Why is gymnastics gear so expensive?
Gymnastics equipment costs are skyrocketing, with the average US gymnast now spending more than $150,000 annually on their gear, according to the latest numbers from the International Association of Gymnastic Equipment Manufacturers (IAHM).
According to the IAM, gymnasts have been using gymnastics technology for decades, and the majority of the equipment currently in use in the sport is made by companies based in the US.
But the industry has seen rapid growth in recent years, with more than 6,500 manufacturers now providing equipment to the sport.
“The growth in the use of these technologies has led to some serious issues with the equipment,” IAM president and CEO Michael Schaer said.
“It’s an environment where people are using equipment that they are not certified to use and are not adequately tested for safety,” he said.
The latest data shows that more than 50% of gymnastics gyms in the world use outdated equipment, including older equipment that is no longer needed.
For example, more than 80% of gyms tested by the IAGM in the United States are using older, less-protective equipment.
The IAM also reports that equipment prices in the USA are more than 20 times higher than anywhere else in the developed world, with equipment costing up to $60,000 to buy.
It’s estimated that over $1 billion worth of gymnastic equipment is in use by US gyms.IAGM chief executive Officer Tim Wilson says the cost of modern equipment is more than twice that of the previous generation of equipment.
He said that, although the industry’s growth has been steady, the new technologies are not necessarily going to be as reliable as the older equipment.
“Gymnastics technology has been around for decades and it’s not a new technology,” he told Al Jazeera.
“There are some very important safety and environmental reasons why we’ve got to make sure we’ve been adequately testing the equipment.”
“Grip and tension is what we do, so we don’t have the same issues as some of the other sports,” he added.
“When I talk about the equipment we’ve had over the years, I’m talking about gymnastics that we’re using.
I’m not talking about any other sport, but it’s a significant issue for the sport.”IAM has called for a national gymnastics safety strategy and called on the US Olympic Committee (USOC) to work with its member federations to develop one.IAM also wants gymnastics to use modern, stronger, more durable and safer equipment.
It also wants the Olympic Games to be held in the summer, as this would allow the USA to use all the facilities in their country, rather than using a smaller, less populated area.
The Olympic Games will not be held until 2019, and Wilson says this would be a mistake, since they would be the last Olympics for the US and there is no clear plan for future gymnastics competitions.
Wilson also said that the current US gymnastics infrastructure needs to be rebuilt, which is also a major concern.
“We have to build a national infrastructure,” he explained.
“Our athletes are the world’s best and we need to take advantage of the opportunities they have, and we have to give them a chance to compete, and I think the US needs to have a great Olympic program.”
But the USO has not commented on the IAFM’s new findings, with spokesman Mike Capps stating that the organization is “committed to bringing more Olympic athletes to the United State”.
“As we have previously stated, we believe that the future of the sport lies in the next Olympics in 2024,” he wrote.