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Monday, February 25, 2013

From the Desk of Mr. Y. Speed: A New Agenda - Learning from other sports

To all members,

as is my duty as dedicated official, my attentions are constantly tangent to all kinds of other sports. Watching them in close proximity, I've since come to resolute that drawing from other successful sports and implementing their innovations into the disciplines we administrate, is the best way to secure the future of the athletic endeavours we govern. 

One of the factors of today's success is providing a spectacle that meets the demands of exiting competitive sport and a televisable format that appeals to sponsors and audience as well. So far, we have been working hard on effecting change in that regard. With the look towards the other sports, we can advance this agenda even more.

Let me epiphanise you on one of the great sports that have prompted my euphorics and the conclusions we can extort from it. It is a personal favourite of mine and you can perhaps already guess. It is, of course, the wonderful sport of


Snooker is a sport always well represented on the sports channel. It is of great interest and can draw lots of spectators with its excitement. I, Y. Speed, can attest to that and have asked the respective tv-channels for even more coverage as it entertains myself very well.

What are the key factors of that sport? 

-a very small playing field, the whole table is always in complete view,
-high audience interest, good broadcasting, 100% measurable points system,
-"Gentleman sport aspect": players are required to bring to attention their own mistakes,
-much like in boxing, players have nicknames and are introduced by MC like announcers before the match,
-exiting competition format based on elimination matches, head-to-head competition,
-players are considered artists in their handling of the cue and their play style, which introduces the interesting factor of them being more than just athletes.

How can we employ the above characteristics and adopt them for figure skating to improve in matters of popularity and media appeal?

1st: Reduce the playing field.

A reduced ice surface will allow the audience to better focus on the action by only having to concentrate on much smaller space. Also it will be easier for the camera to behold the complete field at any time. It should be the aim to provide the whole field to the tv audience at all times. Sometimes this is achieved with overhead cameras and seems like a step in the right direction. A new smaller standard will also lower ice maintenance costs and, if universally applied, will end discussions about different rink sizes. I suggest starting with a size reduction of 25% of non-olympic rinks. That will give the new dimensions of 68ft x 160ft or 20,8m x 48,8m.

If successful, the reduction can be further expanded.


2nd: Creating more interesting athletes and spectacle by employing Masters of Ceremony and introducing "Gentleman's/Ladies factor"

Analogue to the "ring announcer" in boxing, figure skating will have the "rink announcer", who will introduce the event and will also introduce the skaters before they take to the ice. This will include every skater having to get a Nickname and some colorful characteristics to market him better. The MC will use this to get the audience going and raise interest:

exemplary rink announcer introduction

To carry over Snooker's Gentleman factor, skaters will from now on be required to bring attention to mistakes or violations they have made, i.e. under rotation or wrong edge take off, music violation etc.

This will incontrovertibly raise audience appeal while not affecting the absolute measurability of serious competitive sport

3rd: The Nimbus of more than just sport

Snooker players are widely considered to be more than just athletes. They are perceived as artists, handling their cues like a painter his brush. Such a notion would serve our purposes very well too. Imagine the spectator increase the concept of skating perceived as an art form could create. We need to implement such a factor into the sport of figure skating. However, in order to introduce that concept, we need to have skaters with truly original programmes on a broad scale and different styles of skating. At the moment, the largest number of performances does not seem very artistic , individualistic or diverse in style. In fact, most of the events and programmes look the same to me. The blame obviously lies with our athletes who seem to exhibit a lack of interest and enthusiasm in working on these aspects.


As the above points show, we can easily boost the popularity of figure skating if we introduce the major characteristics of other successful sports into it. While Snooker is the perfect example, it is only one of the many disciplines we can draw inspiration from.

I encourage (read: order) every member to think about such factors in other sports and report them back to me via the comment function. I will then conduct an investigation into the usefulness of those features and, if positive, outline the resulting implementations in future memos or letters of circulation.

Y. Speed

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