UTSA should consider adding gymnastics but obstacles remain


Dalton Hartmann

By creating a gymnastics program at UTSA, the university would possess the 63rd division I gymnastics program in the nation and the first in the state of Texas.

Laynie Clark, Assistant Arts & Life Editor

Gymnastics is one of the most women-dominated sports and it just so happens to be one of the sports that, unfortunately, UTSA athletics does not offer. Why is that? Well, there are many reasons that could possibly contribute to why UTSA is lacking in the gymnastics department.

By far the most prominent reason that UTSA is unable to provide their students with a gymnastics program is because their current athletic conference, Conference USA, does not recognize gymnastics as one of their sports. Though in the next few years UTSA will be transitioning into the American Athletic Conference (AAC), they also do not recognize gymnastics. Because of this, any university that falls under that specific conference is unable to adequately accommodate a competitive gymnastics team. This does not shut down the idea entirely, however, as the university could still seek a deal that would allow them to compete in gymnastics with another conference while maintaining their membership in the AAC. 

This raises a concern: why are so many athletic conferences dismissing gymnastics? Gymnastics is a secondary sport, much like tennis and swimming, which means that they do not bring in nearly as much revenue as primary sports like football and basketball. Due to the pandemic, many universities like the University of Minnesota eliminated their secondary sports because they simply could not afford to carry on with them. This year alone there have been at least 30 universities that have cut their secondary sports, which in total has led to around 100 athletics programs being lost. While financially this may seem like the best move, it has crushed the dreams of many athletes. Some are starting to wonder if these universities are using the pandemic as an excuse to be rid of the less dominant sports. 

While UTSA has been growing rapidly, they still are not in a position to prioritize the required equipment and facilities that gymnasts require. If UTSA made the decision to try and provide a gymnastics team and facility for their students, they would have to make it clear that the sport is for both genders. While that is great news on the equality front, it is not so great when it comes to balancing scholarship totals. Therefore, if UTSA ever wanted to consider a gymnastics program they would need to start planning way ahead for an expansion, both financially and physically.

While it is disheartening as a gymnastics fan to go to a university without a team, I understand why. However, I always believe that there is room for improvement. Currently, UTSA may not be able to come up with the funds, equipment and facilities, but that does not mean there is no hope for future students. I believe —with enough advocating and proof of student interest and support— the administration at UTSA would finally take into consideration the expansion of their athletics program to offer gymnastics and any other secondary sports that are lacking.