Since gyms and non-profit gymnastics organizations seem to run the vast majority of gymnastics meets, we are directing this diatribe disguised as an informational article to them.
Hard Work, But Poor Awards
Let’s face it. There are very few sports in which young athletes train as long and hard as gymnastics. And at many, even most, of their competitions, they are poorly rewarded for their efforts. We perhaps shall direct another similar poor rewards related article to judges at some point but for the purposes of this article we are talking about medals, trophies and ribbons.
15 Awards for 120 Gymnasts
Current rules allow sessions of 120 gymnasts of the same Level and Age group. For that entire group, meet directors are only required to award 15 medals, or worse, only 15 ribbons. (Incidentally, meet directors, save the horse show ribbons for horses).
100 Gymnasts Get Zero Recognition
This leaves, say, 100 gymnasts per session who receive no recognition at all for their hours, months and years of practice.
Congratulations to Those Who Have Done a Great Job
Some meet directors have done a great job rewarding gymnasts with great T-shirts, goody bags, meet theme gifts and stuffed animals. Congratulations to them. Keep up the good work and coaches, sign up for their meets.
Don’t Just Do the Minimum
But awards seem to have become an area where many meets have chosen to cut expenses and award the minimum number of awards required. As the non-profit hosts of a gymnastics meet, we should be assuming some of the responsibility stated in our non-profit sports organization bylaws to “foster” national and international competition.
Need Help, Contact Us
If you cannot figure out how else to balance your meet budget from the many sources already available, feel free to contact us and we will suggest some. In the mean time, let’s talk about how we might improve our awards systems.
Provide Positive Reinforcement
Now we realize that most good gymnasts are internally driven and meet awards are external reinforcement, but there is no reason for our sport to provide such poor reinforcement for athletes who are practicing everyday all year round. It is also no credit to our sport to place so low in the awards continuum especially as compared to other sports which are seasonal or involve considerably less practice time.
Here are some ideas for suitable awards:
- Participation banner for each team with Meet name and Team name. (Doubles as a march-in banner, rewards the team for coming and advertises your meet in their gym when they take it back and put it on the wall. Make the banner look great to make sure they do).
- Trophies for 1st three to six places in the all-around. (We have seen trophies awarded in other sports where the goal seems to be awarding trophies taller than the athletes. Go for height or quality and uniqueness.)
- Medals for 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th through 10th (depending on trophies awarded) in the all-around if the number of gymnasts warrants.
- Medals for 1st through 6th in each event and up to 10th if the number of gymnasts warrants.
- Participation ribbons for each gymnast (in their goody bag, if you wish, for quickest distribution).
- Participation certificates for each gymnast (in their goody bag, if you wish, for quickest distribution).
- Participation mini-banners for each gymnast.
- Participation pins for each gymnast.
- Special medals or pins for those who score 9.00 or above in an event.
- Special medals or pins for those who score 36.00 or above in the all-around.
- Special trophies for highest all-around scores.
- Team trophies or plaques by Level
Coaches and teams should reward good meet directors and non-profit organizations who treat gymnasts right and penalize those who don’t by not attending that meet again and letting the meet director and organization know why.