RE: Unicon 11
Thank you Michael Grant for explaining in detail a question that has been
asked by many people, not only this year but in the past as well. This
response is to all the people wondering about how much it costs to go to
these things. This is long, but if you’re planning to go to NAUCC or UNICON,
you should read it all.
> 1. The forms are long, somewhat confusing and I became
> frustrated when attemtping to register.
Sorry about that. Part of this is a result of combined conventions, which no
one has ever attempted before. We will learn from this experience how to
make more user-friendly ways to register, and provide more and better
information in the future, especially for people who are attending for the
> 2. I found no compelling reason to pay to register. I am
> not a rich man and this trip is going to cost my family
> over $2000.
For $2000 your family can have a very nice visit to the Seattle area. You
can see the Space Needle, watch the Seafair Parade, take a tour at Boeing
and see the aircraft museum, etc. You can also see the beautiful Snoqualmie
Falls, ride through a very long former railway tunnel, and ride downhill
trails at the Snoqualmie Summit.
You can do this anytime during the year. What you cannot do, ever, is go to
a unicycle convention.
*** UNLESS SOMEONE CREATES ONE ***
If you choose to attend, this is what you are paying for.
Our conventions in the USA were originally called “meets”, and were very
modest in the early days. You got what you paid for. There were less than
100 riders, we raced at a high school track or in a parking lot, and had
artistic competition in the gym. You stayed wherever you wanted, and some
years could even sleep in the gym.
Over the years, our events have grown. The skill level of competitors has
gone through several roofs, and the minimum requirements for competition
venues has continued to get more complicated. Now we have electronic timing,
higher-quality track requirements, multiple gyms, MUni venues, road races,
and many other events that were not part of the schedule in the old days.
Also the number of competitors has grown, forcing the schedule to take up
more and more days. This multiplies the cost of the venues.
As an example, the liability insurance for NAUCC/UNICON is estimated at
$6000.00. I don’t know if this particular cost even existed in the early
70’s when we started. This applies to everyone who rides a unicycle at a
convention, not just competitors.
Different countries have different ways of paying for sports. The USA is at
a disadvantage, as sports are almost entirely self-supporting. In most other
industrialized countries, sports are heavily supported by the government.
This means that in other countries it’s easier to apply for, and get free
access to gyms, athletic facilities (tracks) and other venues. At UNICON IV
in Puerto Rico, we even had free room and board.
To do the same in the US usually requires a huge fund-raising and
sponsorship effort, which is beyond the capabilities of the average (or even
above-average) unicycle club. So the costs have to be passed along to the
people who benefit from the whole thing, the attendees.
Riders (competitors) get the awards, so the competitors pay a higher
registration fee, based on the (large) cost of those awards. Non-competitors
basically benefit from everything else, from the electronic timing (racing
is entertaining for spectators as well as racers) all the way down to the
fact that there will be a roof over our heads.
Some costs don’t apply to everybody, but have been included into an overall
registration for simplicity. Such as buses. Most of the people riding the
buses will have traveled overseas to get to the convention, on average
spending a great deal more than us Americans. We’re helping them out.
Collecting money for separate services requires a lot of extra time and
manpower, which will both be in short supply.
Your ID badge will be your ticket into all the venues, and presumably onto
the bus. Very simple. It will be important to wear them, or at least have
them with you, to get into the places. This is how the organizers will know
who is registered. I may be wrong, but I believe that in cases such as Mr.
Grants, where there are three (non-unicycling?) kids, the organizers would
not require them to register. The registration should apply only to people
who intend to attend workshops, or ride unicycles at any of the venues.
In addition, all attendees at NAUCC are required to be members of the
Unicycling Society of America. I would apply this in the same way as above,
only to people who will attend workshops or ride unicycles at the
Many people are unable to attend the whole NAUCC or UNICON. If these types
of events were better money makers, we could afford to charge partial
registration fees. But this would then require multiple types of badges, and
create other problems. Instead, since it will be hard enough not to lose
money, everybody pays the same registration and retains the option to stay
for the whole event. Some day we will be able to afford to do more. These
conventions are entirely funded by the hosting organizations, and not by the
USA or IUF, which have minimal budgets.
I offer my personal apologies to the people who are unable to attend the
whole event, or who can’t afford to come in the first place. I cannot speak
to peoples’ individual financial limitations. But as a general rule, I can
offer this advice for convention attendees:
If you can afford to get to the event, but you can’t
afford to register, you probably shouldn’t go.
It’s as simple as that. Not everyone can afford to go to these things. Some
people are more fanatical than others, and will show up with empty gas tanks
and no money in their pockets. I don’t know how they get home (or eat), but
these people tend to have more fun than the rest of us. If you have a family
(or pay your own rent or mortgage), you probably have to plan a little bit
But look on the bright side. What other sport is this cheap to compete in,
at the world level? How about a ticket to one event at the Olympics? Or at
the Superbowl? I’m aware of none where you can do as many things, and have
as much fun as unicycling.
What do you get if you’re not competing? You still get the whole convention.
The #1 reason why most of us keep coming back every year (or two years for
UNICON) is the people. Where else can you meet, watch, interact with, and
learn from so many people with similar interests? Even between riders who
don’t speak a common language there is this bond. We understand each other.
Everybody should go to an event like this sometime in their lives. You will
meet people who may remain your friends for life, even if you only see them
once every few years. You can never experience anything similar by riding
None of this happens without the expenditure of thousands of volunteer
hours, and the expenditure of lots of money. Some years more than others.
The group hosting this years conventions has one already under their belt,
the 1999 NUC. It was beautifully done, especially for a group hosting their
first one. I think they will put on a very nice show for us this summer.
I have mentioned this to people for a while and I’ll say it again. all
indications point to the prediction that this will be the largest unicycling
event ever to take place in North America. Don’t miss it! I’m sure you will
find your money was well spent.
For all of the reasons above, people should register as early as possible.
Not only will you save some money, you will also save a lot of time when you
arrive. In addition, you will help the organizers to pay their bills on
time, and save the volunteer effort of onsite registration people.
Stay on top,
President, Unicycling Society of America
President, International Unicycling Federation