One may argue that Racquetball is an artform. Advocates reveal athleticism and grace, as well as the beauty and strategy of shots and movement. Others boast that the players get thrills from retrieving balls randomly positioned in the 20 x 40 arena with a 22 inch implement. Their main objective is to avoid the other party and walk away unscathed with a shirt full of perspiration.
Many artists starve unless they have 3rd party backing or a large deposit of wealth. Racquetball players were fortunate years ago because they had a huge backing from 3rd parties—financial prospectors driven by a fitness fad which attracted large numbers of interested consumers. Unfortunately, many of the investors were part of the process because of bandwagon economics versus sound investment principles. In a short period of time, the percentages became apparent, and they were forced out of the game. Many of the clubs and accessible courts became extinct.
The AmPRO name has been around since the mid-1980s. The AmPRO-IPRO brand is completing its 22nd year under the same administration. Things have changed! A large cadre of professional clinicians historically offered courses for aspiring teachers of the game. Some would become employees or contractors at large and moderate sized athletic complexes—Private/Semi-private Clubs, JCC’s, Y’s, Public Recreation Centers, Corporate Wellness Centers, and others. Not uncommon was the offering of 100 courses annually throughout the US. Some instructors hosted over twenty courses alone. Now, there are few courses based on demand; and, most are driven by passionate clinicians in Latin America.
Let us investigate some of the drivers of this new state of the art and examples of each:
Splintering of resources—Organizations working alone without networking (IRF, USAR, IRT).
Demographic changes—Average age of participants has steadily climbed upward.
Competition in the recreation arena—From low cost fitness centers to high dollar exclusives.
Economics—A more splintered work force; and, exorbitant land prices precluding new courts.
Poor decision making—Many clubs riding the wave of short-termed fitness offerings.
Art or no art, the state of racquetball is at a crossroads. Fewer canvasses on which to paint; fewer courts on which to play. There is less competition; therefore, prices often are driven upward in order to be a participant. Many potential consumers are forced to leave the marketplace. Our legacy is in question. Take heed our friends; those who have a passion for a game and the few who still hold onto the thread of making a living off its name. in closing, AmPRO-IPRO will continue to be a conduit between the grass roots players and the administrative hierarchy. We will continue to offer courses for instructors & coaches & officials & programmers. We will continue to be an ally with insurance coverage for our constituency. We will continue to try to grow the indoor and outdoor court sports.