I've slept on it, and in tossing and turning in said sleep I've cracked onto a great idea that I hope, in some bizarro way, would get picked up at some point in the future by GA folk. Even if I wasn't directly involved:
THE "FAN ZONE" SECTION.(cue fireworks, glitter cannons, can-can dancers, flamingo waiters, trumpets, laser beams going pyew-pyew-pyew on the ceiling...)
In among their clickable GymSports/Technical Information/About Us/Worlds 2005 (why is that still there in the Events section!?) tabs, they need to have a FanZone (or perhaps less lamely-named) feature which is either
a) Overseen by fans in conjunction with a GA media or marketing representative or
b) Mainly consisting of fan contributions
and it would include the following features (possibly less lamely-named too, but it's all on the drawing board at the moment) if at all possible:
1. Competition Resports and Results - Don't bury results away in a crappy table where half the hyperlinks don't work. Have them in a scrolling table, or cross-reference to gymnasticsresults.com. Highlight where our athletes have medalled. Have people submit competition reports, but please don't stick those in Technical Member or SMC bulletins like you always seem to.
2. Elite Buzz - There's a training camp on in Canberra? Great. Take photos. Get one of the girls to consider doing journal entries or blog entries. Do short interviews with participants like we see at the USA's Karolyi camp. Let us know what they're up to and what they're liking about the experience.
3. Happy Birthday to... - an elite. Or a retiree! Help fans save the date.
4. Athlete Profile - as explanatory as point 3. Profile someone at training camp, or get people to send in interviews/articles/photos with athletes they've interviewed themselves. Even the highly respected International Gymnast magazine has a function that allows you to submit articles.
5. Media Portal - The latest YouTube (or similar) videos from competitions or other events featuring Australian gymnasts.
6. Catching up With... - Ok, so the title is shamelessly nicked from IG's ongoing interview series. Regardless, let us know what's going on with retirees, or elites who've gone onto other sporting pursuits. You guys dropped Olivia Vivian's OSU progress like a hot stone. You didn't even talk about Chloe Sims' signing with Utah. And what's going on with Allana Slater's shooting sessions, hmmm?
7. Contests - They're not just for National Gymnastics Week. Colouring comps for kiddies, poetry comps, poster or banner comps, video montage comps... give people a chance to interact with the sport and be creative in order to illustrate what they love about it. I'm sick of subdued audiences at Nationals (save for NSW's constantly squealy juniors) where you don't see posters or exhibition routines or affordable merchandise that isn't from a sponsor or, basically, any incentives for anyone to be there and be excited. And believe me - cheerleading squads DON'T WORK. Send someone to the American Cup or USA Nationals (sorry, "Visa Championships") to take some notes.
Come on, guys. I do a lot of this already. You're a whole team of people, why can't you? Get out your address books and a big ol' whiteboard and get cracking. Gymnastics was the second most-watched sport at the Olympics this year and Australia finished in the highest spot it ever has so do the results some justice! The new year is nearly upon us and as a loyal fan, I know I am not the only one expecting a new approach from our national governing body.