/ NEW ARTICLE: Competitions, Funding, the Olympics and the BMC

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
UKC Articles - on 12 Oct 2009
[Drew Haigh: British Lead Competition Champion, 3 kb]Following lengthy consultation amongst the BMC Areas, the National Council agreed that the BMC would support the idea of climbing becoming an Olympic sport.

From humble gyms for rock-climbers to an aspirant competitive Olympic sport in its own right: the news highlights how far artificial climbing walls have traversed from their mountaineering roots.

It also brings important questions under the striplights for all British climbers. The climbing teams representing Britain are woefully underfunded. Why?

And if competition climbing goes Olympic will it be merry and bright for the British Climbing Teams and competition climbing in the UK.

Sarah Stirling investigates



Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=2114

Jeff25 - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to UKC Articles:

Interesting article. I agree with the below comment from Mike Coxsey:

>Mike Coxsey thinks that, although they do a good job, the BMC is the wrong organisation to support climbing competitions, because its history and emphasis lies in mountaineering.

>“There just isn't an infrastructure to support competitive climbers in UK so that they're good enough to win! The same countries win all the comps – France, Austria ...” Mike Coxsey

It depends upon whether you think the BMC can adequately reflects all elements of the broad church that is 'climbing'. Im not sure it can in this instance.
Geoffrey Michaels on 12 Oct 2009 - host86-164-133-16.range86-164.btcentralplus.com
In reply to UKC Articles:

Hmm, not a great article as it does the usual of equating the UK with England:

There are two Government public bodies that distribute public money into UK sports: Sport England and UK Sport Wrong!
Sarah Stirling - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Donald M: Apologies for the mistake, and thanks for bringing it to attention, Donald.
Lord_ash2000 - on 12 Oct 2009
I'm glad the BMC supports climbing becoming an Olympic sport. I'm actually surprised there needed to be a debate on the issue really; I fail to see why anyone would actively not want their chosen sport to become part of the Olympics.

Also for anyone who fears that too much support for competition climbing will lead to an unhealthy amount of wall bread climbers who never go outdoors, you have to look no further than previous British team members and what they are doing now. Most of the people I used to climb with when I was a junior brit team member about 8-10 years ago, no longer compete but instead have moved on into hard sport climbing and bouldering.
Although maybe not their main focus most still have trad logbook's most of the punters on here could only dream of, and I have no doubt they will continue to add to them over the coming years.

In short, I think climbing competition is a very good thing for British climbing as it turns out new generations of very able British climbers who go on to explore far and wide across what British climbing has to offer.
snoop6060 - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Lord_ash2000:

"I fail to see why anyone would actively not want their chosen sport to become part of the Olympics. "

How about that sport climbing is actually incredibly woeful to watch. I'd rather it wasn’t an Olympic sport as it gives the wrong impression of what climbing actually is.

I’m all for it being an Olympic sport if they don’t call it climbing, rather actually stipulate it as sport climbing.

Also, I’m not sure what the advantages for us punters actually are. I wont watch it, and I wont benefit from the increase in money and sponsorship. I certainly wont benefit from increased participation and commercialisation of the sport.

MJH - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Lord_ash2000:
> I fail to see why anyone would actively not want their chosen sport to become part of the Olympics.

Because to most of us "punters" it has little to do with why we go climbing.

Climbing (indoors and out) to me has always been about a personal challenge, not competition.
Iain McKenzie - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to snoop6060:
> (In reply to Lord_ash2000)
>
> Also, I’m not sure what the advantages for us punters actually are. I wont watch it, and I wont benefit from the increase in money and sponsorship. I certainly wont benefit from increased participation and commercialisation of the sport.

Do you think that people have the same view point about running being in the olympics and whether or not they are going to go out running?
Howard J - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Lord_ash2000:
> I fail to see why anyone would actively not want their chosen sport to become part of the Olympics.

Because indoor climbing, and sport climbing for that matter, has very little to do with my "chosen sport".

I can see that this is a good thing if you're into climbing competitions, but for me, and I suspect the majority of climbers, the reaction is "so what?" The article admits that there's not much interest in or comment on competitions in the UKC forums. The fact is that the overwhelming focus among British climbers is on trad climbing, for whom competitions are at best a side-show and at worst an irrelevance.

I'm not actually anti climbing becoming an Olympic sport, but I'm left wondering what the impact will be on the rest of climbing if it is successful. Will it mean even less funding being available to support other aspects of the sport as money is directed at the Olympics? Will it result in increased pressure to bolt crags and turn them into sport climbing venues? Will it result in increased pressure from the health-and-safety brigade to restrict trad climbing?

It's obviously great news for competitions and competition climbers. Whether it's great news for climbing in general, I'm not sure.
silverstone - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to UKC Articles:

> “As for your BMC subs, they won't be spent on the Olympic push. Rob says chances are the IFSC will not need the BMC to do anything in the near future, so “there will be no financial implications at all, until the sport does go Olympic”. Then, the plan is to apply to UK Sport for funding for facilities, training, expertise et al.”

Shouldn’t we be preparing our young climbers now for their participation in 2020? Do we really want to get to the Olympics and put on a poor show? I watched my first European Climbing Series comp at EICA Ratho last month and was blown away by the standards of the climbers from the other countries. Then you talk to their parents and hear about all the financial and team training support they get and you know why. I believe the BMC/MCofS British Youth Climbing Series 2009 had the most participants ever; a testimony to the increasing number of children taking part in the sport and great news for the teams of the future, but if we don’t give our climbers training and financial support on a par with their international competitors then how can we expect them to produce the results?



Lord_ash2000 - on 12 Oct 2009
> Because indoor climbing, and sport climbing for that matter, has very little to do with my "chosen sport".
>

I understand not everyone is into sport climbing or interested in indoor climbing / competitions etc. but I don't see that as I reason why those climbers wouldn't support another area of their sport being progressed. Surly any area of climbing getting a bit more recognition is a good thing, even if it’s not the particular type of climbing you or others personally do. Likewise I’d be the first to get behind supporting things like dry tooling comps, or advances in mountain routes or whatever, even well its of no "benefit" to me personally as I don't do that sort of climbing.

Don’t worry, they won’t remove all the 5+’s form climbing walls to up standards or bolt Stanage to use it as a training area for the Olympic team.
Lord_ash2000 - on 12 Oct 2009
Just to add to my last post.

As I was trying to point out in my OP, Competition climbers only tend to stay in the competition scene for a few years or so. Once they emerge from the other side you have a set of very able British climbers who then go on to explore the wide and varied tapestry of British climbing. People like Leo Holding for example, loads of hard trad routes under his belt and now he’s doing all sorts of big adventure routes across the world. It’s about as far from comp climbing as you can be, but it’s where he started and where he first made his mark.
Howard J - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Lord_ash2000:
Of course "any area of climbing getting recognition is a good thing for that area of climbing", I just have reservations whether it might have adverse effects on other areas of climbing. It would inevitably alter the wider public's perception of what climbing is about, for a start.

toad - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Howard J:
> (In reply to Lord_ash2000)
> Of course "any area of climbing getting recognition is a good thing for that area of climbing", I just have reservations whether it might have adverse effects on other areas of climbing.

By targetting resources at competition climbing, it will inevitably mean BMC resources are lost from elsewhere - there is only a finite pot of people and time available. That's fine, if that's what we (the membership) want, but I think next years AGM would be a good place to lay some markers in terms of widespread membership consultation, in the same way that the Rab/ Doug debate did.
Michael Ryan - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Howard J:
> (In reply to Lord_ash2000)

> It would inevitably alter the wider public's perception of what climbing is about, for a start.

Is that important and if so why?

MJH - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Lord_ash2000:
> [...]
>
> I understand not everyone is into sport climbing or interested in indoor climbing / competitions etc.

And there you highlight why I have no interest in competition climbing - to me it isn't something you can lump in with sport or indoor climbing. Competition by its very nature is something completely different.

Simon Caldwell - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Lord_ash2000:
> I fail to see why anyone would actively not want their chosen sport to become part of the Olympics.

Indoor climbing has as much to do with my 'chosen sports' of rock climbing and mountaineering, as the 100m has to do with my other 'chosen sport' of fell running.

If participants want indoor climbing to be in the Olympics then good luck to them, and I'd probably watch (certainly more chance of that than watching the golf), but I'd rather the BMC concentrated its resources elsewhere.
Howard J - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:
> (In reply to Howard J)
>>>"It would inevitably alter the wider public's perception of what climbing is about"
> Is that important and if so why?

It could be if the public's view of climbing is primarily competition climbing in a safe, controlled environment. It could add to public pressure to make outdoor climbing "safe" and less of a perceived burden on the emergency services, to the detriment of trad. Could it even make access more difficult? "Why should we let you climb on this dirty, dangerous crag when there's a nice warm safe climbing wall down the road? If it's good enough for the Olympics it should be good enough for you"

Perhaps I'm being unduly pessimistic. However, for most sports what appears at the Olympics is representative of the sport's mainstream, whereas for climbing this wouldn't be the case. I feel this may have possible dangers for the wider sport.
Adam Lincoln - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to UKC Articles:

I have just skimmed over the article. Having gone to one of the area meetings about this, one thing that came up was the possibility of setting up another organization for looking after the competition side of things.
Offwidth - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to toad:

"it will inevitably mean BMC resources are lost from elsewhere"

its not true that its inevitable (although I wouldn't lay bets).... Olympic sports do gain new funding routes and may well attract a different and new set of sub-paying BMC members.
Offwidth - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Howard J:

The public's main view of actual climbing is already indoors and of climbing publicity, tabloid treatment of accidents. The best young trad climbers I've climbed with started off in comps.
toad - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to toad)
>
> "it will inevitably mean BMC resources are lost from elsewhere"
>
> its not true that its inevitable (although I wouldn't lay bets).... Olympic sports do gain new funding routes and may well attract a different and new set of sub-paying BMC members.

My main concern is the people resources that will get diverted to chase competition specific funding/ lobbying etc. I'm sure new money will be available, but the slightly vaguer question is what other money won't have been followed up because there wasn't anyone available to apply for it at the time (for example).

It is a question of priorities, and I think there's a conversation with the membership to be had first
Offwidth - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to toad:

That conversation has been on-going at the last 4 peak meetings at least.
toad - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Offwidth: Deep breath.

The MEMBERSHIP, This is an important potential change of policy and deserves the widest possible consultationas a whole, not just with aclique of activists.

Ability to comment is not restricted to those with cars and available evenings. But I know we've been here before and I don't want to sidetrack the thread.
MJH - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to Lord_ash2000)
> [...]
>
> Indoor climbing has as much to do with my 'chosen sports' of rock climbing and mountaineering, as the 100m has to do with my other 'chosen sport' of fell running.
>
> If participants want indoor climbing to be in the Olympics then good luck to them, and I'd probably watch (certainly more chance of that than watching the golf), but I'd rather the BMC concentrated its resources elsewhere.

I enjoy climbing indoors - it is (for me) part of training for outdoors given I live in London. But indoor climbing is not the same as competition climbing - sorry to be pedantic about it, but the two are not the same.
Graeme Alderson on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to toad: The National Council is the policy making body of the BMC. Of course members have the right to table motions for the AGM but the membership does not make policy.
Offwidth - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to toad:

"a clique of activists." fabulous!

I take it you have written to Dave Turnbull or your Peak area chair Matt Heason since that doesn't need a car or a full evening and this is hardly a stealth measure:

http://www.thebmc.co.uk/Feature.aspx?id=3172
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=369460&v=1#x5368697
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=370078&v=1#x5376433
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=369026&v=1#x5363147
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=369022&v=1#x5363117

etc..
redsulike - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to UKC Articles: For goodness sake get yourselves along to Area Meetings.

The push towards competition climbing is coming from the top down in the BMC, not - as you would perhaps expect - in response to upwards pressure from membership. I think this is because the key positions in the BMC are held more and more in the hands of a sport and competition climbing minority. In a few years the BMC will be unrecogniseable as a mountaineering organisation, if it isn't already.

At the last Peak Area meeting a decision to let a commitee choose to where to place bolts at Wilton so as to satisfy health and safety regulations was passed with a majority of just 5 in a vote of less than 20 members.

Likewise with the vote on the Olympics, the chair allowed the BMC competitions officer to speak on the issue without allowing for a response other than to open it up to the floor.

If you don't like it then get along...maybe I won't feel so alone.
Offwidth - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

True, but the BMC certainly doesn't seem to me to discourage members' comment on prospective or agreed policy.
Offwidth - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to redsulike:

Even though I don't agree with you on these points, I can't knock your contribution to the last two meets: a few more well argued positions 'against the party line' are always good and healthy. I was amazed with the Horseshoe issue more people didn't turn up and argue alongside you (I'm assuming you don't mean Wilton).
Howard J - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to UKC Articles:
I'm not against competitions, although they don't interest me personally. I'm sure for the people who take part they're both fun and a great motivator, and others like to watch. I recognise that some of the best performers in trad and sport climbing have participated in competitions. That's good for climbing. No question.

My reservations are about its possible involvement in the Olympics. The Olympics is a huge machine with a lot a prestige and money associated with it, and my worry is that if this is all focussed on what is a minority activity within climbing then it might be detrimental to the mainstream.
toad - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to toad)
>
> "a clique of activists." fabulous!
>
> I take it you have written to Dave Turnbull or your Peak area chair Matt Heason since that doesn't need a car or a full evening and this is hardly a stealth measure:
>
>
> http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=369026&v=1#x5363147
>

That's great. Could you post a link to the minutes?
Offwidth - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to toad:

If you email the BMC or someone on the Peak area committee and ask for a copy or to be put on the mailing list I'm sure they will email you them when they are written up (alongside, if required, invites, newsletters etc).
Graeme Alderson on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to redsulike:
> The push towards competition climbing is coming from the top down in the BMC, not - as you would perhaps expect - in response to upwards pressure from membership. I think this is because the key positions in the BMC are held more and more in the hands of a sport and competition climbing minority. In a few years the BMC will be unrecogniseable as a mountaineering organisation, if it isn't already.
>

Really?

In my time as BMC Competitions Officer (2000-2007) I saw very little (if any) push towards competition climbing from the top. The whole Olympic thing started in early 2007 (when Rab was a VP and Audrey hadn't even though about standing as VP) as I was attending the IFSC Plenary Assembly and knew that one of the IFSC Statutes involved supporting the Olympic push. As a member of staff for the BMC I knew that the BMC policy was not to have a policy and to protect my back I therefore abstained on supporting the particular Statute. I could have quietly voted yes and hoped no one noticed then the BMC's policy would still be to have no policy. But I didn't and when I got back I raised the issue within the BMC and basically said 'get off the fence, you are a member of 2 international federations (the IFSC & the UIAA) that actively support full inclusion in the Olympics'.

So let's look again at your assertion that it's those at the top that are looking to turn the BMC into a proper sports federation. Well thats not what Rab stood for, he stood for a broad church BMC. And Audrey, well I didn't see a written statement from her but I think she is a broad church type of person. And even if competitions are high on her agenda she was voted in by the BMC membership who had the opportunity to find out that Audrey is a multiple British champion and ex British Team member.

Also IMHO the BMC ceased to be a mountaineering organisation a long time ago, it is a climbing organisation. We have very little mountaineering in England & Wales and what little we do have is thankfully in National Parks so is pretty much protected. We do however have lots of cragging a lot of which needs the BMC to gain us/maintain us access.

Ps Audrey even became British so she could compete for Britain.
fred99 - on 12 Oct 2009
I cannot see that "Indoor Sport Climbing" becoming an Olympic event could be anything other than detrimental to both Climbing and Mountaineering in this (and indeed any other) country.

When a sport is "Olympicised", it becomes attractive to Politicians who wish to glorify their point of view, and who only want photo-opportunities out of said sport.
These politicians then "invest" our money in the sport, with the caveat that they "must have control" over how it is spent - which means government take-over of previously democratic bodies.
Before you know it, the sport you once loved has changed out of all recognition, with all participants required to fulfil the following;

Registered (how else can they know how many take part),
Insured through THEIR Agent (mustn't upset the lawyers),
Record their progress (must have improvement),
Checked by CRB (we're all kiddy-fiddlers until checked),
Pay our Annual Fee (now set by government - no way can we influence it).

With no democratic voice, how long before some bureaucrat decides (in committe with others of course,) that our membership fee should go towards bolting the classic routes on Stanage. After all, "they" own the land, "they" would control us, and "they" would only be doing it for the safety of their elite athletes.

And if you think that any funds would go towards the entire sport - forget about it. The only people who would get the funds would be the elite - those out there winning medals. The rest of the sport gets a pittance, and then only for the very young, in the hope that another generation of elite athletes will appear. For Joe Public who takes part, the influence of government is nothing but bad news for anty sport, and the moment reflected glory is available, government will stick its oar in.

Better facilities you may think. But when Sport UK and all its ofshoots control things, the centres are run by those responsible for the elite, and so these facilities become only available to the elite - just ask about access to Loughborough, Sheffield and Bath for ordinary club (Track & Field) athletes - it's taken a long time to get any access, and that's only come about because these centres went so far into the red it's unbelievable.

This has happened in Athletics (where the FRA and the Road Runners almost split from Track & Field - the part that gets all the money).
Cycling - millions on the GB team, but where are the cycling tracks for the rest.
Rowing, Sailing, and so on, millions spent on Team GB, but bugger all to the grass roots.

In short, if climbing becomes an Olympic sport, we will get government meddling to push all the effort into that aspect of our activity, and matters like access and democratic agreement over bolting will be a thing of the past.
Graeme Alderson on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to fred99: My pint is half full, I guess yours is half empty.
fred99 - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Graeme Alderson:
I know what has happened to other sports, especially Athletics.
I don't want it to happen to Climbing/Mountaineering.
fred99 - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Graeme Alderson:
Just checked you out - heavily involved with Indoor Climbing, Sheffield Wall etc..
No clash of interest there then.
Graeme Alderson on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to fred99:
> (In reply to Graeme Alderson)
> I know what has happened to other sports, especially Athletics.
> I don't want it to happen to Climbing/Mountaineering.

Thats what I mean, you are being pessimistic about the future direction of the BMC, I am not.

Graeme Alderson on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to fred99: My interest in competitions and my business interests have always been fully declared to those who can be bothered to click on my profile.

Yes I may make more money if climbing gets into the Olympics. The main reason that I will make more money, however, is because my business provides something that people enjoy and more and more people are enjoying what my business provides.

My company does not view our £10,000+ spend on competitions a year as an investment that is dependant upon the Olympics. Nor do I consider my 100's of hours a year that I spend working for the IFSC (and have done for the past 15 years) as an investment. We/I will continue spending our time and money irrespective of whether climbing gets full Olympic status.
fred99 - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Graeme Alderson:
I am absolutely certain that, if the BMC/Climbing/Mountaineering went the same way as UKAthletics/T & F Athletics/Running, then you would be quids-in, in exactly the same way as your counterparts in Athletics have made a mint.
However I am equally certain that the sport for Joe Public would go down the tube in the same way.
Too many people who are in a position to make a financial killing will demand that the Olympics are the only way forward. I however do not believe that they do so with anything other than their Accountancy hat on.
You personally of course may be totally altruistic.
Graeme Alderson on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to fred99:
> (In reply to Graeme Alderson)
> You personally of course may be totally altruistic.

:-)

Graeme Alderson on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to fred99:
> (In reply to Graeme Alderson)
> However I am equally certain that the sport for Joe Public would go down the tube in the same way.

I do not share your pessimism.
toad - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to fred99: Perhaps we could look at canoeing as a similar sport. Focus on the outdoors, individual against himself and the elements, A national body with an access and conservation brief representing all levels of the sport. Surely that's better than athletics?

http://www.bcu.org.uk/news

you have to get to page 2 before there is a response to the Gryff Rhys Jones series highlighting access issues. Page 4 and there's another piece about a guy canoeing to London (Kudos!). Is this the future of thev BMC?
Bill Davidson - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to fred99:

Well at least you can see Graeme's profile & as he has stated he doesn't hide his interests or position! I'm more a glass half full man as well & think that climbing will be an excelent addition to the Olympics, much more so than the likes of synchronised diving/swimming etc! I dont think it would impact the work the BMC does with other issues at all. Or maybe it will but for the better!
Graeme Alderson on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Bill Davidson: And that profile has just been updated ;-)
Lord_ash2000 - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to fred99:

> However I am equally certain that the sport for Joe Public would go down the tube in the same way.
>

So the GB team getting proper funding to train and actully not have to pay for thier own flights to international comps is going to stop you going out on the crag is it? I think you have far too much imagination and like graham has said, you have a very pessimistic view.
redsulike - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Offwidth: I'm glad somebody knows what I mean :) Thanks.
fred99 - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Lord_ash2000:
What I have said, if you had taken the time to read it, is that all effort will be put on winning medals, and nothing will be done for the rest of the sport.
The money for the GB teams in many sports is coming from the same kitty made up of government funding (taxes, lottery) as that for the rest of each particular sport.
Unfortunately the lion's share is going to that extremely small number of persons, and the others not only have to put up with a nation thinking they have money and facilities coming out of their ears, have to SUBSIDISE the elite with their registration fees et al, and are not able to access the facilities due to them being reserved for the elite.

Anyway, if people who appear to have little interest in outdoor climbing and mountaineering, but most interest in climbing indoor walls are those who disagree with me, then maybe this indicates a distinct schism in the sport on these same lines, relative to the matter in question.
Remember, the group we are talking about running any possible teams is the British MOUNTAINEERING Council, not the British WALL CLIMBING Council.
pec on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to UKC Articles: I sense an acrimonious rift is brewing here much like the pro/anti bolting issue which dominated the mid to late 80's.

The problem is that the requirements of a formally competitive sport are quite different from those of a recreational pastime and any organisation will always struggle to do justice to both.

Unlike say the FA, the BMC is a representative organisation, not a governing body and must represent its members, the vast majority of whom have no interest in competitions and even fewer actually take part in them.

Competition climbing requires a governing body to enforce rules, organise coaching, test for drugs and all those other things which go with formal sports.

I have increasingly come to the conclusion over the last few years that the BMC is pissing in too many pots and can't do justice to them all. I believe its time for the BMC to reaffirm its stance that competitions should not take place on outdoor crags and hand them over to another body.

Competition climbing can then sink or swim on its own merits and raise its own funding to spend as it sees fit whilst the BMC can concentrate on representing its core members, thus avoiding the bitterness that arose over the bolting issue.
Those who wish, will of course be perfectly free to be members of both both organisations.
redsulike - on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to Graeme Alderson:
In the article at the head of this thread several people involved inthe sport mention the lack of 'commitment/interest' in competition climbing.

"Mike Coxsey, father of Junior Climbing Team star Shauna Coxsey, thinks this kind of British trad-mentality is making Brits drag their rock shoes in the comp climbing revolution:"

“You just have to look on UKClimbing.com. If there's a news item – the British Junior Team have done well in an international climbing competition, there are no replies posted. If someone writes in a forum 'I've just done this HVS' that gets loads of replies!”

Audrey Seguy responds: “As part of my job as Vice President of the BMC, I will be sitting on the climbing walls and competition committees and reporting back to the executive committee. I would certainly like to see more BMC involvement in Britain's competitive scene. Our national leading competition scene is shocking – less than 20 women enter competitions.”

There is so much else wrong with what you say.
'And even if competitions are high on her agenda she was voted in by the BMC membership who had the opportunity to find out that Audrey is a multiple British champion and ex British Team member.'

Exactly how many of the @70,000 BMC members voted for Audrey Seguy? I think it was a couple of hundred. She, and you are part of my point exactly. The majority of BMC members aren't bothered about competition climbing, most of them if given a ballot (or maybe if they could be bothered) would vote against it. But the balance of power in the BMC at the moment is in your court, at national level and in the Peak area certainly, with Matt as Chair. And I have mentioned it before, many of those involved with the BMC, making decisions on funding have a commercial interest.

Maybe you are right, the BMC is no longer a mountaineering organisation, perhaps you should raise that and have it removed from the website and BMC literature. The issue is, should you have your own climbing organisation instead of piggy-backing onto the BMC. Of the £70,000 given to competition climbing last year I would like to remove my £1.10 as I am fundamentally opposed to the idea that climbing can be a competition. As for the role of the BMC, you do not need it to gain access to a climbing wall, just money. The question is why should ordinary BMC members stump up more and more money to send climbers abroad to competitions. If the BMC were to withdraw all funding for competitions immediately it could better use the money for the benefit of all members and it would force your hand into creating your own organisation that represented your sport and competition climbing ambitions and those of the commercial organisations that support you.
Graeme Alderson on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to fred99:
> (In reply to Lord_ash2000)
>
> Anyway, if people who appear to have little interest in outdoor climbing and mountaineering, but most interest in climbing indoor walls are those who disagree with me, then maybe this indicates a distinct schism in the sport on these same lines, relative to the matter in question.

I disagree with you. Does that mean that I have little interest in outdoor climbing?

Graeme Alderson on 12 Oct 2009
In reply to redsulike:
> Exactly how many of the @70,000 BMC members voted for Audrey Seguy? I think it was a couple of hundred. She, and you are part of my point exactly. The majority of BMC members aren't bothered about competition climbing, most of them if given a ballot (or maybe if they could be bothered) would vote against it. But the balance of power in the BMC at the moment is in your court, at national level and in the Peak area certainly, with Matt as Chair. And I have mentioned it before, many of those involved with the BMC, making decisions on funding have a commercial interest.

Well you should be campaigning for the BMC to have postal & email voting rather than just proxy voting. Widening the democracy of the BMC would get my vote (probably by proxy in the first instance of course).

Well if you want to talk numbers then I am pretty sure that more people voted for Audrey than have ever voted in a BMC VP election. Yes it might have only been a few hundred votes but if people can't be arsed then they can't complain about the outcome of a vote. Not saying you didn’t vote but you get my drift.

You state quite categorically that the vast majority of BMC members would vote against comps. Have you any evidence of this, do you talk to 100’s of BMC members every week, I probably do and I don't believe that, I believe that the vast majority don't give a hoot. The vocal minority that really support comps probably out number the vocal minority that really oppose comps - do you know that the number of BMC/MCofS volunteers who give their time to help comps out numbers all of the rest of the BMC/MCofS volunteers.

The balance of power is in my court!! Is it really? I would be interested to know exactly which BMC National Council members you think I have in my pocket. BTW Matt as Chair of the Peak doesn't sit on the National Council.

> Maybe you are right, the BMC is no longer a mountaineering organisation, perhaps you should raise that and have it removed from the website and BMC literature. The issue is, should you have your own climbing organisation instead of piggy-backing onto the BMC. Of the £70,000 given to competition climbing last year I would like to remove my £1.10 as I am fundamentally opposed to the idea that climbing can be a competition. As for the role of the BMC, you do not need it to gain access to a climbing wall, just money. The question is why should ordinary BMC members stump up more and more money to send climbers abroad to competitions. If the BMC were to withdraw all funding for competitions immediately it could better use the money for the benefit of all members and it would force your hand into creating your own organisation that represented your sport and competition climbing ambitions and those of the commercial organisations that support you.

I am fundamentally opposed to certain things that the Govt do but I don't attempt to withhold a percentage of the VAT I pay on my petrol/beer/etc. I am also fundamentally opposed to some of the things that the BMC has spent money on in the past and continues to spend money on but I don't want to withhold 50p of my membership fee (yes I am a BMC individual member, paid by DD and also take out annual insurance).

You state that you are opposed to the idea that climbing can be a competition. Well wake up and smell the coffee. Competition has existed in climbing since year dot and often at a pretty nationalistic level. GBR won the biggest ever climbing comp back in 1953. I took part in about 50 competitions the other week when I was in Font.

Yes maybe in time the BMC will give up comps and let a new organisation take over. But that will not happen unless the BMC agrees (otherwise UK Sport & Sport England would not recognise the new body, not sure about the situation in Scotland) and at the moment there is no way the BMC will give up comps but not for the conspiracy theory reasons you and others suggest.
Ewan Russell - on 13 Oct 2009
In reply to UKC Articles:
Thought I would add my own bit about competition climbing, in some ways its what got me into climbing, in some ways its what nearly made me quit. I used to compete in the brycs, In the welsh area I entered a few years running, qualfying for the final once as only 3 people had competed in my age group, I remember doing really well in some heats of the competition at different stages. All these times I was really happy and it got me really enthused to go do more climbing and buy the magazines etc. However I also remember coming 2nd last in a heat of 8 or 9 people(possibly a very bad underperformance), I remember going to the one off welsh indoor climbing competiton and getting beaten by south wales climbers and I remember going to the national final and coming 28th out of 28. All these times I was upset and once or twice severly so. I imagine if my parents were pushy like some parents I have heard about at national competitions, I would now hate climbing. However they weren't my dad being an outdoor instructor in North Wales, I slowly got into doing trad and now im at leeds university and my life consits of going climbing as often as I can(my finger tips are hurting like hell currently!). Until I got into trad I never understood that it doesn't matter what you climb if its D or E13 as long as you have a good time doing it and don't piss anyone else off.
My feeling about competition climbing is that thought its brilliant to do well at these things, Its absolutely crap to lose or not do very well and these feelings which are generated have nothing to do with real climbing(the best climber is the one having the most fun)
So where do I stand on climbing as an olympic sport, I don't really care either way, however I don't know if we should really just throw the dice and see if it makes the sport stronger or prehaps make trad climbing more constricted.
I aploigise for the terrible grammer and spelling, though I believe my opinon and thoughts are still valid.
MCofS - on 13 Oct 2009
In reply to The third:

A few points for clarification regarding Scotland's position on this (which is independent of that of the BMC in England and Wales):
The MCofS published its Strategic Plan back in March 2009 after internal discussion and consideration from committees and particularly the MCofS Youth Working Group.
The plan supports the inclusion of climbing as an Olympic sport. It is the aim of the MCofS to see a Scottish climber on the podium of the first climbing Olympics! We are also investigating representation on the IFSC. It is also our aim to see performance coaching for climbing established to support higher achievment.
The MCofS has been focusing on youth development, both indoors (the Scottish Youth Climbing Series and the Scottish Championship competitions and performance coaching) and outdoors (REALrock and youth expeditions) for many years. We have been very sucessful with young Scottish climbers gaining 1st places in the BLCC and the BBC for some years now (for example Jonathan Stocking and Natalie Berry - who are also ranked highly in the European and World Competitions).
Through our Climbing Bursary we have supported a full range of disciplines from mountaineering, ski touring, pure rock and ice anywhere in the world, but also competitions and training: Jonny Stocking, Natalie berry, Robert Mackenzie and Jonny Field have all received grants towards competitions (but also including trad trips to Europe - witness Jonny Stocking's ascent of The Brandler Hass!); we have given a grant to a young Stephen Addison to compete at UIAA Ice Comps; we have also given grant aid to Alan Cassidy for competition attendance, training and sport trips in Europe.
This is part of our mountaineering/sport development programme for Scottish based climbers and it encompases all aspects of what we collectivly call climbing. As a Representative body we feel it is important to represent everyone who participates in all disciplines.
Full details can be found on the 'Get Active' pages of our website.
Finally, an observation on competitions that is counter to that from 'The Third' : One of our Board Members, by his own admission an older mountaineer, attended the Youth Climbing Series British Final and had this to say: "“I've never before seen anything of competitive climbing, and confess that I've hitherto had a somewhat negative feeling about it. But I was massively impressed by the dedication of so many young people. No tobacco, no alcohol, no drugs, just hard work and quiet and concentrated enthusiasm. The devotion of the parents also was very impressive”. Losing is part of life and losing in competitions can be a positive experience - it depends on the manner in which it is taken. In youth climbing comps (and international comps) there is more than winning involved, but freindship and having a 'craik'; unlike football where as a parent I witness verbal abuse from parents on the sideline as a matter of course. I doubt climbing will sink to those levels and I feel competition has a positive influence on our activity. Most young competitors go on to climb outside, both trad and sport, at a much higher level than all us old bumblies ever managed.
Kevin Howett
Mountaineering Council of Scotland Development Officer
GrahamD - on 13 Oct 2009
In reply to MCofS:

> The plan supports the inclusion of climbing as an Olympic sport. It is the aim of the MCofS to see a Scottish climber on the podium of the first climbing Olympics!

Interesting. I presume that the Olympics will require a selection of a Team GB (or UK in actual fact)rather than a Scottish team ? in which case I guess someone will have to manage a joint team - who would you envisage doing this ?
The CW - on 13 Oct 2009
In reply to GrahamD: GBR is the official IOC code for the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland.

Does cycling have 2 teams that are under joint management or a single GBR team?
The CW - on 13 Oct 2009
In reply to The CW: That was me at work
Graeme Alderson
Geoffrey Michaels on 13 Oct 2009 - cnag4.gotadsl.co.uk
In reply to The CW:

There are no separate Scottish teams at Olympic level.
Graeme Alderson on 13 Oct 2009
In reply to Donald M: Thats the point I was making
Bill Davidson - on 13 Oct 2009
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

There is at Commonwealth though :-)
Bill Davidson - on 13 Oct 2009
In reply to GrahamD:

It would be a Scottish Climber in a GB team, we can but live in hope!
Graeme Alderson on 13 Oct 2009
In reply to Bill Davidson: Well have you got climbing into 2014?
GrahamD - on 13 Oct 2009
In reply to Bill Davidson:

> It would be a Scottish Climber in a GB team, we can but live in hope!

Thats what I thought. I wonder whether jointly the BMC / MCoS have thought about the management of the team, or if they think that is their role at all ?
Bill Davidson - on 13 Oct 2009
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

Now now G, You know fine well we haven't yet! :-(
Mark Stevenson - on 13 Oct 2009
In reply to Adam Lincoln:
> I have just skimmed over the article. Having gone to one of the area meetings about this, one thing that came up was the possibility of setting up another organization for looking after the competition side of things.

That was certainly the view expressed by a significant number of attendees at the SW area meeting where the issue was discussed.

That fact the at the international level we have two separate organisation the UIAA and the IFSC would seem to suggest that a clear split between outdoor climbing/mountaineering and indoor/competition climbing is logical.

I really think that the BMC needs to listen to this view which is coming independently from numerous grass-roots members. However, what is important is that no-one is necessarily suggesting that if existing BMC functions are 'hived off' that BMC funding of them at the current level would stop. The precedent of the BMC supplying funding to other organisations to support work in the interests of it's members has already been set through the funding of access work in Scotland.

redsulike - on 13 Oct 2009
In reply to Graeme Alderson: First of all Graeme, sorry. Because I have your arguments in my mind I write using the personal pronoun whereas I realise that it is not you personally. Neither do I accuse Matt of anything other than being involved on a commercial basis in competition climbing and holding a position of responsibility (Chair of the Peak area) within the BMC, as is Audrey. So the influence is in the court of those who weild power and make decisions in the BMC.
I agree with you entirely about the apathy of many members not exercising their right to vote. I do however feel that the BMC does not do all it can to engage the membership. My union for example will regularly e-mail me, and, inleadership elections every member receives a letter with a voting slip and an address from all the candidates.

Which of us is right as to the level of support competition climbing enjoys within the BMC could be settled with a national ballot. I'm not holding my breath about that one. Your point about greater democracy in the BMC and the use of postal and e-mail ballots is a good one.

Graeme Alderson on 13 Oct 2009
In reply to redsulike: Thanks, accepted ;-)

Whilst slightly off topic the question of BMC democracy is one that interests me. I was working there when the voting reform happened - not so long ago it was show of hands at the AGM (so 50-100 votes at a good AGM) and then possibly a block vote by the clubs. The block vote was highlighted at an EGM back in about 2002/3 when subs was the thorny issue, the clubs won by about 8000-50 despite there being less than 100 people present. Reform took a few years but now we have a proxy system. The proxy system is better than the previous system but does not go far enough. Postal & email voting should be perfectly possible in 2009.

But the BMC AoA point out that the National Council is the policy making body. Taking every decision to a national ballot would hamstring & bankrupt the BMC. What is an important enough issue to have a ballot? Competitions? Land ownership? Subscription increases? Office relocation? Support of the RtoR Bill? Which bank the BMC use? (a subject for endless National Council debate a few years back). The list is endless.

But elections can and should be done by a system that doesn't rely on attendance or proxy voting.

I am glad we agree on something :-)
toad - on 13 Oct 2009
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

>
> But elections can and should be done by a system that doesn't rely on attendance or proxy voting.
>
>

<applause>
Howard J - on 14 Oct 2009
In reply to UKC Articles:
As one of the first to respond to this topic striking a note of caution, I would like to reiterate my position.

I am not opposed to competitions, although they don't interest me personally. I recognise that they are a facet of climbing and just as valid as any other activity within that umbrella. With that in mind, I don't object to the BMC devoting a proportion of its funds to supporting competitions.

My concerns are specifically about involvement in the Olympics. The Olympics is in many respects a wonderful competition, but it does wield so much power and kudos that it can have excessive influence over participating sports at all levels. Perhaps for sports which are essentially competitive by nature that is less of a problem, but for an activity (I hesitate even to call climbing a "sport", except in the Hemingway sense) which is largely non-competitive (in a formal sense) I feel there could be significant dangers. At present, climbing competitions are organised and controlled from within the climbing community - if they become part of the Olympics some, perhaps a great deal, of that control will be given away.

If we can be assured that involving competition climbing in the Olympics will not result in the tail wagging the dog so far as the rest of climbing and mountaineering is concerned, then I would have no problem with it, indeed I could even support it. However I have considerable doubts whether that could be achieved.

Whether hiving off competition climbing to a separate organisation is desirable is another matter. It may be better to keep it all within the remit of the BMC (presumably working jointly with MCofS) which could keep a balanced view of its position within the wider activity, rather than having a dedicated organisation which will inevitably pursue its own interests.

Finally, whilst I wouldn't claim that the small number of people responding to this topic on UKC is necessarily representative of climbers as a whole, the largely negative response seems to suggest that whatever consultation the BMC carried out before making this announcement perhaps didn't go far enough.
Geoffrey Michaels on 14 Oct 2009 - cnag4.gotadsl.co.uk
In reply to Howard J:

What happened to the MCofS post on here yesterday?
Michael Ryan - on 14 Oct 2009
In reply to Donald M:

y to The third:

A few points for clarification regarding Scotland's position on this (which is independent of that of the BMC in England and Wales):

The MCofS published its Strategic Plan back in March 2009 after internal discussion and consideration from committees and particularly the MCofS Youth Working Group.

The plan supports the inclusion of climbing as an Olympic sport. It is the aim of the MCofS to see a Scottish climber on the podium of the first climbing Olympics! We are also investigating representation on the IFSC. It is also our aim to see performance coaching for climbing established to support higher achievment.

The MCofS has been focusing on youth development, both indoors (the Scottish Youth Climbing Series and the Scottish Championship competitions and performance coaching) and outdoors (REALrock and youth expeditions) for many years. We have been very sucessful with young Scottish climbers gaining 1st places in the BLCC and the BBC for some years now (for example Jonathan Stocking and Natalie Berry - who are also ranked highly in the European and World Competitions).

Through our Climbing Bursary we have supported a full range of disciplines from mountaineering, ski touring, pure rock and ice anywhere in the world, but also competitions and training: Jonny Stocking, Natalie berry, Robert Mackenzie and Jonny Field have all received grants towards competitions (but also including trad trips to Europe - witness Jonny Stocking's ascent of The Brandler Hass!); we have given a grant to a young Stephen Addison to compete at UIAA Ice Comps; we have also given grant aid to Alan Cassidy for competition attendance, training and sport trips in Europe.

This is part of our mountaineering/sport development programme for Scottish based climbers and it encompases all aspects of what we collectivly call climbing. As a Representative body we feel it is important to represent everyone who participates in all disciplines.
Full details can be found on the 'Get Active' pages of our website.

Finally, an observation on competitions that is counter to that from 'The Third' : One of our Board Members, by his own admission an older mountaineer, attended the Youth Climbing Series British Final and had this to say: "“I've never before seen anything of competitive climbing, and confess that I've hitherto had a somewhat negative feeling about it. But I was massively impressed by the dedication of so many young people. No tobacco, no alcohol, no drugs, just hard work and quiet and concentrated enthusiasm. The devotion of the parents also was very impressive”. Losing is part of life and losing in competitions can be a positive experience - it depends on the manner in which it is taken. In youth climbing comps (and international comps) there is more than winning involved, but freindship and having a 'craik'; unlike football where as a parent I witness verbal abuse from parents on the sideline as a matter of course. I doubt climbing will sink to those levels and I feel competition has a positive influence on our activity.

Most young competitors go on to climb outside, both trad and sport, at a much higher level than all us old bumblies ever managed.

Kevin Howett

Mountaineering Council of Scotland Development Officer

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.