I truly believe the inevitable future of kubb in the United States is 6 player tournaments. It might take years, but if the story arc of U.S. kubb follows a similar path to it’s European counterpart, it stands to reason that 6 player tournaments will gain traction while 2 player tournaments will at some point seem entirely antiquated. If this is in fact true, and with the United States Championships already bending that arc by requiring 3 Player teams, several people have asked me why the 2013 Loppet Tournament continues to play as a 2 player event? The answer is a somewhat practical, but mostly tactical one.
Functionally, a 2 player tournament makes it easier for more teams to participate given the potential weather extremes in February. A person looking to play in the tournament need only convince one friend it’s not crazy to stand out in the freezing cold throwing wood instead of two. Also, teams signing up with three or more players are cushioned against any one player bailing out the day before the tournament after seeing a bad forecast. These are small factors though, more so the decision to continue with 2 player teams is about the future of kubb in Minnesota.
In carrying out our mission of supporting the growth of kubb in Minnesota, the immediate strategic imperative is to demonstrate a consistent yearly increase in team participation. This does several things to legitimize kubb as both a part of the Loppet Festival and a sport that’s not a fad – consequently making it easier to shop sponsorship, attract press, and market the sport. Entering only our second year of partnership with the Loppet, moving to 3 player teams and the subsequent drop in the number of teams hurts our long-term outlook. Why? Because while individuals participating in the tournament would likely increase even if we did switch to 3 player teams this year, the fact is success for this event is currently measured by team participation, regardless of the asterisk noting team size was increased. This strategy is not indefinite. The goal is that several years of solid growth entrenches kubb as on ongoing part of the Loppet, thus putting the tournament in a better position to absorb the move to 3 player teams and the potential drop in team registration. Year two of this Loppet experiment just isn’t the right time. Who knows, maybe kubb is so big in 2014 that we can switch to 3 player minimums and still increase the number of teams?
-Eric Goplin, Director