Australian Gymnastics: It’s a Secret Activity

Why would anybody want to keep Australian gymnastics a secret activity? There could be a number of reasons, including wanting to avoid scrutiny of coaching capabilities and maintaining closed shop business activities and nepotism. However, these strategies will ultimately undermine participation in the sport.

Coaching Capabilities

A teacher of physical education in an Australian school has to satisfactorily complete a four year university degree, before being allowed to independently supervise children in sporting activities. This degree actively promotes the idea that the whole child is being encouraged to learn and grow.

Gymnastics Australia runs coach accreditation courses which are nowhere near as rigorous. These courses focus on teaching specific gymnastic skills, with very little emphasis on why the skills should be taught that way. Hopefully the beginner coach will pick up more information under the supervision of a more advanced coach in the gym, but there is no guarantee of this happening while both are supervising different groups of gymnasts.

The question then arises: if a coach is instructing young gymnasts in incorrect technique resulting in injury, when is this classified as child abuse?

An accredited coach can be reasonably expected to know what the outcome of a physical action will be.

Business Activities

Every business has to be aware of the cost structure involved to maintain the business model. A service model, such as gymnastics instruction, is highly dependent on its customer base to remain viable. There are two major ways to expand a business:

1. Persuade existing customers to spend more in the business. This might be by encouraging young gymnasts to participate in many competitions, paying an entry fee each time.

2. Find more customers. In an activity largely kept secret from the wider community, this can involve taking the customers from another gymnastics club.

Another question: Is the club management focused more on the growth of the business, or the well-being of the young gymnasts?

Club management has a legal responsibility for the welfare of children who are within its care.

A Secret Activity

There is very little publicity of Australian gymnastics events allowed outside of official channels. This means that the sport is at the mercy of the official providers, who are often nowhere to be seen at the individual club level. Yet those who would photograph gymnasts from their own club, with their permission to promote the club, are banned from doing so. The reason given by the governing organization is to protect the gymnasts’ privacy. This means the opportunity to grow participation in gymnastics from the greater community is denied.

Gymnastics in Australia: What has it got to hide?

By In