USA Table Tennis is starting a new initiative aimed at driving sports tourism on the most user-friendly level possible: the entry level. And it's an idea many event owners can get behind and profit from.
USATT has announced its Average Joe and Average Jane Tournaments, in which they are asking owners of ping pong tables – you know, the ones with tables in their basements, on their patios and in their rec rooms – as well as in clubs and bars – to challenge friends and family members. In fact, they're making it a special member division. There's even a starter kit to make things easy.
The facts and figures behind the idea are fascinating: table tennis is the third-most popular sport in the world, is enjoyed by over 300 million people around the world (many of them being the aforementioned rec room players), is good for mind and body, and is fun to play. It’s also social and competitive – and it’s generally affordable and accessible.
So leave it to USATT and manufacturer Cornilleau to fan the flames of competition:
Are you ready to take down your co-workers? Are you prepared to crown yourself the resident table tennis champ of your local bar or restaurant? How about to climb the ladder and reign over your siblings and family?
Whether in a bar or a beach, a community center or in your basement...“Average Joe and Janes...not your average table tennis tournament” gives players of all skill levels the chance to be a champion in a fun, social, and flexible tournament format! All you need is a table, a few players, and USATT and Cornilleau will help you with the rest.
The tournament starter kit offers everything a person would need to get a tournament running: eight Average Joe and Jane-branded paddles, 24 table tennis balls, medals (!), a promotional poster and a tournament guide. In exchange for a membership fee, Average Joe and Jane tournaments also will also be listed on a specially-branded page on USATT’s website and receive other digital/social media promotional opportunities. You can check out the tournament starter kits on the USATT website here.
While it’s easy to say this is a promotional gimmick – and it is – that doesn’t detract from its brilliance, nor from its applicability to other sports. Consider the pool tables, cornhole boards, croquet sets, volleyball nets, bocce balls, badminton sets and more that are set up in basements and backyards across the nation. If NGBs for all applicable sports were to embrace the ‘average Joe’ business model, it would result in more interest, more players and more economic growth for the sport.
Case in point: USA Cycling, recognizing that many in the U.S. enjoy riding their bicycles but will never compete in sanctioned events, instituted its Ride Membership. The Ride Membership allows recreational cyclists buy-in with USA Cycling; the membership includes roadside assistance, apparel, a copy of the magazine and more – and the NGB reaps the rewards. It's a simple and smart way to bring in new members and make them proud to be a part of the NGB and the sport.
Event owners, too, stand to benefit. Those who bring their competitions to town could tap into the average Joe market with a special event to showcase local talent. The result could be a new revenue stream and could increase engagement in the sport.