Fencing Masters NYC: My Review and What’s Next

The last few weeks since Fencing Masters NYC I’ve spent closing things out as well as beginning practice for this upcoming season, but I wanted to take some time to give a quick review of how I think things went and to discuss what’s ahead…

To put it into perspective, our mission was to prove that fencing has a large enough fan-base to hold large scale events, that fencing CAN (And Should!) be on TV in the USA, to create a quality platform for the sport that corporate sponsors would be interested in supporting and to help financially support Olympic hopefuls.

Overall Grade: B+/A-

The Good:

  • We proved that there is a market for Fencing: 1800+ people attended, the majority of which had a good time watching our great sport
  • Fencing was on TV in the USA! And, can easily do it again and do so on a national scale with the right kind of support behind it
  • Sponsors ARE Interested in our sport: Nike, Fortress Financial, BNP Paribas, BisroMD Sport and others provided product, money and other support for the event
  • Good Local Media Exposure/Some National:We had appearances on 4 local NY mornings shows, Bloomberg news, a photo shoot with V Man magazine, Shape Magazine and Access Hollywood did write ups, Sports Business Journal and others here and there.
  • Athletes Got money! When all is said and done we will have provided over 20k to athletes in a sport where athlete’s don’t get a lot of financial support
  • A Track Record to Build On: Perhaps most importantly, we now will have some great data, pictures, videos and marketing materials to approach sponsors for additional funds in future years to to the even.
  • The Kids! 2 schools are starting after-school fencing programs thanks to some of the assemblies we did in promotion of the event.  Seeing so many young kids at the event enjoying themselves was the most inspiring part for me and hopefully we’ll see more people starting to fence as a result!

Things to Improve:

  • Event Check-in: We had  close to 400 walk-ups and could have done a better job getting everyone in at the start of the event (as a side-note, it was kind of cool to have a line down the block for a fencing tournament!)
  • Stage Production: We did the event on a shoe-string budget so there were things we would have done with the stage which would have made it look better for TV.  I think for the  in-person crowd with the replay-screens, FM Logo it looked good.
  • Television Production: with all the organization that went into pulling off the event, selling tickets, we could have done a better job with the TV side of the production.  I view this year’s broadcast as a starting point. Something to build on.  Clear things we can do better and will!
  • Organization of the Expo: Jeff Spear did an amazing job running the Expo Championship portion, but we could have been more organized directing people to the various stations and understanding the number of stations, where they should be etc.

Thoughts For Moving Forward:

  • I’d like to do the event again, but with the London 2012 Olympics closing fast, my #1 priority will (and has been) training and I want to make sure it won’t take away from my training/competing.
  • Over the Next 3 months, I will be updating our sponsorship/marketing packets with data, pictures etc. from the event and approaching sponsors about funding for 2011.  If I can get additional funds from sponsors to take some of the financial stress off of doing the event again then it will likely happen again.  This time around, I assumed most of the financial risk and while this was worth it to get it off the ground, it is not sustainable for the long term.
  • Fencing in the USA: HAS AN UNBELIEVABLE POTENTIAL FOR GROWTH RIGHT NOW!  The iron is hot, we have an amazing community, new clubs/school programs opening all the time, great athletes like Mariel Zagunis, young/amazing foil team etc.  We can be something more, but we must have a BIG VISION and EXECUTE! We will grow as big as we believe we can grow. Period.

Things to Add/Change/Goals (Just thinking out loud!)

  • Adding 2 more women saber fencers so we can do an expo tournament for the women’s saber fencers
  • Provide cash prizes to “up the ante” of the fencing
  • More National Television and Media Coverage
  • Nationally Televised

Grade, B+/A-…
Inaugural event and one in a sport that hasn’t had events like this in our country. We got fencing on TV for the first time since 1980s.  Things to improve, but great starting point!

Thanks to everyone for your support! Please feel free to send thoughts/comments/ideas to me! Always welcomed!