Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

Niche Sports in America – A Media Opportunity

In TSMWIF on May 11, 2009 at 9:40 pm

No, that's not Stefan Fatsis (Photo: Martin Meissner/Associated Press)

No, that's not Stefan Fatsis (Photo: Martin Meissner/Associated Press)

Stefan Fatsis and I have three things in common: 1) We both like Scrabble 2) We’ve both suited up and kicked field goals in training camp for the Denver Broncos 3) We both think Handball is an excellent sport that should be more popular in the United States. Ok, #2 isn’t true, I haven’t kicked for the Broncos, but I’m right there with him on handball. If you’re not familiar with the sport, here’s how I would describe it: A mix basketball, hockey & lacrosse played by linebackers and running backs.  It’s really a great sport with tons of action and exciting, athletic play. Handball falls into that category, along with lacrosse and rugby, of sports that in a parallel American sports universe would be wildly popular. Unfortunately, the American sports universe we all live in features American football, basketball and baseball.

But maybe there is another path for these sports. Individually they will remain fringe sports in this country, so let’s not pretend otherwise. But there are a lot of people in this country who do indeed love these sports and play them competitively, if not professionally. In Europe, the local sporting club has a much larger role than it does in America. Here, sport revolves around youth leagues, organized high school and college sports and of course, professional. That leaves out a significant portion of the sports playing population.

Is there a publication that caters to the adult, team-sport oriented player? Plenty of golf and running magazines out there, but what about something for the guy who loves getting together with his mates, lacing them up and going at it on a Saturday afternoon? The long tail theory would suggest that there is an opportunity for someone to cater to this crowd.  You aren’t going to grow sports like this by reaching out to people who have never seen handball before. You grow the sport by first catering to those who love it.

So, Stefan, start looking for some funding, you handle handball and I’ll write the rugby (or maybe even cricket!).

  1. Niche sports create fantastic opportunities for intimate discussion and relationship building. The communities have incredibly strong ties to the content and a shared desire to connect around the sports as social objects. The possibilities are incredible.

    What really excites me around niche sports however, are the large international communities. While US Cricket fans are on their own, much of the cricket excitement in Asia/Pacific is around UK teams. The community longs for a connection not just to one another around the content, but to the real fans, the real fan experience. There’s nothing like being in Manchester when they win (in football). Digital connections enable these remote experiences. And the community bonding is incredible.

  2. I think a smart, “Paris Review for athletic participants” would be an intriguiging proposition. There are several DIY publishing applications online that could be used to keep costs down. Of course, a digital hub would work as well.

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