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How would you like to see GripSport grow?


richcottrell

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richcottrell

I hope I did not just open a can of worms with that question, but I just finished breakfast while reading an old issue of Milo and it really got me thinking…  

In this issue [April 1994], there was an article edited by Randall Strossen, that has a bunch of respected people from the Olympic Lifting community commenting on what they think needs to happen for the USA's lifting program to once again become truly competitive on the world stage.  
Some of the contributors to the article were Gold Medalist lifters [Tommy Kono, Pete George]; Coaches [Bob Takano, Mike Gattone, Lyn Jones]; Publisher Bob Hise; and former USWF Vice President Artie Drechsler.

Discovering weightlifting in the early 1990’s, I was never interested in Olympic lifting, but truthfully I was also never exposed to it either.   As an adult, I still have no real interest in that sport, but I do respect it -- yet I still know very little about it.  Reading these men talk from their unique perspectives is what made this article most interesting for me.

In this same Milo magazine, there is also an article by Merle Meeter called "World Champion Armwrestlers of the 20th Century".  It has a little history on the more modern history of Armwrestling competitions and who was winning what.  The subtitle to that article is "Who They Are, How They Train & Some of Their Feats of Strength."  I also know very little about Armwrestling so this was a fun read for me.

Combined, these two articles got me thinking about grip and GripSport....  I came to reading Milo after discovering the CoC grippers after all.

Specifically, it got me thinking about "Where will GripSport be in 10 years?  
or what might GripSport grow into?  

What will it look like years from now?  
Will it still be a grassroots yet smaller community?  
Could we see larger cash prizes down the road change the whole level of competition? 
Will we see more standardization of events? 
Will the emergence of “Training Team” dominate the winner brackets or will unaffiliated individuals still be able to remain competitive?
Will the unique camaraderie of GripSport be cultivated with the addition of more regional yet annual competitions?

Anyway, I ask these questions not to start any controversy.  I have only competed in two GripSport competitions myself.   That said, I have read many times that people would like to see GripSport grow.  I guess I am wondering what are some people's visions for that growth?

I apologize for not offing my own opinion on my own question.  I guess I am either too new to it all to have a real opinion, or I have not given this enough thought myself.  I will try to spend a few days putting some of my limited insights together… but I would love to hear from some of the guys who have been involved in GripSport for a while now.

What is you vision for the Growth of GripSport?

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@Mikael Siversson, this thread is about growing Gripsport. Yet, in 7 posts, you have not managed to make a single suggestion, aside from "ask the Finns". If you have anything to add aside from attacki

This is my 2 cents or how American people says it.    I have wide circle of friends including Finland's elite class pro powerlifters, strongmen and arm wrestlers. I practise with them and I

Trigger Warning: I feel passionately about the future of gripsport, so brace yourself for a lot of opinions that may go against the grain. I think a good mix of competitions with cash prizes as wel

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Jedd Johnson

All I know is I have put a great deal of effort this year in getting the sport out in front of people.  Because of that, I just haven't been on the board that much, and there seem to be more contests this year than ever.

More competitors and more promoters is a good thing in my opinion.

I think if we had more money flowing into the sport, it could grow quicker.  Sponsors would help.

I think there is the potential to grow, much bigger.  The speed has a lot to do with time and money availability.

We have a good group of guys behind the scenes on the IGC and NAGS committees.  There's always room for improvement though, and I think sometimes we are all moving in too many different directions, due to limitations on time amongst us all.

I think we're going in good directions, though.

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Biffmaister

Major sponsors normally requires organisation/standardization/drug testing.   The only organizer who has this of my knowledge, is World Heavy Events Association(based in Finland)

When I won the WHEA world grip championship last year, I got prizes worth around $600, which I think is great.   

I think we will see a lot of changes the next 10 years, hopefully in a positive way. I hope us europeans can compete with americans much more in the future. 

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Squeezus

Trigger Warning: I feel passionately about the future of gripsport, so brace yourself for a lot of opinions that may go against the grain.

I think a good mix of competitions with cash prizes as well as more smaller local level competitions to generate interest and to introduce people to the sport/hobby/training/culture would go a long way to bringing more people out. However, it is hard to drum up good cash prizes for the competitions if we don't do any promotion for them to get the attendance up. I understand that some folks want to have small competitions at their home gyms and what not, but we can't claim to be "growing the sport" if we choose to keep it to gripboard buddies and nobody else.

To build off my first point, I think that the sport cannot stay a grown man's sport. There are plenty of women who could find utility and pleasure in training/competing with grip, but the sport is currently so male dominated and focused that it's a wonder we have any female competitors at all. It's easy to see, too. At nationals this year, there will be 1 medley for both men and women, and the female competitors will be lucky to score a single point in it. In several competitions this year, 1-hand pinch will be contested, and the device that is traditionally used will be too heavy EMPTY to be lifted by all but the most elite female pinchers (without numerous modifications to the device or the rules for women). All of the aforementioned factors also apply to kids that would like to compete. To my knowledge, there is not a single woman on the IGC or NAGS committees, so that may be a good place to start with improving the sport for women and the youth.

Additionally, there is the component of accessibility. There are so many sports out there that could benefit from grip training if it was cheap and easy for them to do. I have purposely made my products simple, intuitive, and accessible so that you don't have to do research to start training. I used to spend 15+ hours a week in a climbing gym and I can assure you that it doesn't matter how much the climbing crowd stands to gain from dedicated grip training, most of them won't do it unless they are approached on their own turf and convinced it will be easy, cheap, and help them a lot. I would wager that there are other sports/demographics that feel the same as climbers.

I'm sure I will have more things to add to this when I think of them, but I'm getting long winded already. We can make this sport big, but we have to put ourselves in the shoes of the people that are not showing up.

 

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anwnate
35 minutes ago, Squeezus said:

 We can make this sport big, but we have to put ourselves in the shoes of the people that are not showing up.

 

I'm stealing this.

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climber511

How will Grip Sport Grow?

 

It will grow in the way the people who are interested in it decide to grow it.  We have more people starting to sell equipment and that and the money it makes will drive it in certain directions as to the contest events we hold.  If we have a driving force interested in more light weight competitors, more women, more kids etc who are willing to do the work LONG TERM that it will take – then that’s what will happen.  Trying to attract money into Grip Sport will be difficult – getting money for any strength sport long term has been difficult for a long time now – unless it can somehow become much much more exciting to watch than it is currently.  Watching someone close a gripper or pretty much any of our major events from out in the crowd and watching paint dry are about the same.  Fitness is growing and that is a good thing – people are starting to include grip training in their workouts but it’s still a big step to get them onto the stage at a competition.  My feelings on things like Mighty Mitts are that it might even have hurt Grip as a sport.  3 and 400# massive men lifting weights mere mortals can barely comprehend – a normal man (or woman) out in the crowd sees them and shakes his head – never dreaming that this doesn’t represent the sport at the grassroots level that is actually accessible to them.

 

·       An actual organization of sorts is needed.  This will include a dues structure that supports possible officer salaries and certainly liability insurance for them and competition managers, promoters etc.  If you want to outgrow the perception of a “garage” sport – then you’re going to have to actually become a true organization in law as well as a group of interested people on a forum or two.  Olympic Lifting, Power Lifting, Strongman etc all have these things – we simply do not.  Whatever organizational structure we have is anything but “business like”.  If we want Grip to become a “Sport” like other major activities – then we will have to run things like a business.   

·       Social Media – in spite of my inability to understand it – this seems to be the future of advertisement for well………everything.  A strong – well thought out media presence will be needed. 

·       This is something I don’t want to see but may be necessary as the sport grows – fixed events.  Right now promoters are free to hold whatever events they choose and I like it that way – but holding events that the general public has never heard of – don’t have the equipment to train with and single purpose equipment that costs a lot and is not available in commercial gyms is a deal breaker for most people as to doing a competition.  One of the decisions which will have to be made is how overall heavy the events can be before Grip is secondary to back and overall body strength.  If you want Rock Climbers to come – you cannot attract them with an event that tests back strength for example.  Everyone interested in Grip is not going to have a 4 – 5 – or 600# dead lift.  Who and how to market this to is going to be a big decision – only gym rats, or the many others out there who have never heard of Grip as a Sport.

·       I have many other thoughts but this is long enough for now.

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anwnate

 

@climber511

Damn.  Fantastic post Chris.

I thank you for saving me the trouble of weighing in. 

 

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Jared Goguen

I agree with what I few people have said here. Money and sponsorships are the fastest way to grow the sport but why would a company sponsor a contest or athletes in a sport that pretty much no one knows about.

Fitness company's sponsor events with real attendance, and people with real social media followings. It's about making them money, one thing we can all do on small scale is post more, no offence but the three biggest grip related youtube channel have a sad number of subscribers Jedd, Juha and myself are all under 10k for sub and that is a joke for youtube, people need to be filming things, posting there training, idea, and projects on youtube, instagram, facebook, reddit, tumblr, snap, para-scope...etc. whatever you chose to use but I strongly feel like that doing so will attract more people to the sport. Ask yourself how did you find the world of grip? Likely the internet was part that.

Looking at it from an organizational perspective I would like to see a change in leadership and the opportunity for new people to take the reigns some. I would like to see NAGS committee members have a term limit of 4 years max, and at least one woman on the committee, I think doing so would bring new and fresh ideas into the sport some.

I strongly agree with Gil about the accessibility issues, the sport needs to be all inclusive, everyone needs to be able to play for it to grow, having more woman, teens, and kid is very important and I think we are starting to see the start of this change now.

Lastly I feel like many of the people that have been in the world of grip for 2, 5, 8, or 15 years need to step back a little bit and open up a little bit to some of these new ideas and perspective. On a personal level I have had a few people crap on my ideas and thoughts about the sport and how to grow it, I may not be right but actively shitting on someone's thoughts will turn many people off from something.

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Mikael Siversson

The current leadership is just fine. They were voted in for reason as they have stood the test of time and demonstrated long term commitment. We have had these discussions many times and it is always repeating itself with new people having strong ideas on how to change things and then they ultimately loose interest and disappear when they can't have it their way.

 

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Jedd Johnson
16 hours ago, Squeezus said:

Trigger Warning: I feel passionately about the future of gripsport, so brace yourself for a lot of opinions that may go against the grain.

I think a good mix of competitions with cash prizes as well as more smaller local level competitions to generate interest and to introduce people to the sport/hobby/training/culture would go a long way to bringing more people out. However, it is hard to drum up good cash prizes for the competitions if we don't do any promotion for them to get the attendance up. I understand that some folks want to have small competitions at their home gyms and what not, but we can't claim to be "growing the sport" if we choose to keep it to gripboard buddies and nobody else.

To build off my first point, I think that the sport cannot stay a grown man's sport. There are plenty of women who could find utility and pleasure in training/competing with grip, but the sport is currently so male dominated and focused that it's a wonder we have any female competitors at all. It's easy to see, too. At nationals this year, there will be 1 medley for both men and women, and the female competitors will be lucky to score a single point in it. In several competitions this year, 1-hand pinch will be contested, and the device that is traditionally used will be too heavy EMPTY to be lifted by all but the most elite female pinchers (without numerous modifications to the device or the rules for women). All of the aforementioned factors also apply to kids that would like to compete. To my knowledge, there is not a single woman on the IGC or NAGS committees, so that may be a good place to start with improving the sport for women and the youth.

This is a good point. Regarding the heavy set-up, this is why we have always had a PVC pipe on hand for comps, and now we have alluminum plates.

Regarding women at Nationals, the Medley has been lowered in the past and will be again.

Additionally, there is the component of accessibility. There are so many sports out there that could benefit from grip training if it was cheap and easy for them to do. I have purposely made my products simple, intuitive, and accessible so that you don't have to do research to start training. I used to spend 15+ hours a week in a climbing gym and I can assure you that it doesn't matter how much the climbing crowd stands to gain from dedicated grip training, most of them won't do it unless they are approached on their own turf and convinced it will be easy, cheap, and help them a lot. I would wager that there are other sports/demographics that feel the same as climbers.

I'm sure I will have more things to add to this when I think of them, but I'm getting long winded already. We can make this sport big, but we have to put ourselves in the shoes of the people that are not showing up.

 

 

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climber511

Jared

Something we need is a "history" of the things We (meaning NAGS & IGS) have tried over the years.  Several of the ideas people have presented as "new" were really not - but there is no way for you or others to know this and that they were tried unsuccessfully in the past.  As to new blood - we have had "elections" in the past and no doubt will again.  Those will be decided by a vote and the people chosen will be whoever gets the most votes - as usual.  If it's time for "new blood" - then new people will win the election.

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Jared Goguen
30 minutes ago, Mikael Siversson said:

The current leadership is just fine. They were voted in for reason as they have stood the test of time and demonstrated long term commitment. We have had these discussions many times and it is always repeating itself with new people having strong ideas on how to change things and then they ultimately loose interest and disappear when they can't have it their way.

 

Please post links, and names of people that have came in with good strong ideas and then "then ultimately loose interest and disappear when they can't have it their way."? I have not seen that in the past two ish years.

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Jared Goguen
27 minutes ago, climber511 said:

Jared

Something we need is a "history" of the things We (meaning NAGS & IGS) have tried over the years.  Several of the ideas people have presented as "new" were really not - but there is no way for you or others to know this and that they were tried unsuccessfully in the past.  As to new blood - we have had "elections" in the past and no doubt will again.  Those will be decided by a vote and the people chosen will be whoever gets the most votes - as usual.  If it's time for "new blood" - then new people will win the election.

I agree with you.

This is a "How would you like to see GripSport grow?" All I was doing was sharing my opinion on the subject at hand.

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Jedd Johnson

I put up a discussion item in the NAGS committee forum about the Medley Challenge items for the Women.  Hopefully, we'll be able to get this posted fairly soon.

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anwnate
42 minutes ago, Jared Goguen said:

I agree with what I few people have said here. Money and sponsorships are the fastest way to grow the sport but why would a company sponsor a contest or athletes in a sport that pretty much no one knows about.

Fitness company's sponsor events with real attendance, and people with real social media followings. It's about making them money, one thing we can all do on small scale is post more, no offence but the three biggest grip related youtube channel have a sad number of subscribers Jedd, Juha and myself are all under 10k for sub and that is a joke for youtube, people need to be filming things, posting there training, idea, and projects on youtube, instagram, facebook, reddit, tumblr, snap, para-scope...etc. whatever you chose to use but I strongly feel like that doing so will attract more people to the sport. Ask yourself how did you find the world of grip? Likely the internet was part that.

Looking at it from an organizational perspective I would like to see a change in leadership and the opportunity for new people to take the reigns some. I would like to see NAGS committee members have a term limit of 4 years max, and at least one woman on the committee, I think doing so would bring new and fresh ideas into the sport some.

I strongly agree with Gil about the accessibility issues, the sport needs to be all inclusive, everyone needs to be able to play for it to grow, having more woman, teens, and kid is very important and I think we are starting to see the start of this change now.

Lastly I feel like many of the people that have been in the world of grip for 2, 5, 8, or 15 years need to step back a little bit and open up a little bit to some of these new ideas and perspective. On a personal level I have had a few people crap on my ideas and thoughts about the sport and how to grow it, I may not be right but actively shitting on someone's thoughts will turn many people off from something.

It's unfortunate that you have felt that way about the response to your ideas.  Sometimes that kind of response is due to the delivery of the thoughts (and honestly I don't know what you are referring to, but there have definitely been others who have been less than tactful in their delivery), and sometimes it has to do with the history of what's been tried in the past.   Personally, in the past, I have PMd the "powers that be" many times regarding ideas and thoughts I have had.  

Some have been well received and implemented and others were discarded as impractical or whatnot.  I want to assure you that regardless of the response, I received well thought out reasonable responses, regardless of whether or not I agreed with them.  Perhaps a more personal conversation with an IGC member might give you a better idea of what is going on behind the scenes.  I'm about to reach my 5th year here on the Gripboard...and I'm STILL learning about what has come before and how that has shaped what we are now.  

4 minutes ago, Jared Goguen said:

Please post links, and names of people that have came in with good strong ideas and then "then ultimately loose interest and disappear when they can't have it their way."? I have not seen that in the past two ish years.

I don't have specifics to answer the question, but want to assure you there have been quite a few "growing pains" that Grip Sport has worked through over the last 13 years or so.  Finishing my 5th year here, my perspective is very different than  2 years in.  Jared...I'm actually blown away by some of the crap that has been dealt with in the past.  I would suggest "reaching out" to someone privately to address your concerns.  Public threads can get much more messy and end up taking wayyy more time than necessary. IMHO...taxes title freight etc.

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MCrushetta
1 hour ago, Mikael Siversson said:

The current leadership is just fine. They were voted in for reason as they have stood the test of time and demonstrated long term commitment. We have had these discussions many times and it is always repeating itself with new people having strong ideas on how to change things and then they ultimately loose interest and disappear when they can't have it their way.

 

I'm curious, though why there aren't any women in some of these leadership positions. It is a market that has not really been tapped into yet. I am doing my best to get the word out. Including amazing gripsters like Amy Wattles for example, though, on decisions regarding competitions and standards for NAGS is necessary in my opinion. 

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Eric Roussin

I think one of the keys to growing grip sport is to increase the number of opportunities there are to compete.  There are 15 grip sport contests currently listed on the NAGS calendar for 2016. There’s room for plenty more. There are many people in North America who live hundreds, if not thousands of miles away from the closest grip sport contest. We need more promoters. If you’ve thought that this is something you’d like to do, do it. You may have a very small turnout, but you have to start somewhere.

After three years of holding grip sport contests in Ottawa, I now finally have a core group of competitors who train for grip sport, and will come to almost any event I host. Hosting grip challenges alongside other events that attract a similar type of crowd, such as armwrestling tournaments or strongman contests, is another easy way to grow the sport.

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MCrushetta
17 hours ago, anwnate said:

I'm stealing this.

me too

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MCrushetta
33 minutes ago, Jedd Johnson said:

I put up a discussion item in the NAGS committee forum about the Medley Challenge items for the Women.  Hopefully, we'll be able to get this posted fairly soon.

Reaching out to some women, IMO may be a good idea regarding this. Gil and I are also happy to share what we included in the Southern Squeeze medley if you would like that information. 

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Jedd Johnson
3 minutes ago, MCrushetta said:

I'm curious, though why there aren't any women in some of these leadership positions. It is a market that has not really been tapped into yet. I am doing my best to get the word out. Including amazing gripsters like Amy Wattles for example, though, on decisions regarding competitions and standards for NAGS is necessary in my opinion. 

There's never been any women who have even taken part actively in a conversation about moving Grip Sport forward, at least not that I recall.  Amy has always seemed to busy with her career and family to be able to devote much time to Grip Sport.

It certainly hasn't been that we're a group of dudes who won't let women say anything. 

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Jedd Johnson
3 minutes ago, MCrushetta said:

Reaching out to some women, IMO may be a good idea regarding this. Gil and I are also happy to share what we included in the Southern Squeeze medley if you would like that information. 

Sounds great.  Send it over or post it and I'll compare with what I came up with.  Be interesting to see how close or far apart we are.

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MCrushetta
Just now, Jedd Johnson said:

There's never been any women who have even taken part actively in a conversation about moving Grip Sport forward, at least not that I recall.  Amy has always seemed to busy with her career and family to be able to devote much time to Grip Sport.

It certainly hasn't been that we're a group of dudes who won't let women say anything. 

I didn't say that you were. But I think if you want to actively move this into the mainstream and get more women involved, actively seeking out female athlete's perspectives is crucial. 

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anwnate

Regarding the "Youth" gripsters...I am happy to say that we have 3 (15 and under's) competing at the SJ3. 

Tom and I were talking about (down the road), possibly hosting a Jr. Nationals.  

That idea has me super pumped...like Jedd after a PR. ;)

 

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Jedd Johnson
Just now, MCrushetta said:

I didn't say that you were. But I think if you want to actively move this into the mainstream and get more women involved, actively seeking out female athlete's perspectives is crucial. 

A good point.    We used to have a very regular competitor name Maryanne McKeague and I would often get feedback from her, and she helped her husband, Brent Barbe, when we were coming up with different things.  So, even though she wasn't actually on the committee, her presence was always felt.  The last few years, she's been very tied up with her career and her degree, so she hasn't been nearly as visible.

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Jedd Johnson

Just so it doesn't seem like I totally contradicted myself up above.... 

There's never been a woman competitor who has voiced a desire to be on the committee.  However, Maryanne McKeague would often take part in discussions, either directly with myself, or with her husband Brent Barbe.

Maria, if you're interested in being a part of NAGS discussions, I think ti would be great to have you involved, personally.

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