ESPN Cancels Great Outdoor Games as ATA Focuses on Building, Aiding Archery Programs
Six-year run on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC Sports gave archery its largest TV audiences ever. Visibility from its work with ESPN has helped ATA begin launching community-based programs nationwide.
ESPN Outdoors? decision to cancel the Great Outdoor Games? six-year run will end archery?s most-watched competition on TV, but the Archery Trade Association is confident its close work with ESPN in recent years will continue to pay dividends as the ATA partners with local, state and federal agencies to create and maintain more community-based archery programs nationwide.
?The Great Outdoor Games were a great endeavor for the ATA and the sport of archery,? said Laverne Woock, chairman of the ATA?s Board of Directors and president/CEO of Delta Industries. ?Our partnership with ESPN allowed us to unveil ?The Eliminator? ? a fun new game that people enjoyed watching on TV. Its success proved that people will watch televised archery. I?m confident we?ll see more 3-D and field-archery events on national TV because of the track record we built through the Great Outdoor Games.?
Hands on events such as this one helped generate interest in archery
ESPN Outdoors announced its decision to drop the Games in a letter this week to hundreds of athletes and groups who took part in the events since its inception in 2000. In part, the letter stated: ?ESPN Outdoors is shifting its focus and will concentrate its energies and resources on BASS and the Saturday Outdoors programming block. In evaluating current and future programming opportunities, ESPN made the difficult decision that the Great Outdoor Games will not return.?
During the sixth and final Great Outdoor Games in 2005, The Eliminator archery event was part of a special telecast of ABC Sports that became the highest-rated broadcast in the network?s six-year history of covering the Games. The show?s 2.4 broadcast rating was a 26 percent increase of the same show?s rating from 2004, and a 60 percent increase over 2003.
?We?ll always be grateful for the opportunity we had to showcase archery on ABC and ESPN,? said the ATA?s Denise Parker, who provided the ?color? analysis for ABC Sports during the 2005 Games. ?Because of the Great Outdoor Games, the people at ESPN and ABC Sports learned that archery pulls strong viewer numbers, especially with women and families.?
With the Great Outdoor Games now history, the ATA is stepping away from promotional events and directing its outreach efforts toward more local, community-based archery programs. ?The ATA Board acted during our June meeting to end ATA?s support and contributions to all types of promotional archery programs,? said Jay McAninch, ATA president/CEO. ?We believe promotional shooting events like the Eliminator competition provide archery with great national exposure, but don?t necessarily create opportunities to grow archery over the long term. The key is to link people excited about archery with local resources such as retail shops, ranges, instructors or clubs, thus creating a community-based network.?
McAninch said the ATA Board and staff believe archery will be better served by providing varied and repeated hands-on opportunities to new archers within reach of their local network so they find their niche in this lifelong sport. ?The best way to achieve that goal is to capitalize on the long-term relationships we?ve been building with local, state and federal entities and agencies,? McAninch said. ?Our partnerships with these folks are developing and expanding archery programs, and building and maintaining archery ranges.?
Woock said those partnerships continue to grow, adding that the ATA?s efforts the past five years helped focus its long-term goals. ?We received some great paybacks from our work with ESPN, and have leveraged the increased exposure to create excitement about developing more after-school programs, community programs, archery leagues, bowhunting clubs and public archery ranges.?
McAninch added, ?We?re working furiously to create more opportunities in school, after-school and in city and county recreation programs. We want to help folks pursue Olympic archery, 3D archery, bowhunting, bowfishing ? any form or style of archery that interests them.?