thank you!ABC would most likely find that featuring Davis and White in order to promote Skate America, which is being broadcast by NBC to be a conflict of interests. The idea that anyone would be paid to appear on a network to promote an event another network has rights to seems very unlikely.
The comparison to the Fierce Five doesn't work, because the Fierce Five became an asset to any show by winning the Olympics and becoming famous. If Davis and White win the Olympics, then they will be more likely to appear on all sorts of shows across networks. They'll be more likely to be invited on these shows even before the Olympics in Sochi, I imagine, during the pre-Olympic hype. That, however, is two years away. Also, it probably won't have a lot to do with the USFSA asking for them to be included- rather, it would be initiated by the producers of the shows. Any time the USFSA is asking if their skaters can appear on a show they can expect to pay for that right unless they are negotiating a broadcast deal, and NBC already has those rights. There may also be a conflict between NBC's deal with the USFSA and the ability to ask other networks to promote their skaters.
As for the pressure, I totally agree that skaters will have to deal with pressure to get anywhere in the sport. Hyping somebody up as being the person who will probably beat the national champion is a bit far, though. It puts a very specific expectation on a skater that could be a blow to their psyche should they fail to accomplish as much. It's also very unfair to the national champion who, by virtue of winning, has earned the right to be heralded as the current best the US has to offer. Billing Gracie as the best (and saying that she'll become better than the national champion is doing so) is probably confusing to many fans who might want to cheer for the skater who was ready to earn the title- a title that some seem to want to hand to Gracie with no results. Also, as I already mentioned, sending two of your best skaters to the same event makes it less likely that both will qualify for the final. That would also be unfair to one of the skaters. They'll face off at nationals, and if they both have good Grand Prixs, then that can build more hype for Nationals, which is the bigger event. If they don't, then the USFSA can find another aspect to hype without having blown their marketing plan with one event.
I do agree that skating needs more exposure in general, but I think that it's 1)harder than we think and 2)needs to be the right type of exposure. In 2006 I thought prospects were bright for the future of figure skating with skating movies coming out and the Ice Diaries and Skating with Celebrities shows. Somehow the general public seems to have a reduced opinion of skating after all that, though. Maybe the Disney version of skating (you can learn to do a triple in a year!?!!!!) didn't sell? Maybe the pageant-like aspects of the sport have turned some people off? Or maybe the USFSA entered into a really bad broadcasting agreement with NBC that truly fails to promote the sport because the sport is almost never on channels that everyone actually gets and includes broadcasters who (even though they might be right) denegrate the code of points every chance they get (this is my vote for what went wrong). There needs to be adequate coverage of the actual sport, and various facts about the athleticism and skills required need to be explained every time it's on the air.
I also think that the quality of professional skating that is shown has gone way down, and that has also affected the ratings. It's hard for me to watch certain skaters who are way past their prime and clearly don't train all that much on shows like the Halloween On Ice show doing the same watered down tricks and choreography over and over again. Some of the professional skaters are lovely, and some of the newer ones are bringing new life to the choreography, but we don't see enough of them on t.v., and we see too many of the others who are there just for their name. We need more skaters like Kurt Browning, Stephane Lambiel, Joannie Rochet, Jeffery Buttle, Katia Gordeeva, and the like to be shown, and less of those who phone their show programs in.
I would love to see skating featured in programs like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade again (way more interesting than a dog show, though I have nothing against dog shows). I think ABC has the right to that programming, though, so it would have to be a group other than the USFSA that would coordinate that type of thing. It would be wonderful if a John Curry style special from the Rockefeller tree lighting could be shown (again, ABC territory). All of this costs money and takes organization, though, and would be out of the hands of the USFSA.
Maybe the USFSA could convince NBC to air a pro-am competition to include athletes of a high caliber during Christmas season in a future year? That way they'd be organizing the competition and could invite those who'd best represent the sport? Again, though, that costs $$$. NBC would have to be willing to pay for it.
Maybe the best route is to try to get more youngsters interested in the sport- perhaps the USFSA should put their money towards a day of free skating lessons in member rinks across the country, and advertise this heavily. The difficulty here is that skating is a sport with a steep learning curve, so they'd have to work hard to find ways to make doing the most basic things a lot of fun.
I'm just rambling and throwing out random ideas now. The point is that it is a lot more difficult to drum up popularity than many of us think, and the USFSA has a tall order ahead of them.
Maybe the best way to promote skating is for each of us to take a friend to a show, and then to take a few friends skating, and then maybe take our neighbors' and relatives' kids skating. Maybe relying on the governing bodies to fix everything isn't the answer? Or perhaps the USFSA needs to find ways to get more people involved in promoting the sport- offering a second set of tickets at a discounted price to people who buy the expensive seats so that they can bring a friend? Or maybe just trying to get member clubs to go out into the community to promote certain events?
also - if WE the fans can't even agree with how to "fix the problem" I can't imagine it any easier for the folks at the USFSA to agree and fix it either.