A Professional Handball League in the U.S?

Recently Dennis Berkholtz briefed to the PATHF Executive Committee his plans for a professional handball league in the United States.  As much as I might fantasize about a Professional Handball league in the United States with the Las Vegas Rattlers a charter member franchise the reality is that it simply currently is not practical for a number of reasons. Herewith are some of those reasons:

1) It is extremely difficult to start a professional league for an established sport, let alone one for a virtually unknown sport. One just has to look at the graveyard of defunct leagues to recognize this. Does anyone remember the USFL, WFL, USBL, WPSL, NASL, WABA, etc, etc. The failures dramatically outnumber the successes. And even the success stories are marginal at best. The new soccer league, the MLS, has gotten a boost from David Beckham, but has yet to turn a profit. The WNBA only survives due to its support from the NBA. Which leads to the 2nd point…

2) A professional handball league in the USA would need unprecedented and substantial financial backing. And I don’t see anyone or any organization with sufficient financial resources willing to lay out the kind of capital that would be necessary to create a legitimate professional league. Theoretically, the European leagues could support a developmental league in the U.S., akin to the NFL Europe that would mimic the NFL’s dual goals of player development and increasing the sport’s popularity. But, the European handball leagues don’t have near the resources that the NFL has and even the NFL, with its massive resources recently decided to pull the plug recently on the NFL Europe. Which leads to the third point…

3) It would take years, more likely decades for investors to see return on their investment. Why? The amount of advertisement and promotion it would take to get Americans to go pay money to see a sport most have never seen before would be substantial. My goodness, under ideal circumstances, it would be very difficult to fill an arena for even 1 game. Let’s put this in perspective. If the EHF Champions league decided to play their final championship match in any city in the USA and heavily promoted it, they would be lucky to get 2,000 fans. Perhaps, if they scheduled it the same weekend and in the same city as the USA club national championship tournament, they might bump up the attendance by an extra 500 people. And this would be the two best teams in the world playing in the penultimate event of the year.

Bottom Line: Professional leagues, with few exceptions, are by design intended to turn a profit. A U.S. League could not be realistically expected to turn a profit for several years, if ever. Maybe there are several more Dieter Esch’s (see the UTHF proposal) out there with money to invest that I don’t know about, but I doubt it.

Now all this being said, I can foresee Professional Clubs touring the US. First, however, the sport will need to get some decent television exposure in the US. Once a decent fan base is established some club teams could come to the US and play an exhibition game like the one scheduled in London between Veszprem and Viborg. Heck, with support from a US TV network and some clever promotion such a one-off event could even turn a profit. This is a realistic goal and one that should be looked into.

And finally, if I’m wrong about all this, I will gladly eat these words and purchase season tickets. Go Rattlers!

35 thoughts on “A Professional Handball League in the U.S?

  1. I wouild have to agree TV coverage would need to come first to introduce the sport. Sadly, Americans [on the whole] do not believe something is real unless it is on TV! Having a pro league without building at least some audience, would be like having a pro lacrosse league in China.
    And John, I am sorry, that would be the Texas Rattlers!

  2. And if there is no league at all, how are TV stations supposed to risk on a sport that has no league yet? It doesnt have to be on ESPN prime time, I guess it wouldnt be that difficult to get it on every teams local channel.
    By the way, is it very difficult to introduce the game in a few colleges?

  3. Rather than start a league from scratch, games from the Liga ASOBAL, HBL or Champions League should be shown on TV. The Champions League even already has English language commentary on many of their matches so additional production costs would be 0$.

    It's difficult to introduce the sport anywhere, but it can be done. Colleges have the advantage of facilities and athletes, but it takes a dedicated coach and support from the college. And this is only in the context of club sports. Getting official NCAA sport recognition would be a huge step and surely should be a goal of the new federation.

  4. Miguel, TV is not going to risk. If you want it on TV you are going to have to pay, not expect to get paid. The MLS [Major League Soccer] just this season [their 12th] received their first contract that acually paid them for TV showing their games. I have to agree with John, showing good European handball games would be this best start.
    The Catch 22 with the NCAA, as I understand, is they will not authorize a NCAA Championship unless a minimum number of colleges already have varsity [not club] teams.
    To start a club team, students, not an outside organiser or coach, must approach the university or college. Many colleges are not very interested, as they already have a crunch for gym time. This means the larger and more persistant your group is, the better chance you have of gaining little gym time [in a gym of basketball size, not handball].

  5. Showing good European handball games? How many good European basketball games do you get to watch in USA (and basketball is a religion in USA)? How many good European football games do you get to see in USA? How many good European volleyball games? Come on, you know better than me that americans dont really care about whats going on out of their borders, regarding sports at least.
    It would definetely be a better a idea to get US National Teams games broadcasted on tv, you know better than me that people would be more interested in an USA-Canada game than in a Kiel-Ciudad Real one. And if there was an established league, i guess it wouldnt be that difficult to get some local media coverage at least.
    And in my opinion, its totally essential for the development of handball in USA and also for the National Teams, to get the NCAA sport recognition. Mark, you make it sound so complicated, and i dont doubt it is but i believe its possible.

  6. Well, you would be hard pressed to find European basketball on TV in the USA, but you would easily find the NBA on TV in Europe. Knowledgeable sports fans like to watch the best in the world even if it's not in their backyard. Of course Handball fans in the US would like to watch US matches, but they also would warm up to Kiel-Ciudad Real very quickly.

    And you can now find top flight European soccer on TV in the US. It's not free, but for $15 a month you can get Setanta sports on Direct TV and the Dish Network. They have live English Premier League, Scottish and French matches. Now if they can just add handball…

    NCAA recognition? With declining budgets and Title IX schools are dropping sports, not adding them. The only remote possibility for NCAA is Women's Handball as it could counteract title IX requirements for male/female equity. As I've written previously adding a Women's Handball program would make more sense then adding a Women's rowing program.

  7. So what are we talking about? Satisfying american handball fans or trying to spread handball by means of a good Tv/media coverage? If we are talking about satisfying american handball fans, there is no doubt, you are right. But if not, there is no point on broadcasting european handball when nobody in america that is not interested in the game is going to sit down and watch. Obviously thats better than nothing, but if a TV station is going to invest in handball, it would be more practical starting with the National Teams and National champs first.

    Why are europeans interested in NBA? Very easy, Nowitszki is the MVP and he is from Germany, Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Petro, Gelabale and Pietrus from France, Bargnani from Italy, Gasol, Garbajosa, Navarro and Calderón from Spain, Stojakovic, Milicic, Jaric, Krstic from Serbia, Kirilenko from Russia…

  8. Certainly, basic cable coverage of the sport would be best. This would introduce the sport to many who have never seen it before. Often this would be merely by chance as someone was channel surfing. Broadcasting US competitions also would have production costs whereas some European broadcasts (Champions League) are ready for immediate airing. So theoretically, there would be nothing to invest for the station, and if the EHF was smart, they would literally give the broadcast rights away now, with an eye on profits in the future.

    And if they were really smart, they would sign some raw American athletes with talent, who while not quite ready for top flight handball, had potential. And that, of course would create further American interest. Gary Hines comes to my mind.

  9. I started watching Bundesliga soccer on TV [PBS] in the 1970's. And for years now I have been watching German, English, French, Spanish, Argentinian, etc, soccer on Fox Sports. In the 1970's on ESPN I was channel surfing and ran across Austrialian Rules Football. My friends and I watched it for years because we were sports nuts, and enjoyed it even though I had never seen it before. Remember, if only 1% of Americans can be induced to watch the sport [handball], that is 3 million people!

    As for the NCAA. You must understand, the NCAA does not and cannot force schools to have a sport. The NCAA would only be involved if enough schools already had varsity [ie, with scholorships and coaches] programs and they petitioned the NCAA to recognize a championship. I know the Title IX route has been tried, but I agree with you, John, this would seem to be the best way to get a foot in the door. I would think selling the idea to a entire conference so they would have built in competition would be the way to go. A single school would say there was no one to play.

  10. This is an interesting debate. In principle I agree with John's article. As outlined in my blog article, it comes down to two things: develop from top down or from the grass roots to the top. Actually, there could be a third one: Both.

    For that you will need a lot of cooperation and trust amongst all US team handball people. As disenfranchised as our sport has been over the past few years, cooperation and trust are very foreign terms.

    You folks can beat the TV option to death all you want. It's OK to give an opinion but I'm sorry to say that none of the issues you bring up will make any difference.
    The way the public perceives TV is completely different than the way TV works. Cable is somewhat less restrictive but in the end it is all about $$$.

    If awareness of the sport is important, I say keep advertising and promoting team handball (keep using) on the Internet. Enhance what you have but use the Internet. Cheaper and faster.

    if you do not start developing the sport at the lower levels (middle schools and high schools) you have no shot at the college levels. You must create a need. It is supply and demand. If high schoolers play it, colleges will build it. Soccer ultimately developed the same way. NO, the '94WC did not put soccer on the map. It simply catapulted the MLS revival… It was the kid soccer leagues, high school soccer which ultimately got some colleges to adapt.

    Take Houston for example. There has been a program at the college level (UofH) for over two years. I was talking with some of the UH officials last week. The one thing they mentioned to me was how they are yet to see anything close to resembling a UH team handball club. They are frustrated because they believe in the program. I explained to them that it is hard to build anything from scratch and that more time would be needed. Hopefully they will see that time is NOT of the essence Identity is! Players, teams, clubs… they need to relate to one another. Not to mention that there is a HUUUUGE difference between advertising and marketing, yet they both have to coexist concomitantly.

    Reading through some of your responses it is very clear that the road ahead will be a difficult one. There is still so much division among the few and the proud.

    There is no quick fix to this sport. You can throw all the money in the world at this sport and it will not make any difference. You have to have an execution plan, a visionary leadership who will not be afraid to take risks and who will exude trust.

    And I'll be darned if the ATHA will not do just that. :)

  11. BOTH – is a great concept. But while TV exposure will definitely benefit the sport, it can't drive its development alone. Grassroots development, however, can do just that. So IMHO, develop from the bottom up, the hard way (made a lot easier by the internet), and try to supplement with TV as the opportunities arise.

  12. Oh and yes of course a professional league is nothing but a testimony to the idealism of the proposer.
    But it's ok to dream :-)
    And besides, we all know handball is much more exciting than soccer, so it is self-evident that it should be much EASIER for us to get a professional league profitable, right? RIGHT? :-D

  13. [b][/b] Finally, someone with true enlightment on the issue of handball in the USA.
    A League, TV, College/NCAA please this is [u][/u] all pie in the sky,no the moon!!!

    Handball has been in this country for more than 35 years! And will still don't get it.
    If we want handball to become the great sport it could be it will take another 30 years.
    Mr. Bogdan is the only person besides Coach Annette B that is telling it like it is…Awareness, Youth development, create a street buzz through gorilla marketting( internet..UTube) and then the Clubs,schools,colleges, finally TV,internet.
    In 1964, I asked my high school P.E. teacher if I could start a "futbal" team at the school. He said son that is not an American sport and we are a hand-sport oriented country . Not feet. It will never go here. Go back to your Sunday leagues. Today look at the United States Youth Soccer Association website!!!
    In my area in was English players from Division 2 that came to start the Club system that has created the best soccer club system in Southern California. More players have come out of the Calif.that have been on National soccer teams.
    It must start with the kids and parents.
    yes, I finally got to have my soccer team and went on and coached 5 in NCAA playoffs and won 3 national championships
    So keep Dreaming,stay focused,and create the Vision.

  14. Halt! We’re mixing what can be done and what can’t be done. In short
    – Professional League?: No. Why? Read my original post
    – TV in USA?: Yes. Technology and more delivery platforms now makes it feasible. And a ready made product (Champions League) already exists. This can be done and will be done– sooner than you think. And when it happens it will be the gas that fuels the grass roots programs.
    – NCAA?: Yes, but a long shot and only as a Women’s sport for Title IX purposes. Trust me, if there can be rowing programs in the desert (Ariz St), they can also start handball programs.
    – High Schools?: Yes and No. Yes- more student should be introduced to the sport and have the opportunity to play at a club level; No- It won’t become a varsity sport as it would be extremely difficult to supplant the existing American sports.

    Often the argument is framed as grass roots vs. top down. Limited resources are a factor, but to try to develop the sport doing only one of those elements is not wise. Ideally, you would have a targeted top down strategy that works coherently with the grass roots. Easier said than done, but it can be done.

  15. John, we are not mixing up anything.

    – TV WILL NOT WORK. Please define to everyone what you mean by "this can be done sooner and sooner than you think." I would love to hear it. A country that fails to broadcast team handball during its own Olympics will not braodcast crap. There will be no gas to fuel anything. Not sure where you get the info. The only way you are going to get handball on US tv is by pirating the signal from the European birds. And that is illegal.

    – NCAA and Title IX is just hogwash. Are you going to build a sport by shoving it down the throats of unwilling colleges by invoking what, some government edict. C'mon.

    – High Schools are most certainly a viable option. Unless you have done the legwork on such projects yourself, I really have a hard time taking anyone commenting against seriously. When was the last time you left your kids and family behind and dedicated endless times and hours to teach and promote the sport at the lowest levels? PLEASE DO TELL.

    The sport is full of ideas. Alll looking for an easy way out and a quick fix. We have savants everywhere.

    – The soccer model is worth looking at. Not sure that it can be replicated but it is the closest handball can relate to.

    Sorry, we can agree to disagree but armchair quarterbacking is pretty easy to do. I know becasue I did it too…

    Get out there, volunteer your time and see what you can grow. Mold something. Create something. See what it feels like. It's not the same as building a club by recruiting former foreign handball players. Anyone can do that…

    Move your asses!!!

  16. Bogdan- you ignorant slut
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Jane%2C+you+ignorant+slut! (for Euros with no reference to SNL)

    TV: Well, when I was growing up there were 3 TV networks, 20 years ago ESPN arrived on Cable. Now there is ESPN2, Fox Sports, Versus, College Sports Network, and surely several others that I’ve left off. A key problem in the past is there were too few outlets and therefore not much room to broadcast a little known sport. (Although, Australian Rules Football found a way to do it.) Now with many more channels available you are starting to see more and more obscure sports get air time. Rock, Paper, Scissors comes to mind. Hey were biased, but even an unbiased observer would also think that Handball should some how fit into that picture. The Europeans are a little slow to understand that they need to pretty much give away the TV rights for a few years to get their foot in the door, but they’ll figure it out eventually. (A new US federation that helps nudge that along effectively would be nice.) And because an English language product exists, there would be very little production cost involved in setting up Champions League Handball for US broadcast. Basically, all that you would have to do is edit in the commercials. But why just look at cable and satellite? Broadband internet TV is coming and soon you will be able to watch all the handball you want through your internet connection in the back of your TV.

    Title IX: “Are you going to build a sport by shoving it down the throats of unwilling colleges by invoking what, some government edict?” The answer is Yup, and it’s been done already for a couple of sports. Notably, Women’s Crew and Volleyball. Trust me, Not to many people in Tempe, Arizona were clamoring to add a women’s rowing program. Arizona St and several other schools adding rowing because it was relatively inexpensive (I’d argue Handball is cheaper) and it takes a lot of athletes to field a program. Thus, bumping up your female numbers and improving your male/female ratio. These schools were even giving scholarships to athletes who had never even rowed before in their life. USA Handball looked into this and if I’m not mistaken even made some preliminary agreements with the South East Conference (SEC). I’ll save my volleyball story for my next counterpoint.

    High Schools: The mainstream U.S. sports are pretty strongly entrenched in our High Schools. In fact, all go as far back to say that my High School back in Iowa is still playing the same sports that I played in the 80’s, my Dad played in the 50’s and my Grandpa played in the 10’s. The only major new sport to arrive on the scene is Volleyball and that is strictly a result of the colleges adding the sport first, mostly for Title IX purposes. And even then it didn’t happen overnight. I think soccer might be added one day, but for a small school it’s tough to have both a football and soccer program. Now, of course, there are a lot of high schools, many of them bigger than the small school I went to. But, the story is essentially the same. A lot of schools have added volleyball and soccer, but not much else. Could they add another sport like Handball and treat it the same way as basketball, football, volleyball? Even as they try to balance the budget for their current athletic program? Sure, anything is possible. But unless the framework of high school sports has changed dramatically since the 5 years I lived in France, I wouldn’t bet on it. And I won’t even get into the thousands of gyms that can’t handle the width and length of a handball court. All this being said, our clubs need to introduce the sport to kids in High School, get them to play the game. A certain percentage of them are going to really like it, but they’re still probably going to want to play the main varsity sports if they’re good enough. But when that 6’5’’ athlete doesn’t get the scholarship he might just look at playing that Handball game seriously. And he’ll know the rules and basics and he’ll be 18 years old. Not totally clueless and 22 years old as historically been the case.

    As far as getting out of my armchair. Stay tuned and watch out for the Vegas Rattlers- They’ll be beating the snot out of the Houston Stars before you know it.

  17. The Vegas Rattlers would never get a chance to play the Houston Stars… You will have to earn that right first. Just like them title fights. :)

    Of course, you could buy your way into a scrimmage with some of the HISD middle schoolers. They'll expect payment in mini Ipods.

    Oh, not to mention that you will need to join the ATHA. Otherwise you'll have to play the New Mexico Area 51s.

    Now, I am not sure what to make of your TV point. We keep digressing and lose sight of what the bottom line is.

    Right now there are two NGB options. One, the Mormon one, contends that the way to go is with big money and professional teams.

    The other one is the ATHA. A grass roots effort, willing to set sail on building the infrastructure. I am still yet to read from any of the points you enumerated HOW exactly will you make handball grow through TV.

    You can't be all over the place. That's what we've been doing over the past few decades, right?

    The TV option has no future. Heck, I am willing to bet money on that. You are in Vegas now, what's the O/U on that? :|

    Putting something on TV and having that something on TV grow into the mainstream, able to produce ad revenue and a Nielsen ratings/share of more than say 0.5/0.9, are two different things.

    If any of the investors out there expect to have handball sweep sports fans of their feet and send them into a frenzy to their local YMCAs because ESPN12 is televising the EC to 200,000 viewers at 3:00 AM in the morning, I'd like to meet these "business geniuses".

    Let me put it to you this way. How much of your own money would you pony up and put into this TV endeavor if you could? I did not think so… OPP!

    The internet is the way to go. I said it first so am certainly glad to see that you agree with me.

    Broadband TV or not, take what you have (the Livesports partnership) and make it better.

    Here is my favorite line:

    "I wouldn’t bet on it. And I won’t even get into the thousands of gyms that can’t handle the width and length of a handball court." FYI at the '07 DE Nationals we played on courts that were about the size of what you will find in your average gyms. Problem solved.

    THINK BIG, EXECUTE SMALL. Create team handball microcosms in 10 to 15 different cities. Some are already there. Develop the Olympic training centers and fuse them together.

    That's the way to rattle them.

  18. Awesome discussion! The way I see it: TV doesn't urt. If someone knows a cheap/free way to get it broadcast, then of course, go ahead. TV alone, of course, will be slow in generating demand. And even if there were a huge surge in demand, there wouldn't be any supply.
    So IMHO, handball on TV can only be a supplement. But as we all know from our own athletic experience, these supplements can sometimes make the difference in addition to all your workouts.
    Actually, that's not such a bad analogy (now what's wrong with my analogy? :-) )! Grassroots is the work-out and TV the supplements :-D

  19. Well, I’ll try again as to why TV is so important.

    First off, it’s not an option all by itself. But it is unquestionably the most effective way to increase the sport’s awareness with the American public. The near zero name recognition handball has is the biggest handicap to the sports’ development and it can not be underestimated. TV broadcasts, even 2:00 AM broadcasts, can change that significantly. It won’t turn Handball into the NBA or the NFL, but it can change “near zero” to “niche.” And niche in a wealthy nation of 300 Million people is worth something. Who should “pay” to put handball on TV? I would argue that the European clubs and the EHF should pay. Why? Because they are the ones who could benefit in the long run. And really, we are talking about very small $$ up front. The Champions League is already broadcast with English language commentary in Europe therefore the production cost is essentially $0. No network in the US is currently banging on their door bidding for North American TV right so the Euros have two choices.

    1) Continue to do nothing. If those Americans want Handball they’ll have to pay for it like everybody else. Cost: $0.00
    2) Give the rights away to get the sport on TV in the US. Cost: $0.00 + some marginal costs. (A contract would still have to be written and satellite time to transmit the raw feeds for later transmission in the US would be needed.)

    Making #1 happen is easy. In fact, it’s what’s happening right now. Making #2 happen is not as easy, but it’s doable. How much would it cost? Assuming the new federation hires a talented marketing person and has someone on the BoD with some decent media connections it could be done on the cheap. I could see some travel back and forth to Europe. Presentations to the EHF Marketing team and then to the U.S. networks wherever they are located. Basically, the US Federation’s role would be to facilitate making it happen. The BoD with media contacts would also play a critical role in getting networks to at least listen to the proposal.

    The Euros would need to understand that for some very small costs to them upfront, they could get a significant return on investment in the future. TV rights might be basically free to the Americans in 2007, but in 2010 when its time to renegotiate it could be a different story. And maybe they give a few games away for free, but make a deal with a premium network like Setanta Sports for more games to be broadcast. Maybe they get some fans to pay for quality broadband pay per view of the European Championships. Are we talking about huge NBA like profits- No; But, we are talking about a consistent funding stream, where none existed before. Sounds like a good business move to me.

    Now handball on TV at 2:00 AM in the morning isn’t all by itself going to get thousands running to their local gym to play, but with a nation of 300 million, it would get thousands to inquire about the sport. (I would guess that the greatest number of unique visitors to ever hit the http://www.usateamhandball.org website was in August 2004 during the infamous early morning Olympic broadcasts on NBC) And that’s where the grass roots part of the effort has to be ready to pounce at the opportunity. Perhaps, one part of the TV agreement is a 15 second public announcement with every handball broadcast. The announcement would highlight that the sport is played in the USA and that viewers should go to the US Federation website for more information.

  20. John.

    I understand the premise of your argument. What I see here is a lack of understanding on how TV really works.

    The fact that you will agree to televise games and subsequently receive broadcast rights to them does not mean that a network or cable outfit will bump any of its programming. They would much rather fill their AM timeslots with paid advertisements. They have been doing it for years and will continue to so, especially given the fact that the TV shares and rating are down across the board.

    In essence, I am telling you and everyone else out there who is thinking about this broadcast deal in terms of an investment, to forget about it. It's silly.

    You are better off spending $245 MM in regional development, producing public announcements regarding a new healthy way to exercise (let's forget about the injury arguments), a new opportunity for those kids unable to make the 12 men basketball roster.

    How do I know these things? Because for the past three months I have been talking with a variety of HS and MS principals, AD and board members. The AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS need team handball.

    Nobody knows this because, well, because most everyone involved with team handball in the US is lazy or has other priorities.

    I'm sorry, because I would love for your argument and the whole TV idea to work. It won't.

    It sounds nice and it sure is an attention getter. I mean, for Christ's sake, to use this as the centerpiece of an NGB application is, quite frankly, pretty desperate.

    I ask everyone to please take a step back and look at the big picture. I do agree, as I have already suggested it, that the TV could work, OVER TIME, alongside with THE GRASS ROOTS. But the GRASS ROOTS will have to be the centerpiece of your development. This is so obvious. Bjoern sees it, Ronaldo and Miguel do too.

    TV is the longest shot of any development plans out there.

    Starting low and building a frame is the wise way to go.

    I shall make a very simple analogy.

    When you build a house, any house, do you start with the cable TV wiring?

  21. Bogdan – obviously you don't really know what Title IX is about. [NCAA and Title IX is just hogwash. Are you going to build a sport by shoving it down the throats of unwilling colleges by invoking what, some government edict. C'mon.]
    John is right, Arizona State was advertising for any interested ladies, no experiance needed, get a scholarship. I know a young lady [I coached in soccer and who played basketball in HS] who rowed at the University of Texas for the same reason. These schools [and many other major universities] were looking for a sport to give women scholarships in to offset scholarships given to men in American
    Also, they showed enough handball during the 1984 LA Olympics that I got 2 players that came to Ohio State that fall and sought out our handball club so they could learn to play. One ended up playing on the MNT.

  22. As I read these entries, I really don't see anyone proposing TV as the major and only way to develop handball, just using it as an additional way to expose people to the sport, so instead of people saying," How do they get all those people inside of that little [walled] court", they say " I saw that on TV"!

  23. A little offtopic. Women´s 19 European Championship.

    Denmark 30-24 Turkey
    Hungary 34-29 Turkey
    Turkey 39-27 Lithuania
    Norway 36-31 Turkey

    I am really impressed with Turkey´s performance, handball didnt exist there at all a few years ago, and look at them now. We have talked about Argentina, Brazil, now Turkey…If all these countries can, how are the USA not going to be able to? It´s a matter of wanting and working for it. You guys have an idea, everyone has his own, but you all have one, and they all are very interesting. You just have to work hard and carry them out.

  24. LOL!!!!

    I need know nothing about Title iX. My summary on what it really is stands. Is it not something artificially imposed?

    Yeah, I thought so.

    And… what about the men? Is there a Title X for them?

    Yes, this forum thread is not about TV but the fact that the thought process, at this juncture, includes TV at all, is the issue.

    If you are asked to develop a short term plan (5 – 7 years) to revive team handball in this country and have a certain amount of money available to you, you would be out of your mind to dump it all on TV. You know why? I will tell you… 'Cause it will take all of that money and then some. So, instead, you build the sport from the bottom up while allocating whatever $$ resources you have to developing the future.

    Australian Rules Football? Arena Football? Hey, where can I sign up… I like!!! These sports are getting some serious coverage and based on the TV outline discussed above we should be surrounded by those funny looking Aussies, with tight shorts running around chasing that darn ball that cannot roll forward… When was the last time any of you went out to the Arena Football League field goal kicking cages? I mean Arena Football is on NBC. Do you think any of my daughters or illegitimate sons could get a scholarship? Oh, wait maybe that Title IX can help. My sons are rather girlie….

    Here it is. A sample plan of achieving the same, if not more, with less $$$ using the TV medium.

    1. Make a movie about team handball. Ideally featuring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Cast DeNiro as the dork who knows nothing about team handball but who thinks he knows everything. We could use the real life character for this movie… but nah! There is no telling what he'll do with another $2 MM. (LOL)
    2. Develop a team handball video game for all game consoles. Advertise it as "bigger and better than dodgeball! and still using one ball!"
    3. Daily breaking news on local TV channels. Have students who speak incoherently, alongside their parents, give interview to blonde hot reporter about the injustice done to him by (insert own independent school district). Show "b roll" tape during said interview of kid, playing team handball, in speedos and with nipple rings. He is accused of bringing Kempa handball into classroom.
    4. NEW TV ad, paid for by the Tobacco Industry. Package team handballs with every carton of Marlboro Lights sold at the local super market. Have Surgeon General's cancer warning replaced with "Nicotine is bad. Team handball is badder!"

    and so on…

    12 months later, team handball will remain the most popular sport that EVERYONE heard about and nobody can play.

    How could that be? There was no money left in the budget to purchase team handball goals, court marking tape and stickum.

    Back to the drawing board.

  25. Obviously by your answer, you do need to know something about Title IX. Having opinions, many of them very valid [which you do], is good. Being negitive about something you don't understand that could be a great help, is just dumb. I will call you and explain it my friend.
    As much as there is a need for after school programs, etc, many parents and coaches want to know if any colleges play the game and/or offer scholarships, so they know if there is a future in the sport for their kid.

  26. How do you figure that I am negative and dumb. I am a realist. If that makes me dumb, OK. I'm dumb.

    I know everything there is to know about title ix, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_ix to understand that team handball development should not hinge on such a nebulous education amendment.

    I keep saying this and I will continue to say it as I do not mind repeating myself.

    Quit relying on things you hear or read about. Title IX combined with TV will get you N-O-W-W-H-E-R-E. The only great thing about it is it will get you there [b]FAST![/b]

  27. I think the thing is that everything has to be part of a package. Strictly TV by itself won't work but neither will a grassroots movement that nobody knows about. I've always said visibility is the key and TV is a high-visibility asset whether it's on late night or the middle of the afternoon. The primary thing is that people see it and know what it is.

    Unfortunately, Bogdan's idea that you can rely exclusively on building a grassroots movement without showing the best of the best on TV particularly if it is free is simply putting all the eggs in one basket. If you show someone something to shoot for, then most will go for it. But just spending money only on grassroots programs will only continue the status quo.

    A league, no. But TV, yes. Considering that I found out about Handball by watching RTP on a Sat. morning sports program leads me to this opinion.

  28. Australian Rules Football is a great game, but suffers from some of the same analogy problems from my earlier blog post, plus some new ones like an incredibly big field and the need for 36 players to play a game. Amazingly, despite those handicaps it does have a following outside of Australia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_rules_football_around_the_world It can be even argued that more Americans play Footy than Handball. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USAFL How on Earth could that be? Could the answer be TV?

    Arena football or American Football in general is pretty much maxed out in the U.S., but amazingly the sport is seeing a surge in popularity in countries like France. My goodness, talk about handicaps, players in Europe spend about $500 each to buy their own pads. Where on Earth would French athletes get the crazy idea of playing such an American game? Hmmm. Could the answer be TV?

    It’s true, I don’t know much about the executives and managers make their programming decisions. But, I’ve seen enough marginal sports programming on TV in the US to know that there is now room for a sport like Team Handball. For instance, recently I’ve seen Women’s Lacrosse and Ultimate Frisbee on CSTV with incredibly poor production values. And yes, I assure you that those sports undoubtedly get a boost in interest from such broadcasts. It doesn‘t take a TV insider to know that the right marketing pitch could convince them to air a quality production of a Champions League Handball match instead of more repeats of these sports, especially if it won’t cost the network anything. And that’s just one sports outlet as there are quite a few of them around now.

    As Miguel says, TV is not the only way to develop handball. Grassroots programs are tremendously important, but at the same time, the US Handball Federation should put forward a reasonable level of effort and resources into making TV broadcasts happen. Would I blow my whole budget- no but I’d make it job one for my marketing officer.

    You can go to schools and convince kids to play a game they’ve none of them have ever seen before. And then you could go to schools and convince kids to play a game that some of them have seen before. You could even tell them at the end of the demonstration when they can see real athletes (as opposed to middle aged players) play the game on TV.

    As I mentioned before. Title IX is a longshot–Now. A few years ago it was a real opportunity and we lost out to better organized and resourced sports.

    Oh and Bogdan one last point. If you want your sons to play footy contact the Houston Lonestars http://www.houstonfooty.com/

  29. Bogdan , if you read what I wrote it was in no way personally saying you were dumb. I did feel you were being negitive about something that could be a help, and your comments made me feel you had to lack understanding of how it applied. I do agree with John, the best opportunity for itaking advantage of it was a few years ago and we lost out to sports like rowing!

  30. [color=#ff0000][b]And, to all, I say AMEN!

    Without a doubt the most popular and active article feedback forum on THN. And rightfully so, considering how significant the future of our sport is to use and to future generations.
    Through this great medium we have all been able to serve and volley our ideas and perceptions of what would work, what may work and what would not.

    It is not surprising that in the end, we all agree on how to proceed:

    1. grass roots, grass roots and more grass roots – fundraising
    2. marketing campaign (including PSAs, Internet and TV exposure) – investors
    3. and BOD members who can go rasie some mula – good 'ol networking.

    To: John… Sorry again. The Houston Stars have a lawsuit pending against the LoneStars for the obvious naming rights infringement… Wink, wink… (I am making a joke) :|
    Cannot play Footy with them. Besides, after checking out their web page, I couldn't help but notice that the sport of FOOTY (what a goofy name) is used as cover for binge drinking. Thanks for the tip though!(BTW, that is what the leper says to the whore…) <-- yet another joke. What can I say. I am on fire, as Springsteen once said... To Mark: I take pride in being dumb. No offense taken. Just glad to see that you too, agree that the best way to grow this sport is through grass roots. ;P To Michael: You are sooo right. It is a packaged deal... That's what she said!!!! <-- Dang! Somebody stop me... Another funny! :O LOL It's all set. Allow me to welcome you to the ATHA Team Handball Mentality (or ATHATHM) . Everyone should now ount on your help with moving this sport forward. I bet you did not think you had it in you. I'll be dipped, if I did not bring out the best in you. You see, you do care and, you too, can make independent and sound decisions. Smile and quit over analyzing things. Remember the KISS rule? God Bless You![/b][/color]

  31. See, handballers can argue tough and still be friends! :-)

    I'm sure Bogdan wouldn't mind to see handball on US TV, as long as nobody uses Stars' development money for it :-)

    I'm sure John will concede that no middle-school kid should stay up to accidentally zap into handball on TV at 2am (and that kids that age don't really care if they know the game as long as it's fun).

    Ideally, you want to have both, so why not try to ask the Euros to spend the money for our TV and spend our money where the kids need it?

    I think it's always a good rule to try and ask other people to pay for something you think is important but don't want to spend your own money on :-D

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