Creating new perceptions – April 24, 2006

It’s been more than two years since the four major PWC manufacturers effectively pulled the plug on their support of the International Jet Sports Boating Association (IJSBA), opting instead to funnel most of their funding to the enthusiast-based American Watercraft Association (AWA).
In the shakeout that followed, the IJSBA became focused as more of a pure worldwide sanctioning body, leaving the race promotion and marketing ultimately to the American PowerBoat Association. In the process, almost the entire IJSBA staff changed over, leaving few recognizable faces in charge.
In late 2005, the IJSBA found one of its own to lead a renewed charge. Scott Frazier, a longtime IJSBA member, assumed the role of managing director shortly before the 2005 World Finals, and wasted little time in attempting to set the organization on a new and improved course.
Powersports Business recently spoke with Frazier to get his thoughts on the organization’s past, present and future.
PSB: Explain the course of events that led to you becoming the new face of the IJSBA. What do you think you can bring to the table to get the organization once again moving in the right direction?
Scott Frazier: I don’t know how I feel about the term “face.” The racers are the face of the IJSBA. I know that probably has a cornball sound, but it really is the truth. The sport of PWC racing, like many other motorsports today, is almost entirely participant driven.
I hope that during my tenure I can help get the focus and spotlight on the racer constituency as an entire body — by giving the maximum publicity to the privateer effort, we can simultaneously reward participation and advertise that this is a sport for everyone.
I have been an IJSBA participant since 1992 and have competed in more than a 100 events, including a few years on the national tour. When the IJSBA was restructured to include racers on the board of directors, my peers elected me the first rider representative. Shortly afterward, the managing director resigned and I was offered his position.
My racing career started to wind down when I completed law school in 2002. I had been working as an entertainment attorney, NFL agent and talent manager. The business end of sports and entertainment was in my blood, and this sport had been my life since I was 19, so I thought it might be a good fit and would allow me to stay within a community that I loved so much.
PSB: What has been the biggest challenge to date? What immediate steps needed to be taken, and what have been the results of those steps?
SF: The three equally biggest challenges have been communication, perception and financing.
Communication was clearly the most crucial of the three to deal with. When I came on, many participants did not feel like they had a good line of communication with the IJSBA. In many cases, this was because the people were waiting for us to come to them, while they did not seek us out. But, if that is the circumstances that the IJSBA was dealt, then we need to be proactive. I started a series of monthly updates to let people know what is going on over at the office. I have also started making routine inquiry e-mails to promoters, builders, aftermarket producers, team owners and racers. In many cases, people have stated it was the first time that the IJSBA has ever given them an unsolicited call. When someone sends an idea or a question our way, I try to pass it on and circulate it as quickly as possible.
Feedback has been good for our communication, but we still can go further. I have just hired a new director of operations, Blake Corning, who has great experience and a significant rapport with the community. Perception is a problem as much of the PWC community has expectations that may not be based on realistic goals or opportunities for the sport. Perception is directly tied to communication in the sense that the more people know what is going on, then the better they can know what to realistically expect from their sport and association. I have been trying to get the facts out as much as possible. But it is very difficult to get people to embrace the idea that PWC racing, while the greatest sport in the world in which to participate, is not a very large spectator sport. This means it is difficult to raise dollars outside of the participant funding stream.
I see other sports like wakeboarding and even some forms of motorcycle and boat racing are having similar problems. When participants have the expectations that you can deliver more than is possible (i.e. seven figure sponsors), then they become disappointed. Since some of what is expected cannot be delivered, I am hoping that continuously trying to inform the community will align the community’s perception with that which is possible to provide.
Of course, trying to go after the potential funding is also a goal. We have been in contact with our primary sponsors asking how we can custom tailor our events to their needs. …. What all of this amounts to is being a strong presence and acting responsible. I feel we have been accomplishing this.

Next issue: Frazier’s thoughts on his goals for the IJSBA’s future, the hurdles that still remain, and whether it’s realistic to expect the organization to once again reach the level of years’ past. psb

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