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A UNION OF PUPPETS An Open Letter to Those in Women's Gymnastics By H. Vogel Puppet Federations or a Union pf Puppets . . . this is the charge and counter.charge of the much publicized AAU - NCAA ocnflict. Though top level committees hammer away at the problem of control and general opinion is being mounded, ,we-the people this issue affects most must be of open mind, analyze the true problem as it relates to gymnastics and then determine what will be the best for the future health of our sport. A recent letter from AA U headquarters, specifically Bulletin #29, dated Decembeqr 14th 1%2, and signed by Stephen M. Archer, secretary of the AAU, encouraged this open letter to you the women's gymnastic community of the United States. This letter began, "Request you urge all members your association and parents athletes all sports to write or telegraph President Kennedy supporting AAU position against NCAA." Unfortunately I did not know the AAU position but that of course did not foster much of a problem for the bulletin went on to state, "We must get across our view to President Kennedy and to the press in each locality immediately. Only by tens of thousands of letters and telegrams can we prove that our loyal workers are solidly supporting the AA U. Keep in mind: The NCAA is actively trying to destroy the AAU." Had I been the puppet, in the true sense of the term, I would have responded fully, unthinkingly, to the "pull of the string." Instead, with pencil in hand, I reread the above mentioned bulletin and took the editorial license to underline a few phrases which I found needed a bit of clarity before I could form an opinion. Underlined were the phrases "our view" and "prove that our loyal workers are solidly supporting the AAU." Certainly there are thousands of workers promoting, on a voluntary basis, sports of all types for the love of the association with athletics and what they inherently represent, not for the prime purpose of supporting some controling body. The term AAU could be substituted by terms such as TCAA, WPA, FIG, NACP ... if those groups wished to assume control and credit for every ounce of effort and every drop uf prespiration which represents individual gymnastic growth throughout the nation. Solid support is not for a governing body such as the AAU, nor for that matter for the NCAA, but solid sUPPClrt of the sport of gymnastics. Enclosed with this bulletin were the remarks made by Louis J. Fisher, President of the AAU at the 75th Convention on December past. I quote the opening paragraph, "The continued attacks upon the Amateur Athletic Union by the NCAA and its puppet federations are completely unjustified. Every national organization conducting a program in those events for which the AA U is the recognized governing body has representation at all levels from the bottom to the very top. There is absolutely no reason for new federations unless it is to tum control over to a professional group to exploit for their own benefit. They hav芦: made glib promises and thrown up a lot of smoke screens to impress the uninformed. However they don't fool anyone who is knowledgeable in amateur athletics." Being a solid member of the "uninformed" I could list some "completely unjustified" attacks with the premise that I can't "fool anyone who is knowledgeable in amateur athletics," but instead of being negative lets take a more positive approach. What does a "puppet federation" mean to you, a woman in gymnastics? It means that the NCAA has put up the "gold" to enable the gymnastic community to step out of confusion and clear the path for positive thinking, plan路 ning and dynamic development. Through this financial 26

assistance, the United States Gymnastic Federation, which officially came into being December 9th, 1%2, is called a "puppet federation" of the NCAA. We must realize that neither the AAU, in its 75 year history nor the NCAA, with its fantastic men's collegiate sports achievement record, have little concern or little to offer women's gymnastics-past, present, or future. This top level AAU - NCAA battle of brain, "bootIe," and brawn will ultimately, through governmental action, be settled. When the smoke of top level friction clears and progressive programs of gymnastics for all concerned. The United States Gymnastic Federation shall not be a "puppet federation" with the NCAA as puppeteer nor shall it be a "Union of Puppets" with a complex of "string attached" appointed positions. The USGF makes no glib promise when it states that it will be democratic, with all positions elected from the rank and file of all national organizations promoting gymnastics. This is mere constitutional fact. The most important example of equal representation to those of us in the women's area is the recognition gained for women in the administrative structure of the USGF. The annually elected officers of the USFG are: President, Vice-President for Men, Vice-President for Women and the Secretary-Treasurer. The fact that for the first time in the history of the sport have women been placed on a true equal level with the men and that the position is elected from the ranks of the newly organized Women's National Gymnastic Association gives stature to the ' federation movement. The Women's National Gymnastic Association, fertilized by the current strife, has and is organizing each area of the United States right down to the city level. Take Michigan, as a sample WNGA organization. Each city with existing gymnastic programs have organized women's committees. These city committees will send their chairman and/or voting delegate to the Michigan Association for Gymnastic (MAG). In turn the MAG elects from the city delegates a President, Vice-Pres. for Men, VicePresident for Women and a Sec.-Treas. This Women VP heads up the State womens gymnastic committee and is the State of Michigan representative to the Regional meeting of the WNGA. On the Regional level, of which Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa form Region IV, a Regional Chairman is elected to coordinate the affairs of the four state members and as such carries the city, state and regional message to the Sectional Meeting of WNGA. The' USA being divided geographically into four sections, Eastern, Central, Midwest, and Western find Michigan ill the Central Section. Each Section elects through its three member Regions a Sectional Chairman. The Four Sectional Chairmen and the elected Vice-President of the United States Gymnastic Federation become the Women's National Gymnastic Association executive body. In addition the Women's Division of the USGF is composed of each of the 11 Regional Directors, its 4 Sectional Directors and their elected National VP of the USGF. This is the meaning and the worth. Seventeen men and women will conduct and promote through an unlimited number of city committees and chairmen, 50 state committee chairmen, recommendations etc. the progress and advancement of Women's Gymnastics in the United States. Every club or organization, every city, every state, each region and section having eqqual, elected representation in the national organization. THIS NATIONAL ORGANIZATION, THE WOMEN'S NATIONAL GYMNASTIC A..SOCIATION, a division of the United States Gymnastic Federation is THE FUTURE OF WOMENS GYMNASTICS IN THE UNITED STATES. The foundation upon which it is built is the tradition and heritage of the past-based upon the 75 years of success and ,failure that the AAU has had in gymnastics. Its present- is the conversion of a structure of iron into a structure of steel-governmental arbitration. Its future lies merely in our good faith, self respect, and how deeply you and I believe in Democracy.




Profile for USA Gymnastics

Modern Gymnast - January/February 1963  

Modern Gymnast - January/February 1963