Is This Unethical???

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lakshmi369

Member
Mar 4, 2008
97
It gives me some pain to ask this one of everyone that reads this but I have an ethics question about my DDs former gym. I know how we feel but want to get a read on what others thought.
Anyway, at this gym the owner on a yearly basis promises to a number of girls that are dis-satisfied with remaining (L5 and L6's) Compulsory Gymnasts that they will be Optionals by the start of competition season. There is little work done to provide the coaching of skills needed for Optional but lots of promises and reassurance.
Typically after school starts in September the bombshell is dropped that "No, DD does not have the skills to move up to Optionals and she needs to stay in Compulsory another year".
By this point the Summer has passed, the skills have not been Coached and the DD is unable to move up or move on as her window of opportunity has passed to actually gain the skills and it is far too late to try moving up at another gym.
This has happened to countless girls over the years and we see it happening again to the poor, hopefull Families of my Daughters friends from her former gym.
Is this ethical? Has anyone else had this problem at their gym?
 
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gymdog

Well-Known Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
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Jul 5, 2007
5,121
It is unethical to consistently give information you know to be false or knowingly present an unlikely outcome as likely to people who don't have access to the same information as you. I would not assure anyone at the beginning of the summer that they were going to move up unless they had the skills for that level or were close enough that it seemed like a solid thing. I don't think this is the best thing for motivation necessarily anyway, although I don't advocate any sort of head games, I just prefer to mostly take a training approach and then make a decision at the end of the summer. All that said I wouldn't assume they could compete the promised level if they switched gyms anyway, but this is poor management. However, I don't really think this is necessarily something you can report or prove. Variations of this aren't uncommon and dissatisfaction regarding how move up procedure is handled are common.
 

Scout's Mom

Member
Oct 2, 2007
89
Texas
Is it ethical? No.

I've seen it at many gyms. I've seen people sink a ton of money into the leotard, meet fees, travel expenses only to be told that their child would not be competing at all; and oh, by the way, none of those expenses are refundable. The reality was that little or no effort was being put forth to get the kids ready.

To be fair, there are cases in which a child doesn't have a basic skill down in order to progress. So while you watch a child being coached on the same skills over and over, it may not look like they are progressing. The reality is that the coach is perfecting or correcting in order to get the next skill.

However, as a parent and a customer, it is important that you educate youself to make sure your child is getting what you pay for. So that means communication with the coaches about what the next "big" skills are to move up a level and what the steps are to getting that skill. Then, the parent needs to make sure that that is happening during the entire summer--or in the case of really big skills, the year before it's needed.

Most coaches and owners are in this for the love of the kids and the sport. They're human--the summer gets away from them, or they didn't realize the child didn't have the skill already (yes, I've heard that), or the child has been balking on the skill (unbeknownst to the parent), or who knows.....

Owners and/or coaches that deliberately deceive children and parents in order to keep the checks coming in are lower than low in my opinion.
 

gym monkeys mom

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Oct 3, 2007
569
I guess I would hope that those things don't happen on purpose. I feel as others do that summer gets away from coaches. I also know that being a coach and an owner is a huge job!! One that requires the help of a good staff, parents booster club and gymnasts. Kids are somtimes also not honest with praents about skills they are balking on. I know that we as parents are paying for gymnastics but, smaller clubs need help from booster clubs ecspecially in this economy. If they needed to pay employees for all our booster club does our fees would be outrageous. that being said there are some bad seeds out there owning and coaching clubs unfortunaltey they give the others a poor name too.:(
 

Aussie_coach

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Predicting progress in gymnastics is almost impossible. Kids dont develop in a steady way, they go through stages where they are learning heaps of skills and look like they will make it easily and then a while later they will go through a stage where they seem to be going backwards.

Many unpredicatble factors can come into play aswell such as growth spurts, mental blocks with certain skills, fear and so on.

On the other hand the coaches do need to be able to try to make some predictions in order to decide what direction training must take, what skills need to be learned, who needs new routines, how many hours to train, which group to work out with and so on.

So yes it is very, very common for gyms to make predictions and then it goes the other way completely.

A good coach and gym owner will make sure both the parents and the gymnasts are aware of the variables in the situation. Instead of saying "you are doing level 7 next year" it should be "we are working towards doing level 7 next year, there are still quite a few skills to get and if you arent quite ready we will have another really successful level 6 season for you while still working the level 7 skills"
 

gymnomore

Member
Aug 3, 2007
208
I agree with the above post in that a coach should tell the gymnast which goals they need to be working toward to to move up. It doesn't hurt to also discuss ways that they are trying to reach their goals. This requires an effort from not only the gymnast but also the coach. Then, the coach should discuss this progress with the gymnast throughout the training period before that window of opportunity closes. That way, there are no surprises. In our situation, I knew my dd was doing her part, but clearly the coach was not. If the coach throws the responsibility entirely on the gymnast, this gives him the license to slack off all summer or perhaps concentrate on other girls. Call me a meanie mommie, but my response was to withhold meet fee payments until I was told that dd had the skills to move up and would be competing the next level. My reasoning was that if the gym wanted her already high scores at the current level, it was going to cost them. Note- I had a back-up plan, in that a neighboring gym, where I really wanted her to be, already promised her a spot at the next level up and drew out a plan to get her ready. Go figure. As it turned out, the coach got the message and did what needed to be done to prepare her for that next level. By the way, she did just fine.
 
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lakshmi369

Member
Mar 4, 2008
97
I liked your backup plan gymnomore! In fact, one of the parents from my Daughters old gym is bringing her DD over and sharing a private lesson with my daughter from time to time at our new gym. Everything is above board and the Mom explained to the old gym that she was doing it. I think they are getting one foot in the new gym as their fall back.
 
B

Billy

Guest
Our gym works pretty much the same way Aussie said. The girls are placed right after states. If they got the necessary scores for the season (two 36s to move to the next level), they moved up on May 1st. Then they have until the end of July to get all of the skills, without a spot, in order to compete the new level in January.
 

lakshmi369

Member
Mar 4, 2008
97
Regretably the gym I speak of has no such rules. More of an arbitrary popularity contest with no written rules! One girl who moved on to another gym from this situation had 4 scores over 36 at L6 and had been at the same level for 2 years. This gym had given her the same story two prior years and she and her family got feed up and left! She is set to compete at L8 this year after only a year away from the gym. Just seems horrible to treat gymnasts in this fashion!
 

lannamavity

Member
Sep 13, 2007
409
way out West
You know, this is the one thing that I can't stand as a coach.

It sounds like you are happy at your new gym. It sounds like you had the feeling that you could find something better, you took a chance and found what you were looking for, which is to be commended.

What is the point of the question "Is it ethical?" You obviously don't think it is, so are you asking anyone a question...really?

Maybe these aren't the best coaches in the world, and maybe they don't coach the way you want them to. So be it...

Regardless, I feel it is unethical to promise a child they will move to the next level without being properly prepared, and if the coaches at this "old gym" didn't feel that these athletes were safe or had the chance to be successful, I give them credit for the choices they made. They have that right, just like you have every right to go to another gym.

What I think is unethical is parents recruiting kids from their old gym instead of minding their own business and letting other people make their own decisions. If I were a coach at the "old gym" I would not allow a kid who is doing privates at another gym back in, and if I were a coach at the "new gym", I would have to question the intentions of anyone who is so insecure in their own decisions that they feel the need to influence the decision which another family needs to make on their own. Those are the "unethical" things I see going on.

It's like some kind of revenge on the gym that "wasn't good enough", and I have a problem with that mindset. Maybe those coaches were doing the best they could even if that wasn't good enough...no one is forced to stay at a gym in the US (can't speak for Canada or Australia).

People who are truly happy and secure with their decisions don't need to ask rhetorical questions or try to convince people that they are right, and others are wrong.
 
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lakshmi369

Member
Mar 4, 2008
97
Whoa! Hold on there!
The girl from the "old gym" was brought in by her Mom without any encouragement or seeking to somehow undermine her gym. It was done with notice to her gym and they allowed it. We do no recruiting for the new gym and have made no calls to parents from the old gym trying to "recruit"! The ones that show up from the old gym are born on their on frustration not by some recruiting campaign.
What gets me is when it is such a blatent misuse of the power a gym holds over family and the athlete it is still defended by some.
I absolutely agree with the safety of the gymnast but to make hollow promises to young athletes without doing the part of giving them the coaching and opportunity to improve to the level promised is just taking money.
This may have hit a sensitive spot for you but the truth of the matter is my DD's decision to change gyms was brought out of her frustration at the lack of commitment from her old gym to see her through, to acheive her highest level possible in a safe and timely fashion. If you chose to defend the activities of a gym that intentionally misleads gymnasts and their families for no more than the financial gain that is your affair.
My daughter and our Famaily have been very secure in our choice for a new gym where the promises are not hollow and the work is done to "actually help her" reach her goals. I do not think we will agree on this point by the sound of it. I have intentionally not named gyms, etc... and am seeking to see how common or prevelent this practice is in the Gymnastics community as we have had only one prior gym experience.
Thanks for your input lannamavity even though I can in no way agree with it. You sound dedicated to your work and I wish you the best success.
 

lannamavity

Member
Sep 13, 2007
409
way out West
"If you chose to defend the activities of a gym that intentionally misleads gymnasts and their families for no more than the financial gain that is your affair...."

I in no way defend how this "old gym" chooses to do business. My issue is the gray area between a parent's opinion about the way a child should be coached and the accusation of "unethical business practices."

I am actually a coach at a gym with a very successful team (college scholarships, JO state/regional/national champions), and we get a lot of kids from other gyms in the area. They come to us for our track record in competition and our program...and we don't have a whole lot of kids who leave and go to other gyms. The ones who left have always been very honest when it is about the commute, money, interest in other activities etc...

Where I see this kind of scenario is with new kids who come to our gym. I often have to tell new parents over and over that I am not interested in hearing how bad the old coaches were, and I keep my opinion of other coaches to myself as much as possible. "No comment" is usually as far as I will go.


While it is flattering that parents see such a contrast between our program and others, I still have to have some sort of respect for other clubs around us. They get children involved in the sport just like we do. I still have a hard time believing that anyone coaches gymnastics to make money or rip people off...a vast majority of coaches do it because they love gymnastics...even if they don't have the best program set up to do it.

Gymnastics is a small sport on the local level, and while gyms do compete at meets, as well as in the business realm, slamming other clubs never helps gymnastics or individual athletes. Every club sells "The Dream"...some are just better set up to help a child fulfill it.

Parents put so much trust in coaches, and I understand that those parents can be disappointed and feel like they put their trust in the wrong people. Perhaps they did, but there must have been some reason why they trusted those coaches...and those coaches did, at least, introduce those kids and parents to a sport which they love. The child was hooked on gymnastics.

Leaving a gym can be emotional, and finding a new, better place can be exciting...but it seems to me that a lot of people forget the good things about an ex-gym the moment things get tough. I understand leaving a gym when a family feels that they have outgrown that gym, but once that break has been made, of what use is complaining further...either anonymously or in the stands at a meet?

How horrible would it be if a parent chose to not take their daughter to gym for her first time ever simply because someone said they had a bad experience there? It seems like many people on this board are so gung-ho on including everyone in gymnastics and then slamming gyms along the way.

I'm not talking about any one person, or parents in general...this is what I have seen from another perspective, and I was reminded of this from the original post.

I could be completely wrong, or completely right...doesn't matter.

My opinion remains that every gym sells a dream, but that dream looks different to everyone. A coach who says "yes" to a kid could be accused of misleading them, and a coach who says "no" could be accused of limiting them. Who did the right thing? Is one unethical? I dont' think it's that simple.


Once again, congrats on your move.
 
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