The Associated Press article below was an incentive to update the post I wrote in 2007 about player statistics worldwide.
In 1979, the international petanque federation - FIPJP - represented 18 countries, with a total of 403,963 members, of which 375,603 in France.
In 2009, the number of countries had jumped to 88, with a total of 531,233 members, of which 313,985 in France.
This means that France's portion of worldwide licensed players shrunk from 93 to 59 % , and that the rest of the world jumped 775 %.
In all fairness, this has a lot to do with the fact that the French petanque federation started requiring medical certificates a few years ago. Anyone who has walked around on a 'boulodrome' in Provence knows that "une visite médicale" would not rank highly as a favorite pastime.
But it also means that, if it wasn't for the tremendous interest petanque has generated outside France, the overall numbers would be way down.
That's why all of us in ROW ("rest of the world") need to insist that FiPJP (with a small "i") becomes FIPJP with a big "I". Their new website was a good step. Trainer Victor Nataf coming to Fresno was another one.
Yet it is still very much a "We decide, you've got to live with it" affair.
Witness the fiasco of the Taiwan World Championships (moved to Turkey at the last minute, causing extra expenses for many teams) and the weird decision to have two teams (USA & Canada) vie for the two "American continent" slots. Why do folks have to spend money in airfare and hotels if you know in advance they'll be qualified?
Obviously some of these people have no knowledge of the outside world and different cultures. No experience in organizing, logistics and communications. Yet they seem to believe their involvement is irreplaceable.
I will get some flack for this criticism but it is time to call a spade a spade. With "Google Translate" that becomes "appeler un chat un chat". Good. That's what I meant. I hope the rest of the text translates well too!