The Art of People Watching-

December 2016

Greetings fellow MSA members!

I was recently one of several that volunteered at our MSA booth at the 2016 Snowmobile Show & Sale held in Novi, MI November 4th-6th.  I want to especially thank Karen Middendorp from our staff for organizing our team and for the many others that also volunteered for those 3 long days and making this a great success for MSA. The days were long and our legs were tired of standing at the end of each day, but the teamwork and the positive spirit was evident to all that came by to visit us. I also want to sincerely thank my loving and sacrificial wife for once again allowing me to attend this event on our 34th anniversary! If you’ve never attended this show, I would highly recommend it. It really kick starts the snowmobile season for me and others and the vendor participation is always amazing.

Besides selling nearly 1700 trail permits for the upcoming season to many who are anxious to get out on the trails, this show was also a great opportunity to meet hundreds of our MSA members and non-members. I want to thank all of those that stopped by our booth and gave us donations and a word of support. Your encouragement meant so much to us and motivated us to continue our message. We had about 63 new members join MSA and the same number who renewed membership. Thank you for your membership! What was especially rewarding to me was meeting several MSA members who I have talked with on the phone over the past year, but never met personally. When you can put a name to a face I think that always makes it easier to build friendships and partnerships.

One of the things I always find fascinating when I attend an event such as this, is that snowmobiling attracts people of all ages, ethnicity, sizes & shapes. It’s an amazing opportunity to PEOPLE WATCH! For many it’s a form of entertainment. For others it’s become almost an art form. I mean when you are out on the trails riding, everyone looks like they are in their natural habitat. The outerwear often matches their sled color, and they proudly show off their name brand of snowmobile like a peacock showing off its feathers. We usually have no idea who they are or what they look like until they take off their helmets. But one things for sure, when out riding we know that they are snowmobilers and that they enjoy the sport.

When you see these same people walking around a show, many wearing blue jeans and shorts, sneakers or flip flops, aren’t you sometimes amazed and surprised that they enjoy the same sport that you do? Sometimes we think to ourselves, “I wouldn’t have ever guessed that he/she is a snowmobiler!” I think that’s called profiling, but of course we would never admit to that these days!

I mean let’s face it; we are all used to seeing the “typical” backcountry or outdoor adventurer snowmobiling in our favorite snowmobile magazine each month. They are usually young, attractive, and are posing next to the very hottest new sled on the market and wearing the most expensive snow gear that you can find.

I guess that if I was to be honest with myself, I sometimes wish that I looked like that and had that image of myself to portray to others. But the fact is, I’m probably one of those guys that walks by you in my cargo shorts & flip flops and looks like I’d be more comfortable riding my lawn mower rather than a sled.

Fortunately for me and others, the sport of snowmobiling attracts a multitude of different kinds of people. Aren’t you glad? I am.

I often have to remind myself when talking to someone about MSA, whether they are life members, past members, or someone relatively new to the sport, that each person has unique life experiences. Those experiences often shape the way they look and the way they think. I owe it to them to listen to them, encourage them, and then provide them with correct and accurate information when they ask for it.

As I humbly serve you as our 2017/2018 incoming MSA president, I am reminded that there are many that don’t always share the same viewpoints as our growing membership and also many others that don’t quite understand how all of these pieces fit into the snowmobiling puzzle. This process of developing clearer communication and membership participation will take some time. There will be some challenges along the way and we will not always agree on everything. But when the snow begins to finally fall, and we all unload our sleds and finally get our gear on this season, magic will once again happen! We will all begin to look and feel the same again. All of us will be celebrating the fact that for at least this day, we are all enjoying our sport of snowmobiling and putting our differences aside.

It doesn’t matter what name brand sled you ride, the clothing that you wear or whether you ride standing up or sitting down. And it really doesn’t matter if we don’t quite look like those magazine ads in last month’s issue either, because in our own minds we do! And at the end of the day, isn’t that the only thing that really matters? J

Jeff Goss

MSA President Elect