Survey response about value of membership: “Not much – the club is designed for younger people and that’s fine. There really is not much room for older folks, and the clubs constellation continues to reinforce inadvertently. You will get some older people 55 plus who participate in beginner tri training but most don’t stay. It is what it is… but it’s an aging out thing.”
I want to take this response and expand it out because this comment can really apply to a lot of different aspects in the Club that all fall under a similar thought. For lack of a better way to put it, this comment can be generalized into “the club focuses on _____ and ignores _____.” That’s a bad generalization, but it will allow me to broaden the scope of my answer.
- First off all, let’s start with the general demographics of the Club. Yes, the club is primarily a younger person club. The largest age group in the club is 35-39 with the second largest age group being 40-44. Those two age groups alone account for about 1/3 of our membership. The member distribution drops off more precipitously on the 45+ side than it does on the 34 & under side. So yes, we are a Club on the “younger” side, but we are in line with general USA Triathlon age group participation. The largest age groups participating in multisport events tend to be 35-39 and 40-44. However, we do differ from the general triathlon demographics in female:male ratio! The general triathlon participation is roughly 40% female; however the DC Triathlon Club demographics are over half women! About 52% at last check! To dive further into the demographics:
- The Club is VERY heavily caucasian. We don’t know exactly what the percentages are, but my guess would be that we are 80% caucasian if not higher. That vastly differs from the ethnic diversity of the Washington DC area, but it does not differ that significantly from USA Triathlon numbers. Triathlon tends to be a very caucasian sport. Individually for the sports, swimming and cycling tend to be very caucasian sports while running has a much higher diversity.
- Where we are similar to the Washington DC area is in the LGBT percentage of our members. The Washington DC area has about 9% of its population self-identifying as a member of the LGBT community, which is a lot higher than the national average (around 5%, I believe). The Club numbers (through self-identification) are very similar to that, so we are representative of the region in this aspect.
- Fun statistic, USA Triathlon reports that the median income for triathletes is $126,000 per year. I will personally apologize for bringing that number down! 😛
- So why did I bring up all that demographic information? I did so because the leadership of the Club reflects these demographics. There are 14 members on the club’s Board of Directors. We are all on the “younger side” with our mean age in the 35-44 range. We are about 40% female (so slightly less than the general club demographics), but were at 50% female back in 2018 under the previous Board. We are primarily caucasian. We have our first Indian serving on the Board now and I’m super excited about that! We are also about 14% self-identifying as LGBT. So the leadership generally reflects the makeup of the larger club!
- To add to that, we (the Board) all volunteer our time to lead the Club. We all have full-time jobs, do our own training, and do our own racing, as well as hope to have some semblance of a social life (I fail miserably at this last one). So the scope and time of what we personally can do to encompass everyone in the Club is somewhat limited! We have tried to get some things going to involve those who feel on the outside from the “norm” of the Club, but we have had limited success in getting those going and being sustained. I will mention one success story below.
- But this brings me (like I said… I’m long-winded) back to the point of “the club focuses on ____ and ignores ____.” There is only so much we (the Board) can do to involve everyone or specific parts of our demographic. So that is why we look for the Club members to step up and help us out by leading an effort to corral a certain demographic, a certain speed, or a certain type of club member.
- For example, I am a single white male in his early 40s (it’s still early!) with no children, who races at the very front of the pack, and who identifies as part of the LGBT community. Me offering to lead a group of people who are over 50 on a run, or to lead a slow to moderate paced group on a ride, or to take a parents group on an open water swim just doesn’t make sense. Me trying to spearhead an African American group or to set up a straight triathlon singles dating night would probably crash and burn as ideas! But me leading a Team of fast people does make sense!
- Above, I said I would mention a success story of members stepping up, and that would the TriOut community group. Years ago, we heard remarks that there was no LGBT triathlon club in the Washington DC area despite the higher than national average self-identifying as LGBT. So we encouraged them to form a community group and do their thing and members of that community stepped up! They have been going strong for over 5 years now with monthly happy hours, annual training camps, fund-raising efforts, and regular training swims, rides, and runs! And that was all member led! We just provided the avenue for them to put the word out there, to reach the club members, and they ran with it and the group is thriving!
So my hope when I see a comment about the club ignoring a specific demographic is that a person from that group will step up and help organize something to fill that void! We want everyone to feel welcome in the Club, but the members of the Board can only do so much to make that happen!
I know that was a very long answer and kind of threw the impetus back on members, but we want to be a member driven club and not just rely on the Board to drive the ideas and activities. Here are some suggestions to get you started if you are looking for a particular demographic/pace to get together:
- Post to the forum about a workout that you are going to do and invite others (of a particular age bracket or pace) to join you.
- Post to the forum offering up a night to go to a happy hour with people in a specific demographic and see if you can’t get a group together to talk ideas about how the club can better serve that group.
#thereisaplaceforeveryoneinDCTRI (credit to @JHJ20012 for the hashtag)
President | DC Triathlon Club