Washington, Mo. June 4, 2018- The professional sport of racquetball is continuing to climb back into the national sports spotlight and a major contribution of that growth is due to the International Racquetball Tour (IRT). The IRT is the international governing body of professional racquetball and its 2017-2018 season just finished with some groundbreaking results.
This past IRT season made monumental steps forward in terms of both growing the sport and showcasing its athletes. The IRT was featured on the popular ESPN show, Sportscenter, on the show’s “Top Ten Plays” segment. The Tour made it on Sportscenter over five times this past season, which showcases the “Top Plays” in all of the world’s sports for the day. Reaching primetime television and being featured on the Nation’s number one sports network is something that the sport of racquetball hasn’t done in many years.
The Tour also created more opportunities this season for the amazing athletes that dedicate their lives to this sport. The IRT increased the number of Tier 1 events from nine to 13 this past season, which created a lot more prize money for the players. Over $100,000 was raised in prize money this season, an amount that more than doubles the total from last year’s season.
Growing prize money and opportunities for the players is something that is always difficult when it comes down to running the Tour, according to IRT Commissioner, Andy. Kulback. “The place we (IRT) always struggle the most is finding more money for the players,” Kulback said. “This season the Tour did a really good job reaching out to players and providing them with opportunities to play at all of the Tier 1s, getting them more exposure and getting a lot of money together for those Tier 1s.”
As the Commissioner of the Tour, Kulback hears a lot of feedback from players, fans, investors and sponsors about their opinions on how the IRT is performing. Now that the season is over and everyone has formed their opinions, Kulback said the majority of those opinions were positive ones.
“With the feedback that I’ve gotten, I think we had a successful season,” Kulback said. “The players seemed to be happy with the tournaments and the prize money, investors and sponsors all pleased for the most part, but of course there’s room for improvement.”
Finding ways to make even more money for the players and improving the experience for the fans are two things Kulback would like to implement next season. Thanks to the Tour’s sponsor, MLG Holdings, every single round of an IRT event will be available online through YouTube, Facebook, Twitch Tv and the IRT Network! IRT investor, Dean Baer, agrees with Kulback that there are some things the Tour could improve upon for next season.
“A personal goal of mine is to get the Tour to have a Tier 1 event outside the United States, that would be big for me,” Baer said. “I represented the IRT in Costa Rica this past season and I can’t wait to get the Tour even further than we’ve already come!”
Exposing these great athletes that play the game of racquetball to the world is what the IRT is all about, according to C.E.O., John Scott. Putting racquetball back in the public’s eyes and promoting the great athletes that play the game were the two goals Scott wanted to accomplish after buying the Tour. After completing his first year as the Tour’s C.E.O. for the 2017-2018 season, Scott said he knows racquetball is heading in the right direction and it’s moving fast.
“This past season the racquetball community showed some great strides and it’s measurable,” Scott said. “The IRT had the highest reach, as far as viewership goes, that its ever had and the prize money for the players has been more than doubled from last season. Without these phenomenal athletes and these amazing passionate fans, we wouldn’t be where we are today. With the help of our investors and sponsors, we aim to take the IRT even further in the coming years.”
Scott wants to thank the Tour’s Commissioner, Andy Kulback, for all his help with the Tour this past season. The fans and the players are also huge recipients of gratitude from Scott, along with all the Tour’s investors and sponsors throughout the years.
The 2018-2019 International Racquetball Tour season will begin in early August and there are already 15 Tier 1 events scheduled, two more than this past season. The professional sport of racquetball and the strong community that supports it are climbing new heights every season and the IRT doesn’t see a stopping point anytime soon.
Head IRT Staff Writer:
Kelly R. Diesel