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About that demographic cliff...

15 years ago, Jon Steinberg created a thread on rec.games.bridge entitled “Report of the Houston ACBL Board of Directors Meetings”. I made a reply that read as follows

 

>From my perspective, the "graying" of the ACBL membership base is the

>most significant problem facing the ACBL. Demographic statistics for

>most organizations have a relatively well defined "cliff" bounding the

>upper age of the membership. At some point in time - be it 68 or 73

>or 75 - members become too old to continue to participate. One of the

>greatest threats to an organization is when the median membership age

>hits this cliff. Almost always this results in a catastrophic

>collapse in both membership numbers and revenues.

 

The reason that I dredge up this blast from the past is that the most recent District 25 newsletter includes the following chart:

Year       Average Membership Age

1990      60.71

1995      62.39

2000      64.69

2005      66.99

2010      69.05

2015      72

2016      72.51

 

Over the last 25 years, the average (I presume the mean) age of the ACBL membership has been increasing at a rate of .46 years each year. This rate has been almost completely constant over this period of time. Personally, I’d be much more interested in knowing the behavior of the median rather than the mean, but either way I think that the message is clear. It’s about time for us to pay the piper…

Personally, I suspect that it is too late to salvage the ACBL. By the time the organization is able to rally itself from its apathy its going to be far too late to make a different. I question whether the best option for the long term survival of bridge in North America is to deliberately splinter the organization. Create a new organization that focuses on competitive bridge. Align this more closely with the USBF and WBF. Focus on recruiting younger players and shield them from the greying masses.

Let the social players identify solutions that work well for their members.

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