Being an Exercise Science – Sport Management major gives people the impression that I know what LeBron James eats before a game; in reality, I’d have to Google what team he plays for because I have no idea. While I posses very little knowledge about traditional team sports, my focus is completely dedicated to the sport of Motocross.
Most people laugh when I tell them that Professional Motocross is considered one of the most physically demanding sports in the world (Google seems to agree). In the Rutgers community, Motocross is an incredibly unfamiliar and underrepresented sport. It is astounding that a sport filled with such passion, commitment, and athleticism is curtained off from mainstream sport culture. Athletes continue to risk their lives in pursuit of a podium finish, regardless of the minimal reward.
This behavior can be better understood by reading Seth Godin’s Tribes. Seth Godin’s concept of a tribe is defined as a group of people who are connected to One Another, a Leader, and an Idea. This unfathomable desire to push the possible limits of man and machine is the core principle that makes the Motocross community a perfect medium for tribes to assemble. When I began reading Tribes, I immediately related everything to my own experiences involving riding and racing dirt bikes. Something that I can personally attest to, is that Motocross is something that you try once, and if you like it, it becomes a part of you for the rest of your life; the same can presumably be said about sport in general.
My neighbor owned a Honda Motorcycle dealership at the time, and let me borrow a bike to learn on. After eight years of riding recreationally, I started racing the East Coast Enduro Association (ECEA) Championship Hare Scramble Series. By freshman year of college, I qualified as an A-Class Racer, one step below AA/Pro class. Though I no longer race, I was able to land an internship with ECEA working along side their marketing department. The races themselves resemble a cross-country running event with motocross bikes, and are organized by local Off-Road Motorcycle Clubs, one of which I am apart of.
These events are profitable, but nobody within ECEA or their sanctioned clubs accepts a paycheck. Instead, revenue generated is given back to the hosting community, and used to cover the costs of the next event. The fact that nobody in the organization gets paid is a testament to the passion that these people have for perpetuating the sport. A large contributor to why ECEA is able to operate for its 44th consecutive year is because they use leverage to gain access to event properties. Using Godin’s Crowbar theory, ECEA promises profits and donations that will be recycled back into the local economy in one way or another. For example, after the Stump Jumper Hare Scramble, the organizing club, MCI, purchased AED devices for Eagleswood Township to install in their ambulances.
This is just one example of how an organization can go above and beyond to boost PR and gain access to otherwise unobtainable resources. ECEA and its clubs all embody what Seth Godin would consider a tribe. The organizational structure of ECEA consists of a President, Vice President, and subsequent leadership positions. Clubs have their own similar organizational structure using strategic positions and meetings that align with ECEA guidelines and goals.
Most of the board members are 45 years old, or older. When I came in to assist their marketing team, they were using an outdated, and terribly branded marketing strategy that I wanted to change. I was able to redesign their website, and series logos without opposition or resistance from existing ECEA leadership. Couple that with a redesigned social media plan, and ECEA is naturally progressing despite exclusively using volunteer efforts.
Overall, I believe that the off-road motorcycle community provides a unique system of continued progression purely due to the communication and collaboration of enthusiasts.