SOLUTIONS? THE PAYWALL

If there is one thing that I have taken away from the past week, it is this: the climbing community is a rich resource of experts, creatives and strategists.

I have had countless conversations with Heads of Federations, CEO's, Non-Executive Directors, Marketeers, Competition Officials, Event Organisers, Lawyers, Technicians, Statisticians and more. The common threads; all are climbers, all deeply concerned by the recent actions of the IFSC and all questioning the direction in which they feel our beloved sport is being led.

Each has presented with a unique skill set and shared view points that will enable us to come up a with a coherent and collaborative solution to the problem. 

The avidity of climbers is not to be taken lightly. It may sound cliché, but the vast majority of us are 'lifers'. Bitten by the bug and destined to be infected for the rest of our days, much like IFSC President, Marco Scolaris and many of his team.

The past week, a mess of discussion, protest and discourse, has brought many problems to the surface at many levels of competition climbing. The PR blunders, the silence, it is unhealthy ... the reputation of Scolaris and his team teeters on the edge at the top of a wall and there are no crash pads to break the fall.

But does there need to be a fall? With five minutes to go before the IFSC releases its first official statement (article published at 13:56 BST) I say this ...

It is time for a solution.

The numerous discussions and meetings that I have had produced many salient points, I feel the following are some of the most important.

The climbing community is not averse to paying for content providing: 

  1. it is high quality; top-class production, excellent audio, excellent image quality, excellent additional content etc. 
  2. the money they pay is re-invested into the sport; be that into the WC live streams or into athlete development, grass roots programmes etc. 
  3. it is reasonably priced;

The consenus amongst the community is that the 'Scolaris Paywall" will mean people are blocked from entering the sport, when we should be encouraging them to join us.

Pic: © unattributed - creative commons

HOWEVER ... The consensus amongst EVERY PERSON that I have spoken to, regardless of their position or expertise is that putting up a paywall is simply NOT a viable option. Whilst it would seem that we as a community are happy to pay for content, we are not willing to compromise the successful growth of the sport. There may be opportunities to explore this further. More on that another time.

To be clear ... the solution is:

... focussed on enabling climbing to reach an exponentially broader audience.

The solution involves enthusing the current fan base and simultaneously opening up the sport to a new one. Climbing has the power to inspire people and we must facilitate, not inhibit this.

THE SOLUTION MUST BE:

  1. athlete focussed
  2. community driven
  3. commercial

And the reason every person I have to spoken to feels so passionately about this is because they truly believe in the potential of climbing.

ADVICE & PERSPECTIVE

One of the trends within my discussions are that people believe the IFSC missed a trick in not seeking the advice of experts or consultants. Both of which exist within our community, working for the very federations that pay for the existence of the IFSC in the first place. This is where we get to do things differently.

APPEAL

The next step for us, and by us I mean the whole climbing community, is to pool our resources. The goal is simple: to create a coherent, collaborative plan for ways in which we as a community can secure the free-streaming of ALL IFSC competitions, enrich our athletes and facilitate the best path for growth in our sport. 

We need to conduct market research, validity studies, growth projections, revenue calculations and more ... in order to truthfully show the value of the climbing competitions. We want to work with the IFSC to bring about positive change. We want to engage the climbing community to be instrumental in that change and to steer the competitive branch of the sport in a direction that feels right as a community. In a way that is transparent. We want to activate the experts within the community, to seek advice from the people in the know about best practice, best

How do we do it? Simple. We do it together.

If you think you can help at all with any form of resource then please fill out the form below and I will be in touch in the note too distant future to discuss the plan. Mr Scolaris, IFSC Executive Board, if you are reading, we want to work with you, not against you. 

Thank you for your support, Liam

[if you are having issues with the questionnaire on mobile devices , you can find it here. LL]