2018 has started with vigor. The first meet of the year as the Michigan High School meet where we saw numerous records broken and a number of athletes qualify for nationals.
Our 2018 calendar is rather full this year. We have a meet almost every 6 to 8 weeks, which makes for an exciting lifting year. The meets are filling up quickly, quicker than expected. Getting your registration in when its opens is important. The meets are all capped and therefore the first to register are the first to make the roster.
I have been asked why the meets are capped. The answer is all in the capacity to provide a well-run and manageable meet. It is important for meets to start on time nd not to continue into all hours of the night. The referees, spotters and loaders work throughout the meet and also reach a point where it becomes task instead of being a pleasure. Each platform requires at least 5 referees and 8 spotters and loaders – referees and people willing to load weights for hours on end are in short supply. So, to make the meets manageable for the meet director and to keep volunteers willing to come back, we have to restrict the number of lifters per platform. Why not run 3 platforms? Well, that entails quite a bit of additional equipment and volunteers. It is much easier said than done. Currently we have one promotor running meets in Michigan and their capacity ends at 2 platforms and 90 lifters.
The economics of running a meet
I thought I would write a bit about the economics of a meet. It seems that many lifters think that a meet simply appears on the day, like magic. There also seems to be a common belief that running a meet is free and that the meet director is given all the equipment for free.
We have great days filled with drug-free lifting because someone is working and paying to make it happen.
There is an enormous effort that takes place before any of it comes to the point where you click and register for a meet. After that, there is another enormous effort before the chief referee says the word, “Start”.
Firstly, we need a way to communicate with the lifters and provide a way for them to register. So, there is the cost of the website and the cost of maintaining the website. Furthermore, making the meets known via Facebook marketing is not for free either. The paid FaceBook marketing is also covered by the meet director.
Then the meet director has to acquire equipment, a platform and everything that goes with that. From the floor protection demanded by the venue, to the bars, calibrated weights, calibrated scales, ER rack, collars, weight trees, computers, projectors, screens, tables and the other bits and pieces to make the meet run. The ‘little things’ like t-shirts, baggies filled with goodies and providing lunch for the officials, also has to be paid for.
Venues don’t host meets for free. The meet director has to negotiate a fee with the owners. The venue fee, depending on the size of the meet, can be up to 15% of registration fees.
Getting the equipment to and from the venue is also something that bears some attention. Hauling 3000-6000 lbs from one part of Michigan to another, takes some doing. Whatever is used has to be road worthy and capable of moving that amount of weight safely. Payment for the truck, trailer and the accompanying insurance does not come cheap.
Setting up for a meet takes time. Registrations have to be captured and the administration around it takes many man hours. From personal experience, a meet can take up to 250 hours from beginning to end.
The equipment has to be set up the night before the meet. Once the platform is up, sleep for those who have to work the next day is important and driving home is not always an option. The local hotel/motel does not house people for free.
During the meet we need officials, computers, volunteers, software that works and ways to project the loading charts on screens for loaders. Talking to the crowds and lifters also requires some form of a portable sound system.
After the meet we need medals, awards, certificates and furthermore each drug test has to be paid for by the meet director. All of this comes at a cost which is not negligible. Once all is done, the administrative process requires that the results are sorted and uploaded to the national office. Documentation for every meet has to be filed and fees need to be paid. The records have to be double checked before posted and the urine has to be sent off to a clinic in CA for testing.
All of these costs are covered by the meet director, whether the lifter shows up at the meet, or not. A refund costs the meet director. Money for all these expenses comes from registration fees.
USA Powerlifting is a brand, it does not own any equipment and it does not contribute to any of the expenses.
All the equipment, from the USA Powerlifting banners (which have to be purchased from USA Powerlifting) to the collars on the bar, belong to the meet director. The meet director pays the federation for the use of the brand name and to have the meet sanctioned. This adds a great flavor to the meet because we know the playing field is level and we have records to compare ourselves with. It also gives the lifter the possibility to lift on a regional and national level.
Weeks of prep and organization goes into getting it all set up for the big day. If this is not done well, the meet will reflect that. I try to keep our meets professional and fun, this can only be done while there is money to cover these costs. Anyone who thinks this is a profitable business, think again. Making a profit should not be a motivation to run a meet.
Lastly, most lifters seem to think it is wrong for a meet director to make a profit based on his/her hard work, dedication and effort. The meet director will never become wealthy, the profit margin is too small and is non-existent, whilst the loans for the equipment have not been paid off. Furthermore, expecting a person to work for no reward does not seem fair. The meets are not run by USA Powerlifting, it is run by a promoter who only derives an income from the registration fees.
So, registration fees will not be refunded. Registration fees will also not be transferred.
On another note, our calendar has grown and we will continue to do so for as long as lifters want to lift. We would like to bring more meets across Michigan and we are always looking for new venues suitable for a meet. If you have a powerlifting friendly gym, please put them on our list!
Best of luck to all our Michigan lifters in the upcoming meets.
Many happy and heavy lifts!