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EricMilfeld

The Truth About Grip Sport

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EricMilfeld

As a non-confrontational, peace-loving individual I've bit my tongue a lot over the years with respect to my involvement in this sport/hobby of ours. And even now I don't intend to shoot flaming arrows at anyone, but I feel the need to get some things off my chest. And beyond that, I'm hopeful that some will gain some insight, and perhaps even act on the insight to help make some positive changes.

Grip is what it is through the tireless efforts of enthusiastic, self-motivated volunteers. Most of us have full time jobs, families, and all the other usual obligations that people have. We didn't sit around waiting for others to make changes, promote contests, develop implements, invent ways of rating grippers and steel, open websites, start and maintain lists and certs, etc. We saw a need and simply acted on it. The guys "in charge" and "making the rules" are actually the guys who have worked their asses off the most for the development of the sport. They are what your politicians should be, that is servants. So, I'd like to humbly submit some advice for your consideration.

Before you start with your list of suggestions for the promoter of an upcoming meet, try hosting your own first. Buy the necessary equipment. Weigh all the plates and implements. Point-calibrate your bathroom scale. Select and/or make the trophies. Post the rules in details in advance. Good luck getting the entry fees in a timely manner. Decide what you want to do with the two guys who showed up the morning of the contest wanting to compete. Who are they? What about the scoresheet you already compiled with all the names neatly alphabetized? Do I tell them to get lost or do I stop everything else I'm in the middle of doing and delay the start of the contest to accommodate them? Oh, so and so and his brother forgot to bring their entry fee, by the way. Someone else just texted to let me know he's running late. Now what? And another competitor who was late getting in his entry and talked me into contesting his pet lift isn't answering his phone and it's already fifteen minutes past start time (he never shows or calls). Now my wife tells me someone has pissed all over the kid's bathroom toilet seat. Okay, so let's do a quick rules briefing. Okay, not so quick rules briefing. Most didn't bother reading the rules I posted for the event two and a half months ago. By the way, unless you know some guys interested in grip who are NOT competing, often times grip promoter is synonymous with loader, judge, scorekeeper, and when it's all over... maid, because most don't volunteer to help pick up. Oh, and keep your cool when someone screams an obscenity because you didn't pass his gripper attempt that was shaking so violently you thought he was suffering a seizure. And now you're $300 in the hole, after entry fees are accounted for. So, when you're done cleaning up the garage the following morning and you realize the $300 you're in the hole is actually double that figure for the lost day of work, go inside, log on the Gripboard and tell the promoter of the next contest how to best run things.

Rule of thumb, it's probably been discussed before on the GripBoard... to death. Don't assume all your suggestions and ideas are original because they just came to you a minute ago. There has been a slow, often painful evolution of things which have led to much of how things are being run today. Hours and hours of discussion via e-mail and phone, arguments, hostilities, polls, more bickering, members quitting, and finally some compromising. Do a little research. Ask some of the veterans, before you play the ten million questions, or ten million suggestions game. Grip and all of it's history didn't start the minute you joined the board, or when I joined.

There is no political or personal grip conspiracy involving NAGS guys, moderators, promoters, IGC guys, or the Gripboard to show favoritism to certain athletes and their strengths, or to be unduly strict when judging feats of any particular athletes who are not part of some fictitious "in" group. If you think someone in a place of "authority" or "influence" in the sport is intentionally unfair or out to get a certain individual or group, collect your facts and present them. I'm hyper sensitive to that kind of crap, and I am thrilled and proud to report I don't see any of that nonsense in any of the prominent guys: Jedd Johnson, Chris Rice, Brent Barbe, Andrew Durniat, Matt Cannon, Aaron Corcorran, etc. This is a small fish bowl we live in. Be good people. It takes not only one "bad person", but one good person acting badly once to breed a lot of resentment and negativity. I'm proud of the vast majority of people involved with this sport. You want to improve things? Simply do it. This isn't a government or some organization bogged down in red tape. No one is stopping you. Compete. Throw a contest (my depressing example above, while not fictitious, is a compilation of annoying events over many years, by the way). Create something cool. Load the bar at a contest. Don't pee on the toilet seat.

I could go on, but I'm tired and have to go to bed. Maybe someone else who can relate to some of this can pick up the torch, or even correct me.

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Wannagrip

Great post Eric. That's all I can say to add to it.

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PeterSweden

Words of experience.

Makes me humble and thankful to read this, in more than one way.

But it sounds like you get alot of scumbag people at your contests if those scenarios play out.

Coming to a competition should be like coming to work.

On time, all things in order and with a good attitude and if people cant cope with that they shouldnt be allowed in the comp in my opinion.

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Josh O'Dell

Perspective man, That's what i got from that.

Good write up and good way for a new guy like

me to have an ideal of what the comps are like.

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Tim71

Wow. Now when Eric gets to this point, I listen.

What's sad is this reminds me of my kid's first real birthday party where we invited his class. Now, keep in mind whenever I'm at somebody's house, I'm a guest in the home that they have created. I don't accidently wander into other parts of the house or just start helping myself to whatever I want and I could care less what they have in their medicine cabinet or any other part of the house.

At this party, I swear people who didn't even know me or my wife just drove by and practically kicked their little hooligans out. I could practically hear them screaming "free babysitter" as they let the smoke roll. I truthfully begin to wonder if they all were going to come back. They didn't want to meet me and make sure I wasn't a psychotic axe murderer or anything.

Behavior? I was wondering if I was going to have much of a house or yard left. Up in the trees breaking limbs, tearing up my youngest kids bicycle etc. Now keep in mind, I put a quick end to all this but they sure came flying out of the gate.

Now from reading Eric's post, I know how kids like this come about. I've never hosted a contest for various reasons but you can be dang sure if I had been to one let's say at Eric's house, I would not have let the "snort and grunt" mentality overrule basic manners and etiquette.

Eric, sounds like Mrs. Milfeld is a very patient lady.

All this is why I never have yard sales at my house anymore.

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macaz

Seriously, never ever pee on someone's toilet seat :excl:

I'm sorry to hear about the problems you encountered.

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acorn

Thank you Eric for this post. I've seen pretty much all of that and more over the years with my contests too. When I started doing grip there was nobody doing any in this part of the country. Maybe the occasional California contest in the years before I started but nothing current. I got my butt out to a couple of comps to see how it was done, one in Michigan and one at FBBC headquarters in Illinois to see how it was done then I put on my own first comp. Over the years all of the comps I've put on except for maybe 2 I was in the hole multiple hundreds of dollars by the time it was all said and done. But I still do this because I love the sport same as all of the other regular promoters.

- Aaron

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Cannon

But it sounds like you get alot of scumbag people at your contests if those scenarios play out.

Coming to a competition should be like coming to work.

On time, all things in order and with a good attitude and if people cant cope with that they shouldnt be allowed in the comp in my opinion.

I've heard Adam Glass express a very similar list of contest woes based on his ample experiences. I've seen a lot of it first-hand while volunteering on contest day. That stuff seriously happens. I remember one time in his contest rules, posted in advance, that "proper contest attire" was required. Someone asked "Hey Adam, you've seriously had enough issues that you had to put that in the rules?" The answer was yes.

Great post Eric.

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Juha Harju

Good post Eric.

I have arranged now seven years grip contests here in Finland. It has been great time. GripMonsters has got at that time lot of more competitors!

2013 GripMonsters arranged Grip Strength European Championships at Lahti Fitness Expo,Finland. It was very big happening and my girlfriend Yvonne did hundreds of hours "free work" for it.

Happening was awesome! Fitness Expo´s head organizer, all competitors, sponsors, public etc was pleased. Even internet´s trolls were quiet for some time. After that I felt good feelings. :grin:

We have in Finland still haters, shit tolkers, negative dudes etc .... but grip sport is still growing. Hope it could come someday as famous as pro powerlifting (without different unions).

-Juha

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climber511

After Gripmas a few years back I decided I was done promoting due to these and other issues involved in promoting. Friends stepped forward and talked me into keeping on - and people stepped up big time in helping me "do the work" during Gripmas. I'm glad they talked me into it but it can get old sometimes - the same ole problems every single time. I'm actually kind of surprised it took someone this long to speak up this way - it's been talked about behind the scenes for a long time now. Holding a contest at one's house instead of a public gym or facility opens up an amazing number of possible problems from bathroom issues and finding people wandering all over our home - to things turning up "missing" after the comp.

There has been some behind the scenes talk about favoritism being shown in judging and rules - there has been a lot of talk about discrimination as well. I've been privy to some of it. As Eric said - if you think this bring it out to the proper people - but back stabbing those people who did all the work so you could play by talking about it behind someone's back is just a cheap shot bunch of crap.

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Hubgeezer

There is a saying used by lawyers that goes "No good deed goes unpunished". I had no idea that it can be as bad as you describe. Staying married would be a tough challenge under those circumstances...

Here is a Youtube clip that show how promoters of grip contests may have been treated in Los Angeles in 1998:

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Rick Walker

Sadly when you host a contest at your house and you invite strangers into your domain you are setting yourself up for a chance for bad things to happen.

I hosted 1 event in 2003. Guys I knew and trusted were allowed in my house. Others camped out in my yard or got a room at the local roach motel. If you had to piss you used the weeds or woods. No one was rude or disrespectful and I didnt clean up a single mess.

different breed of guys back then. OH and all entry fees were paid on time. Nothing cost me a dime. Not beer, not food, not prizes. Good times.

I am sorry but unless you are kin to me or a great friend you arent going in my house. Better use the crapper before you show up or you are SOL!!

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gripmaniac

Great post Eric !!!

It beats me how some people seem to think organising and promoting grip comps is "easy". The time factor alone is quite problematic!

As an organiser I didn't mind some post mortem "feedback" and I was happy to listen to any "concerns" - I saw it as just part of the job description.

There are a number of threads here to give competitors and would-be organisers to plenty to digest and mull over. They're a click of the "Search" button away.

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bwwm

I've been to a number of contests over the past couple years, and met almost all of the folks on the NAGS committee. All of these folks may have different views on things, but they find common ground, give of themselves both time and monetarily, and have an awesome passion for Grip Sport that has lasted decades. I don't know any of the details of the issues/grievances being mentioned.

I would suggest the following for people just coming into the sport:

  1. Seek to learn/understand as much as one can.
  2. Contests should be fun learning opportunities. When I miss a lift, there's nobody to blame but me. I consider it my job to demonstrate clearly and convincingly to the judge that I made the lift. There's always another contest. I'm competing against my past self, nobody else.
  3. Be polite, courteous, helpful.

There are so many people online and at contests that are more than willing to offer advice, even if you're a random stranger. For example, at Nationals last year, when I was doing the medley, JT Strausner, Kody Burns, and other folks readily observed my strengths and suggested lifts as I was going along. They didn't have to do that. Grip sport is an awesome community of strength enthusiasts. I think if folks contribute as they are able, it can only get better.

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EricMilfeld

The level of understanding is very encouraging!

Also, I noticed I "liked"my own post. :rock Cell phones and fat finger tips... that's my story, anyways.

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PeterSweden

lol

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Jedd Johnson

Great post, Eric. Thank you.

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bwwm

As an FYI - in the future if you stop by house for a contest or training session, and there's pee on the toilet seat, the likely culprit is my son, not other gripsters. :chris:

Edited by bwwm
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The Mac

I can see aspiring contest promoters lining up after reading this thread.

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Wannagrip

I can see aspiring contest promoters lining up after reading this thread.

I look at it as information for future promoters to use as "lessons learned" to help improve things going forward.

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Detroit Iron4

That is a great post Eric! I am glad I got to meet you when you drove all the way up too and won the MI. Grip contest. (Chris is my name) That contest was the second time I had ever competed, the first time was the Nov. before at the same location. I have been friends with Jeff, who was there, for the last 7 years and that whole time he told me about it and I finally got into it. I am glad I did it was alot of fun. Part of this reason has been that the two contests where hosted by great people, all the competitors I have meet have been cool, nice, informative, relaxed, helpful, patient ect.... nobody has gotten mad or been a jerk. I had been expecting abunch of hot head dudes but was surprised buy the good nature of everyone I met at those two meets.

I know that this may not always be the case, and I know that there are alot of poor sports out there. I agree totally with what you said. Bob and Andrew may have picked some events I really had no experience with but I was happy to try them out even tho I know I would not to too good in some of them. I get why people are competitive but to complain, show disrespect, get mad, ect, what you described is silly to me and I could not agree with you more. Both contests had delays, and were loosely run but to me that is a good thing to be flexible and they were fun, nobody got mad....it is a shame that all the contests can't be like that. Those guys who put it on spend alot of time and actually the rest of us could do alot more.

Thanks for being a cool guy yourself! It was awesome to see some of the feats you pulled off and to have met ya! Hope the drive back was not too long. Congrats again on the win.

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EricMilfeld

Chris, it was a pleasure meeting you, as well. And I totally agree about the fun, positive vibe at the contest, due in no small part to being hosted at Larkin's Gym. Your uplifting post is good medicine for the sport. I hope I have the pleasure of competing with you again very soon.

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