Jai-Alai Chalk Talk Hall of Fame

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Posted on August 28, 2011 at 01:44:18 AM by Robertico

As a long-time critic of jai-alai management (at all frontons, not just Miami), I'd like to defend those running the show at the frontons.

It's not like these things that are so often complained about here on the Chalk Talk (thank the jai-alai gods and Tiger that it's still going strong, it's the only way to keep up with the sport from St. Louis. No pari-mutuels in Missouri, but we have to pay state and personal property tax? Give me a break! ) caused the downfall of the sport. People didn't stop going to jai-alai because the place was dirty or because there were no 10 Superfectas. Increased competition in gambling/sports/entertainment, the player strike, etc. were the impetus for that. In the 90's and 2000's jai-alai management has been forced to make trade-offs with limited resources. There's not enough money to go around to fix everything, make the place look nice, implement new wagers/promotions, run a marketing campaign, pay the players, pay the staff, etc. So, the constantly bashed management has been forced to make tough choices and the only place there hasn't been a severe decline is on the court. Especially at Miami, you still have the best of the best coming in everyday playing at a high level. You can argue to no end that the Bolivars and Elorduys of the past might beat the Goikoetxeas and Irastorzas of today, but there's no argument that we still have the best of today's generation playing at the Florida frontons.

This isn't to say that the management is perfect. I think there are numerous places for improvement. I agree that the website needs (a lot of) work, the play schedule needs to be re-tooled, there could be more promotions, new wagers, marketing, and the place is embarrassing to try to bring new fans too. But, despite the unclean bathrooms and out-of-date player roster photo on the web-page, everyone I ever brought to jai-alai was impressed with the sport and the play. And it is to management's credit that despite dire financial straits, the core jai-alai product remains as high quality as ever. Most people I knew from jai-alai in the 90s said that the sport would be gone by 2005. In the 2000s, those same people said it'd be dead by 2010. But, it's still here, with the best players on the planet.

I think Panch0 may have been a little harsh, but I think he's mostly right. Although, I'm pretty sure that jai-alai management (at least as of about 6-8 months ago) pays close attention to the Chalk Talk. But, it's really depressing to come on the site and see someone complaining about the bathrooms being dirty, the website not being updated, or, god forbid, no Pick 6 again. I think some of these smaller problems should be addressed (the fronton doesn't have to be a palace, but some minimum threshold of cleanliness needs to be maintained), but do you really think a Pick 6 is going to bring about a jai-alai resurgence, or even add any new customers at all? It'd be fun and bring in a little more money from the current pool of die-hards, but it's not a game-changer.

What is the point in complaining about these little insignificant things over and over? Surely, your time can be spent doing something more constructive. That being said, I don't think the people (at least 99% of them) on this site are low-lives and I don't think that if you're not bringing new fans to jai-alai or teaching a kid to play you're a detriment to the sport. If you have that opportunity, it's amazing and people like Pancho and Benny Bueno are the best people in the sport because they work tirelessly to do that. But, if you don't, I think there are other ways to help and it starts with getting over this fan vs. management feud.

The current jai-alai situation is like it is, deal with it, stop complaining, do what you can to help out, and if you can't help out, don't be a detractor. Be grateful for what you have, don't complain about what's not perfect about it. There's no jai-alai in St. Louis and I miss playing and watching live jai-alai multiple times everyday. Sometimes, I just want to quit work and move back to Florida, get to practicing, and try to play pro again, but I'll let Goiko and Lopez keep the spotlight for now .

Well, this has been quite a rant. Enjoy the jai-alai, keep up the hope, and a sincere thank you to everybody keeping the sport alive.


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