EXACTLY WHY OUR SPORT IS IN DECLINE
By Jim Brown
Today I find myself troubled by the anxieties expressed on the pigeon talk lines and discussion forums on the Internet. Concern that perhaps the parent organizations are failing the local clubs and members, asking too much by increasing fees, not doing enough to better the sport, etc. are topics which we have addressed with one another from time to time. Many of us believe that the elected and paid staff of such organizations have given and continue to give of themselves for the betterment of our sport.
Decline in current members and lack of new members coming into, and more importantly, remaining in the sport beyond a year or two is a real worry to our associates. One needs only to look around at a convention or gathering at a special race event to realize that it is the old timers, the snow on the mountain crowd if you will, that comprises the majority of the active membership in such groups.
Some make honest inroads on sport promotion by unique awareness efforts and give of themselves and their time on behalf of our hobby and it's well being. There have been, and continue to be, excellent grass roots ideas and efforts arising from within the ranks of our fellow flyers, which we should, all applaud.
I retired to the Oklahoma countryside to enjoy the local people and my pigeons, which I feel blessed to be able to do on a daily basis. A few visitors to our simple surroundings and lifestyle have compared it to "a life sentence without parole" but I find the faint breeze rippling through the blackjacks and scrub oaks much to my liking. These days I have few causes to champion or wheels to reinvent but one of particular concern is our sport and the ills confronting it today around the globe.
Why are these ills such a mystery? Do we lack the inner honesty to address and rectify the wrongs, which are right before us? Is the need to profit from our fellow fanciers at every opportunity so compelling that sportsmanship and ethics are forgotten? Are each of us unknowingly or knowingly our own worst enemy when it comes to the survival of a sport we are purported to cherish? Do we kill our own young?
Each of the above questions has troubled me for some time… and time is something in abundance for me. I visit with pigeon folks from down the block and in distant countries daily thanks to the Internet. Decline and demise of the sport is always a topic at some juncture along the path of conversation it seems.
It has been said that all roads lead to Rome. Perhaps all roads lead to the awareness of some very basic truths regarding the future of the sport. Two of the finest articles on basic truths that I've read in the last several years can be found by clicking on http://www.racingpigeonmall.com/loft/articles/ .
Indulge and enlighten yourself by reading What is Sportsmanship by Dr. Russell Gough of Pepperdine University and Is The U. S. Going The Way of Taiwan? by Alex Cornella. Both articles are worth several readings. Defined within each are keys pertaining directly to many of the problems threatening the future our sport today. Are we are able to honestly come to grips with these ills and act on them?
Also adding some very valid perspective are the articles A Champion of What? by John Vance and the always valid writings of Ad Schaerlaeckens. "Wash the sand from the eyes of a people who are brainwashed by a handful of pocketfillers" borders on the ultimate in profundity!
Hard to imagine how a few articles could hold the keys to revitalizing our sport on a worldwide scope isn't it? Yet each of these scribes have offered the concepts do it… the solution is in our willingness and ability to take the information and apply it honestly. Knowledge is not knowledge until it is put to use!