All-Star What Is Important To You At An Events?

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May 19, 2011
Hi everyone this is Dan Hawk and I am the new Brand Director for COA. We are really excited about some of our new innovative concepts for the upcoming season, and we'd love for you to check them out at, but our one and only goal is to provide the best competitive experience we possibly can for you as athletes, coaches, and parents not just what we think you want. The best way I know how to do that is to get as much feedback as possible from.......... athletes, coaches, and parents...... What matters most to you at events? Do you love dark arenas with a lot of lights? Does the loud music get to be too much for parents who are watching for hours at a time? What type of competitor gifts do you like.......what kind of coaches gifts? I would very much like to start a conversation not only on how we can provide you the best experience available, but also why we as event producers do what we do. So give me any feedback you have, and also feel free to ask me any questions you have ever had on why events are run the way they are. I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say.
It's important to me that the event not last all day long because of unneccessary fluff. During awards, it gets really old really fast to have music, games, dancing, etc., that take forever. When there are several award ceremonies throughout the day, it really adds to the time that we have to be there.
Thank you for asking our opinions!
Please run on time
Please charge only a reasonable admission fee ($20 for a 1-day event is too much after I've already paid enormous comp fees!); however on the flip side, I would rather pay an additional $10 in registration fee to get the dvd and photo cd
Please have priority seating if the arena has no stadium seating
Please have judges that know the rules and are willing to call teams on illegal stunts, etc.
Please don't bend over backwards to accomodate Craptastic all-stars 894,567 crossovers if it comes at the expense of the regular gyms that have 1 or 2 on each team (i.e., allowing each craptastics team to go last in their divisions, and having a 30 minute "hold" on the division). It happened all the time last year, and going last sometimes does make a difference between first and second!
Fair, open, and consistent judging/scoring.
Relaxed, unrushed, safe warmup area
Adequate seating for the crowd.
Organized and on-schedule
Inexpensive entry fee
Hospitality room. (does not have to be extravagant)
Allowing coaches to quickly obtain video. (let 1 person from each program film their own teams)
Efficient awards ceremonies

Not big factor
- trophies, banners
I loved that one year when COA gave out flip flops to every team that competed! I haven't been to a COA competition recently so I don't know if you still give a gift to every team that competes but I think that's still a good idea, just to give the kids something to remember about the competition. Also, jackets and a metal for the winner haha everybody loves jackets! I love the dark arenas with of course some lights.
I think the biggest thing is the schedule, not having it run all day. Making sure that the schedule is running on time and isn't an hour late. Also, if the event is running late don't have all the games and dance party stuff at awards, just cut straight to the point. And priority seating for watching our teams compete! Also, reasonable admission.
All the things blucat said but I'll add a lil pomp and circumstance isn't bad either. Some time put into the stage and presense of the competition is nice and gives a more prestigious feel. Less gimmicks and treating it more like a sport that we all think it is.

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As a cheer crazy parent, I like to be able to see. I like stadium seating when possible, or elevated stages when stadium is not available. I like a wide variety of food choices, free parking and low/free admission. I love having insight pictures available, but I want to be able to take some myself, and video with my own camera. Please make sure there are ample restrooms available. Thank you.
This is really great feedback. One of the things we have to do as event producers is prioritize how we spend money on competitions. I know that between registration fees and admission fees the costs add up, and it can be overwhelming for parents and coaches. We really don't just take as much money as we can get away with. The costs for running these large events add up quickly........venues can run way up past $25,000 for one day events, lighting and sound can be anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 depending on the type of lighting, bleacher seating adds thousand of dollars, screens, chairs, staging, competitor gifts, coaches gifts, paying staff, paying judges, flights, hotels, trucking to bring equipment, union labor fees for set up and break down, venue fees on ticket sales.....and so much more. I am not in any way complaining. It is our pleasure to have the opportunity to provide these events for all the athletes coaches and parents. It is just a balancing act of providing strong innovative experiences while trying to keep costs down. If you had to prioritize what's important to you how would you order these pieces, and if you had to choose just three which would they be; 1)Production - Lighting, sound, led screens, etc. 2)Gifts - Competitor gifts, coaches gifts, spectator gifts 3) Hospitality - coaches hospitality rooms, spectator hospitality rooms, designated team rooms 4)Staging/Seating - raised stage/raised seating 5)Interactive pieces - spectator games, on stage parent dance offs, etc.
#1 Qualified judges #2 Open scoring, I wanna know why the team that won, won and where my team ranked in all the pieces of the score sheet. #3 Production - Lights and all that jazz make the event feel prestigious. #4 Staging - gotta be able to see. #5 Coaches hosp area/room, if not then why are you charging a coaches fee? But as far as team rooms I'm kinda indifferent #6 Gifts seem like a waste of money to me but you do your thing if you want.

Separate category- IF you give jackets make sure you have ENOUGH of the correct sizes.
1. Get the cheerleading right
2. Get the cheerleading right
3. Get the cheerleading right

If you don't get the first 3 right, your event won't be looked highly upon. The 'cheerleading' is good judging, open scoring, safety judges who call everything fairly. And the good news? I bet thats one of the least expensive things to put energy into.
I really like competitions that
-run on time
-good judging
-comfortable warm-ups that aren't rushed, or you don't have to wait long before you compete
-awards to be unique/quick & we don't need to dance to the cupid shuffle
-priority seating for parents
-gift wise (i think every cheerleader on the boards can say we have about a million drawstring bags)
Having competed at several COA events in the past (altho it's been a couple years), I've seen events run at completely opposite ends of the spectrum. So first and foremost would be consistency in how they are run.

I am a huge fan of production value, which sometimes is determined by the venue choice. I've seen the exact same backdrop look really good in a dark auditorium, with spotlights, and very drab in the middle of an arena with only the default overhead lighting.

Unless it's really outlandish, I can live with fluctuating entrance fees, however I do not like to be nickel and dimed with paid parking if it can be avoided (i.e. convention center surrounded by public parking lots/garages). Or at the very least the no in/out privileges.

As much variety as can be had for food vendors. If you're going to be stuck (and in some cases not allowed to have outside food), there has to be choices available. Not to mention just the manpower to handle it. Again these are dictated a lot by venue, so I guess choosing wisely beforehand is going to help alleviate some of these concerns.

Warmup area is a big one. I think there has to be a full spring floor, not just for the tumble tracks. It's a tough sport to put everything you work for in less than 3 minutes. And without an adequate warmup area for that very last preparation, I think is a total disservice to the athletes.

COA has always been really great about offering participation gifts and awards. Altho earmuffs and scarves one year was kinda silly to give to Texans! I like that you give (gave?) out an extra specific award for Grand Champions.

One of my BIG pet peeves, which has never applied to COA events is the photography/video restrictions. I understand, that photo/video services are there to make money, and they partially do that by disallowing spectator photo/video. But if all I want is a video shot from some obscure angle then let me. I generally WILL buy DVDs produced at the event, because I like having that on-center view and (usually) better quality. But not everybody wants to pay $50 because some of them only care about their team.

Same applies for photo; those guys have thousands of dollars invested in their equipment. They should be able to take great photos. Ones worth $10 for a little 5x7? I don't think so. I've seen some really great photos (by the "pro's"), and I've seen total garbage as well. So to force my hand in only being able to buy theirs I take issue with. I have bought photos that I thought were exceptional. But if somebody is happy with their amateur photos, then let them have that choice.

All the other usual stuff, consistent judging, running on time, should go without saying.
Can we list the main suggestions? (Not necessarily in order of importance - we can do that later.)
  • Qualified judges
  • Fair, consistent judging system
  • Openness of judging system (coaches being allowed to know why they lost/won)
  • Unrushed, safe warmup area
  • Event runs on time
  • Production value (lights, backdrop, etc)
  • Participant gifts (bags, trinkets, etc)
  • Individual competition awards (jackets, rings, etc)
  • Allow coaches to video/photograph
  • Allow crowd to video/photograph
  • Hospitality
  • Food/Concessions
  • Expense of entry fee
  • Expense of spectators
  • availability/quality of spectator seating
  • trophy/banner quality
  • efficient awards ceremony
  • elaborate awards ceremony (lots of prizes for stuff other than division rank)
  • fun/games on stage between sessions/awards
Feel free to add

For now, we can stay away from the hotels/cities/tourist stuff, although that can certainly be a factor for many. Once we get a complete-ish list of factors, I would love to see people's grades on each for the major events. That would be interesting.