Jai-Alai Chalk Talk Hall of Fame

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State of the (jai alai) Nation

Posted on February 26, 2008 at 11:15:35 PM by fp

I'm not sure if I've seen a post in the past with a similar theme, but here it goes:

I consider myself to be a pretty opinionated individual, ready to stand by my point of view, controversy aside. While my love afair with jai alai has been renewed since a long departure from Florida, I view myself as a most avid and dedicated fan.

I give huge kudos to Tiger for producing and maintaining such a wonderful forum, as this. While many of us may have differing opinions and positions, we are all brothers and sisters of the same ilk - all of us love this game. I have been lucky enough to meet some great people through this forum and hope to stay friends with them for a long time to come.

While it is saddening to see what has happened to our great game, it is probably even tougher for those of us who have seen jai alai during it's heyday - when it was thriving and vibrant all on it's own.

There are a lot of topics that seem to be "hot buttons" to many of the posters; the strike, lottery, casinos, slots, Diane Hurley, Crist, The Compact, players...the list goes on and on.

Like everything else, venting does have it's time and place, but after awhile it's just throwing fuel on the fire.

Because of the world we live in, it looks like jai alai can no longer stand on it's own. Sad, but true. While everything else that has happened before is a valid and just reason to be upset and get everyones' back up, it doesn't change the circumstances of today.

The sport of jai alai (to me) is still sexy and exciting. Every time I take someone new to the cancha, they are in awe (and believe me, I try to get newbies there all the time). Not a day goes by that my heart doesn't race and I get that anticipation "feeling" when walking into a fronton. Watching the Citrus this year proved to me, beyond a doubt, one thing:

It's all about the game; I went to the Citrus, lost money, had the time of my life...and would do it all again.

SO, what does it all mean?

Poker, slots, jai alai...I think we have to accept the current situation and figure out positive ways (lobbying, calling, letters, whatever...) to protect our sport. We can hate slots and poker all we like, as well as the individuals who have dumped on our sport, but at the end of the day, the old expression rings true:

If it doesn't make dollars, it doesn't make sense

If jai alai was financially successful for the past 20 or so years, no one would have jumped ship. It was just a simple financial decision. Make the game profitable and it'll grow.

Just to qualify that statement; There are individuals out there who want so much for things to succeed that they invest their own hard in dollars to make things work (you know who you are) and they are to be commended.

But, at the end of the day, capitalism rules the day. Owners don't want to lose money, employees want to make money and governments want to get tax revenue (amongst other things). Crying over spilled milk won't change things - I think we have to stop bickering over how we got here, who's to blame, who we should hate, which owner is dirt...and so on and so on.

Remember, I love this sport as much as any of you, but if the Ocala group was making money, instead of losing it, their season would be longer. Santi at Orlando would love to run a 6 month season (words straight from his lips) - but can't because he'd lose his shirt. While I don't know Richards personally, I'm guessing that if jai alai was making money for him, he'd be running it. Sure, maybe he didn't promote it, looks like he used it to get poker, didn't train tellers properly, and a slew of other things, but he still built a court and tried to run a full slate of games (singles and doubles). Ocala will be running doubles on certain nights.

It's sad, it's a shame and some ownership/management are focused more on a bottom line then we'd like them to be. But what needs to be done to make the game healthy again? Poker and slots - we probably need them. Strong laws to ensure that games don't get cut - probably a good thing too.

I don't have all the answers and don't pretend that there is an easy solution. But we should channel our frustrations into something positive. This game isn't dead yet, and while it's a far cry from what we have known in the past, we can make a difference and things can change for the better (bettor?). Things are not nearly as bad as they seem - and can improve. We just have to find a way(s).


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