In 2017, strongman Eddie “The Beast” Hall stepped from the backstage shadows to a roaring capacity crowd at the Doncaster Dome in England. The event is on YouTube in amateur and professionally edited formats. There are easily over 2,000 people watching the contest live that are visibly excited about the sport. It’s great to see, and you can see how the sport is catching on in Europe.
Outside the United States, though, is where you will see dedicated fans. Unfortunately our National Championships rarely draw many fans that are not family or friends of the athletes. A country of over 300 million is not tuning or turned on to one of the most athletic sports on the planet. Why is that?
Games dominate sports in American culture. While children play a multitude of sports most people in the USA simply are not interested in anything other than Football, Baseball, and Basketball, and it’s a darn shame. Out of the individual sports on TV, MMA is about the only one with a consistent audience, with most people thinking it is far too violent.
Tennis makes guest appearances but typically does not have a regular following and most find golf too boring to watch. Sports of pure athleticism like track and weightlifting are limited to just prior to the Olympics and don’t even mention gymnastics, triathlon, and fencing. Television has been the dictator of what the audience is exposed to, but now we are seeing that traditional medium begin to fade, and it is currently on its last legs. The control is going from the corporate executive producer and is being placed, my dear friend, directly into your hands; or technically what ever computer device you use.
The internet is still in its toddler stages. It is a level playing field for those who chose to become involved with it. Unfortunately most promoters, athletes, and fans are begging for content but not getting involved in the game. If you want this sport to become a “real thing” (I think we all know what I mean) we can all pitch in and build excitement. I can’t guarantee anything but I strongly suspect that if as a team (anyone who competes, promotes or has family involved) we can gain exposure and sponsors ultimately that all leads to prize money and growth. How to start?
Setting a Foundation for Strongman in the U.S.
- Coaches: Get your group big, organized, well trained, and competing. Having more athletes generates excitement and you just may uncover the next champion who never even gave Strongman a thought before.
- Athletes: Compete and compete well. Cheer on your team and support them. Act like a professional at all times.
- Promoters: Put on a contest that is well run and exciting. Hour breaks between events kill momentum and 55 people taking eight attempts at a max with nothing else going on will also make sure no one comes to your next event. Reach out to established promoters like Lynn Morehouse and Kyle Bixler for advice.
Getting Eyes (People Have to See It!)
As a whole, we need more content. When it comes to this though, it should be good quality material. Unedited videos of you walking to the bar, putting on your belt, taking 30 seconds to get psyched up, then hitting a great rep will never get views because no one wants to sit through all of that. Video editors are cheap, and can turn a “dull” 700 deadlift into a video that is shared so often you might even make it on Gym Fails.
- Get comfortable with Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Use them to promote your brand, that is you. Kalle Beck started something from nothing and makes a living off of it now. Donna Moore and Kimberly Lawrence are two Pro women that have great exposure. Get some fans with good videos of you doing amazing things.
- Every contest should be on video start to finish at this point and at the minimum a highlight reel made. A few athletes do this of themselves but promoters should be doing some video capture of their hard work.
- Livestreams? These are a great way to get family and friends to see the action but so far the the numbers of people tuning in (when you have to pay) are not that amazing. You can get a decent Live setup for under $5k. Free streams will get thousands of views and are an added bonus to your sponsors.
- SHARE!!!! Likes are great, but share pictures of others, articles of others, contest announcements, etc.. The more views we get as a community the better we will do.
- Ask for promotion. My friend Bo has never promoted an event before in his life. Currently he is putting on a charity boxing event and reached out for as much free advertising as people would give. He has been on five different radio stations, has posters in every gym in the county, and got a ton of sponsors. People love to be a part of something cool, let them help! (His event has sold out by the way and is in the black!)
- When you win an event, get on local TV. They are dying for family friendly community highlights. One of your local networks will put you on the news. I find it astounding we didn’t see more coverage of Brian Shaw after winning World’s several times. He needs a talent agent!
People are always looking for the next best thing. Exciting shows with dynamic engaged athletes will unlock the doors for advancement of our sport as a real true test of human limits. If we all pitch in and share our love for Strongman we can get the rest of the country on board.
Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Featured image: @trainstrongman on Instagram