27 Sep, 2016By: Sports Destination Management Team
An Interview with Ron Galimore, USA Gymnastics chief operating officer and Cheryl Jarrett, vice president of member services
USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for gymnastics, setting the rules and policies for the sport. Its responsibilities range from promoting and developing the sport at the grassroots level, all the way up to selecting and training the U.S. Gymnastics Teams for international competition.
Sports Destination Management: USA Gymnastics had great success at the summer Olympics. Do you foresee
a resulting uptick in participation?
Cheryl Jarrett: Yes, history shows about a 12 to 20 percent growth among gymnastics clubs; this year, we have heard reports of up to 35 percent increase in classes for member clubs.
SDM: Gymnastics is traditionally one of the most-followed sports in the Olympics. What do you think makes it so appealing?
Jarrett: I believe is the most exciting and fun Olympic sport to watch. Almost everyone has some introduction to turning upside down or doing a cartwheel – maybe it was easy or maybe it was not, but they can relate and appreciate the skill involved, the difficulty and years of training. Viewers can identify with the athletes, and the broadcast lets them get to know the athletes if they don’t already.
This year, NBC showed the entire gymnastics sessions on its live streaming, which gave the die-hard fan the opportunity to see the entire competition, and having gymnastics included as part of the primetime show provides general sports and gymnastics fans a chance to see the key players in what is always an exciting competition.
SDM: When USA Gymnastics looks at sites for its events at the national level, it obviously takes a number of things into consideration.
Ron Galimore: National-level events require many things to be in place before an event can be awarded, including the venue meeting the specs for the specific event in question, and the city having adequate hotel accommodations, not only the total number of rooms, but also the correct number of double vs. single rooms.
The partnership, business deal and event marketing also play critical roles in building our comfort level with a venue and/or city. We have a high level of trust in the partners that have staged our events successfully in recent years. We believe they understand the critical elements that contribute to the success of our events and take them to the next level. And last but not least, the overall experience for our participants, fans and sponsors is a vital component.
SDM: Your background includes competition at the Olympic level, as well as organization at the national level. What changes have you observed in the sport over the years?
Galimore: From an athletic point of view, with the use of technology and well thought-out sophisticated short- and long-term developmental and training plans, athletes are able to perform at a much higher level doing incredible skills that could not have been imagined years ago.
From an event presentation point of view, things have changed a lot. Through advanced technology in venues, having the equipment on a podium (the equipment is placed on staging in the venue), and the rise of social media platforms, events now engage and educate the fans while creating a spectacular environment for competition. Venues that have not upgraded technology in recent years might well be passed over for an event without them even knowing it.
SDM: What goals does USA Gymnastics have for the future?
Galimore: Our goal is always to host domestic and international events that are meaningful for our athletes and corporate partners, and fun and entertaining for our fans. We also want to continue working with cities that can help take our events to the next level. We like to place events in cities that are a good fit for it, as well as provide cities and venues with input on what is needed for a successful bid for bigger events. USA Gymnastics is interested in staging events that not only select our national teams and champions, but also create an environment that prepares our athletes for the World stage because that can have a direct impact on our success internationally. We have Junior Olympic events, our age-group developmental program, on the state, regional and national levels to elite level events, and we are looking for partners that can help us host successful events at every level for every discipline.