What Is Going On?
The most notable changes include the exit of longtime IFBB Vice president and Olympia/ NOC promoter Wayne DeMilia. For those of us in the know… Wayne has been in the Bodybuilding mix since the mid 70's. It's no secret that Wayne and I have had our "philosophical differences" over the last few years, mostly centering on the use of the athletes and their compensation for being a professional in the IFBB.
Notice I used the term USE and not ABUSE. The athletes are not and have never been abused. I have always firmly believed that if you let someone (or some company) treat you in a certain way, and you're not satisfied with the result of that treatment, then you have three choices:
- Get out of the situation and move on.
- Do something about it.
- Do nothing and keep complaining.
One of the main problems with the structure of the IFBB is that we (the athletes) have never had a say in our own sport. This could have and should have been addressed YEARS ago to establish a Union or group or whatever you want to call the athletes being on the same page and unified as one collective group. This has been tried a few times. Most notably twice in the last 25 years.
Back in 1979 when Arnold and the crew had a big pow-wow to establish a Union. Arnold quickly backed down and left the other guys holding the bag. This would have been the most opportune time to establish ourselves as a group, as there were only about 30-40 pro's at the time.
The other legitimate attempt was just two years ago by... yours truly! I attempted to organize the pro's (now numbering almost 200). This wasn't an "overthrow" type of revolt, but rather establishing a position whereas we could have a voice, partake in meetings held on our behalf, initiate changes, organize health care coverage, etc.
While our mailings were met with overwhelming response (over 100 Athletes were in favor), only 35 managed to show up at the meeting merely to discuss any possibility of organization. The reasoning was simple: Much like in the 70's, the athletes were scared to participate for fear of retaliation by some of the "powers that be".
Some guys were threatened with their contracts, some threatened with the promise of lower placing, some told just "not to attend". WHY? What was the big threat? Were some of the powers that be THAT threatened and insecure about their own job that they feared the TRUTH coming out and being voiced by higher up's?
There are many ways to interpret what went on, but one thing I know for sure is that people only fear change when there is ACCOUNTABILITY at stake.
The organization attempt wasn't a total loss. Actually, it brought some much needed attention to matters in need of some serious over-hauling. Judging, increased purses, an Athletes representative elected, etc. have all changed for the better since the meeting.
Little did I (or anyone else) know that change was already in the works… from the other side! The purchase of the WEIDER publications by AMI (David Pecker) for 350 Million dollars was a huge surprise for many of us in the bodybuilding world. Surprising not just that the Weider company actually sold the publications, but for how much equally as well.
Three hundred fifty million! Not that they didn't earn their money building the bodybuilding empire up over the last 60 years, but that the basic core of the magazines and the IFBB is made up of BODYBUILDERS. Without the bodybuilders, there is no IFBB, no magazines, no photographers, no contests, and no promoters, basically no industry at all.
Yet, it's the bodybuilders that are always last to get paid with whatever's left over. Why is this you ask? Simple, because they have LET themselves get treated poorly, paid poorly, and have no say for those 60 years, that's why.
I was watching the World Poker tournament last month on cable TV. The guy, who placed 10th, received a check for $110,000... The EXACT amount that Mr. Olympia receives. Mr. Olympia, the BEST bodybuilding athlete on the face of the earth. This is merely one example; there are literally hundreds out there. Once again the question is why, and once again the answer is simple: Mainstream support.
It simply isn't there, never has been, probably never will be. People in the industry have been asking "how can we get more mainstream sponsors into bodybuilding", and "how can we make bodybuilding more accepted by the mainstream people" for YEARS.
The answer is NEVER! Bodybuilding will never appeal to the mainstream for the simple fact that bodybuilding ISN'T mainstream! Can the answer really be that simple? Yes. The simple explanation is usually the correct one. People generally relate best to things that can understand easily, or partake in themselves, like bowling, running, soccer, football, baseball, etc. The more extreme, the more the general public is excluded from participating, the less interest there is.
So Where Is The Answer?
What can be done if anything to at least attempt to appeal to more people? First, the judging system needs a serious overhauling. Gone are the days of the "Olympic dream", which is why the 'rounds" system was put into place many years ago. For those not familiar, Pro bodybuilding is judged in 4 rounds.
- Round 1 is SUPPOSED to be the "symmetry" round
- Round 2 is the "muscularity round
- Round 3 is the "posing" round
- Round 4 (if you make it) is the "pose down round"
In reality… they're all pretty much four muscularity rounds. Rarely if ever, has the guy with best symmetry actually won the symmetry round, ditto for the posing round. The muscularity round sometimes is won by the most muscular guy, but not always.
Picture of the old system of judging!
If the guy with the most muscle doesn't have any symmetry, then he won't win the muscularity round. And if the guy with the best symmetry doesn't have enough muscle, then he won't win the symmetry round. If the best poser isn't that muscular or isn't that symmetrical… he won't win the posing round, even if he's the best poser. Confusing? You betcha!
Is This The Fault Of The Judges?
NO. The judges don't particularly like the judging system, but they are forced to use it. It's been brought up that the NPC (our sister amateur organization) has a much better judging system in place.
It's based on the judges OPINION. Plain and simple, easy to use. No jockeying numbers around, no justifying the placings. Just a professional judge's opinion on a professional bodybuilding competition. Makes too much sense, I know…
Another good idea is to have a better image to present to the public. To actually reward a physique that someone can relate to, that someone would want to look like. How about a physique that displays the attributes that make up an impressive looking build.
Wide shoulders, small waist, sweeping legs, overall balance, minimum of weak points, no overwhelming strong points, no obvious appearance of Synthol, or any other weird looking parts. Muscles don't have angles, never have.
It seems like this type of physique is starting to make a comeback. The recent victories by Dexter Jackson, Darrem Charles, and Melvin Anthony over much larger competitors is a trend that I hope continues. The word OVERALL should always be the hallmark to any judging criteria.
Dexter Jackson at the 2004 San Fran Show, Darrem at the
2004 Orlando Pro and Melvin at the 2004 NOC (first pro win).
There are many changes in the works, I'm hopeful that some of the proposed changes by the athletes are taken into consideration by the "new" regime.
By the athletes and the 'powers that be" working together, I believe we can propel Pro bodybuilding to a higher level, increase public interest, and everyone can make a good living from the sport we all love and have devoted our lives to.