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What’s coming out of your megaphone?

Published on December 20th, 2021

As the magazine of the International DN Ice Yacht Racing Association, the December 2021 edition of Runner Tracks provided a report by DN champion and marketing professional Daniel Hearn on how each person impacts participation:

The internet, and all of the social media tools it has spurned, has put a powerful megaphone into the hands of every person who has a connection and a device. What was once reserved for news editors, publicists, speech writers, and other professionals, is now a capability of anyone who cares to share a written or spoken word, photograph or video. Although we may not get paid to do it, today each of us is an “influencer.”

What does this have to do with ice sailing? In my opinion, it introduces a new responsibility that we should all take seriously. Each of us is now a publicist for the sport we love. That being the case, I would advocate that we protect our sport by adopting an unwritten rule that we don’t unnecessarily post the unfortunate aspects of ice sailing.

Before you compose and click, ask yourself, “What good will come for my sport if I share this content?”

What good comes from posting a photo of a boat that has gone through the ice? An ice inspector rolling himself out of a hole after falling through? A sailor in up to his waist while transporting equipment? The crumbled aftermath of a collision? A helmet video of a “splashdown” when a boat finds a hole at high speed?

We’ve all seen it, but what exactly is the poster’s intent? What positive thing has the poster accomplished? In my opinion, nothing? In fact, I believe such posts do nothing but damage to our sport.

We don’t want or need this type of attention. It makes us look like a bunch of irresponsible knuckle-heads doing unsafe things we ought not to. Every time we post content like this we run the risk of inviting unwanted scrutiny. This can lead to requirements that make our sport impractical.

Fearing potential litigation, we could lose access to venues where we launch from private property. Liability insurance premiums could become cost prohibitive and permit fees excessive. And we could be discouraging new people from joining our sport. Particularly young people whose parents are naturally concerned about their safety.

If we do have a serious occurrence at some point in the future, we have left out there, permanently, all sorts of evidence that could be used against us, potentially ruining our sport. Is it really worth it for a look-at-me moment?” Or checkout-aisle sensationalism that inspires, “you’re all a bunch of crazies” comments from those who have no real stake in our sport? In my book… not a chance!

Each of our megaphones is much better utilized sharing information that portrays our sport in a positive light. Share the excitement. Share the beauty. Share the friendships. Share the competitive spirit. Share the creativity. Share the inspiration. Share the community. And if you feel you must share something that is less than positive, consider sharing it with a select few in more private communication.

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