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Is Bridge "Dying" or are the demographics simply changing?

The number of ACBL clubs may be shrinking but is our organization any less healthy?

Our bridge population is getting older, but is it "aging"?


Here's what I've learned from the ACBL's website for ACBL "Club Table Count" between the years 1991 and 2018.

Though the total number of clubs has fallen, the top tier clubs have actually been increasing in size.

The 250th largest club in the country in the nineties, on average, had 1675 tables a year. Last year that number was 1980.

Even the 500th largest club grew by 100 tables.

Here's the real kicker, the really large clubs.

The 100th largest club in the 90's had around 3,200 tables. Now it's 3,900 tables.

And the 50th largest club had 5000 then versus 5800 now. 

The average age of our players is older, but we need to look more closely at why. Yes, our long time players are aging. But instead of them being replaced, as they were in the 1970's with college aged kids, we are now teaching mainly empty nesters and the recently retired. A 55 year old, just learning the game, hardly puts a dent in lowing the average age of the population. But a 55 year old women starting out today has a life expectancy of almost 30 years. There's a lot of bridge left in those bodies.

With an almost nonexistent advertising budget, and with almost no clue about how to market to "young" people, why are we not putting our resources where they'll do the most good? Empty nesters and the recently retired.

From Silence of the Lambs, "People covert what they see". When kids start hearing and seeing their parents playing bridge, like we did as kids, who knows? They haven't for the last two generations. Maybe if we concentrate on parents, the kids will follow. At the very least, down the road, when bridge is suggested as a form of entertainment, they won't have to ask what bridge is.  

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