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ACBL Membershp Follies

If any ACBL officials or employees are not deeply concerned about falling tournament attendance, they should be. The latest ACBL policy of charging non-members a $4.00 entry fee surcharge per session for sectional and regional tournaments is, at the very least, counter productive. Any non-current member attending a tournament has four alternatives, buy a $49 full year membership, buy a $7.99 one month membership, pay the surcharge, or walk out. Fees are higher in Canada. Can you imagine Starbucks charging patrons a surcharge if they aren't in their loyalty program?

There are literally millions of people who play bridge but are not ACBL members. My age qualified community has two non-sanctioned duplicate games a week. Most of the players are not ACBL members, but some will play a few sessions when we have a sectional or regional in town. Over time some of these players have joined the ACBL, and more might if we don't drive them away.

Rather than surcharge for non-members, how about a six month free trial membership for anyone who was not previously a member. A name and birth date search would weed out most prior members, and what harm would it do if some prior member got a trial membership? To make the whole thing more attractive, the trial should include at least one free ACBL Bulletin and access to the ACBL website. If they aren't hooked in six months, they never will be, but we will have collected entry fees.

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