Climbing The Fencing Fence…

We have now entered the official countdown for London 2012, less than a year to go. So with NBC now locked back in for the long term, the USOC righting their corporate ship, and interest starting to move toward next summer, a few thoughts on what could make a dent in interest leading up to The Games. How about fencing?

OK it will never draw mass numbers to be a professional sport, but on the grassroots level, as well as on the technology side, the sport of fencing is making inroads which could lead to some interesting opportunities for exposure next summer. As a scholarship sport on the collegiate level, fencing is affordable to both create and administer. It teaches great amounts of strategy and hand/eye coordination. It is purely international and it is growing at a good rate in the innercities, places like New York and Detroit, on the club level. The lack of quality fencers has given rise to increased opportunities for athletic scholarships and grants for students, and it’s relative affordability for those who excel have made fencing clubs increase in those areas where there are large amounts of young people looking for a new athletic challenge. Technology has seen masks become clear, which has given rise to show the great emotion and expression of fencers as they ply their trade. Their faces are no longer hidden behind mesh screens. Technology has also increased the opportunity for micro cameras to take fans inside the game, mounted on helmets and even foils, which has given the sport a step up on the internet. Pristine white uniforms lead to a canvas for sponsors, and the high level companies interested in the sport could afford time buys on television which could take the place of poker, which has lost sponsors in the crackdown on internet gambling. The sport has its weapons, and could pull in even more gamers interested in the swashbuckling style and its nuances, as well as fans of the action figure genre who are not pulled to team sports but still want to stay active.

What the sport needs is promotion and personality. the flamboyance of a charismatic champion who can overcome a nemesis to obtain new heights. It has drama, despite its complex point system, and the innercity involvement could remove some of the stigmas that it is just an elitist sport played in the Ivies. In short, fencing has technology, drama, athleticism and a wide open playing field for growth in an era where the individual athlete is taking more and more center stage. it also has an underdog quality that leads to prime Olympic interest, should a series of rising Americans emerge. No it’s not gonna push the Dream team, or gymnastics or even beach volleyball. But it has history and a unique cache that most people “get” when they see it,aand with a little push, maybe maybe its time for renaissance has come. En garde indeed.