Critiquing elite versus recreational adult skating - is honesty the best policy?

essence_of_soy

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I recently had a conversation with a good friend of mine, who runs a small blog.

They post info from various competitions throughout the year, and sometimes, will attend events in person.

For the most part, they concentrate on elite skaters, because it is an area of personal interest, too.

However recently, they covered a local event where elite and recreational adult skaters were both present.

As they only had a limited amount of time away from their day job to attend and report, they were clear in their pre-event promotion what they would be covering, and therefore restricted their commentary to the elite skaters.

Some of the recreational skaters got upset that they were being ignored, and labelled my friend, 'exclusive and small minded'.

I guess the quandary my friend is facing, if recreational skaters want to be critiqued, is it fair to hold them to the same standard, and can they handle what is written about them, even if it isn't always ego-boosting and flattering?

For the record, my friend is the first to admit they can be pretty blunt.
 
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skatingguy

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I think your friend should turn that back on the people who are complaining, and give them the opportunity to contribute something that they could post to their blog. They can explain that they don't have the time to do everything, and they don't have the understanding of adult skating to critic it properly, but that if they want contribute a piece, your friend could read, discuss it, and if it was appropriate post it to their site.
 

hanca

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I recently had a conversation with a good friend of mine, who runs a small blog promoting elite skating.

They post info from various competitions throughout the year, and sometimes, will attend events in person.

For the most part, they concentrate on elite skaters, because it is an area of personal interest, too.

However recently, they covered a local event where elite and recreational adult skaters were both present.

As they only had a limited amount of time away from their day job to attend and report, they were clear in their pre-event promotion what they would be covering, and therefore restricted their commentary to the elite skaters.

Some of the recreational skaters got upset that they were being excluded, and labelled my friend, 'exclusive and small minded'.

I guess the quandary my friend is facing, if recreational skaters want to be critiqued, is it fair to hold them to the same standard, and can they handle what is written about them, even if it isn't always ego-boosting and flattering?

For the record, my friend is the first to admit they can be pretty blunt.
The question is, would they be as blunt and as critical to the lower level skaters (including children)? Or would they be the same critical when covering events at invictus games? Or would they be as snarky to lower level of elites (those who are perhaps placing around 20th place at Europeans)? Or maybe children will be excused because they are children, disabled people will be excused because they are disabled, and adult skaters are fair game to practice snarkiness? Just curious.

I think one needs to use some common sense. Adult skaters are not elites, they never pretend to be elites, but it is still achievement what they can manage. The commentator who commented throughout JGP events managed to be positive even about lower levels of the skaters, those who were placing towards the bottom of the field, so the question is, does your friend feels better about himself/herself when they can point out what one does wrong rather than finding some positives?
 
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essence_of_soy

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The question is, would they be as blunt and as critical to the lower level skaters (including children)? Or would they be the same critical when covering events at invictus games? Or would they be as snarky to lower level of elites (those who are perhaps placing around 20th place at Europeans? Or maybe children will be excused because they are children, disabled people will be excused because they are disabled, and adult skaters are fair game to practice snarkiness? Just curious.

I think one needs to use some common sense. Adult skaters are not elites, they never pretend to be elites, but it is still achievement what they can manage. The commentator who commented throughout JGP events managed to be positive even about lower levels of the skaters, those who were placing towards the bottom of the field, so the question is, does your friend feels better about himself/herself when they can point out what one does wrong rather than finding some positives?
I agree that Ted Barton is the gold standard when it comes to commentary and positive constructive criticism.
 
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bluebonnets

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If the purpose of your friend’s blog is to promote elite skating, and they’ve explicitly stated this, then I think it’s fine to exclude recreational skaters.

That being said, while I don’t think you can hold recreational skaters to the same standards as elite skaters, you can hold them to level-appropriate standards — and you can provide commentary that’s fair and constructive without having to sugarcoat it to spare people’s feelings.

I’m not a skater, but my experience as an adult in a recreational activity is that what we’re really looking for isn’t flattery or an ego boost — it’s recognition that our participation is valid. I’m writing this on the train home from a dance competition where the adult awards were presented following the elite championships, and people were packing up and leaving the hall as those awards were happening. I think @skatingguy made an excellent suggestion — no one is better suited to write about the experiences of a recreational adult skater than a recreational adult skater. Asking them to contribute content is a good idea.
 

essence_of_soy

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I think your friend should turn that back on the people who are complaining, and give them the opportunity to contribute something that they could post to their blog. They can explain that they don't have the time to do everything, and they don't have the understanding of adult skating to critic it properly, but that if they want contribute a piece, your friend could read, discuss it, and if it was appropriate post it to their site.
It's funny you should say this because my friend detailed pretty much the same thing in their reply, and proposing that they contribute a piece still made the person accusing them upset.

I think they expected my friend to be an instant expert at both levels.
 
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MacMadame

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I think it's your friend's blog and they can cover whatever they want. I used to have a blog and if someone had told me I had to cover X or else I was a bad person and I didn't think X was appropriate for my blog or even if I just didn't feel like writing about it, I would have told them to start their own blog where they can write about anything they want.

Telling other people what their blogs should be about is rude, IMO. It's not a newspaper and the author of a blog isn't a journalist.

As for covering lower levels of skating, I used to struggle with that when I was writing skating articles for my blog. I decided not to write about any events lower than Novice as I didn't think kids doing Pre-preliminary should be thrust into a non-local spotlight. I also tended to be vague about performances that were disasters and I made a point to say one nice thing about every performance even if it was just that the costume was pretty.

I once talked to a mom of a serious skater and she said that having people discuss your kid's skating in a public forum was part of being an elite skater. So my rules were stricter than she would expect. But they worked for me.
 

VGThuy

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Honestly, if someone called me “elitist and small minded” over something like that, then I would write a blog telling them to eff off.
 

Aussie Willy

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From my experience over the years, having many friends who are adult skaters, there are a very small number (really just a couple of individuals) who set very poor standards of sportsmanship. The comments I get from many others is they are embarrassed and pretty disgusted by their behaviour. Usually they are also the kind who complain about everything but do nothing to help the sport.
 

essence_of_soy

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From my experience over the years, having many friends who are adult skaters, there are a very small number (really just a couple of individuals) who set very poor standards of sportsmanship. The comments I get from many others is they are embarrassed and pretty disgusted by their behaviour. Usually they are also the kind who complain about everything but do nothing to help the sport.
Sadly, when it is the loudest and pushiest person driving the complaint, everyone else is branded by association.

My friend was considering doing a short review of the recreational competitive skaters (per the initial demand), but after a second round of bullying from the same individual, they won't be recapping that event again. They decided that it simply isn't worth the drama.

For the most part, I like watching recreational skating because it is about people using their spare time to satisfy a strong personal goal.
 
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antmanb

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Honestly while the adult skating world is often friendly and inclusive I've found that I've stopped going to adult skate camps here in the UK because of the overly competitive and annoying adult men in skating. There are a couple of women too but the majority are men. They take the whole thing too seriously and to hear them talk you'd think they were headed to the Olympics. Not one of them can land anything harder than a single lutz so in context I think - we're all here for the fun of it so lets keep it fun, but sadly not.
 

essence_of_soy

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Honestly while the adult skating world is often friendly and inclusive I've found that I've stopped going to adult skate camps here in the UK because of the overly competitive and annoying adult men in skating. There are a couple of women too but the majority are men. They take the whole thing too seriously and to hear them talk you'd think they were headed to the Olympics. Not one of them can land anything harder than a single lutz so in context I think - we're all here for the fun of it so lets keep it fun, but sadly not.
For the record, the skater leading the complaint was a man, and having watched the event in person, he was quite the insurance liability to everyone else out there during the six minute warm-up, too.
 
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antmanb

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For the record, the skater leading the complaint was a man, and having watched the event in person, he was quite the insurance liability to everyone else out there during the six minute warm-up, too.
This too is a trait shared by the Competitive Men in adult skating.
 

overedge

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In a way, I can see where this person is coming from. There is a wide range of abilities in adult skating, and sometimes more attention is paid to the skaters with more advanced skills. This can have the effect of discouraging beginners or lower level skaters from joining or continuing in the sport.

Also, and this is not a dig at you @essence_of_soy but the term "recreational" is problematic for me. Lower level skaters have to put in as many hours on the ice as higher level skaters to be able to look good, or even OK, in competitions. Not having an axel, or even any reliable single jump, is not a sign of not being serious about skating.

Along similar lines IMO the people who call themselves "elite" adult skaters tend to be "big hat, no cattle". I know many adult skaters who have won high-level events at major adult competitions and who would never think of calling themselves "elite". They value the sport being inclusive and want to keep it that way.

That being said, I agree with the suggestion of offering this person the opportunity to write their own piece. Their turning it down is their problem, not your friend's.
 

essence_of_soy

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In a way, I can see where this person is coming from. There is a wide range of abilities in adult skating, and sometimes more attention is paid to the skaters with more advanced skills. This can have the effect of discouraging beginners or lower level skaters from joining or continuing in the sport.

Also, and this is not a dig at you @essence_of_soy but the term "recreational" is problematic for me. Lower level skaters have to put in as many hours on the ice as higher level skaters to be able to look good, or even OK, in competitions. Not having an axel, or even any reliable single jump, is not a sign of not being serious about skating.

Along similar lines IMO the people who call themselves "elite" adult skaters tend to be "big hat, no cattle". I know many adult skaters who have won high-level events at major adult competitions and who would never think of calling themselves "elite". They value the sport being inclusive and want to keep it that way.

That being said, I agree with the suggestion of offering this person the opportunity to write their own piece. Their turning it down is their problem, not your friend's.
Thank you for clarifying using the word, 'recreational', which I thought was a legitimate term applied to adult level competitive skating. I had seen it used elsewhere years ago, and one or two others have used it in this thread as well. Since then, I am guessing that the terminology has changed along with the rules and guidelines attached to the adult arm of the sport.

In terms of my friend's page, their blog is very clear about what it covers, which is elite level skating. It has been running for some time, and built up a small following. There is no affiliation with any associations, and everything my friend finances comes out of their own pocket.

From time to time they do receive private messages asking for certain things like workshops and shows to be posted, which they happily do.

I think what disappointed my friend the most, was how the initial contact from the adult skater was handled.

My friend only knew very close to this particular competition that they could get the time away from work, and advertised that they would only be covering certain elite events. By the time that contact was received, they had already posted what they saw. The entire competition was already over. Meaning, they hadn't seen any of the adult level competition the adult skater wanted covered.

Also, the initial contact was phrased in such a way that it wasn't a request, but an outright demand using language pretty much shaming them for not including adult level skating in their recap, as well as getting several of their peers on board to support their disdain.

Even when my friend explained their situation, suggesting to the adult skater that perhaps they could write an article detailing their experiences, or perhaps start their own blog like my friend, it wasn't deemed satisfactory. The adult skater still had real trouble differentiating between what constituted a request and a demand.

Later my friend said to me that they could have attended the event as a spectator, posted nothing, and nobody would have been any wiser. The altercation removed any joy from attending the event.

Anyway, in the time they have run their blog, they have only had once other instance of a reader expecting far too much. That person wanted every national precision team at every level, each member of each team listed, their competitive records and what music they had skated from the year dot. When my friend said that they didn't have either the access to that kind of information, or the knowledge to construct what amounted to a comprehensive and ongoing database, that person went ballistic and accused them of being neither patriotic or supportive of the sport.

My friend has more tolerance for that kind of behaviour than I do. I know what I would have said!
 
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Aussie Willy

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Most of my issues with adults over the years have been women and the worst examples of sportsmanship have come from them.

With regards the terminology, the ISU calls it Adult Skating and has a page on their website for it. It isn't "recreational" skating. That is more to do with people who just go and skate in public sessions for a bit of fun.
 
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manhn

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I think you can find that “sub elite “ athlete in all sports who is extremely competitive and not-so-nice in all sports. I certainly see it in running.

I don’t think these folks are particularly competitive and bad losers in all aspects of their lives. They found a passion but don’t have the physical talent to make it to the elite level. It is their own determination and drive that got them to where they got.
 

essence_of_soy

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I think you can find that “sub elite “ athlete in all sports who is extremely competitive and not-so-nice in all sports. I certainly see it in running.

I don’t think these folks are particularly competitive and bad losers in all aspects of their lives. They found a passion but don’t have the physical talent to make it to the elite level. It is their own determination and drive that got them to where they got.
As my friend noted, this was a hard lesson learned. Moving forward, they'll just continue to write about what they like and enjoy the most.

Onward and upward.
 
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