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`Jump In!' has many learning the ropes

February 02, 2007|Maria Mooshil | Chicago Tribune

A jump in sales after New Year's is common for Jumprope.com, as folks attempt to fulfill fitness resolutions. But this year, the online retailer is doing a double take at the bump and the catalyst: "Jump In!," a recent Disney Channel movie about a young boxer who discovers he loves being in between the double Dutch ropes.

"I figured it would give us something," said Irene Henderson, spokeswoman for Heartbeat Enterprises, which operates Jumprope.com. "I didn't expect it so quickly."

The movie -- featuring Corbin Bleu, the best friend in last year's Disney cross-marketing juggernaut "High School Musical," and Harvey, Ill., native Keke Palmer of "Akeelah and the Bee" -- highlights the competitive side of a sport often dismissed as a playground activity. But the athleticism of the jumpers in the movie is stirring more than a few bodies to get involved, say competition organizers.

"Kids are talking about [the movie] on message boards and calling us asking questions about it," said John Fletcher, operations manager of USA Jump Rope. Fletcher said most of the callers are interested in joining teams or starting their own.

As calls and e-mails stream in to jump-rope groups, organizers are not only feeling the power of Disney's marketing muscle, they're also using the movie as an opportunity to introduce and explain the sport to those intrigued by its speed, grace and excitement.

"This will be another tool we can refer people to," said Jean Hodges, secretary general of AAU Jump Rope. "Up until now, we've referred to the ESPN airings of the national championships, which have been televised the last 10 to 12 years."

Columbia, Md.-based Heartbeat Enterprises typically sells about 10 ropes a day online, Henderson said. But after the "Jump In!" premiere, about 50 ropes, mostly for double Dutch, sold through the website over that weekend.

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