Age Falsification In Dancesport Competitions

SDsalsaguy

Administrator
Staff member
#1
I thought this is an interesting and important commentary made by Wayne Eng (organizer of the Emerald Ball, co-organizer of the San Diego Dancesport Championships, and Competiion Director for the USDC):

Age Falsification In Dancesport Competitions


One of the biggest things I have to deal with as a Dancesport Competition Organizer is the issue of competitor’s ages at the Pre-Teen and Junior levels.
It has become increasingly prevalent in our world for competitors and their parents to falsify a child’s age, making them younger than they actually are, to seemingly minimize the competition in a given event.
The commonality of this practice leads me, as an organizer and a parent to ask some very pertinent questions.
First and foremost, as a parent, what are we teaching our children when we ask them to lie? Are we teaching them to be the best “them” that they can be or are we teaching them that lying to win is the way to go?
How will our children learn to trust us as parents if we continually give them the message that we lie to get ahead?
How do you think your child feels when a complete stranger starts grilling them at an already stressful competition about how old they are?
Equally as important is the idea that we have planted this false sense in our children’s self esteem bank. While they may be able to boast a win of a certain event, won’t it always be in the back of their minds that the win wasn’t a true win but one based in pretense?
In the long run, lying about a competitor’s age is going to hurt more than it could ever help.
 

CANI

Active Member
#2
Thanks for sharing, SDsalsaguy. I was not aware of this problem. However, it seems pretty consistent with at least what I've seen as the approach of many parents and individuals -- winning is what is most important. How you get there is less so. This is only my observations -- probably others have experienced another viewpoint. Thankfully, there are more and more public examples of individuals winning with integrity. I see this as a cyclical thing -- eventually there will be enough action/embarrassment or children themselves raised in this way who then come to the realization that they have nothing to be truly proud of in their life because it was all 'false' wins, will cause them to raise children a different way.

It cuts across many sports I'm sure. I remember when I was a kid, my brother's hockey team had a good chance at winning a coveted title. One or more players on his team broke the rules, got into fights on the ice, and were 'punished' by the rules of having to sit out the next game. Well, the next game was the BIG game, or a key game on the way to the BIG game. So, what did some parents do? They got together, put together a game with another team, one that wasn't on the schedule, and was done for the sole purpose of working off this 'punishment.' It fit the letter of the rules, but not the spirit. I remember my mother spoke up about it and tried to explain to the other parents that this was not the best way to go. What was the lesson learned? Mommy and Daddy will fix everything in your life for you and when that fails, you be enterprising enough to find away around the rules, because nothing is more important than winning. The lesson that could've been learned but wasn't - you know the rules ahead of time, when you throw fists and beat up on other players -- in other words break the rules -- you face the punishment that you knew you would face...and you let down your team...and maybe you lose the big game...so maybe think twice before doing it again.

I'm not a parent, and who knows if I am someday if I will be good at raising children. Perhaps, perhaps not.
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
#3
I think alot of people are able to talk themselves into anything if they have let their priorities get out out of whack....and I think most folks are resistant to discipline even when it is gentle and reasonable...in fact, I KNOW that....

as a parent I vividly recall a day when the principal called my home to inform me that my son and another boy, who was admittedly the instigator, were making innapropriate comments to some girls on the playground....this behavior was appalling to me...my son should have had the courage to tell his friend that the comments were in poor taste and he should not have participated....what followed for him was alot of listening at home about what those girls must have felt like inside and how would he like it if someone spoke to his sister like that...and a whole bunch of sanctions and promises of wrath should something similar ever happen again....HOWEVER, I got a call from the other boy's mom who was just outraged that our poor babies were interrogated separately and not in our presence...and I told her; "lady, that is the difference between you and I, the reason your son will be back in the principal's office and mine won't...they were wrong, no matter how you slice it...and if that bruises your ego as a parent so badly that you have to deflect blame, YOU are the problem".....parents have got to teach their kids how to be winners by being gracious losers and by accepting whatever constraints exist....and by understanding that there are more aspects to competition than how many others one gets to dance against...so many lessons here about integrity and appreciation that life isn't theirs to contort so that it meets their own personal needs....

I spoke to a client yesterday whose child got all A's so they gave the child some money and later that day they asked the child if they would like to donate a dollar of it to a very good cause and the child said "no way, it's all mine"...this from a child embarking on recieving communion in her faith...my statement to them was that she needs to understand that there is far more to being a good person than being at the top of the heap in measurable ways...but if it must be measured, she just got an "F" in compassion

steps off soapbox for the time being
 

sambanada

Active Member
#4
This is an excellent point. I believe that organizers must check ages very carefully when registereing. Also, there should be set penalties for breaking the rules. I'm not sure how it works here, but in Poland, each dancer has a book thats given by official organization. This book has all your information that has been certified, as well as points you have accumulated. So you bring this book to every competition when you check in. I believe Russia has a similar system.
 

j_alexandra

Well-Known Member
#5
<snip>
I spoke to a client yesterday whose child got all A's so they gave the child some money and later that day they asked the child if they would like to donate a dollar of it to a very good cause and the child said "no way, it's all mine"...this from a child embarking on recieving communion in her faith...my statement to them was that she needs to understand that there is far more to being a good person than being at the top of the heap in measurable ways...but if it must be measured, she just got an "F" in compassion

steps off soapbox for the time being
This reminds me of my mother's reaction when I pointed out that my friend G got a dollar for each A on his report card in junior high. "Do they beat him when he gets a B?" Mary Margaret Ann asked me. I never ever again hinted that there should be rewards for doing the right thing. In my family, good grades -- and good behavior -- were expected. Period. Annoying and constricting at the time, but I see the value now.

Mary Margaret Ann would have been appalled by the behavior of parents who bend the rules, whether dance, sports, or grades.
 

3wishes

Well-Known Member
#6
Yes, I thoroughly agree with posters and the concern expressed as well as frustration. Having been not only a parent of children who were in sports that were team sports and individual sports e.g., swimming, etc., the frustration of "age" is still there. I and DH were quite pleased when, as the kids got out of the "little" kid ages our community leagues and club leagues required birth certificates. As coaches of various sports and athletic events - some that were feeder systems into the Olympics - I was always grateful for the requirement. It is the parents we typically had issues with - not the children. hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
 
#7
That would be very hard to do here, because every competitor is registered at the national governing body when they start and the competition organizers get the information directly from there. Dancing at the wrong skill level might be possible to pull off, but they'd be caught and disqualified later.

To falsify the age, it'd have to be premeditated at the time the child starts dancing. It'd be very hard to do. People do lie about the age of their kids at buffet restaurants and movie theaters though and see nothing bad about that.
 

DrDoug

Active Member
#8
Strange. Around here I seem to see kids dancing up into higher age categories as soon as they can; I don't recall seeing older kids dancing in lower age categories.

Maybe in addition to an invigilator, Wayne should employ an invageilator . . . .
 
#9
This reminds me of my mother's reaction when I pointed out that my friend G got a dollar for each A on his report card in junior high. "Do they beat him when he gets a B?" Mary Margaret Ann asked me. I never ever again hinted that there should be rewards for doing the right thing. In my family, good grades -- and good behavior -- were expected. Period. Annoying and constricting at the time, but I see the value now.
Exactly what my parents did too...good manners, behavior, and grades were not rewarded, they were the norm. That's the way it was/is, no excuses or exceptions. This is also the sort of mom I'll hopefully be (eventually.)
 

sambanada

Active Member
#10
We have to teach chidlren to be honest. That starts with the parents. Coaches are role models to the kids, so they should not lie either. It is not fair to other children. Its not about restaurants or movie theaters. It is about being a fair competitor.
 

samina

Well-Known Member
#12
doesn't get my hackles up because it's very much a cultural thing... there are cultures where truth-telling is not necessarily respected higher than doing whatever's needed to gain an edge and get ahead. and within the context of their culture, it may make perfect sense and raise no eyebrows whatsoever... although these social mores may seem foreign or offensive if one's own culture predominantly preaches "honesty is the best policy".

judging these fact-fudgers as somehow obviously wrong might seem logical to us here but...we have our own society-wide lies that we accept and justify. santa comes to mind, as does the widespread belief that it's better to lie than to hurt someone's feelings. and ironically, IME, it's within those cultures most tolerant to "fact-fudging" that i have experienced a kind of natural candor i rarely find amongst many who say they believe honesty is indeed the best policy.

having said that... FTR...i'm a radical truth-teller and have raised my kids to value the same, and definitely applaud those who pass that onto their kids. but... meh... i respect that different choices may make perfect sense to others raised in worlds that provide no perceived value for being honest.
 

sambanada

Active Member
#13
In a way, poeple who do this send a signal to their child/student that they are not good enough for their own age...but have a chance in a younger age. This is a bad message to send.
 

CANI

Active Member
#14
In a way, poeple who do this send a signal to their child/student that they are not good enough for their own age...but have a chance in a younger age. This is a bad message to send.
Spot-on. You are incapable of winning if you follow the same game rules as everyone else.
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
#15
I take it there's no centralized database of registered competitors/members/whatever, where proof of age is required at some stage...so the decision about what age categories one can enter is limited to what is allowed by the people making the rules, not by what can be fudged? (Ditto wrt proficiency points?) I take it there are no sanctions?

I take it these are probably stupid questions to be asking?
 

ChaChaMama

Well-Known Member
#16
I know of only one case that excited a lot of controversy in the USA Dance world, though I know there are probably others or it wouldn't be coming us as an issue. In that particular case, I believe that the person in question had consistently registered as a younger age from the time he entered the country. At that point in time, I guess that showing a birth certificate/passport was not required for championship events the way it is now.

When the truth came out, the person did receive a 3 month suspension, if I recall correctly.

The person in question was an amazing dancer and got excellent results in his correct age category as well. In fact, it was quite unclear to me that the motives were nefarious. (The younger member of the partnership was eligible for the younger age category, and not everyone reads the USA Dance Rulebook meticulously, nor would it necessarily be clear to someone whose first language is not English. Indeed, I have occasionally found some of the language a bit opaque myself.)
 

sambanada

Active Member
#17
If the person came from any other country to dance here, I am sure same rules applied in his country. IDSF is very strict on age violations. My studio owner and I had this conversation yesterday, after reading this forum. He told me about another case where the child was approached by the head of judges, and asked his age, and child actually lied to judge face. When evidence was presented, child didnt even appologize. No action was taken at all, except that their place was taken away.There should be no excuse for this. The rules are rules, and should be respected by all, children and adults. Maybe USA Dance should keep copy of passports of each child on record. It might be worth to do this once, eventhough it would take a lot of work. Then, in future, it would avoid all this. What do you think?
 

DrDoug

Active Member
#19
Wayne runs NDCA comps, not USA Dance comps. NDCA requires amateur competitors to register in order to dance in NDCA comps, and they maintain a database of registered amateur competitors, but I don't remember whether they ask for registrants' ages. Since comp organizers are already supposed to verify that amateur competitors have a current registration, I would think it wouldn't be that difficult to verify that they are eligible for the events they enter at the same time.

(The registration requirement currently doesn't apply to amateurs doing pro/am. I assume the age problem has to do with amateurs doing am.)
 

ChaChaMama

Well-Known Member
#20
Wayne runs NDCA comps, not USA Dance comps. NDCA requires amateur competitors to register in order to dance in NDCA comps, and they maintain a database of registered amateur competitors, but I don't remember whether they ask for registrants' ages. Since comp organizers are already supposed to verify that amateur competitors have a current registration, I would think it wouldn't be that difficult to verify that they are eligible for the events they enter at the same time.

(The registration requirement currently doesn't apply to amateurs doing pro/am. I assume the age problem has to do with amateurs doing am.)
Yes, I'm aware that Wayne Eng runs NDCA comps.

As someone who has a membership in both organizations, though, I will tell you that registration in both merely requires you to supply a birthdate, with no documentation verifying that.

USA Dance has started checking documentation for championship level couples. (Age is not the main thing USA Dance is checking the documents for--primarily interested in whether each person has either a passport or multiple re-entry visa, and now whether at least one is a US citizen--but I imagine if a 15 year old were entered in JI, that would excite attention.) To the best of my knowledge, NDCA does not check documents. I could be incorrect, and maybe they do at the big Provo, Utah comp. But I have never seen that at mid-size NDCA comps, and I've been to quite a few.
 

Dance Ads