what’s wrong with this picture?

Every week I post about how great gymnastics is, or how kids benefit from participating in sports. Today I want to look at the other side of the coin.
I know things are costly and the economy is tenuous at best. Everyone has “high” prices because everyone has “high” expenses. It’s not the services that people pay for (especially here at Gymfinity) that I have issues with. It’s the other stuff: $5.00 for a cup of coffee, $200 to see my favorite band in concert, $150 a night for an average hotel and $70 a night for a room so small that you can touch all four walls without moving your feet. $12 for popcorn and a pop at the movie, $12 for the movie!, $140 for my running shoes and $50 to enter a race. Geesh, Imagine the trouble I would be in if I ran to get coffee on the way to a movie or a concert.
Gymnastics is gone the same way. $100 leotards, $125 to enter a meet and $15 to watch it. I think things are going too far. I will stipulate that gymnastics competition is expensive but meet directors are suddenly very interested in making large profits off of competitive events. I can explain costly leotards as fabric is more expensive than ever, and the trend of adding jewel sequins is not cheap, but to pay over $100 to be in a meet? Really?
Venue rental is often as high as $4000 per day, renting equipment is $5000 per set. Some meets have 2-5 gyms set up, read that as $10K to $25K just for equipment. So yes, it’s expensive to host an event, but building in a 30% profit is detrimental to the sport. I don’t begrudge anyone for trying to make money on the meet, there has to be an incentive to put in that much work. But when people who are new to the sport see these costs and they shy away from the sport. We are dangerously close to eliminating any kids but the ones who come from the wealthiest families. This is not good.
I think we need a little reality check on what is good for the sport. If we make it less scary for kids to enter the world of competitive gymnastics, we will attract more children. That means, if my basic economics class taught me anything, that meets can be even more profitable in time with lower costs. Those lower costs attract more children and thus will perpetuate a profitable structure for a longer term. Or we can blow the roof off of sensibility and charge an arm and a leg to play in our sport so we can continue to complain about how it’s hard to make any money at all. Just a thought.


3 Responses to “what’s wrong with this picture?”

  1. May 4, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    As a gym owner I totally agree that cost for meets is out of control. Not sure where you are located but I’m outside of DC and the cost of living here isn’t cheap. I run a league call the Mason Dixon League which each season hold 6 meets. The cost is $240 for 5 meets and a championship meet, entry fees $5 for adults and $20 for kids under 12 (just kidding it only $3! I wish parents would leave those kids home, it is really boring for them). The league gives awards to 50% of the competitors, generally USAG meet only 30%. At championship we give big team trophies and nice metals and trophies for the competitors. The $240 pays for the judges and pays the club to host the meets. Our club (as most in the league) competes in sleeveless leo’s, which keeps the cost down. For most kids this is an activity, they are not going to the Olympics or even to college doing gymnastics so parents and clubs need to think about what is the point of all the expense of these big costing meet they attend. It would be better for the sport if gymnastics didn’t cost so much! I love gymnastics and think it is a great sport for all kids. It needs to be more affordable at the lower levels. This is not a job for you children, it is a sport. Sports are suppose to teach life lessons, work hard – you see that YOU get better, good sportsmanship, confidence, and self pride in what you do, setting goals and achieving them and keeping your body physically fit.

    • May 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      Thanks Cherie for your comment and for what you do to keep the sport affordable. I love the idea of a league; but here is a question… Gymnastics is getting very expensive, and another thing that is “crazy expensive” is insurance, because we all live in fear of litigation. Most meets are sanctioned events and thus protected under USAG, and even that rate has exceeded $100. Is your league sanctioned? How is liability at the event handled by the host gym?
      Our program is in Madison Wisconsin but I have good friends in Virginia at Apex Gymnastics. If you see Marty or Melanie, tell them that J. (from Gymfinity) says Hello. And thanks again for reading the post.

      • May 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm

        No it is not sanctioned. Each club provides us with proof of insurance and host clubs add the meet to their insurance (which cost nothing to do) and the league has a umbrella policy to cover the big stuff. I have been the head of the league for 16 years, we started with 8 clubs and now have 28 club and about 400 kids. Check out the website http://www.masondixongymnastics.com

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