Friday, November 3, 2006

Ethnic economics in winter sports


By PAT MURPHY

U.S. recreational skiing, boarding and other winter sports have generally been regarded as a white sport, just as tennis was, until Arthur Ashe, among others, broke down the racial barrier and opened a floodgate of minority talent onto the nation's courts.

Now, economic necessity is prodding American ski resorts to turn their merchandising guns on minorities as a great-untapped market.

Although the U.S. population has been growing, the number of ski days at resorts has remained somewhat stagnant.

So, some Colorado resorts near Hispanic population centers, for example, have reached out to develop future skiers among children, by offering large blocks of lift tickets at token prices. One day on the slopes seems to hook many of them for life.

Advertising, too, in large urban markets is in Spanish.

African Americans are being courted energetically, too. Another untapped and growing minority is the Arab population.

White Americans are in the minority in some population centers, such as Los Angeles, and as minorities take over more of an area's economic reins, they become more affluent with more disposable income for recreational choices such as skiing.

Although altruism is rarely a principal strategy in any profit-making business, the fact is the more diversity on America's ski slopes means just that much more progress toward the racial harmony that glues a diversity of peoples together into a stronger democracy.




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