Pigeon racing affected by tough economic times

Pigeon fanciers are feeling the pinch of the global economic downturn, with many leaving the sport, Thomas Smit explains.
Issue date : 03 April 2009

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Pigeon fanciers are feeling the pinch of the global economic downturn, with many leaving the sport, Thomas Smit explains.

The GLOBAl economic CRUNCH doesn’t only affect fancier’s professional lives, but also their social activities and hobbies. A few pigeon fanciers I know have retired because they can’t afford it anymore. While some optimists proclaim the situation is only temporary and can be managed with a well-planned budget, realists are saying it’s a crisis.

Let’s look at facts and the possibilities.
In the larger cities, more fanciers from the middle-class and upper middle-class are members of the sport. In the last 20 years, more wealthy fanciers have taken up the sport than was the case in the late 1960s when I was still a novice. The redistribution of their wealth meant better pigeons were imported over the years, professional skills were enhanced and pigeon sport has become more competitive. You can’t just catch a pair of pigeons at the town square and race them from a cardboard box.
There’s been an alarming exodus of younger fanciers and fanciers in the lower income bracket, and they’re not being replaced.

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The average age of most South African fanciers is around 40+. This means that the current champions aren’t being replaced with enough young entrepreneurs who can preserve and eventually pass on their pigeon skills. The crisis in pigeon sport is due to it being too expensive for a young, new starter, unless he’s financially assisted by a partnership or otherwise subsidised. The price of pigeon feed, medication and general pigeon upkeep, not to mention the price of fuel to keep the pigeon trucks on the road, is shared by fewer fanciers.

Many fanciers (from all income groups) want to orchestrate race events with high financial stakes, which are won by less than 20% of the members. This means that most are participating without making a profit. The cost of competitive pigeon racing is simply too high to never win anything back. The compulsory prize schemes further burden basic running expenses and don’t suit everyone’s financial position.
Another negative is that there are often two or more different pigeon clubs with a membership of less than 15 each in the same area. Some emerged as breakaway clubs because of conflicts amongst individuals from larger clubs. The problem is that the financial strength of each club is smaller which places a burden on every member.
E-mail Thomas Smit at [email protected] or call (011) 680 4778.     |fw