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What should the ISU do to resurrect Figure Skating in the US and Europe?

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by Maofan7, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. Made4Dancin

    Made4Dancin New Member

    During the Olympic coverage in the US, they did their best to downplay Johnny. It seemed like they wanted to unpromote him, which was a huge mistake. I understand that they didn't want him. He's not their type. But for figure skating's sake they should have embraced him. There was a wall on NBC's official website that had photos of all the athletes and the more people were talking about the person on twitter, facebook, whatever, the bigger their photo was. So if everyone was talking about Lindsay Vohn or Shaun White or whoever their picture would get bigger and therefore the most popular person would be biggest. During the men's competition they promoted promoted promoted Evan and Canadian Patrick Chan, made Evgeni Plushenko the evil commie, and basically relegated Johnny to "whatshisface' status. However during the skating, and before and after, Johnny's picture on this wall was the biggest, by far. When he was skating, when Evan was skating, when someone else was skating, when the competition was over, the next day, Johnny's picture was huge by comparison.

    If NBC or anyone else wanted to make money they would have used this free market research to promote Johnny Weir and everyone in US figure skating would have benefited. But what was the story in the following days/weeks? The biggest (only) tour in the US doesn't want Johnny Weir because of who he is. That was in all the press and on mainstream entertainment shows where plenty of people who don't watch figure skating got to see what appeared to be a discrimination issue in figure skating. Americans love discrimination right? :rolleyes:

    Anyhoo, the fact is everyone in the US seemed to be watching the Vancouver Olympics, so not capitalizing one way or another was a monstrous missed opportunity. The night after the Men's SP I was watching Letterman. The SP came up in the conversation he was having with Ewan McGregor. Dave was complaining that they were all dressed like Edward Scissorhands and Ewan commented that there was an American who wore a waistcoat (vest) but it didn't seem to help him (Abbott). Okay, they were making fun of their outfits, but the point is they both were watching it and it came up in their conversation when neither of them had the agenda to promote figure skating or NBC, which is not Letterman's network. For US figure skating to waste their two week window of opportunity that only happens every 4 years by being catty about Johnny and propping poor Evan up on that couch for the entire day after he won when he needed a nap, just to continuously explain the "quad controversy" was silly. People know where they stand on quads even if they only watch every 4 years. What happened was that Evan seemed baked and Johnny came across as the tortured artist who was victimized by his sport. Who wants to support a sport that treats it's own like crap?

    That's the thing. People want to like their athletes. They want to care about them. So it follows that they need to have star quality and/or be likable. People really loved Brian Boitano and Michelle Kwan. Figure Skating soared while they were around. But they weren't the only champions then or since. Everyone with a World Championship or Olympic gold medal does not have the kind of success those two had. So I personally don't think it's about medals tbh. When they played All That Skate LA on TV, my mom, who still watches figure skating now and knows all the current skaters, was sooooooo happy to see Michelle Kwan skate. It was like her favorite kid came home from college. She never even recognizes Tara Lipinski when she pops up. Forget about Sara Hughes. (I almost forgot who she was.) Kristi Yamaguchi who easily could have been forgotten by now, won the popularity contest known as "Dancing with the Stars". Evan didn't although he competed on the show directly after his Olympic win. Figure skating needs to be a sport for the people who run it, but it's a performance for most of the people who enjoy it now, or have enjoyed it in the past. So, imo, you need stars, not medals. And if your star happens to be a non-American, so what? I don't remember anyone changing the channel when Philippe Candeloro was on because he was French.
  2. berthesghost

    berthesghost Well-Known Member

    I really wish people would get over the whole "How can we homophobic teens to love figure skating?" nonsense. You never see ballet fans suggesting the dancers be more X-games like, or classical music fans suggest hot dogs be served during concerts, etc... We love skating because we get it. Obsessing over how to get haterz to conform is just retarded IMHO. There, now I've said it, and I do feel better. :lol:
  3. Firefly123

    Firefly123 New Member

    Well, if you don't care what anyone else thinks except people already in the figure skating community (who "get it"), then I think that pretty much explains the problem right there. If you want to attract new members maybe you need to ask people outside the figure skating community and listen to them, not dismiss them and lecture them on why their opinion is wrong (or "homophobic"), just because you don't agree with it.....

    Fact is, many people don't like art in their sport. Some people just don't like acting or "dancing" in the sense of portraying emotion through movement to an audience. Personally, I am not good at it. It makes me feel "weird" and extremely uncomfortable, (and I am not a homophobic teen).... So under the current system, someone like me, (or "homophobic teens") who enjoy the technical aspect of skating but are uncomfortable with the artistic are left out because a certain element of fans/skaters (like yourself) love that aspect of the sport so much that you refuse to even consider the possibility of separating it in order to form a new discipline that might appeal to a different set of skaters.....

    My point was not to resurrect a dead horse. My point is that I actually asked some non "figure" skaters who happened to be good at skating why they don't pursue figure skating. (Most were adolescent males who could probably do very well in the athletic department). And this is what they told me.... Now, if you want to argue/discuss etc this issue, maybe you should ask an outside audience why figure skating turns them off (if, indeed it does. Some of you have suggested that the general public watches it to make fun of it because they actually like it.:eek: Kind of like listening to Abba.:lol:)

    So the point of this is why don't you ask someone outside of the figure skating community what turns them off about figure skating and work from there. The teen boys I asked at the skatepark mentioned the artistic side of the sport. Maybe a different demographic might say something else...
  4. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    I think there's also a difference between "resurrecting" or growing figure skating as a participatory sport vs. as a spectator sport.

    Some people are coming at this question as fans who really don't care what the skaters do with their blades as long as there are exciting tricks and/or entertaining performances to watch, with music they enjoy listening to.

    Others don't care so much about who's watching, but rather who wants to do it.

    Of course there will always be overlap. People who skate are more likely to be interested in watching elite skating than the average nonskater. Viewers who enjoy watching skating are more likely to try it themselves, or suggest it to their kids, than people who are unaware of, indifferent to, or hostile to the sport as currently presented in the media.

    But there are also a lot of areas where the two are almost mutually exclusive.

    For example, in my area right now there's lots of participation at lower levels, along with our fair share of successful competitors. My club is looking at record membership for this year and next. But a large part of the growth is due to participation in synchronized skating at lower levels.

    That's good for clubs, good for USFigureSkating, good for the skaters, good for coaches, good for the local rinks . . . but it really doesn't do anything for fans who watch skating on TV. It's not going to bring in more TV coverage or advertising dollars. It's not even going to bring in any more boys.
  5. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member

    Where's the proof in that?
  6. berthesghost

    berthesghost Well-Known Member

    I'm only speaking from my own experience. I don't actually know any "non skating fans". Skating used to be extremely popular from the 60s thru to the late 90s. Pretty much everyone watched it at least casually. I know tons of people who used to be fans but have dropped the sport like a hot potato because of all the idiotic changes in recent years.
  7. BetsyLou

    BetsyLou New Member

    Figure skating is so closely linked to the Olympics, and Olympic sports are simply not popular here in the US in off-Olympic years.

    I recall back in the early to mid 1990s how my local affiliates would always pre-empt the World Figure Skating Championships for high school basketball. I mentioned that one time at work about my frustration, and I got laughed at for even watching figure skating. I've never admitted to watching figure skating since. It is hard to be a fan of a sport if you are going to be mocked.

    I have a whole rubbermaid container of figure skating videos in my basement that I taped 15 to 20 years ago. I've often wondered if it wasn't time to let that all go. I even have to admit that my interest isn't what it once was, and I was quite an avid fan years ago.
  8. berthesghost

    berthesghost Well-Known Member

    Yes, this is me exactly! :lol:
    I'm actually pretty closeted about my fandom, but am constantly shocked at how much the average person knows. Skaters names seem to come up in everyday conversation and I'm always taken aback that so many people know who they are and use their names in everyday conversation.

    Almost everyone I know watched all those pro events that were always on in the 90s. $peedy killing pro skating is just one of the many reasons why people IMO need look no further than him to answer the question of why skating is in such a shocking free fall decline. I also know that this will be hotly denied and ridiculed here, but in my personal experience, tons of average people who used to watch skating casually and now don't, all without exception complain about COP and say it ruined the sport and made in unwatchable. But yeah, I'm just an idiot. What the sport needs is not to win back the huge audience it lost, but to alienate it's core group by reaching out to a demographic that never liked it or anything even remotely resembling it. :rolleyes:
  9. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    One thing I wonder about is who does the marketing for skating.

    I see a lot of arenas 1/2 filled or 1/3 filled on tv. When I commented on it on one thread someone in Japan replied that although there were many empty seats on tv, they had been unable to obtain tickets to NHK after several attempts. I had the same experience when I went to Worlds Exhibition in Washington DC. I tried to buy tickets as soon as they were available, but could only get nosebleed seats, yet the arena was pretty empty when I went.

    I also so a letter in IFS from someone with extensive PR experience and contacts in the host city who tried to volunteer for one of the U.S. Nationals, but was turned down when she revealed that she was not a USFSA club member.

    Maybe the "old boy" network is just too thick.
  10. Frau Muller

    Frau Muller #1 Dick Button Fan

    I'm not so sure that I agree with the basic concept of taking figure skating further into pop culture - the 'marketing' that is called-for by the original poster. Why? Skating is fine now. It is no worse -- just as delightful -- as it was in the 60s and 70s, when I discovered it via ABC Wide World of Sports (brief telecasts in those days - 1 or 2 hours, maybe twice a year).

    Skating is a classy sport and should stay thus. 'Class' doesn't have to be marketed a-la pop culture, IMO.

    If what some people want is to return to the big-payout days of the mid-1990s, post-Tonya/Nancy, it just ain't gonna happen. BUT there will always be a fanbase of folks like most of us on the FSU board who learned to love the sport through the limited viewings in 1960s/70s/80s TV.

    I was in grade school and middle (then "jr high") school in the 1960s/early 70s. I was hooked 2-3 years before Peggy Fleming skated in Grenoble, so we can't even give credit to the phenomenon of Peggy's win. No need for fancy-schmancy "marketing" to hook fans. Just the art of skating on TV, with beautiful classical music - plain & simple. For me it was the joy of seeing something beautiful and 'feminine' on TV, similar to ballet, which I also came to adore in those years.

    p.s. ABSOLUTELY NO to vocals, which would open the door to rap and the antithesis of what, to me, is the most attractive quality in skating. It's bad enough to have the 'wailing woman' vocalizing in Artur Gashinski's SP...or the screecher in Kawaguchi/Smirnov's old 'Dying Swan' SP!
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2011
  11. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

    I'd say that's part of it. But even on a tiny regional level I see it all the time. I skate at several rinks in my area. A LOT of local ice shows that have really decent local star power all the way up to SOI happen here. And I RARELY see a poster for any of them in the rinks I frequent. It doesn't seem that hard to me to get a poster in each of the rinks to help ticket sales. And that's not a USFS thing.
  12. geod2

    geod2 New Member

    Not that they can't do even better, but compare the current camera angles, cuts, close-ups, etc. to the old ones back when FS was "popular"....coverage and images now are better than ever, we see less of the "flat expanse of white" than the old days.... yet FS popularity has still declined.

    IMO, one big problem is that FS is competing with the most incredible (and unrealistic!!!) computer-generated actions scenes from movies/TV that have now become the norm and minimum expectation for what younger viewers/potential fans need to feel entertained or even willing to watch.....
    This is a cultural shift that no FS organization or marketing program can fully address other than gkelly's idea for X-Treme skating events.

  13. geod2

    geod2 New Member


    You've made me curious, what were the suggestions???
    There has to be a record of them somewhere.
    If, as you say, USFSA chose not to follow any of the suggestions, perhaps you remember what they were???

  14. Rock2

    Rock2 Well-Known Member

    It has all kind of been said but to summarize for me.

    1. Appeal to a broader audience. Pull in younger people and men. Whole discussion on how to do this but Skate Canada started to talk about it in the last year.

    2. Incubate stars. Without star power of the skaters you will never draw big crowds. National Hockey League is dealing with this. The are 'forcing' players to make more appearances and market themselves and personalities to pull people in. In Asia, skaters are doing commercials and they are all over billboards, etc. Have to make the NA and European skaters more marketable.

    3. De-mystify the scoring system. Right now you see skaters skate and then a total score comes up and the audience just doesn't get it. They can't relate and reconcile what they saw to the score and placements. Plus there is no drama in the score read out. You used to have: 5.4...5.7...5.6....5.8....
    Now you just have "143.89" :blah:

    I'd break tech scores into 3 parts: jumps, spins, footwork
    Show a score and ranking for all 3 and read each out separately.
    I'd condense PCS into 3 as well:
    *skating skills
    *choreography and transitions
    *performance and interpretation
    Read each 3 out and show a rank.
    Roll up into a total score with a rank.

    Then at least the person watching can say "oh yeah his jumps were great and he was 2nd in jumps, but he was 8th in spins and 12th in skating skills...etc...so that's why he did great jumps but he was 7th"
    You still keep it very simple, but you introduce the drama back into the readout and give the public one level more depth of information to help them understand what happens. Also teaches them over time to look at everything and not just jumps and performance for example.

    That's what I'd do....
  15. Frau Muller

    Frau Muller #1 Dick Button Fan

    Sorry but there's nothing "blah" about reading a grand-total-points score which easily and transparently shows exactly where that skater ranks at the moment. We can even instantly see if it's a season's best or personal best. That is MUCH more exciting than the old system. More transparent and to-the-point. It's one of the few very positive changes in recent years.

    The problem is not with the sport. The problem is with parents/families who fail to cultivate children who appreciate class and beauty. Any household that teaches class and beauty will cultivate lovers of skating and other arts. Change the potential audience, not the sport or the art. Don't 'dumb it down' with idiotic gimmicks, pop music, tasteless costumes, etc. Why should figure skating aspire to pop culture?

    Rock2, Incubation/Cultivation of Stars is good, in theory...but why should anything be tampered with? Stars will rise to the top if they are consistent. Manipulation doesn't and shouldn't work...as in the times when the old 6.0 system could be used to manipulate and KEEP the 'oldies' on the podium forever, even when they had not earned it at a particular event. [As, I am certain, Sasha Cohen would have been "rammed" onto the Olympic team last year, had the 6.0 system still been in play. Or, say, Abbott or Nagasu's scores at 2011 Nats may have been manipulated enough to ensure that they made this year's Worlds team. I say 'maybe,' based on what used to happen in the old 6.0 system.] Alas, one of the 'negatives' of the current, more fair, judging system is that 'the powers that be' run the risk that 'media darlings' will not make World and Olympic teams every year...because placements are now based on how one performs on a given day. And that's not so bad, is it?
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2011
  16. geod2

    geod2 New Member


    Thank you... Exhibitions, SOI, and the other shows is where any pop-culture-whoring should take place.

    That's a great idea....sorta like the figure skating equivalent of this >>>


    But, I'd worry about the increased chance of injury to the skaters.

  17. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    Well, there's the trick. How?
    Can you bring in new audiences that have historically been resistant to embracing figure skating without alienating the audience you already have?

    My suggestions for what the ISU could do are two:

    *If they want to control all of figure skating at an international level, maintain credibility as an Olympic sport, and also reach out to new audiences, they could offer more variety of formats. Continue to offer world championships and Olympic events in singles and pairs freeskating and ice dancing more or less as they currently exist, and also offer world championships in Extreme Skating as I described earlier in this thread (which could easily be added as Olympic events, perhaps in a team format), and Artistic Skating where only PCS count (which would probably not be an acceptable Olympic sport but probably would appeal to audiences -- including younger audiences if it encourages contemporary music).


    *Just focus on their existing disciplines, but ease up on the eligibility rules even further so that skaters are free to participate in competition-formatted events that are not controlled or "sanctioned" by the ISU. Let them earn money and popularity in other formats paid for by other entities, and let them come back to ISU competition and qualify through their federations whenever they choose.

    The ISU wouldn't benefit directly from any popularity generated in non-ISU events, but if skaters developing a following in entertainment-oriented events, they might bring fans with them when they enter ISU competitions.

    So each element would be scored separately as is currently the case, but a composite jump score and spin score would be read out loud, along with a step sequence score, so audiences would have a better idea of who got more points where? That would probably help audience understanding, so it sounds good to me.

    The factoring would need to be different if the judges are awarding only 3 instead of 5 component scores. A math expert would have to figure out the appropriate changes.

    Or the components could remain at 5 more or less as is as far as the judging is concerned, but to save time and confusion for audiences they could read one total for Skating Techniques (that includes SS and TR scores) and one for Presentation (that includes PE, CH, and IN).

    At least that would give a little more information to the audiences about how the scores break down. Much more informative about the skating than reading 9 different judges' scores for "technical merit" and "presentation," and would take a little less time to read.
  18. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

    There is nothing mystifying about the scoring system for those who chose to learn it. Compared to some other sports, it's actually pretty straight forward.
  19. minignome

    minignome Member

    I think part of the problem is that the commentators have done little to HELP the viewer learn it. A casual fan will not take the time to go educate themselves. For the commentator to tell you that it's a -1 deduction for falling doesn't tell you much if you don't know that the base value for a triple axel is 8.5 and that double is 3.3. Also if the commentators could give a ballpark on the levels of footwork/spins and the point value difference between a level 3/4. Peter Carruthers tries a bit, but he seems to be the only one who does imo. And yes, there is a fine line between educating those who don't know vs. annoying the heck out of those who do.

    I am a sports fan and will watch a lot of different things and enjoy the competition if I have a basic understanding of the rules. I think showing separate scores for jumps, spins & footwork, plus showing the combined components would go along way to solving the "how come the person who splatted was ahead of the person who didn't".

    Having a brother who has the attitude "figure skating isn't a sport" (the burdens one has to bear in life :blah:) . I think if there were more data given on the scores that might help the perception that the judges just pull the numbers out of hat based on who they want to win.
  20. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

    Problem #1. That's why I hate going to a live football game, I need the guys telling me what the heck is going on. I don't mind skating commentators taking over the music as long as it's useful and relevant to what we are watching, leave the fluff for the in-between, not while they are on the ice. I love Peter C and Terry G, but the chicks must go.
  21. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    Of course, it's only for the people at the arena- but it seems like those Skatebug things are pretty awesome for this.

    Most of the serious football/baseball fans I know go to the games with radio headphones in. I always thought they were crazy- because these are the people who already KNOW all the rules, but they love to listen to it too.

    As for jump/spin competitions- I don't know about extreme jumping, but low level competitions have jump/spin competitions, why not just continue them up the levels and have elites do them too? (My local competition actually is offering jumps through senior and spins through senior, but I don't expect to see any entries... maybe in junior...)

    The senior spin event requirements are:
    1. Flying Sit Spin or Flying Change Sit Spin (minimum 8 revolutions)
    2. Layback or Cross-foot Spin (minimum 8 revolutions)
    3. Spin Combination with only one change of foot and at least one change of position (minimum 12 total revolutions)
    4. Solo Spin of Skater’s choice (minimum 8 revolutions)

    Jumps are only this:
    1. Double Lutz
    2. Double axel
    3. Combination of any two double jumps or a triple jump with a double

    The idea of the event would obviously need to be made harder for elite skaters- maybe 4 jumps of the skaters choice? Or start at triple toe loop and work the way up to triple axel (moving to quads for men), with points awarded for each jump, and maybe even elimination if you fall?
  22. Susan M

    Susan M Well-Known Member

    Actually there is, because the totals themselves don't have any intrinsic meaning. In football, for example, a 7 point lead is a touchdown. Perhaps some of that will come in time, but for now it feels like a math exercise, and comparatively few people find math all that fun and exciting. Even with the current scoring system, though, they could increase viewer interest by showing the scores of individual judges. Right now, they don't even show us comparative numbers between skaters for the free skate, only the cumulative totals.

    I think the suggestion of totaling points separately for jumps, spins, and footwork might also help, but only if broadcasters present the results that way. For example, if they showed a table of the top 4 or 5 skaters so far, people could see more clearly how the skaters compare.

    Well, I think those 430 people are probably already watching. The question was about broadening skating's appeal to the marginal or lost viewers.
    The system might be comprehensible on paper, but applying it in real time is pretty mystifying for the vast majority of viewers, especially when you start talking about deductions of various amounts for underrotated jumps, and elements not counting because something was repeated. For skating to increase its viewership, it has to appeal precisely to the people who don't hang out here or study the COP, and for those folks, the current scoring process (including the callers' decisions, the judges numbers, and the way the data is presented by broadcasters) is pretty mystifying.

    I have a fairly bizarre theory of how skating fits into entertainment as a whole for US audiences. It has seemed to me that America needs a certain amount of dance in its life. Skating's biggest popularity bubble here (approx 1988 - 1998) came at a time when Nureyev had retired and Baryshnikov was pretty much done and we didn't get ballet on TV much anymore, creating a kind of void. I think skating kind of filled the need for this sort of graceful/athletic performance. By about 96-98, the market for skating had been so oversaturated, people had gotten burnt out on it. Then after a few years, the televised dance contests rose up to fill the void. I know this theory sounds like something of a stretch, but I honestly don't think skating will regain its popularity here until people get burnt out on shows like Dancing with the Stars and its ilk.
  23. attyfan

    attyfan Well-Known Member

    Simply knowing how the system works in the abstract isn't enough. A lot of things essential to make sense of a skater's score (ex: edge calls or underrotations) are not as visible or obvious on TV as they may be to those watching live -- it is not uncommon for people to think the judges got it wrong because they didn't see the mistake. Something, IMO, needs to be done about that ... the camera angle during jumps should focus on the blades, for example, or, instead of fluff, the commentators could analyze some of the skaters' jumps in slow motion.
  24. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

    Even skaters/coaches have no idea what happened with some of their scores until they see the protocols but that doesn't mean they should make it skating for dummies. If someone wants to be a fan they will care enough to learn the rules well enough to enjoy watching. If they leave the sport, were they really ever a fan of the sport to begin with?
  25. geod2

    geod2 New Member


    ....or...a 7 point lead could be the result of a field goal and 2 safeties...


  26. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    I agree. I think live skating is the hook for most people. We're all pretty jaded by what we see on tv and in movies. There are many national level skaters who will do exhibitions for free just to practice their programs in front of an audience and many good local skaters and shows. There are also break dancers on hockey skates who are amazing.
  27. minignome

    minignome Member


    To help with this, why can't they post a starting technical value based on what the skater plans to do like there is in gymnastics? This would help easily identify which skaters have the harder routines as well as give the viewer a basis for how well the skater did what they had planned.
  28. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    How does this work in gymnastics?

    How do you see it working in figure skating?

    Do you mean detailed planned program sheets before and detailed protocols afterward?

    Or just the total base mark for the planned elements and the actual technical elements score, based on the tech panel's calls and the judges' GOEs for what the skater actually performed?

    Is "they" the ISU or the TV networks?
  29. laviemn

    laviemn Well-Known Member

    TPTB in figure skating have the power to make changes to the sport that could change its popular perception. How could they possibly change how people raise their children all over the world?

    As someone said earlier on this thread, children often watch sports that they like to play. If more children play basketball, football, even tennis rather than skate, it's because those sports are more accessible and affordable than skating. Figure skating isn't even enough of a relevant option for a lot of people even to wonder whether their children would enjoy it. You cannot make a judgment about the lack of class and beauty in their upbringings based on whether they appreciate figure skating.

    The terms class and beauty are subjective. If I said that I appreciate the beauty of a graceful slam dunk more than a quad toe, would you call me classless? Also, it is possible for a person to appreciate Swan Lake on a stage but not on an ice rink. Figure skating is just a niche hybrid of competitive sport and performance art that can repel fans of both for different reasons. It doesn't have to aspire to popular culture, but it does have to be financially solvent to continue to exist; increasing its popularity would improve its solvency; changing the sport is a feasible way of accomplishing that, changing how people raise their children is not.
  30. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    All valid points -- along with the fact that it can also hold an especially intense attraction for fans of both competitive sport and performance art, but since the overlap is smaller than either of those groups alone, that may result in a smaller but more devoted niche of fans than it could achieve by trying to appeal to larger numbers of sports fans by alienating the performance fans or vice versa.

    However, if the sport is not satisfied with its level of solvency and is willing to consider changes to the way it's practiced to address that situation, is it better off changing the packaging of the elite competitors in a hope of attracting more fans, or is better off changing the affordability and accessibility of the way it's practiced at all levels in the hope of attracting more participants, even if many of those changes are irrelevant to fans?