The er.. storm that has resulted from the release of the IronMan Access program should be more than enough to quiet anyone who doubts the relevance or impact of social media, blogs, and forums. Some of the links in the previous post/comments will take you to the fallout. You can also see a lovely recap of the drama here at Jeff6's blog, TriJeffTri.
This afternoon, after the Access program 'filled', World Triathlon Corporation/Ironman announced it was rescinding the program. You can view the video here.
Basically, Ben Fertic, President/CEO of WTC, states the rationale for the Access program: because athletes are uncertain which Ironman they will get into, they sign up for multiple events; when they get into the event of their choice, they do not participate in the others, leading to a wastage of spots.
I do have a few minor quibble(s) with this rationale.
1) If this is a significant problem, WTC/IM needs to re-evaluate their refund policy and/or institute penalizations for No-Shows.
2) If refunds are not the issue, WTC is still getting its money for those unfilled spots.
3) If the events fill up so quickly, why do they have trouble filling up the spots later? Of course, it takes a lot of time, planning, and training to optimize performance in an Ironman. But offer those spots to a waiting list, where people know there's a chance they might get in, and you're bound to get takers. Or increase the number of relays. Or discount the spot. Anything to bring someone in to fill the spot,a and generate revenue for sponsors and area businesses (since that's part of the money-making equation anyway).
I do give them credit for responding as quickly as they did to the backlash in the triathlete community. They could have stuck the course for weeks and weeks.
Whether or not the program would have damaged WTC/IM in the long run is a matter of debate. The general trend for this sort of thing is lots of loud complaining at the outset, followed by quiet, grumbling acceptance; however, triathletes are a determined, stubborn lot. I imagine they are more likely to follow through than other groups. Maybe WTC was banking on that, too.
Either way, Fertic's message was this: "If you say we're wrong, we're wrong."
If only more people would say that to me.
Interesting 24 hours, all said and done. Do you think they did the right thing? Do you think the reactions were justified?