I can think of three exceptions. Two of them relate directly to what fans are interested in and one is exactly what fans were not interested in:
*There are far fewer professional performing opportunities -- competitions, television specials, and tours -- for star skaters than there were in the peak boom years, and somewhat fewer than in the late 80s/early 90s. But the ISU is not charged with maintaining the health of elite skating for entertainment outside its competition mandate. One reason for the decline in post-ISU-eligible careers is the fact that there are more opportunities for eligible skaters to earn money while still competing now than there were 20 years ago, for better or for worse.
*There was less television coverage on US broadcast TV, and although there were more hours of cable TV coverage it was on a cable network that most American cable subscribers did not have access to. That has more to do with bad planning by Universal Sports than by the skating federations.
*School figures as a discipline was still alive but declining fast within the US as of 1993. Now for all practical purposes it's completely dead -- with a very very few isolated signs of life.
Oh, I thought of one more area, relevant to participants not fans: Social ice dance sessions, dance weekends, etc., are probably less common now than 20 years ago.
Do you have better ideas than those that are already in place in the US? Do you know what's already in place in the US, and how things have changed in the last 20 years?Re all the kids at local learn-to-skate programs, the sport still needs to be restructured and TPTB still need to understand how to grow the sport at the local level and how to make improvements that can ultimately benefit skaters in a more widespread and significant way, so that they might actually have opportunities to develop and make it past novice and juniors,
Skating has always been a money pit. Ice time is expensive (especially with school figures in the mix), and so are lessons -- not to mention expenses of traveling to competitions, which puts money into the pockets of the travel and hospitality industries, not the skating establishment. Very very few skaters in any era ever earned back what they/their parents had invested in their participation. There's a reason why so many skaters turned pro or quit as soon as they had a bankable success or it became clear they never would. At least now skaters are able to fund their training by teaching and performing -- and prize money helps the successful international skaters as well -- options that were forbidden to amateur skaters before the 1990s.and see the possibility for successful rewards rather than injuries, money pits, and pipe dreams.
Making a living as a skater, or ever getting to compete internationally, are much more attainable dreams for a larger number of young skaters now than in the past. But that's still only a tiny percentage of all skaters. This is and always has been an expensive hobby. But it's much more welcoming to a wider variety of would-be participants now than 20 years ago, let alone 40.
I would guess that injury rates are indeed significantly higher among competitive skaters, although I haven't seen a controlled study on the subject.
Why do you think that? What kind of opportunities do you think young skaters had 20 years ago that they don't have now? Or vice versa. Do you have any sense of what is and isn't available to serious and recreational skaters at all the levels between learn-to-skate and novice?The young skaters are the lifeblood of the sport and right now I think they're being ill-treated and taken for granted.
This is nothing new. If anything there is more communication now between federations and fans -- though there's still plenty of room for improvement.Indeed, diehard fans don't seem to matter much either.
And how are you defining "the body of the sport"?Still the body of the sport is in dire straits, if not death throes.