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Does Age Discrimination Exist?

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Harv

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Or to put it another way, are older kids judged more harshly than their younger teammates?

The question has crossed my mind on a few occasions, but I've dismissed it out of hand. Today at practice, however, some other parents were discussing the same topic. Coincidentally, just today in another thread, Bob Blair commented that my boy looks much older than his 11 years.

Got me to wondering... :confused:



When you look at my son, he looks very much like he should be with the level 5 or 6 boys, instead of the level 4 that he's in. Is it remotely possible that judges might (at least subconsciously) think he might be sandbagging at meets, so they turn up the heat a notch?

No complaints, really. More of an intellectual curiosity at this point. ;)

- Harv
 

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gymdog

Well-Known Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Jul 5, 2007
5,121
Not really. MAG is even more informal than WAG (i.e. I rarely hear complaints about sandbagging and such from the guys' side), and I wouldn't say I've ever observed this phenomenon even with girls. I started at 11 and I scored very well the first year, better than most of the younger girls (although compulsories was generally less competitive then, and I already had L6 skills because I was at a rec gym that just taught skills...I had never competed). They take the deductions they see.
 

I-Heart-Beam

Active Member
Sep 9, 2007
964
Scotland
I don't know about guys, but I would say yes in WAG. No one wants to make the cute wee pixie with pigtails cry.

But we compete in age groups, so its doesn't affect one gymnast more than the other.
 

gymdog

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Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Jul 5, 2007
5,121
I don't know about guys, but I would say yes in WAG. No one wants to make the cute wee pixie with pigtails cry.

But we compete in age groups, so its doesn't affect one gymnast more than the other.

I don't know, I just sat through a million L4 bar routines, many from pretty little kids, and the scores on many were pretty low (those judges were lowballing in general but they were right on each other and I agree with the deductions they were taking - they were just hitting the casts). The scores for the youngest group (the levels were broken out by age into different sessions just due to constraints) ranged from 5s to 9s. So did the scores in the middle group and the oldest group really. There were definitely quite a few 5s and 6s in the 6-8 age group. Sometimes the youngest groups can have some really talented kids (especially when you hit about L7 or so), but when it comes to L4 and 5 sometimes the older girls have an edge with keeping track of all the details throughout the routine and not looking awkward, even if they have similar gymnastics skill if they were just to perform one skill at a time.
 
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Harv

Guest
But we compete in age groups, so its doesn't affect one gymnast more than the other.
Ya know, I-Heart, I think you just cleared it up for me. I shouldn't have used the word "discrimination" at all, for the reason you just mentioned. :eek:

I've seen our own level 4 team compete in anywhere from 2 to 5 age groups, depending on the size of the meet and number of kids in each group. The confusion for me, a true neophyte in this type of competition, is that the entire level 4 group may perform at the same time, so it has the immediate appearance that they're all competing against each other. It's not until award time that the division of age groups is clear.

Now, given that scenario, my real question for this whole thread should have been, "Are the age groups within the same level scored any differently from one to the next?"

I have so much to learn... :D

- Harv
 

mariposa

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Sep 25, 2007
3,529
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USA
I don't know about guys, but I would say yes in WAG. No one wants to make the cute wee pixie with pigtails cry.

But we compete in age groups, so its doesn't affect one gymnast more than the other.

I have to disagree, at least where we live. I think the judges here judge tough and pretty fair it seems. I think that my little 6yo daughter is super adorable, even had pigtails, LOL and her scores at her first 3 meets were all pretty consistently LOW. :D Being cute doesn't help, thank goodness for that!

:D

As to the OP, I don't think I have seen that at any meets.
 

coachmolly

Active Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Jan 18, 2009
2,990
VA
Country
USA
I have definitely seen age discrimination among coaches, maybe not so much with judges though. When I was an 11 year old level 5 I went to a new gym and the gym owner put me in the more informal competitive group because I was already too old and too big to be a potentially good gymnast. He never watched me do a single skill when he placed into this group, had no idea what kind of work ethic I had, just put me there because I was older.
A few years later I switched to a new gym and I felt like the coaches had some big hesitation about taking me on considering my age (I was nearly 15 and a level 7). Fortunately they did end up evaluating my gymnastics first and took me on for my work ethic and commitment to the sport.
But there definitely is age discrimination in the sport, especially among the lower levels, at least in my experiences.
 

mommykateb

New Member
Jan 10, 2009
11
NE now, but soon San Diego
I have definitely seen age discrimination among coaches, maybe not so much with judges though....
But there definitely is age discrimination in the sport, especially among the lower levels, at least in my experiences.

I agree completely - I was told by a coach at a very highly respected elite level gym that it "doesn't really matter" what gym/program my DD attends because she is already 7 and only on pre-team. She absolutely loves the sport and works very hard at it (she made it to pre-team within six months of starting gymnastics), but just because of her age she was pretty much written off.
 

LittleLady

Member
Feb 3, 2009
215
Vermont
Age Discrimination

At age 22, married and the mother of a two year old son, I came out of gymnastics retirement as a former State Champion in my teens. I was told I was too old to train seriously, much less compete. I trained myself for many, many years before a coach would give me the training I deserved. At age 34, I became State Champion earning Gold on beam, floor, vault, a Bronze on bars and Silver All Around missing Gold All Around by .005. I competed in the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic Program in the age 16 years and up division. After that, parents complained that their daughters shouldn't have to compete against an adult. There is no age limit in gymnastics, I might add, but nonetheless the owners/coaches of my team gave in to parent's pressure and forced me out of training and competing by changing the insurance age limit. I have been like a fish out of water ever since. In America, age discrimination shouldn't exist, but I have been living it and my pursuit of happiness and following my love of gymnastics has been ended unfairly. I have much to share about my gymnastics experiences if anyone is interested. I love gymnastics. I was born a gymnast. It just hurts so much that I can't do what I love and am talented at, in the USA. Please respond. I'd love to hear from you!
 
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