On SAAM’s Decision to Discontinue Awards for Regional Competitions
The State Archery Association of Massachusetts (SAAM) Board of Directors recently voted to discontinue awards and rankings at their regional 51st USA Archery Indoor Nationals and 2020 USA Archery JOAD Indoor Nationals Tournaments.
This is a disappointing decision for all the athletes who look forward to the opportunity to earn these awards and see their regional ranking each year.
Awards and rankings are a huge part of any competition. Improving your ranking and winning awards provide validation for an athlete’s effort and time, and even falling short can be a powerful incentive for future growth. SAAM’s decision to discontinue awards and rankings at regional competitions makes these experiences impossible.
It is no secret that most athletes participating at regional tournaments will never be strong enough to participate at a national level, and even the athletes know this. But regional awards and regional rankings offer carrots keeping archers invested in the sport, and gives them incentive to keep improving.
Keeping us in the game should be the goal of a grassroots organization like SAAM. While USA Archery Indoor Nationals and and USA Archery JOAD Indoor Nationals are national tournaments, they are done at the grassroots level by local organizations. At these events, all athletes compete with elite athletes and local athletes to see how they match up. In contrast, the National Field Archery Association (NFAA) takes a different approach. The NFAA makes it very difficult for lower level archers to shoot alongside the better archers. That used to be one of the attractions of USA Archery. But USA Archery and SAAM, in discontinuing regional awards and rankings and making it more difficult for local archers to see that accomplishment, get excited by it, and get motivated to improve.
In this way, SAAM and USA Archery are no longer the grassroots organizations they need to be to grow the sport.
Growing the sport is really the only way of ensuring that USA Archery develops Olympic level athletes. You have to have a healthy and large base of archers to ensure that the archers with potential stay in the game and progress to the top level. This all starts with local efforts, of organizations like SAAM and ours. USA Archery tournaments were built on this concept. Anyone can participate, anyone can win, and anyone can move up the ladder.
The decisions of SAAM and USA Archery to discontinue awards and rankings at the regional level will no doubt lead to a decline in membership.
Ace Archers believes that the future of the sport and all of our organizations depends on grassroots efforts to grow the sport. We strongly believe that SAAM and USA Archery should take another look at the potential consequences of their decisions. SAAM should take the lead and reinstate awards and rankings at regional events of the USA Archery Indoor Nationals and USA Archery JOAD Indoor Nationals.