Hammer Factor and Covid Pushing Kayak Racing into the 21st Century
The world of sports is about money. The more people that can attend events or watch them on their TV or computer screen the more money sponsors are willing to pay for advertising. That is nothing new, or some crazy idea that you didn't already know. It is the reason that mainstream sports like NBA, MLB, and NFL are able to pay their athletes to participate in the sport. As someone who grew up on the river but also played and worked in more mainstream sports this is something that I think about from time to time.
Whitewater as a sport in the US is led by river kayak racing. As much as I would love for it to be down river rafting, down river kayaking I believe has to start to run before rafting can start jogging, or paddling you know what I mean. As I try to find the good that has come out of the last year it seems like kayaking may have made that next step.
The gorge for the Green River Race is the coolest place to watch a sporting event, the cowbells, the fans, the racers being right there. It is the coliseum of the kayaking world. That being said it was probably the last place I would want to be during Covid, as much as I like hanging out with my fellow river people. You are just sitting on top of each other. And it is a single file in and out. But, as the Green River Race 2020 approached the guys and gals who put that race on were presented with a strange decision, do we go forward with the race even if no one can come and see it? That is when the guys over at Hammer Factor started to come up with a crazy idea of streaming the event. My first thought is how do you stream from down in the gorge? But, they figured it out. They had a few hiccups but they were taking baby steps in the future of these style of races. They made it so that people all over the world could now watch this race when in the past only people who were willing to hike in and hike out and probably drive back to Asheville and get a beer. I think that in the future we will look back at this as one of the big steps for down river races in the whitewater world.
After that I figured that we now get the Green River streamed from now on. I was very excited for the sport as whole. Then we got a even better surprise, for me at least, the North Fork Championship was going to be streamed out of Idaho. This was awesome because it was an event I always wanted to go to but it's 2,200 miles away from my home in the Southeast. The event was great to watch, the drone shots were awesome! And they timed it out to release the stream to roll right into the award ceremony.
Now the question is after the numbers are crunched and the stoke settles does the money make sense. I hope it does, I hope that all the business who supported the NFC were happy with the product. I hope that Hammer Factor decides to continue to stream these events to allow more people to see these events that in the past were hard for some of us weekend warriors to get too. As these events get more successful from a monetary standard point it will hopefully lead to more events that you will be able to stream. Let us know your thoughts or if you streamed either events and what you thought! Link below to view this past years North Fork Championship.