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From the Well: Adam Kaplan's Perspective

While "In the Well",Adam Kaplan provided us with his direct and honest answer on how he would market the game of bridge to young players and why he feels the ACBL's current marketing effort won't succeed. Do you agree with him? How would you market the game of bridge to Junior players?

How do you think the ACBL should improve its efforts in marketing the game to players under the age of 25?

Adam: "The current marketing effort by the ACBL is quite clearly written by 60-year-olds trying to attract teenagers into the game. It sounds stupid, it looks stupid, and it won't be effective. We can say "bridge is cool" until our voiceboxes implode, but that doesn't change the fact that there are usually not more than two or three juniors at any given tournament and that there is a tiny overall junior bridge population.

The ACBL has informally funded many "Bridge in Schools" programs, but each school is an isolated group of students who view bridge as an extracurricular activity that they enjoy. They may enjoy the game, but they have no incentive or reason to pursue it any further. Given the choice between learning/playing bridge and various methods of instant gratification, it's not much surprise that they choose non-bridge activities.

While we cannot change the complexity and difficulty associated with learning and improving their bridge, we can at least try to offer more incentives to keep with the game and to get others involved.

Bridge tournaments don't have monetary prizes, so there is little incentive there, and the game itself is currently dominated by an older generation. If we can change the demographic somewhat, at some point we'll hit a "tipping point" where the game will become as popular as poker or chess.

One of the first things we need to do to start this trend is to tap into some of the competitive spirit that every teenager has. Similar to with various sports and other games, there needs to be a "bridge league" where schools can have representative teams that compete against each other for scholarships, recognition, and other prizes. By creating some reason for a natural competitive drive, we can get more of the younger generation excited and interested in the game. These leagues would allow schools to promote bridge and encourage the students to practice at home and to look for other ways to improve their game.

My next suggestion would be to include a bridge program as a default game that comes with all computers. Similar to how everybody and their grandmother knows what Hearts or FreeCell is, by having a bridge program installed on computers, it would increase awareness and marketing range.

Even though I currently would not be eligible, I think trying to revive money bridge would help with publicity and motivation as well. I'm not quite sure how to go about doing so though.

In the end, the ACBL needs to focus a lot less on the present, and look more into the future... Where will we be in 30 years? Will bridge still exist? Who will be playing? Unless we do something soon to turn around the tiny junior population, we'll be left with nothing in a few years."

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