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Is pay to play the only way to hold tournaments?

Posted By: leobueno
Date: Tuesday, 24 March 2015, at 12:41 p.m.

I discovered the existence of the backgammon circuit several years ago, which happens to be after the game's popularity tanked. I have no way of comparing how things were done in the old days, so my view is limited.

I have played--and had a terrific time in one of those events (Fort Lauderdale) a couple of years back--which got me thinking about why there were not droves of people at the event.

Based on my reading of tournament chronicles, my experience in Fort Lauderdale was not an outlier: tournament attendance numbers are usually not humdingers.

My sense is that, to a significant degree, it has to do with the entry fees needed to participate in main tournaments and side events.

Say you want to play in a typical ABT tournament. You have to pick up the airfare, hotel and food. Then, there are additional entry fees, which easily surpass the other costs.

If you are a highly skilled player, it may make sense to incur all the associated costs, given your likely positive expected returns. But what about the rest of us?

I suspect there are lots of players who refrain from attending tournaments because of the entry fees. Fore example, if I wanted to go to the Ohio State BG Championship this weekend and wanted the opportunity to get a taste of what it is like to play against top players, it would cost, at least, something like this in fees:

Masters - $300 / Open - $250

So, this is not a criticism of the folk who run tournaments. I understand the need to charge entry fees.

I am just wondering if there are ways, other than fees, to generate sufficient funds to underwrite tournaments, like sponsorships from casinos, chambers of commerce, corporate advertisers and the like.

My bet is that if the costs of attending tournaments were limited to airfare, lodging and food, there would be much grater attendance, which would likely increase the popularity of the game, which is what many of us wish and are trying to do.

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