The Way Forward for Fencing: An Open Letter and Call to ActionFebruary 19, 2013
Hi, it’s TIM MOREHOUSE, Olympic Silver Medalist and Founder of Fencing in the Schools.
I’d like to share my thoughts on the future of fencing and I hope by the end of this letter you’ll join me.
Ever wonder why fencing isn’t more popular?
I grew up with people saying that fencing could never be on TV, get corporate sponsors and be mainstream or popular. I never challenged this thinking. I just assumed that people had tried to do these things and found that it was impossible.
I also grew up in a fencing community with people saying the US could never win Olympic medals…how could we ever beat the Russians or Italians?
Then the Beijing Olympics happened. Our USA team won 6 Olympic medals and it shattered my thinking. If “They” were wrong about how good an Olympic team we could be then what else could “They” be wrong about? Who are “They” anyway?
I was very fortunate to have found fencing. It changed my life. Gave me self-confidence, discipline and helped improve my critical thinking and has allowed me to travel the country and world for competitions.
I now want to give kids across America the chance to fence. For too long fencing has suffered from low-self-esteem about what our sport can accomplish.
I think things are popular because people make them that way and…
WE ARE GOING TO MAKE FENCING AS POPULAR AS OUR BIG THREE MAINSTREAM SPORTS! (Yes, I’m shouting this so no one mishears our intention!)
We are going to do this, not just to do it, but because the children in our country NEED fencing for their health, well-being and happiness.
Fencing is also a sport that requires both physical and mental development at the highest levels.
You can fence throughout your whole life.
Fencing is one of the greatest sports in the world.
Only so many kids can play baseball, basketball and football and unlike these sports, there is no bench in fencing. Every child can play and compete. So, our Mission at FENCING IN THE SCHOOLS is get a million kids fencing by the 2023 school year. We need your help!!
Some of our actions and strategies for change:
#1 Create School Programs:
We believe in order for our sport to grow we have to provide access to fencing for every child in America. To do this, we need to provide fun and low-cost opportunities to as many schools as possible where kids can try and fall in love with our sport. We will accomplish this by training PE Teachers (And create an army of them!) to teach fencing and by providing low cost and easy to use fencing equipment.
We are also going to create excellent educational materials including a basic curriculum aligned to the national fitness standards for teachers to use and comprehensive videos on how to fence for beginners and teachers to utilize.
#2 Utilizing and Supporting our Olympic Team:
We believe in the power of our Olympians to be role models for children. We will start every school program with an assembly with member(s) of our US Olympic team when they will get the kids excited about fencing, share their stories of achievement and perseverance and put on a fun fencing demonstration. We will financially support our Olympians to present the assembly, which will also serve to support these athletes in pursuing their Olympic dreams AND turn the children at each school into fans of our sport and athletes. Image a fan base of 1 million children following our team at the Olympics!
#3 Promoting the Sport into the National Consciousness:
We believe that in order for fencing to grow to scale we need to get our sport into the national consciousness. This includes, but is not limited to, awareness campaigns, putting fencing on national and local TV, getting impactful media profiles of our sport, athletes and tournaments, holding fencing events in high traffic areas to get “in the face” of people who might not be seeking us out. (You won’t be able to escape our sport!) Achieving this level of promotion has numerous benefits including creating a demand for our school programs for children, increasing our fan base which in-turn creates a greater platform for corporate sponsorships and fundraising.
#4 Supporting the Current Fencing Community: (Synergies)
We believe that for our sport to grow in America the business of fencing has to grow with it. Our goal is to turn as many of the students who start out in Fencing in the Schools into lifelong fencers and fans of our sport. We will work to get FITS kids out to clubs to compete and train, thereby contributing to the health of the business of the sport including club owners, vendors and sponsors.
#5 Improving the Technology of Fencing:
We believe that technology is a HUGE growth area for improving the sport. Fencing is still using the same basic system from the 1980s and wireless fencing is still not a reality for most fencing competitions in this age of cell phones and blue tooth. We are currently working to improve the technology with the priorities being to lower cost, make the fencing equipment more user-friendly and improve the visual presentation of the sport.
We already are meeting with some great companies including IDEO (the inventors of the first mouse!) to discuss ways to make a better wireless system, make IPADs into fencing machines, jackets that can glow when hit and other “outside of the box” ideas. The time has come to make fencing look better, more affordable and add the “WOW” factor to every fencing match.
#6 WE NEED YOU!
If we are going to get a million kids fencing across America then it is essential we galvanize our fencing community to TAKE ACTION! Our fencing community is one of the greatest groups of people in the world. People have longed to help the chance to help the sport, but haven’t had an outlet. We want to be that outlet! The only way this will work is with your support.
* Please note, this is in no way an exhaustive list but these are some of our priorities.
Ways YOU can Help RIGHT NOW:
#1 Please consider donating to one of our Fencing in the Schools campaigns: www.crowdrise.com/fencingintheschools2013
#2 Sponsor an Olympic Fencing Assembly for a school to introduce them to the sport in an exciting and fun way!
#3 2 Go to your school and DEMAND FENCING and SEND THEM TO US! email@example.com
#4 Post about Fencing in the Schools on your social media or tell your friends
#5 Attend our March 13 Fencing in the Schools Launch Event! All ticket proceeds go to help fund our first 6 pilot programs!
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT! Go Fencing!