% Plan to buy/lease a pick-up truck in the next 12 months ……..7%
  • TRAVEL Have taken a domestic trip in the last 12 months …………….96% Average number of domestic trips taken in the last 12 months ……………………………………………………….9 Average domestic length of stay ……………………………….8.5 days Have taken a foreign trip in the last 3 years……………………..68% Average number of foreign trips taken in the last 3 years……………………………………………………………..4
As a person with over 15 years of experience in marketing I know that some of your advertisers (Ford, Honda, Toyota, Gatorade, Royal Caribbean, etc) would be thrilled to know that you are attracting this type of market to your network.  Let's not forget the niche industry that is triathlon and luring them to your network to spend money on ads.  Companies like Trek, Specialized, First Endurance, Honey Stinger (Lance Armstrong -- know of him?), Garmin, Timex are just a few that would most likely spend money to get their brand name out in front of those of us who are looking to change or upgrade as well as those just getting involved in the sport. To also get a feel for how much the sport is growing look no further than inside the sport.  Record numbers of participants but bigger than that is the fact that there are race organizations joining World Triathlon Corporation in putting on events across the  country.  Revolution 3 is growing in popularity and adding races to their national schedule.  In 2012 alone there are going to be 4 new events taking place in Wisconsin, Maine, Maryland and Florida.  Couple that with a new series in 2012 called HITS.  HITS has scheduled 12 events this year across the country including a National Championship for their series.  Each of these events is an opportunity for you to broadcast the sport to the millions and millions of triathlon enthusiasts and newbies alike. This sport is unlike any other as evidenced by the fact that the saying goes:  Nobody Ever Says Let's Go PLAY Triathlon.  It is a true test of your athleticism as well as your mental fortitude.  Each and every time I read about the sport I am brought back to your parent company's Wide World Of Sports from the 1970s and 1980s where the tagline was Thrill of Victory and Agony of Defeat.  The beauty of triathlon is that both of these can take place within minutes of each other on the same race course. We train for months at high intensity and forge a plan that we know and have locked down in our brain, that is until we toe the starting line.  When the gun goes off to signal the start of something amazing we are now chasing down our own dreams and fears.  We have a plan but it is most likely going to change over the course of the race.  We will think that we can't and then think that we can.  We will have multiple conversations with ourselves to try and coax another step out of our legs.  We will promise that we will never do this again, but we all know its a lie.  This sport is addicting because you push yourself to the edge and when you are done you know you could have done more.  That is the beauty. We have celebrities in the sport like Chrissie Wellington, Craig Alexander, Chris McCormack and Mirinda Carfrae but it it is the everyday Jane and Joe that makes this sport what it is.  We find ourselves in others.  We hear their stories of battling cancer and overcoming the toughest of odds to get to the start and have the guts to finish against those same odds.  We can actually see our heroes as they don't hide behind a facemask like in football or retreat to a dugout when an out is made as in baseball.  Our heroes are swimming, cycling and running the same course with us.  We can high-five them along the way.  We can have conversations with them afterwards and understand what they mean when they discuss the grade of the last hill of the bike because we were there to. There is a camaraderie  in triathlon that cannot be found anywhere else.  We will never throw a touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson or hit a home run at Fenway Park but we can cross the finish line in Kona.  That is the difference between our sport and all other sports out there.  It doesn't matter who you are because once you cross that finish line you are an Ironman.  It doesn't matter if you did it in 9 hours or 16 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds the title is still the same. That appeal alone should have you not only considering broadcasting triathlon but running to the phone to figure out who to call to get this process started. Thank you for your time and consideration.   Jason  

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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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