I confess my perception was that Bridge Players are aging up and we are losing our core population. Daniel Lieb's article at http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/bridge-is-not-a-dying-game/ provoked some intense discussion and disbelief as to the truth behind Paul Linxwiler’s Editorial in the July 2015 ACBL Bulletin. Paul suggested we do not have a demographic problem. Many of us raised substantial disagreement here on BridgeWinners.
We continue to see declines in club game and tournament attendance, and our players are older, evidenced by the increasing median age of ACBL members.
Just what do the demographics say?
I decided to check the US Census population projections for insight. I took the Total Population detail broken into 5 year increments, modified the data to reflect 10 year increments and plotted the following (See the first link to a .gif – adjust your browser to see the detail).
Note the numbers are in THOUSANDS (add 3 zeroes).
To my surprise, the available pool of players from retirees appears to be increasing some 50% to 100% FASTER than the total population from 2015 to 2060 (the limit of the projection). I used the 50-89 age cohort as the proxy for the Bridge target audience in this analysis.
Here is the link to the US Census data source: http://www.census.gov/population/projections/data/national/2014/summarytables.html . I used Table 9.
So – perhaps the marketing gurus have something here. The 10-19 year olds have little time (school and extracurricular activities), the 20-49’ers have money but no time, and the 50+ have both and the inclination to join new social entertainment opportunities.
Bridge starts with social entertainment and filters those with competitive spirit toward tournaments. Clubs are still at the forefront of attracting and holding the Social Player. Perhaps we need to do MORE for our clubs, no?
What this data cannot do is determine how the tournament population will change as a result of more players with fewer years of experience replacing existing tournament attendees. That’s where a model for converting novices --> constant club players (online players) --> Sectional-->Regional-->National players would help define how skill and experience will change as the new players enter the game older than say 40 years ago.
While I would not give up on establishing a robust school program, I would look to Europe for guidance from their success model. I would focus attention on Universities where aptitude, value, social interest, and captive audiences might make the marketing task more productive (not to mention time and disposable income).
You’ll note that the median age for the US will rise from 37.8 in 2015 to 43.0 in 2060. By then I’ll be 109.
Amazing what valid data can do for a useful discussion.
Plus... it's free!