How do we make skating popular again?

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by DickButtonFan, Jul 2, 2010.

  1. jenny12

    jenny12 Well-Known Member

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    From my understanding, hockey is not that popular in the US besides the Olympics. Now, the Olympics I think helped the Stanley Cup finals ratings, but the regular season of the NHL wasn't even on a big broadcast station in the US, it was on Versus. It's definitely nowhere near the popularity of the NFL or the NBA.
     
  2. DBZ

    DBZ Well-Known Member

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    I just think winter sports are not that popular in the US, period. Generally speaking, most people avidly cheer and follow sports they can relate to, and unfortunately, most winter sports are not easily accessible to the general population like other sports are. You can't simply strap on a pair of skates and go figure skating, or speed skating, or play hockey as easily as you can go to a public park with a $8 basketball and shoot some hoops.

    Participating in winter sports requires a lot more resources and money than summer sports. It's been years since I've been to a skating rink, and I have no idea what it really feels like to ski or snowboard or play hockey. But I know what it feels like to kick a soccer ball around, or play catch, or race my friends down the street. These are all accessible (and inexpensive) sports most people grew up playing, thus making that vicarious participation more salient when we watch it on TV.

    Then, on top of that, the US has a particularly rigid gender code when it comes to sports, so that marginalizes figure skating even more.

    Yep, it looks pretty bleak for skating in terms of US popularity.
     
  3. genegri

    genegri Active Member

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    ^ I agree.

    Except a handful of sports such as football, baseball, basketball, and to a lesser degree, NASCAR, tennis, golf, what else is popular in the US?

    I think figure skating will always remain a niche sport in the US. And I personally don't think it's a problem at all.
     
  4. CaptCrunch

    CaptCrunch New Member

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    Unfortunately its a real problem for the skaters in attempts to make money to pay for their training. :(
     
  5. Firefly123

    Firefly123 New Member

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    I agree with Screenie too many rules.....WAY too many rules. :rolleyes:

    Also... When people make fun of figure skating the mockery usually is centered around the artistry portion of the discipline. (The notion that it is a "dance," not a sport.) Most people understand and respect that it is a difficult sport, but when you add the....um.... "artistic element"....(music interp, costumes etc.)..... Well, that's when you get snickers and laughter. (Heck, I don't even like this part and I am a skater. :duh:) What you need is an athletic event in addition to the traditional events (which are, let's face it, basically, "dances"). The athletic event would focus only on the technical quality of the items (like Top Jump, but with spins and a footwork sequence included at each level.) Of course there would have to be judges to score the event (so it would still be subjective to a point), but there would be no "artistic" component. This would be much more like a diving or aerial skiing event. Elements would be matched to "textbook" correctness with some leeway in choosing difficulty. For example, (for Seniors): Triple Edge Jump Combo Requirement. It would be up to the skater to choose the jumps in the combo after the required Triple Edge Jump. 3loop-3loop would beat 3sal-3loop in base points, but then there would be the preformance points for how well it was exceuted, so the 3sal-3loop could win. Add on a 2 Toe at the end to make a 3 jump combo. More base points. Now, it gets interesting....:D Same for the other requirements on the list for each level. No costumes. No musical interpret. Absolutely no dancing.

    I believe an event like this would be viewed as more of a "sport" with less subjective rules. Music interp?/Presentation? What does that even mean to most non-dancers? You can see someone step out of a jump. This makes more sense to an audience, and it would be easier to understand the scores, which in turn will make this appeal more to the general public.

    And, not to be sexist, but this is true, (I actually asked teenaged boys this question), this type of sport would definitely appeal to more boys....So you'd have more skaters. :)
     
  6. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    I'd like to see the competitions on television, The (limited) US coverage option is not available on my cable system!
    That's a problem, as far as I (and many others) are concerned.
     
  7. museksk8r

    museksk8r Holding an edge and looking dangerously sexy

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    Nevermind. :p
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2010
  8. Screenie

    Screenie Active Member

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    The counter-point might be the whole '94 time period with the Nancy/Tonya debacle and the Ladies SP (or LP?) being in one of the top 10 broadcasts of all time in the US.

    That at least proves that figure skating *can* be huge. Obviously there were a lot of extraordinary circumstances there, but I don't think curling has had a top-10 broadcast.... so there's some "there" there as Dick would say.

    About how to "get there" (to popularity):
    - i think the (necessary?) youth of skaters is a problem. they're kids. people are more into watching DRAMA and I think the older you get the more drama there is (e.g. real housewives), but maybe i'm wrong. i don't know, the real world doesn't really capture my attention anymore and i feel like "real housewives" gets more attention, but maybe it's just a matter of what demographic you're going for (12-18 vs 25+).

    - I already said that I think all the rules make skating really super-boring and also make it harder for people to show off their skills (and personality),.. so yeah that's a reason too.

    How to keep it popular:
    - E.g. why didn't it stay popular after '94 - I think the problem with the short period in the limelight/youth is also that the "story line" doesn't go on for that long. Obviously MK was able to build up a large following and she was in the sport for a while.

    I do also feel like there's a culture in skating of being non-controversial. E.g. Evan seems to me to actively try to be non-controversial, or Rachel Flatt, etc. They're well-put-together and composed and that's seemingly the sport's ideal, but it's maybe less interesting for viewers.

    OK that's it for me. :)
     
  9. iarispiralllyof

    iarispiralllyof Active Member

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    it's not like you don't have a point, since you do and some good points. but your argument is pretty much the same one that those "manly men" over at espn and other "real sports" who are ignorant about figure skating have been saying over and over and over again, about what figure skating needs to do to "gain some respect" and real fanbase (ie: manly men).

    maybe we would do well with separate technical contests. but it's not so hard to see that on the contrary, figure skating's artistic element is 90 percent of why the people who do watch it even watch it to begin with :shuffle: people act as if figure skating is some stepchild in sports that doesn't get any attention, well for a long while it sure did and at times was one of the most popular spectator sports ever, yet some people act as if one of figure skating's strongest aspects (it's artistic/showman aspect) is its weak link or sth based on the wants and needs of some "manly-men" demographic.

    this is the main problem here is that figure skating needs to regain back (in the US at least) the fans that it lost rather than trying to run into a totally different direction just to try to please some potential fans. all that's going to do is alienate the core base. which btw, having some dry technical contests added alone isn't going to do it. it's just so funny the pandering that some people try to to do in order to "buff up" the image of figure skating. it's the society that needs to be changed, not frigging figure skating itself.

    and by the by, I can enjoy watching soccer and baseball where there's teams competing w/ but let's be honest, you think a dryass figure skating competition of technical elements would make for compelling tv!? please, definitely not for a general audience. there's a difference between watching sports like basketball vs watching sports like curling. an audience isn't going to sit around for 3 hours comparing the edges or height of a jump. a fall or step out isn't going to make it all suspenseful either. I'm not saying there wouldn't be an audience for it, but it's not even like diving (outside of the olympics) even gets any significant viewership, and nowhere near what figure skating did in its prime. we're talking about making figure skating more popular and mainstream here, not "masculinizing" it for probably an even smaller male demographic...
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2010
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  10. 2sk8

    2sk8 Active Member

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    I think firefly123 has some very good points - and that they are more about making the SPORT popular than about garnering attention (seen as popularity) through some kind of reality/drama show approach. That type of celebrity/popularity is fleeting anyway, and I think it's about the last thing figure skating needs in the US - it will just lead to more snickers etc.
    No doubt the artistry is important, but the athletic part - the jumps & spins etc. - are HARD. That is not understood by most other athletes until they are put head-to-head with a skater in a cross-training type activity. In a way, the problem is that the SPORT aspect is not perceived as "cool" because of the artistry even though the "stunts" or "tricks" are just as "cool" and hard as those in "cool" sports like skateboarding & snowboarding. If some of firefly123's suggestions lead to changing that perception, I think it's a good thing. I'm not saying skaters should start acting like a stereotypical skateboarder, just that what skaters are doing is just as athletically challenging (probably more) & a different approach might get them some respect for that - and some sponsors along the way!
     
  11. Mafke

    Mafke New Member

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    The first step is break the connection between olys and skating.
     
  12. Conga

    Conga New Member

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    Exactly. There's a lot of criticism for the skaters that don't stay in through the tough times, but when there is so little return for skaters other than the Olympic gold medalists and the expenses keep going up (Who said $10,000 for a Lori Nichols program?), how can it be expected? And not only that, but the reality is that popularity fuels sponsors and sponsors fuels the existence of more competitions or developmental programs, etc, etc. May I dare to speculate that, while all of us die-hard fans might be attending the events, we are not the ones actually donating large sums of money to the sport in any other way? :rolleyes:
     
  13. iarispiralllyof

    iarispiralllyof Active Member

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    just want to clarify sth, whatever comments I made earlier about sex tapes or trashy/sensationalistic/tabloidish routes to exposure for figure skating = me joking.

    yes people do underestimate the athletic capabilities of figure skaters, but this thread is about making the sport more popular. and I repeat, having a separate dry technical competition comparing elements hardly makes for compelling tv. since when did skateboarding or snowboarding get top 10 tv ratings (outside of olympics for snowboarding). I think the perceived disrespect or underestimation of figure skating is a totally different issue altogether. I realize there are a minority of people and skaters who despise the artistic, musical aspects of figure skating and it wouldn't hurt to create a separate competition based on just judging technical elements, but to claim that that's the savior of figure skating's popularity is a stretch imo

    gymnastics is actually more respected as a sport than figure skating is. maybe it's because they do have separate competitions to judge specific elements. but I'm not so sure that's increased their popularity. in figure skating skaters are just taking individual elements and (ideally) seamlessly incorporating them into a whole program which actually is even harder. the artistic mark actually has a lot to do with the technical mark as an artistic skater often makes technical feats look simple and flow easily with the rest of the elements. if anything I think the general audience just doesn't understand enough about what makes a good skater and what specific elements are looked at, rather they often just assume who does the prettiest program is the best. I've even read comments on other sports' forums from men who don't watch skating at all who think that whoever has the best costume has a much higher chance of winning the gold -------__________--------

    most people I know even if they find figure skating cheezy or lame, still respect the skaters as athletes. the ones who don't are meathead losers anyway, why r ppl so eager to pander to them?

    this is all extremely similar to an article I once read which called for getting rid of costumes and music in figure skating.
    there's a line imo between just garnering more (very deserved) respect for figure skaters as athletes, and broadening skating so that it appeals more to those who only prefer the technical aspects, vs just pandering to some kind of societal construct regarding masculinity.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2010
  14. Polymer Bob

    Polymer Bob New Member

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    Interesting point. When was the last time the U.S. Ladies' champion won Worlds? 2003? How about Olympics? 1976? Let's say Sally wins Nationals and Jane comes in 2nd. Then Jane wins Worlds. Who is our best lady?

    That's true. But we need a real star to do that.
     
  15. Screenie

    Screenie Active Member

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    I don't think we need only one lady -- e.g. in '98 with Tara and Michelle, there's no reason both can't be popular. It would be like Jill Zarin vs Bethenny Frankel :). Or maybe more appropriately, like Paul and Morgan Hamm (since we were rooting for both). Or Kippie and Kerrie Strugg. Or Venus and Serena Williams. Trying to think of non-siblings. Martina Navritilova and Billie Jean King.
     
  16. UGG

    UGG Well-Known Member

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    I live in Philadelphia PA area and hockey is wayyyyy more popular than basketball. That COULD be because the Sixers have sucked for so long but l also just think it depends on what city you live in. before the NHL strike or whatever that was, hockey was HUGE here.
     
  17. key65man

    key65man New Member

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    It goes without saying that athletic integrity should be there though I doubt we have the integrity there 100% (I guess it is a matter of definition and opinion). There is a gap between popular aesthetics (music, dance, attire/costumes, etc.) and the status quo of figure skating. Somebody should be able to figure out how to creatively apply the popular aesthetics to figure skating if the priority is to be popular.
     
  18. jenny12

    jenny12 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, it definitely depends on the state in which you live, but I meant more on a national level. I read that the finals of the NHL nationally averaged a 7 share, while the NBA averaged a 10.9. That's not so huge a difference though and I'm sure a figure skating world championship would kill for those ratings.
     
  19. Polymer Bob

    Polymer Bob New Member

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    Actually I made a mistake. It was 1992, not 1976, that the U.S. ladies' champion last won the Olympics.

    Yes, but what do Tara and Michelle have in common? They were both U.S. champion and World champion. That last happened in 2003 with Michelle.

    Kimmie was World champion first, then U.S. champion in 2007. The less than stellar performances at 2007 Nationals has led to speculation that the USFSA wanted Kimmie to defend her World title as U.S. champion, and shaved a few points here and there. ( Of course, this is just speculation. )

    If true, I don't know why the USFSA thinks ISU judges care about a National championship. Evan was not National champ when he won Worlds, nor when he won the Olympics. Neither Tara nor Sarah were National champ when they won their Olympic titles.

    Back on topic; I think the next time a U.S. lady wins Nationals, then Worlds or Olympics, this will be an excellent start to making the sport more popular again. As to why casual U.S. fans are primarily interested in the ladies; let's save that discussion for another thread. :)
     
  20. MOIJTO

    MOIJTO Banned Member

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    This topic again, well...money for one and another big scandal might do the trick.
     
  21. maggylyn

    maggylyn Well-Known Member

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    I think that TV inaccessibility is a huge problem. I know that this means there must be the perceived public interest in order to get the sponsors on board, but it just becomes like a vicious circle. No TV sponsorship/no interest.

    Just take SOI in the US, for example. At the height of the skating popularity, All of the SOI program was shown on TV, and at a popular viewing time. Sometimes it would even be repeated several times on cable. Now they show, what, about 45 minutes, and most of it is in documentary form of past programs? And stuck in a weird time slot, with absolutely No hype.

    Granted, SOI is about professional skating, not the ISU competitions. But really, the general public doesn't know the difference. They just need to have skating be more in-your-face, if you will, and this will generate more interest.
     
  22. Firefly123

    Firefly123 New Member

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    Yes, often figure skating is preceived as "unfair" and I think that is the big issue that alienates the most casual spectators, (myself included). I was recently rewatched the Ladies Skating from the 2006 Olympic Games and, (in the short program), Dick Button just hammered one skater even going so far as to comment that it would be "...more helpful if she went to the rink and not only trained, but thought about it a little bit, too." (Then added that he hoped he wasn't being "unkind.") :rolleyes: Mind you this skater landed 3lutz-2toe (which Dick commented that she telegraphed.) She also landed 3flip. (Which Peggy admitted was NOT 2 footed when she saw the slow-mo clip after the preformance.) This skater did not fall. She did not trip. I guess her greatest "flaw" was skating competitively for 12 years and having the gall to attend 4 Olympics. Point in fact: She was old. (And in their opinion, she had not "improved.") http://<object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/c9Jyl6dXaiM&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/c9Jyl6dXaiM&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>

    ... Now, on to Sasha in the long program.... http://<object width="640" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Kh3iW4I39DI&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Kh3iW4I39DI&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="640" height="385"></embed></object>

    Fell out of both opening jumps (flip and lutz), but (to her credit) did not give up on the program, (respect her for it), and did a highly artistic verson of Romeo and Juliet. Dick Button chirpped that he would gladly "take the 2 mistakes" in return for the beautiful artistry..... Right there. THIS is what we don't "understand" (or I would argue some of us understand, but don't agree with.) This is why the audience gets turned off. In a sporting event, there really should not be much (if any) "artistic component." That is more appropriate to a dancing event than to a sporting event. Yes, sure, deep edges and all that..... But why is this aspect of the sport given more credit than being able to actually stand up on your feet? Because 90+ years ago people started out doing circles on a patch of ice? Well, those people could do nice circles, but they certainly couldn't stand up after completing 3 rotations in the air. I mean, we do triples and quads now. Things change. You want a sport with circles on ice. Add it. Put patch back in. Lots and lots of pretty edges and no spectators (except other patch skaters. Fact is no one else will watch it because it is boring.) That is the "problem" with figure skating. It makes no sense to the audience. In fact, sometimes it makes the audience angry :angryfire because it can be preceived as unfair, (and in my opinion, this is a just perception.) The audience becomes disgusted and turns off the sport. :(

    A technical event would make a lot more sense to a lot of spectators..... And seem less "unfair" ..... At least to those of us who don't know what we are looking at. ;) (Which, I would argue, is the majority of your spectators.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
  23. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

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    Is that why figure skating garners the highest ratings of any Winter Olympic sport in the U.S.?

    Yes, figure skating needs to do something in order to have sustainable popularity in the years between the Olympics, but the problem with figure skating is that it's not what you call an inclusive sport. It's incredibly expensive to keep up with, and not every area of the U.S. has an ice rink available. I think those factors actually hinder skating's popularity much more so than any perceived notion that it's unfair or biased or doesn't take the athletic aspects seriously enough.

    When I watched this past Olympics with a bunch of casual Olympics viewers, their no. 1 complaint was that the skaters didn't seem to interpret the music anymore and they were just doing a bunch of moves. They wanted to go back to the 6.0 system, not because they thought the system was better, but because they simply enjoyed watching the routines under 6.0 more and they liked being able to follow how the scoring system works. I'm not saying we need to revert back to 6.0, but somebody somewhere has to better explain the scoring system and the networks and even the ISU needs to make the scoring a lot more transparent so people know exactly how a skater scored that way.

    Honestly, Firefly123, if people took your suggestions and only had competitions with jumps and spins and nothing else, then you'd really see figure skating lose any sort of fan base. BTW, they dropped figures already so I don't know what you're complaining about. Of course they still expect skaters to have some sort of MITF and moves in-between the elements, which isn't very convenient for your adult skating career.
     
  24. falling_dance

    falling_dance Bravo, Patrick.

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    I always assumed that the point of being somewhat lenient where falls were concerned was to keep from discouraging skaters from trying more difficult jumps.
     
  25. merrywidow

    merrywidow Well-Known Member

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    If fans would buy tickets to skating events in their areas & fill the arenas once again it might begin to generate interest in the sport. Money always talks!
     
  26. Firefly123

    Firefly123 New Member

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    1. This isn't about me (so I would thank you not to go there).

    2. My point is that the artistic elements of this so called "sport" make it more of an "art" (like dance) and that is what (understandably) turns a lot of spectators off of it. (Especially when it is included in the Olympics. In fact, after the recent Olympics there were many threads on skating AND non-skating boards questioning whether or not it should even BE considered a sport.)

    3. This "artistic element" (or MITF or whatever you want to term it) confuses many spectators who preceive the scoring system as unfair because of it.

    4. And, honestly, for those of you would think so highly of the artistic side, I'm not sure why you even want to be considered athletes. Seriously, isn't it an insult to you? Most ballerinas would be highly insulted if you called them "great athletes." They consider themselves "artists" not athletes even though we all understand what they do takes an incredible amount of atheletic ability. Not sure why skaters even want to be considered both when dancers seem insulted by the comparison. :confused:
     
  27. Firefly123

    Firefly123 New Member

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    That is my point. This is what confuses the spectators. They see a skater fall and then see them get higher points than someone who stands up. This makes no sense to most spectators and they preceive it to be unfair. Then they get angry. Then they tune out. :(
     
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  28. JJH

    JJH Well-Known Member

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    What makes you think that dancers don't consider themselves to be athletes?
     
  29. mmscfdcsu

    mmscfdcsu Skating Pairs with Drew

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    Perhaps. IMO skating has been having a major identity crisis for a decade or so. In the '60's in the USA, skating was very much portrayed as a sport that was of interest to educated, White adults. There was an intense core audience, many of whom also appreciated Ballet, opera, Classical Music, etc. We had Harvard educated Dick Button dispensing commentary while wearing a tux, on the top at least. :lol: There was an understanding that while it was a sport, it was a very complex sport. Scoring wasn't always good, and many times was very corrupt. Still, it was understood that there were so many things that go into great skating that are hard to measure objectively. Usually, somehow, despite the scoring system, the right people came out on top of the podium.
    After the Nancy/Tonya years, the USA seemed to lose any sense of direction. It just seemed to want to keep the numbers up and the money rolling in. It has lost any sense of identity. I think that it is fine to become less elite, but not when that means giving up most of what the sport was all about. It was really pathetic a few years ago when we copied the format of a very low class show like American Idol. Could anything have been more cheesey that that panel pretending to be like the Idol udges?:scream: :wall: :yikes: I had to stop going to Stars on Ice a few years ago after two years of having to leave the show in literal physical pain because the music was so bad. The comments I heard from others leaving the shows echoed my experience. The touring shows have alienated their core audience but have not yet found a new core audience.
     
  30. Firefly123

    Firefly123 New Member

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    Have known several ballerinas over the years. :lol: Granted, this may only apply to the dancers I know/knew.... But, as far as I can tell, most are not interested in being considered athletes or getting ballet included in the Olympics as a sport. Most consider themselves artists. Like I said, this is based primarily upon my own experience.