REPORT FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES GYMNASTIC FEDERATION Donald Boydston
Recently the several new sports federations formed in this country have been the subjects of some rather harsh accusations and indictments. This has been true although it is difficult to understand how anyone could be opposed to the objectives and the principles of such an organization as the United States Gymnastics Federation. Simply enough, the U.S.G.F. hopes to build gymnastics in this country so that the sport will be much stronger both nationally and internationally than in the past. We want the sport to contribute to youth fitness, to recreational programs and give us strong national teams for Olympic and world competition. Nearly all of the active organizations operating on the national or sectional level, including Turners, Sokols, high schools, colleges, universities, junior colleges, and practically all group that are actually training, preparing and spon路 soring gymnasts in this country are supporting the U.S.G.F. in one way or another. There can hardly be a cry of "power grab" or "you are insulting the President of the United States" merely because it is their aim to make this wonderful sport avail路 able to so many more people and build national prestige. Actually, the opposition can be traced back to a few isolated and insecure people who are unwilling to join a truly democratic effort as represented by the federations, so that all interested persons can make a contribution to the gymnastic movement in this country. We feel that Jim Farkas in the publication American Turner Topics of November-December, 1%2 made some extremely pertinent remarks and we take the liberty of quoting a few here. "The AAU (the Amateur Athletic Union) has a past history of about 74 years. During this time it has represented U. S. international interests in gymnastics, along with basketball, boxing, handball, track and field, swimming, weight lifting, volleyball, ice hockey, judo and some other competitive activities which have no international popularity (like horse-shoe pitching, baton twirling, codeball, etc.) " These sports, under the jurisdiction of the AAU, :were drifting along with the times before the Second World War. And since U. S. trackmen steam rollered the international competitions-assuring overwhelming all-around victories -nobody was really questioning the administration of U. S. sports. "World War II changed all this carefree drifting. Due to the fact that the Soviets recognize the political potentials of every segment of human culture, the term 'athletic excellence' has absorbed new meanings . .. in the early 50's we had despised and ignored the Soviet effort to dominate world athletics, we came to realize that this contest was no longer just athletic but also significantly political, and also that something must be done about it. "By this time U. S. trackmen were matched man-to-man with scientifically prepared Russian athletes and had little hope to balance the heavy defeats in other sports, while the USSR gained dozens of gold medals in gymnastics alone, beating us with ever-increasing margins.
"U. S. athletes were deeply hurt in their pattlOtlc pride and a spontaneous upsurge of improved training efforts followed. In all sports, but especially in gymnastics (which has been neglected for decades) rapid gains appeared in quality as well as in quantity. Besides the still-sleeping primary organizations (like Turners, Sokols, etc., who have long retreated into a protective shell of isolation from the outside sport-life with an aim to preserve the old gymnastic culture) first the colleges, and following them . . . the high schools of the nation have awakened to appreciate the superior gifts of gymnastics. They had the kids from the Turners and from other primary organizations, but they followed new methods, new and up-to-date techniques. "Everywhere coaches and teachers inquired about methods and information, but there was no organization or authority to provide the essential and needed help. The AAU held itself above all plebian business, sitting in an ivory tower, claiming rights without duties. "The National Association of Gymnastics Coaches was the only organization with enough strength, vigor, professional knowled ge and militant determination, to fight for the right of gymnasts. It directed its executive officers to prepare plans for the formation of an independent gymnastics federation .. . Representatives of the NAGC toured Europe this summer (during the Gymnastics World Championships in Prague) and established contacts with European gymnastics federations. Their activity included intensive study of the various European gymnastics organizations to gain information about ways and means to crea't e an independent gymnastics authority. The idea of an U. S. Gymnastics Federation received the enthusiastic support of the European federations, who have long opined that gymnastics in the U. S. could not rise from mediocre backwardness without its own independent federation. The AA U was aware of the situation and attempted to smear and discredit the efforts of the NAGC representatives (showing their questionable loyalties to their countrymen) , but at the 41st Congress of the F.I.G.-the dominant one- the NAGC discreetly did not attempt to sit in, even as observers. "The AA U continues to smear and discredit these new federations. Not only in the U. S., where it is well known to all who is the real villain, but abroad where if (AA U) is the sole (self-authorized) representative of many U. S. sports, thus dishonoring U. S. athletes. But the AA U's fate is already determined, as it always happens when the will and the , rights of the peo ple are opposed and suppressed by tyrants, who hold no legal authority. The honest endeavor of the U.S.G.F. will succeed-to the benefit of all concerned." Actually, Mr. Farkas has capsuled why those people in this country, who are genuinely interested in the complete 9