For those of you involved in Crackerjacks and Dynamites there has been considerable changes to this year’s Australian Titles. They have been well received by some, and not so well received by others. This article…

For those of you involved in Crackerjacks and Dynamites there has been considerable changes to this year’s Australian Titles. They have been well received by some, and not so well received by others. This article is aimed at trying to put some reasoning behind the changes and is aimed at both parents of riders and state administrators.

Once upon a time the idea of Crackerjacks and Dynamites was proposed by BMXA to the states. That proposal came with a fairly complex set of stringent rules that were promptly ignored or thrown out by the states (I should know this because I was involved in NSW in those days).

The basic fundamental principle was trying to create a national-type series without any major travelling involved. The premise was that riders raced amongst themselves in their own state and met up at the Aussies where they would then race state against state to decide which state would be the victor.

While it worked in principle (the states competed against one another at the Aussies) there were considerable issues at both state and national level.

The states had to create rules to determine who would be part of the teams that made up the Crackerjacks and Dynamites. Every state came up with a different set of standards that suited their individual needs (which is fine), and parents basically had to choose to follow/participate in whatever structure/series the state had developed, if they wanted their child to be part of the process.

Our state associations were pretty good at working out what method best worked for their own riders, so this system worked to a degree. Where some issues were created was when a rider was going to Aussies, but couldn’t fulfill the qualification criteria for their state. Then the rider, and that state missed out on having that (often very good) rider represent them at the Aussies.

Some states have gone a long way in providing coaching and training for riders who make their teams, and have provided special facilities for those riders at the Aussies event, and yes some states do this better than others. It’s also a mathematical fact of life that some states can’t produce the numbers in the various ages and gender categories to make up a full team like others can.

This is a problem that probably won’t be solved until we boost the upward trajectory of BMX Australia membership, but that’s another story.

The other much more real problem is how Crackerjacks and Dynamites race at Aussies. There are many parents who want their rider to focus on their age race, which is understandable. Even though a rider is going to the Aussies, and is possibly one of the fastest kids in the state and/or country in that age group, they don’t compete for the state because there is a fear of fatigue, or even worse, injury prior to their age race.

Let’s also remember that it is mum and dad footing the bill throughout the year and to get to Aussies, so of course they will have their child’s best interests at heart. More often than not that means they want to see their child perform well in their age first and foremost.

So in this case both the rider and state lose out. The state loses because it doesn’t always get its best riders representing them, and the riders lose because they don’t get to be part of something very special.

As a point of difference, there are also a group of riders that each state puts into a team. That team competes against the other states, but the riders just run their normal race and focus on themselves. The states simply piggyback the results of these riders for points.

Sometimes these riders wear a state jersey, and sometimes they don’t. If the rider does well for his or herself (first and foremost), then the state will happily piggyback off their points and proudly and loudly proclaim they are the winning state. Those riders are called ‘elites’ and they form part of the state team.

So in 2017 we are treating the Crackerjacks and Dynamites the same as the elite state teams. The riders will ride their age class and focus on their event, they may or may not receive additional support from their state because they are part of a team, but they will ride as individual riders.

Each state will nominate the riders that make up their team in each age class for Crackerjacks and Dynamites. Importantly the state’s qualification process doesn’t need to change at all to accommodate the change at the Aussies. The placing of a rider in their age racing will determine their Crackerjacks and Dynamites points.  

The team with the most points at the end of racing will be the winning team.

So what are the pros and cons of making this change (the reader can make up their own mind which of the following points are pros and which are cons)?

  • It has been said to me by a very astute coach that we shouldn’t treat the young kids the same as the elites, that they won’t understand what they are being part of. A fair comment.
  • States think that riders won’t wear their state shirts (and some won’t), even though we are encouraging riders to wear their Crackerjacks and Dynamites team shirt in their age racing. Therefore states believe they might not get the exposure they think they deserve.
  • Riders might be ‘forced’ to wear their sponsor shirt instead of their state team shirt. Considering we are talking about 9-13 year olds kids here, I think there needs to be a sensible discussion between parents and sponsors about this event. In fact I think states should start to think about allowing space on shirts for sponsors logos for individual riders, the same concession that is made for elites riding at events such as worlds. That’s a discussion that needs to be had, not just raged against.
  • We know states miss out on top riders competing for them due to injury worries, but with these changes that should no longer be an issue. Therefore states should get better participation in their qualification rounds and criteria events because even the best riders need competition throughout the year and can go to the Aussies without fear of injury in a prior race.

So what should States do?

If they previously provided support riders via the use of a state tent, water, food and coaching support for their team riders, there is absolutely no reason to change. The Crackerjacks and Dynamites age groups are on a different day to the elites, so they won’t be fighting over the same tent space.

What should riders do?

If they previously agreed to be part of the Aussie titles proudly wearing their state team shirt there is no reason for that to change. They have made it to Aussies as part of the team and they should remain just that…part of a team.

Summing Up

Ironically one of the fundamental reasons originally put forward for developing this entire process was that riders would get a taste for being a part of a team and learning how it works. This is so that when they reach the elite level and become a part of their state team, or even onto the BMXA Development Academy they will understand what it means to be a part of a team.  

Issues of which shirt to wear, who to support, where to sit and how to be a part of a team currently exist at every level from Crackerjacks and Dynamites all the way to elite level.

For me the simple fundamental question here is why a rider should be a part of a team, but not be explicitly competing for a team? If a state has done the hard yards throughout the year, and has gone to the trouble and expense of providing a jersey and support at the Aussies, then why not be part of that team and return the support that has been shown to you (and race proudly for your state at the same time as you are racing for yourself)?

Now I have probably created more questions than answers, and everyone is entitled to their say on this I’m sure. However I will always endeavor to foster constructive discussion for the BMX community.

My key takeaway behind this change is that you go to the Australian titles to try and become the Australian Champion in your age group. You can then add things such as team membership with pride, but all riders need to focus on their raison d’être (quick, dive for Google).

So support your state in the same way they support you. Be part of your team and enjoy the camaraderie that comes along with that, and be as proud of your collective success, as you are of your own. Ride your race and do your best. That’s all anyone really asks of any rider, anywhere.