13. Bridge: Social Players are an untapped market for bridge teachers

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So why do they not actively target that market?  Seek out students who want only to play sociable bridge–ever! That is the market that Ely Culbertson targeted back in the 20s, Charles Goren inherited in the 50s, and (seems like to me as an outsider) is not being targeted by most bridge clubs. Not even part of the conversation for promoting bridge.

Why do I make such a “thing” about bridge lessons? [I’ve written a couple earlier blogs on the topic.] Because, over a lifetime, I’ve heard so many people say (in one way or another): “I tried bridge but quit.” And it’s always for one of two reasons. Either someone at the table had been rude, or bridge lessons turn out to be not what they expected.

The bridge establishment has responded to that rude behavior problem with its zero tolerance policy. They need to at least consider responding to the second reason people take bridge lessons and quit–or never try to learn at all. Every potential bridge player who takes a couple lessons and quits is a badwill ambassador for bridge–adding to its reputation as “too difficult” to learn.

Sure, it’s difficult to learn to play serious bridge. It’s not difficult to take up bridge, play socially, get better just playing over years–maybe even graduating to serious duplicate bridge at some point. Millions of people have done it for decades.

I know I sound like a broken record . . . but

Bridge history tells us the way for bridge to thrive as Retro Pop Culture is to promote the game to potential players in both bridge worlds–serious and sociable. That’s the way you end up with kids seeing bridge played at home and they in turn end up intrigued into learning the game their parents play. That’s the way bridge can once again be part of the popular culture as it was until the 70s.

Because the Boomers (who in earlier decades would have taught today’s kids how to play bridge) are the lost generation of bridge players, and the mass of sociable players still alive (like me) are dying off, if the ACBL wants to really thrive, it needs to get involved in reaching out to the untapped market of social/sociable bridge potential players. Fill in for the role Culbertson and Goren played until there’s a revived boomer generation of sociable players to restore that missing link.

Are there any bridge clubs out there who can say, as Andrew Robson says (see #12) about his London club, “the untapped market of social players that’s my main focus.” 

Doesn’t have to be the main focus–just an important part of a club’s marketing plan.

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