April Fools’ Day and Reality Bites

Well, if it wasn’t too obvious the, “Kretzschmar Signs Contract to Play in United States” article was an April Fools’ Day joke. Kretzsch has no plans to move to the USA and the LA Team Handball Club would be hard pressed to find $60 for salary compensation, let alone $6 Million. Still, if anybody had told me that David Beckham was going to sign a deal to play soccer in the US for $50 Million over 5 years I would have thought that was an April Fools’ day joke as well. Maybe some day the Handball World will try to wake the sleeping giant and make Handball something more than the blip on the radar screen it is now in the US, but I’m not holding my breath.

And maybe instead of saying blip on the radar screen, I should say blip on the heart monitor in the Emergency Room. With the recent losses to Mexico and Chile by the Women’s National team, the US has sunk to a new level in terms of performance on the court. In fact, not too long ago a 9 goal loss to Mexico would have simply been laughed off as another April Fools’ joke. This weekend the US Men’s team will seek to restore some measure of respectability for US Team Handball with their 2nd chance opportunity in Chile. Still, even with a win, a roster with several players in their late 30’s or early 40’s speaks volumes about the current state of US Handball.

Team Handball in the US is clearly on life support and in a total state of disarray. With the USOC’s decertification of USA Team Handball last year, the US doesn’t even have a Federation anymore. And while the USOC has continued to provide limited support to keep the National team programs running, this support can be described as lukewarm at best and contingent on achieving some positive results. With the continuing lack of success this lukewarm support could quickly turn very cold.

The US is staging their annual National Championship Tournament this weekend and traditionally a “Town Hall Meeting” is held to discuss the sport’s status. Hopefully, after this meeting we’ll know a little bit more about what the USOC's near, mid and long term plans for the sport are. As was the case last year, Bogdan Pasat will be on site at Nationals and we hope to make podcast recordings of the town hall meeting available on our site, as well as interviews with players and officials. Be sure to stop by and talk to Bogdan and let us know what you think about our site and what features you’d like to see added.

2 thoughts on “April Fools’ Day and Reality Bites

  1. You know, I ask myself why I keep posting comments here and it's because I like the sport and care about it's future. And as I have said before, we need to have more visibility.

    For example in my state (MA) there is a place called Mansfield Sportsplex with a large number of people playing basketball and indoor soccer. If someone could make a decent 6-sided leaflet briefly explaining Handball I'd go and hand them out myself. It's all out getting the product (Handball) to the public. And while webcasts are nice for us, it's not going to attract many new people. Whereas, doing a little footwork and getting the message out in the real world as opposed to the virtual one might attract people who didn't know about it only because they had never seen anything about it (such as a leaflet). With the internet you only find something if your looking for it, however with paper, someone can be interested by walking past a leaflet with info on the sport and where they practice.

    We are all responsible for the growth of our sport. If we wait for what the USOC is going to do, we are going to be waiting a long time. It's time to put down the keyboard and put on those walking shoes. And if we don't we can only blame ourselves.

    Thanks for reading my comment(rant).

  2. If a picture is worth a thousand words, moving pictures with audio is worth a million words. A flyer at a gym is nice, but it only attracts a limited audience. And a flyer no matter how well made can’t adequately explain the game. Talking to people and encouraging people to play the sport is also good, but again attracts a limited audience. And trust me, explaining Team Handball to someone who hasn’t seen it played is challenging. Believe it or not, I still have close relatives that think I bounce a ball off a wall.

    I agree that live webcasts are to a certain extent only providing content to those who know about it. As the technology for delivery of content improves, however, we will soon seen handball matches become more available and with better production values. And this will not just be on the web, as satellite and cable providers feel the heat from the internet they will be making more and more content available. Trust me, if French viewers are now being exposed to Arena Football (American Football) and indoor Professional Lacrosse, it’s only a matter of time until the US market shows handball. And every time a handball game is shown to 100 people at least 1 person will become a devoted fan of the sport. Yeah, that’s only 1%, but do the math on 1% of 300,000,000 people.

    As far as waiting on the USOC, barring the emergence of sponsorship they will continue to be the only significant funding source for Handball in the US. Maybe those sponsorship dollars will finally materialize with the coming greater exposure of the sport, but until then the USOC is the only game in town. Devotees of the sport will continue to work hard at the grass roots level, but that hard work won’t fund national teams or provide the same level of resources for dedicated training of promising athletes.

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