Friday, August 8, 2008

In the Forum with the Lions

I went to the USCF Issues section of the forum tonight and read every post under the topic of US Open attendance. I decided, after reflecting upon what I read, to make a post of my own. This is it:
After reading all of the previous posts I decided to check out the turnout at the National Scrabble Championship and this is what I found: Nigel Richards, of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, has been crowned the 2008 National Scrabble Champion after a four-day tournament in Orlando, Florida. For his victory, Richards won the grand prize of $25,000. Nearly 700 players competed in the Scrabble Championship's six divisions, including players from the U.S., Canada, Thailand, Guyana, New Zealand and the Bahamas.
Contrast the top prize with what the winner of the US Open will receive. What is it, more that ten times less? But what does the number 700 mean? Did the high price of petrol and the inflated economy and the weakened dollar contribute to a lower turnout than in previous years? In 2006 there were 632 players in Phoenix, Az. In 2004 & 2005 in New Orleans and Reno respectively, there were over 700 players. I could not find a 2007 event, and except for 2005, it had been held only in even numbered years. So I went back and checked every year from 1992 and also checked the number of players in the US Open each year. This is what I found:
Chess -Scrabble 1992 Dearborn 496- Atlanta 320 1994 Rosemont 470 -Los Angeles 300+1 996 Alexandria 515- Dallas 416 1998 Kona 304- Chicago 535 2000 St Paul 492- Providence 598 2002 Cherry Hill 506- San Diego 696 2004 Weston 434- New Orleans 700+ 2005 Phoenix 455- Reno 700+ 2006 Chicago 543- Phoenix 632 2008 Dallas 379 -Orlando (almost) 700
It is too expedient to blame the lack of turnout on a bad economy. The numbers do not lie. The last time the US Open drew more players than the National Scrabble Championships was a dozen years ago, and since that time, the trend is clear. In the immortal words of Mr Zimmerman, "You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows."
It is rather obvious that,"... something is happening here/But you don't know what it is /Do you, Mister Jones?"
I will, no doubt, be pilloried for what I'm about to write, but it needs be written. The sad fact of the matter is that the pooh-bahs of the USCF can no longer use another excuse, like a Band-Aid, to cover the problem, as there is Blood on the Tracks! The Pollyanna's who write that "We will get'em next year," and "Everythings lovely, in it's own way," and "Don't worry, be happy" are in for a RUDE AWAKENING! The reason being, "The pump don't work'/Cause the vandals took the handles."
There's a whiff of the lynch mob or the lemming migration about any overlarge concentration of like-thinking individuals, no matter how virtuous their cause.-P.J. O'Rourke

DIRE STRAITS lyrics - Lions

Red sun go down way over dirty town/Starling are sweeping around crazy shoals/A girl is there high heeling across the square/Wind blows around in her hair and the flags upon the poles/Waiting in the crowd to cross at the light/She looks around to find a face she can like./Church bell clinging on trying to get a crowd for Evensong/Nobody cares to depend upon the chime it plays/They're all in the station praying for trains/Cogregations late again/It's getting darker all the time these flagpole days/Drunk old soldier he gives her a fright/He's crazy lion howling for a fight./Strap hanging gunshot sound/Doors slamming on the overground/Starlings are tough but the lions are made of stone/Her evening paper is horror torn/But there's hope later for Capricorns/Her lucky stars give her just enough to get home/Then she's reading about a swing to the right/But she's thinking about a stranger in the night/I'm thinking about the lions tonight/What happened to the lions.

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