SportsEvents Magazine

AUG 2017

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August 2017 40 "Gymnastics in the USA has a history of enjoying increased participation around the Olympic Games but has also demonstrated steady growth during the Olympic cycle," said Ron Galimore, chief operating officer for USA Gymnastics, the national govern- ing body of the sport. "USA Gymnastics has worked to build awareness of the sport leading up to and during the Olympic year through event coverage, live streaming our premier events, and providing original cov- erage of those events and our athletes on the website and social networks." Thus far this year, the numbers are proving that increased awareness to be real, especially on social media. The USA Gymnastics YouTube channel has record- ed more than 10 million views so far this year. The organization has more than 1.2 million fans on Facebook, nearly 250,000 followers on Twitter and just shy of 700,000 followers on Instagram. "A recent Sports Business Journal analysis looked at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts of more than 1,200 leagues, federations and teams from June 2016 to June 2017 to see which teams and leagues have the most socially engaged fans," said Galimore. "That analysis ranked USA Gymnastics seventh domestically, behind big-name brands like NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL and the UFC, and 14th globally." With so much interest and intrigue surrounding the sport, it's no surprise that participation is not only strong but grow- ing. In fact, USA Gymnastics reached an all-time membership high in the 2016-17 membership year. "Clubs across the coun- try are experiencing great interest in their local communities on all levels, from pre- school to recreational classes to the Junior Olympic program," Galimore said. For the 2016-17 member year, USA Gymnastics boasts 3,546 member clubs and a total membership of 198,636, 164,343 of which are athletes. Those numbers have been growing steadily since 2010. Women's gymnastics makes up approx- imately 74 percent of the organization's membership, while men's makes up approximately 10 percent. The remainder are non-athlete members. "Women's gym- nastics is definitely the most popular of the gymnastics disciplines and the Junior Olympic program has the largest segment of that number," said Galimore. "In the last decade, women's participant numbers have increased 77 percent." For men, the number of varsity gymnas- tics programs within the NCAA has been holding steady in recent years and colle- giate gymnastics is once again growing, with participant numbers for men increas- ing. "Overall, men's gymnastics participant numbers continue to rise at the age group competition program level, as evidenced by the increasing number of male athlete members participating in competitive gymnastics within USA Gymnastics," said Galimore. "Over the last 10 years, men's participant numbers have increased by over 33 percent." The reasons for this participation growth goes well beyond the Olympic Games. It also speaks to the sport's versatility—it features six disciplines—and its ability to teach participants important life lessons while creating positive fitness routines. "Gymnastics not only builds a strong physical skill set that can help athletes excel at almost any sport but also develops well-rounded individuals who are high achievers," said Galimore. "From an early age, gymnasts learn about hard work, goal setting, time management, overcoming fears and more through their exposure to gymnastics, which can be applied in any phase of their life, moving forward." While USA Gymnastics is doing all it can to make sure potential gymnasts and fans learn all about the sport, it's also striving to be a valuable resource to its members. In 2017 alone, the organization hosted seven Regional Congresses, educa- tional seminars held throughout the country that provide networking opportunities. In addition, USA Gymnastics provides members with educational opportunities through USA Gymnastics University, which offers classes in a variety of areas and four schools: competitive gymnastics, business, recreational gymnastics and judg- ing. "We're continually expanding our edu- cational offerings, including education and training for athlete safety and wellness," ► t SPORT Report The women compete at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials at Sap Center at San Jose, Calif. The U.S. Olympic Women's Gymnastics Team

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