A statement on medals at NCL events

We’ve received a few enquiries around medals in the past couple of weeks, particularly in relation to qualifier events during the season, so we wanted to take this opportunity to explain our position and set expectations for events.

We know that some facilities may choose to purchase and award medals, but this is at their discretion and it should not be an expectation for any athlete entering a qualifier to receive a medal.

As a rule, the NCL itself does not award medals for events that happen during the season for a number of reasons.

First, we believe that for medals to have meaning, they need to represent a significant enough achievement that the recipient will want to treasure and keep it for a long time. Given that we have up to six events per season (plus Finals) in a given age group in each region, there’s a possibility that a single youth competitor might collect six medals during the season, and if you multiply that out over several years a competitor might have in excess of 20+ medals by the time they finish even just the youth events. Rather than seeing those medals end up in the bin after a year or so, we think it more sustainable and impactful to reserve medals for truly special achievements.

Second, we believe that medals should only be awarded once the season is completed – in the same way that medals aren’t given out after every game of footy or basketball during the season, we believe that medals should be reserved for when the final event has taken place.

Third, the number of competitors in different age groups varies greatly across qualifier events across the country and it means that at times there might be only three or four competitors in a given age group. In the former case, it would mean a competitor would get a medal by default and in the latter, it would mean only a single competitor would not receive a medal, making them feel excluded. Conversely, there are some regions with a much larger population of ninjas, where competitors might have to beat out 17-19 other athletes to secure a medal, but would receive the same recognition as someone who received one by default. As a centralised national league, if we were to start awarding medals at qualifiers ourselves, it would need to apply consistently across all events, meaning there would be a number of situations where medals would lose their special meaning. By only giving out medals after Finals, we ensure that every medal given has the same weight and meaning behind it.

Fourth, we view our qualifier events throughout the seasons as opportunities to identify areas for growth as much as being about who wins on the day. Our approach to ninja as a sport is to focus on the athlete against the course, rather than against each other, which is why we award equal bonus points for finishing the course, regardless of how fast a competitor does it compared to their peers, and at Finals we allow all competitors to proceed to the next stage if they hit the buzzer within the time limit, rather than only selecting the top percentage of finishers. By handing out medals at qualifier events, we feel it puts the focus too much on peer vs peer achievement at a stage in the season when it should be about personal growth and improvement.

Fifth, while medals can feel nice for a moment, prizes that you can use are a much more fitting reward for a budding ninja, which is why we prioritise distributing prizes from our sponsor OZIGRIP that have practical value for budding ninjas and can help them grow as an athlete.

Finally, ninja is only a young sport and the margins for competitions are very small as it is for the league and host facilities, which means we have to be very careful where we spend what funds we have available. The money collected throughout the season goes towards paying staff to run the competitions/league and to deliver obstacles, the livestream and other amenities at Finals. This season alone, we have 22 youth qualifier events and 18 adult qualifier events. With four divisions in each youth event and three divisions in each adult event, that would represent a significant proportion of funds spent on medals throughout the season that we feel could be better spent delivering a Finals event and growing our sport.

As the sport grows, we will consider ways to further recognise achievements throughout the regular season, but we hope you can all understand and accept our policy on medals at present and supporting all host facilities by attending their events, regardless of whether they award medals.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

All the best,

Mark Ravi
NCL Commissioner

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