There has been a lot of speculation since Katja Volkova announced that she is quitting gymnastics due to poor training conditions.
How is it possible that the best gymnast in the country doesn’t have a good place to train?
If young girls don’t have someone to look up to, how are they want to get into sports?
But I digress.
This article is not about rhythmic gymnastics, but about its little sister: AGG.
Often we hear the term “Huippuvoimistelu” in AGG conversations. Something like “professional gymnastics” or “elite gymnastics.”
By definition, the bests AGG teams in the world are “elite” in their sport.
However, it’s the “professional” part of the definition that I have trouble with.
If we look in Wikipedia the definition of pro sports, it says:
“Professional sports, as opposed to amateur sports, are sports in which athletes receive payment for their performance.”
To my knowledge, no amount of money is given to the gymnasts that participate in national or international competitions, not even to the winners.
In fact, traveling, training and paying coaches costs the athletes a lot of money (or to their parents, to be more precise).
As much as it hurts us to admit, AGG is not a professional sport.
It doesn’t mean that it won’t be one day, it just means that right now it’s not and we can’t deny that.
It’s not about the money, but years of training will only get you a medal worth 5 euros.
Let’s look at Ice Hockey as an example.
Finnish people decided that they like Ice Hockey and that they were willing to pay to watch it in person and on TV.
As a lot of people are watching Hockey, sponsors think it is a good idea to pay the clubs and players to promote their brands.
So far, the world isn’t really interested in paying money to watch AGG.
Thus, why would companies want to pay AGG clubs big money for brand exposure?
AGG will never be ice hockey, but we can make it better.
What can we do to allow clubs and gymnasts gain exposure, have better training conditions and make money?
We need to think of different marketing strategies that don’t fit the old school (and expensive) approach.
If someone would ask you who is the most famous gymnast in AGG, you probably couldn’t answer.
Every other sport has stars.
Why don’t we have stars? Where are the celebrity gymnasts?
You may not know much about bodybuilding but you know who “Bull” Mentula is.
You may not like soccer but you have heard about Messi and Ronaldo.
Every sport needs idols.
Here are 5 ideas that you can use today to help grow the sport you love:
• If you are a gymnast: open a website, write about gymnastics, write about the clothes you wear, what you eat, what music do you like. Maybe soon everybody will know who you are and buy t-shirts with your name on them. You can be the first star of your sport.
• If you’re an AGG Club: Make a youtube series about the struggles of a group of gymnasts. The average person can’t really relate to the specifics of the sport, but they understand passion, drama, defeat, and joy.
• If you are a coach: Create a daily program on Snapchat giving training tips for gymnasts. Once the channel has thousands of followers, organize paid seminars around the country for both gymnasts and coaches.
• If you’re the Federation: Organize an AGG competition for the women’s category. After covering costs (all teams pay inscriptions) use the rest of the money as a price for the top 3 teams. Paying for results will increase the level of the sport very quickly.
• If you’re a parent: Have lots of patience 🙂
If you have other ideas that you think are good, please send them to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maybe together we can make the sport better.
We can complain that AGG is expensive for families and that coaches get bad pay, but what are we doing to change it?
My small contribution is writing this blog.
Yours can be sharing it so others may benefit.
Sergio Navadijo is a physical preparation expert and owner of Entrena. He has a university background in Sports Science and a proven track record of success with athletes over the last decade. He works with gymnasts of all levels that want to get stronger and stay away from injuries. Contact him to get help achieving your goals.