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The sport is in trouble now because it is a niche product trying to appeal to a broader audience. I compared it to bodybuilding in the past.
I would argue that Rossi does nothing to grow the sport and could have been part of the problem. The sport could have been construed as boring to the casual fan when Vale won all during the 990 era and caused fans to either tune out or follow him. All thats left is the dwindling audience of his fans, most others found something better to do.
To any potential new fans he is a nonfactor. and if he starts competing at the front it will still just be a 4 man show instead of 3, hardly groundbreaking or sport saving. The sport, like the motorcycle industry thrives on a strong economy and struggles under these economic conditions when the value starts to be questioned. Nothing to do with 1 riders performance, its more about the fickle market.