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A Brief Review of the Super Youth Circuit (SYC) Market 2016-2017

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The ascendancy of U.S. fencing in recent years is due in no small way to the development of youth fencing in the U.S. Since the first national youth tournament held in 1985, the expansion and development of youth fencing has relied on a series of national tournaments such as the North American Cup (NAC) and Summer Nationals. In more recent years, a series of regional tournaments has evolved including the Regional Youth Circuit (RYC) and Super Youth Circuit (SYC).

The SYC is a group of tournaments held throughout the country for fencers in the Y10, Y12 and Y14 age categories in both men’s and women’s events in foil, epee and saber. These tournaments provide an opportunity for youth fencers to experience elite competition, earn national ranking points and be placed on the National Rolling Point Standings (NRPS).

A total of sixteen SYC tournaments were awarded to organizers in 2016-2017, up from fourteen in the previous season. All Regions were awarded at least two SYC tournaments. Region 3, (VT, NH, ME, RI, NY, CT, MA, PA & NJ) and Region 4, (CA, NV, UT, CO, AZ & NM) were both awarded four SYC tournament as outlined in the accompanying table. 

The Performance of Super Youth Circuit (SYC) Tournaments by Location for 2016-2017

TournamentDateRegionCity/StateFencer Events% Epee % Foil % SaberFencersFencer Events Per Fencer
Grand Total9,71726.8%44.9%28.3%3,2383.0
Capitol Clash SYC and RCC1/14 - 1/16/176National Harbor, MD1,40230.3%36.7%33%1,0161.4
Cobra Challenge SYC11/25 - 11/27/163Secaucus, NJ95924.4%43.3%32.3%7411.3
Fairfax Challenge SYC4/28 - 4/30/176National Harbor, MD80026.4%41.9%31.8%5531.4
Mission SYC 20175/5 - 5/7/173Rocky Point, NY69718.2%41.5%40.3%4981.4
Thrust SYC9/10 - 9/11/163Suffern, NY67123%46.6%30.4%5121.3
North Texas Roundup SYC & RCC9/3 - 9/5/165Irving, TX61232.4%46.1%21.6%4211.4
Swords by the Bay SYC3/3 - 3/5/174Santa Rosa, CA56424.6%53.2%22.2%4291.3
2017 Rain City SYC4/28 - 5/1/171Bellevue, WA56027.1%47.1%25.7%3591.6
Bernie Stein Memorial SYC10/28 - 10/30/164Chandler, AZ52227.8%48.3%23.9%3421.5
Ben Gutenberg Memorial SYC10/28 - 10/30/163Brockport, NY51026.7%51%22.4%3691.4
SYC at UCSD8/5 - 8/7/164La Jolla, CA47326%45.5%28.5%3561.3
Windy City SYC and RCC12/16 - 12/18/162Rosemont, IL44027.7%45.5%26.8%2971.5
SYC in Portland1/20 - 1/23/171Beaverton, OR42518.1%54.4%27.5%2841.5
The 2016 Austin Challenge SYC12/9 - 12/11/165Round Rock, TX40240.5%43%16.4%2851.4
Gerrie Baumgart Rocky Mountain SYC/RCC11/19 - 11/21/164Denver, CO39825.9%49.2%24.9%2671.5
Daugherty Youth Cup and RCC10/14 - 10/16/162St. Louis, MO28234.4%42.2%23.4%1891.5
Source: askFRED.net and National Fencing Club Rankings.

The table ranks the SYC tournaments by the number of fencer events, the composition of fencer events and the number of fencers. Fencer events are the aggregate number of events entered by individual fencers. For example, a Y10 fencer who entered a Y10 event, as well as a Y12 event at a tournament, participated in two fencer events. The data in the table relates to Y10, Y12 and Y14 youth events only and does not include data for Y8 or cadet events.

In aggregate, the sixteen SYC tournaments hosted 3,238 individual youth fencers who generated 9,717 fencer events at an average of three fencer events per fencer in 2016-2017. The largest SYC tournament was again, the Capital Clash SYC tournament held in January 2017 and the smallest was again, the Daugherty Youth Cup SYC tournament held in St. Louis in October 2016.  The composition of fencer events by weapon varied considerably across tournaments as illustrated in the table and reflected the fencing characteristics of the tournament’s catchment area. In aggregate, foil accounted for about 45% of fencer events while saber and epee accounted for 28% and 27% of fencer events respectively.

Over the past twelve months the number of fencer events hosted by SYC tournaments grew by 9.1% from 8,907 in 2015-2016 to 9,717 in 2016-2017, reflecting an expansion of the market with the addition of four SYC tournaments in new locations, namely Santa Rosa, CA, Portland, OR, National Harbor, MD and Suffern, NJ,  and the deletion of two locations, Edison, NJ and Atlanta, GA from the 2015-2016 list. On a “same store” basis, however, fencer events declined 2.9%% from 7,437 in 2015-2016 to 7,257 in 2016-2017 as illustrated in the accompanying graph. 

On a “same store” basis, saber fencer events grew by 3.8%, while foil and epee fencer events declined by 6.8% and 2.8% respectively. While our “same store” analysis includes several SYC tournaments that were held at different times of the year compared to the previous year, we believe the analysis serves to illustrate that all of the growth in fencer events came from an expansion of new tournament locations rather than growth in the existing SYC locations, adding some meaning to the saying, “If you build it, they will come”! While the total youth market for SYC tournaments grew by 9.1% in 2016-2017, saber grew significantly at 12.9%. Foil and epee trailed at 9% and 5.5% respectively.

Over the past six years, the total number of youth fencer events at SYC tournaments has grown at the compound annual rate of 10% from 6,033 in 2011-2012 to 9,717 in 2015-2016. Epee has led the charge growing at the compound annual rate of 11.7% per year followed by saber and foil growing at 10.2% and 8.9% per year respectively.

Growth in Fencer Entries by Age-Gender-Weapon Category for Super Youth Circuit (SYC) 2011-2012 to 2016-2017

Age-Gender-Weapon2011-20122012-20132013-20142014-20152015-20162016-2017Compound
Annual
Growth Rate
Grand Total6,0336,1316,8027,7998,9079,71710.0%
Men Total3,8573,7724,0334,5845,2855,9349.0%
Epee
Y10 Men's Epee14413918219226526613.1%
Y12 Men's Epee3332982994064825329.8%
Y14 Men's Epee5234625475747397728.1%
Epee Total1,0008991,0281,1721,4861,5709.4%
Foil
Y10 Men's Foil30930031839640850110.1%
Y12 Men's Foil71061759673881910828.8%
Y14 Men's Foil755804840925108311088.0%
Foil Total1,7741,7211,7542,0592,3102,6918.7%
Saber
Y10 Men's Saber14917519324122629214.4%
Y12 Men's Saber3963854154746086299.7%
Y14 Men's Saber5385926436386557526.9%
Saber Total1,0831,1521,2511,3531,4891,6739.1%
Women Total2,1762,3592,7693,2153,6223,78311.7%
Epee
Y10 Women's Epee75609312013013612.6%
Y12 Women's Epee16717620426036536316.8%
Y14 Women's Epee25726628134749053715.9%
Epee Total4995025787279851,03615.7%
Foil
Y10 Women's Foil209223213260248186-2.3%
Y12 Women's Foil4135025865566136308.8%
Y14 Women's Foil44449662279782885213.9%
Foil Total1,0661,2211,4211,6131,6891,6689.4%
Saber
Y10 Women's Saber9710711414413819414.9%
Y12 Women's Saber23624429233337038510.3%
Y14 Women's Saber27828536439844050012.5%
Saber Total6116367708759481,07912.0%
Source: National Fencing Club Rankings based on an analysis of askFred.net data.

The accompanying graph illustrates the comparative importance of foil, saber, and epee in terms of size and the accompanying growth rates as demonstrated by the upwardly trending bars for each category.The historical differential in the number of epee and saber fencer events has returned in 2016-2017 after more-or-less equalizing in 2015-2016.

All age groups have seen positive growth in fencer events at SYC tournaments over the past five years. The Y14 age group has grown marginally faster at the compound annual rate of 10.1 % per year, followed by the Y12 and Y10 age groups, which are both grew at 9.9% per year.

Women’s epee is the fastest growing category at SYC tournaments, followed by women’s saber. The number of men’s epee fencer events was almost identical to that for men’s saber fencer events in 2015-2016 but has jumped ahead in 2016-2017.  

Earlier this year, USA Fencing announced the schedule for the 2017-2018 SYC tournament program. The number of SYCs has been reduced from 16 to 12 as outlined in the following timeline.

Timeline for USA Fencing 2017-2018 Super Youth Circuit (SYC) Tournaments

(Use the slider on the right side to expand the timeline)

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