1984: E.C. Preoccupations.
President Boggan’s USTTA E.C. met for an unprecedented Sept. 8-9 follow-up to their traditional Summer Meeting at the U.S. Open. This time their Meeting was held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs. The following Board members were present: Boggan, Kennedy, Harrison, Theim, McClure, Eisner, Hornyak, McClure, and O’Dougherty. D-J Lee was absent, but his proxy, Bill Hodge, was accepted. Also present were: Hibschweiler, Tretheway, Colorado Springs’ Ken Reynolds who’s assisting Tretheway in coaching committee audio/visual work, Wintrich, and, from Headquarters, the recently married Emily Hix Cale and Audrey Vernon (who’ll be resigning at the end of the month). Secretary Rufford Harrison did an excellent job compiling extensive Minutes of the Meeting (12 ½ single-spaced pages), so I’m including here those many items I deem most important:
“…Since the previous meeting the need for the present meeting was emphasized by the Association’s account being overdrawn….[As President Boggan had emphasized in his first “Up Front” column (SPIN, July-August, 1984, 12-13), because of ‘very serious mismanagement,’ the previous administration had incurred considerable debts.] The Treasurer reported at least $33,849 in unpaid bills, including $9,313 to the USOC. It was pointed out that the unpaid bills were almost all budgeted, but that the availability of funds was subject to income also being budgeted. The current available cash was roughly $8,000. It was agreed that closer contact was needed between the Treasurer and Headquarters and that the E.C. should be given more information. The cost of a computer terminal at Dayton [Treasurer Theim’s hometown] was stated to include $500 for the terminal itself, $540 for two modems, and $300 for a phone line; [since the cost was prohibitive,] it was agreed that a weekly phone call would suffice. [Harrison later proposed that ‘the Treasurer should be a CPA or equivalent.]
…Bob Tretheway discussed his proposal to be appointed Development Director, including coaching programs at the USOTC and elsewhere. Plans for the Resident Athletes’ program [Resident Training Program] had already been drawn up and needed only funding. He proposed that Joseph Potocki & Associates, Irvine, CA, be appointed fund-raiser for four years. The E.C. was interested [and a follow-up meeting with Potocki was planned for Dec.]….
Tretheway noted that little progress had been made on the Indiana development project....[though] partial funding might be available from the Indiana TT Foundation….
Boggan proposed that Tretheway attempt to introduce table tennis into tennis clubs. Tretheway agreed to consider this in Kansas City.
Kennedy proposed that regional directors appoint state directors, a draft of whose duties would be provided by Tretheway. Agreed.
…[SPIN Editor Wintrich] noted that some advertisements were five months in arrears; Wintrich agreed to solicit the fees, and to stop the advertising if not paid. Boggan noted that the file of photographs was deficient….The E.C., meeting in camera, voted 8-1-0 to offer Wintrich a slightly greater salary [though Boggan, perhaps being a bit picky, wrote Tom (Sept. 10th) he was not pleased with some of Tom’s editing of Tim’s writing].
…After [Disciplinary Chair) Dillon had questioned the legality of the by-law preventing play in unsanctioned events, McClure had discussed this with the USOC, who had stated that the by-law was quite acceptable and common to other National Governing Bodies (NGB’s).
…[Progress on the] proposed North American T.T. Union: Walden (Canada) was writing a proposed constitution, covering a City League, North American Championships, the desirability of holding the U.S. and Canadian Open Championships back-to-back, etc. [On July 31st, Boggan and CTTA Technical Director Adham Sharara had presented a joint Letter to the E.C. regarding the Need For, Purpose Of, Structure Of, and Advantages Of this Union.]
…Kennedy reported that a meeting had been proposed, in conjunction with a tournament [in the Dominican Republic], at which a Pan American Union would be discussed. It was believed that, if neither the USTTA nor the CTTA was represented, neither a tournament or a meeting would be held. It was agreed that no team would be sent [actually Bui and Schwartzberg were sent], but that McClure should go as a delegate…if the meeting were held. [McClure, who’d be appointed Table Tennis Commissioner for the 1985 Indianapolis Pan Am Games, did go.]
…It was agreed to send players to overseas events, not necessarily in Europe, including both men and women, using budgeted USOC funds. Agreed that the International and Selection Committees should work together in framing guidelines for the selection, bearing in mind that the presence of top players already in Europe could mean that others should be sent for experience.
…. Boggan read a letter from Sue Butler concerning the desirability of accepting only U.S. citizens on international teams….Thiem’s motion to vote on the matter was accepted. The voting on the Motion—that U.S. Team players must be citizens at the time of the selection—was defeated 2-6-1. It was agreed that McClure should determine if non-citizens may be funded with USOC monies.
…Thiem proposed, as a by-law change, to eliminate the star-point requirements for team selection. A straw vote on this was 7-0-1. It was further agreed as a proposed by-law change to consider changing the star system to convert it to a means of grading tournaments either beforehand or post facto. [Better to have stars that would show QUALITY. Better that USTTA ‘inspectors’ would evaluate clubs and tournaments according to such established criteria as number of tables (and how does the ball bounce on them?), barriered-off courts, wooden floor, excellent overhead lighting, spectator seating, shower and locker-room facilities, ready availability of food and drink.]
…Kennedy estimated a cost of $18,000 to send a 12-member team to the 1985 World Championships, of which $10,000 would be provided by the USOC and $8,000 from fund-raising. The 12 members would be nine players [five men, four women], Dennis Masters as Manager, Houshang Bozorgzadeh as Men’s Captain, and Henan Ai as Women’s Captain. Transportation [and also the expected Hospitality?] for the President would be provided separately by the USOC. This budget and these appointments were accepted. It was further agreed that, if fund-raising would bring the total income to $20,500, Liguo Ai and D-J Lee be funded as coaches. The appointment of Scott Preiss as Trainer/Masseur, with no funding, was accepted. McClure agreed to check the possibility of the USOC’s funding other officials. [Harrison thinks, since the World Championships are held every two years, we ought to mindfully apportion the funding so as not to take a $20,500 hit in just one year.]
…Later, McClure proposed that, since Harrison had to be present in Gothenburg for ITTF functions, he be funded ahead of the assistant coaches. After some discussion, it was agreed that transportation for McClure and Harrison would be taken from Olympic ‘image’ funds, and that, should funds be available, Wintrich be added after the assistant coaches.
…It was agreed that the USTTA should nominate Boggan as ITTF VP for North America, with the expectation that Canada would agree. [They would—both countries exercising their alternating agreement, so that Canada’s Chandra Madosingh would be ITTF Council Member for North America.] Boggan stated later in the Meeting that he did not expect to change the USTTA’s other nominations: Read, Classification; Kennedy, Press; Anderson, Rules; McClure, Olympic; Harrison, Equipment; Neuberger, Standing Orders.
…[Eisner said] the U.S. Committee, Sports for Israel, insisted on selecting the members of the U.S. Maccabiah Team. A motion by Harrison that the USTTA not be represented if the team could not be selected by the USTTA failed for lack of a second.
…McClure noted that the USOC wishes to see all Olympic sports in all schools, but that the schools do not agree with this desire. Attempts were continuing to be made to introduce TT into schools in Indiana. [After talking with John Allen’s father, Tom, I asked Tretheway in an Oct. 23rd letter to check out the Tennessee Association (for) Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (TAHPERD) and especially its parent organization called the American Alliance for Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. This Alliance (40,000 strong—with a 1985 convention in Atlanta) consists mostly of professionals in schools—teachers, coaches, administrators—and Tom thinks this organization could get table tennis into the schools in Tennessee (and maybe elsewhere) without all the red tape involved in dealing with School Boards.]
…The Swedish idea [Nisse Sandberg’s suggestion] of a Junior group captained by a junior/coached by a junior was discussed, and suggestions were requested. [Nisse’s idea was that the best of these junior players and junior captains/coaches would grow through the years as a TEAM, would eventually perhaps become the nucleus of a National Team with sophisticated one-on-one understanding of and concern for one another developed through the years. I’d like to see clubs sponsor their most mature, analytic juniors to upcoming coaching camps.]
…[USTTA lawyer] Hibschweiler proposed the following:
‘The United States Table Tennis Association (USTTA) owns all television, video, audio, motion picture and any other reproduction rights for all USTTA-sanctioned tournaments and events. Upon written request, the USTTA may transfer such rights to any individual or organization; the USTTA reserves the right to withhold such transfer. The participants of any tournament or event conducted, sponsored, organized or sanctioned by the USTTA agree to waive and release all rights to receive compensation for the use of their names and pictures of their participation.’
It was agreed that this proposal would be accepted….
That acceptance, however, drew a ‘hot’ response in the form of an Oct. 15th personal letter to me:
I noted with considerable dismay in the Minutes of the September 8 USTTA E.C. meeting that the E.C. has gone ahead with its plan to assert control of television rights to all USTTA sanctioned tournaments. I fee l that this is at best a short-sighted policy, and, at worst, an antitrust violation which could lead to legal trouble for the USTTA.
From this layman’s viewpoint, the position taken by the E.C. is essentially identical to that taken by the NCAA regarding college football. To review, the NCAA claimed the right to negotiate the network television contract for all of college football. This right was challenged by the University of Oklahoma on behalf of the College Football Association. The argument, successfully advanced and sustained on appeal, was that, although NCAA membership is voluntary, such membership is de facto mandatory for an institution wishing to participate in the highest level of college football. Therefore, the schools themselves, which incurred the expense of producing college football, must retain the television rights; any attempt to deprive them of the right to market their product as they see fit is an antitrust violation.
A similar argument may be advanced in the case of the USTTA. Given the USTTA policy against participation by USTTA members in non-sanctioned tournaments, reaffirmed at the September 8 meeting, it is obvious that USTTA sanctioning is a prerequisite for any tournament wishing to exhibit the highest levels of the game.
I am not a legal expert, nor am I familiar with all the details of the Oklahoma vs. NCAA case. I do, however, feel that there are substantial legal questions which should be clarified with your attorney.
Even if the legal questions can be resolved, I cannot see how such a policy can be helpful in giving us the publicity we so desperately need. Given the dismal record of the USTTA in getting our major tournaments on television, a discouraging of independent efforts in this area is hardly likely to be beneficial. Even though a provision is made for waiver of TV rights by the USTTA, the indication that the waiver will be more than a formality does not bode well for independent efforts.
Here in Cleveland, we have on more than one occasion obtained coverage of our tournaments from small, local cable stations. Does the E.C. really want to inhibit this? This coverage was obtained by individual club members who had ‘connections’ with employees of the cable stations involved. Are we to tell these people, ‘Everything’s set, except we have to get USTTA approval’? Arrangements for coverage might be finished at the last minute; how long will USTTA approval take? Furthermore, am I to understand that the USTTA claims any fees paid by television for coverage of my tournaments? After I and my club have put in all the time, money, and effort inherent in promoting a major tournament, while the USTTA merely supplies draw-sheets and ratings (for which fees are charged), I am supposed to turn TV money over to you? Come on, Tim, what serious, ambitious hard-driving promoter will accept that?
In 1976, during the negotiations for the first U.S. Closed, the USTTA tried to assert claim to television rights. Caesars Palace, of course, refused to surrender their claim. The USTTA then proposed an arrangement in which the USTTA would own the rights on paper, and would then assign them to Caesars (very generous, considering that Caesars was assuming all expenses pursuant to the tournament). Caesars, of course, rejected this puerile rubbish. Any major corporate sponsor is likely to react similarly, especially when dealing with an organization with the USTTA’s long history of public relations ineptitude.
For a decade, Tim, I’ve enjoyed reading your progressive vision for U.S. table tennis. I am frankly shocked to see you act as a party to this regressive paternalistic authoritarianism. It is my fervent hope that you will prevail upon the E.C. to reject this untenable policy, so that the talent and effort of all our membership may come to fruition.
Yours for table tennis,
Richard H. Hardy [in script]
My response: “I’ve sent a copy of this letter to Bob Hibschweiler, our USTTA lawyer, for his comments.” (I’ve no record as to how he replied.)
…The E.C. further agreed, after another Hibschweiler suggestion, to recommend the following in all applications:
‘In consideration of your accepting my membership in the United States Table Tennis Association (USTTA), I, intending to be legally bound for myself, my heirs, executors and administrators, do hereby release and discharge the USTTA and any other officials, sponsors or organizations involved from any and all liability arising from illness, injuries and damages I may suffer as a result of my participation in any USTTA-sanctioned tournament or event. I also understand and agree that the USTTA or any organization authorized by the USTTA may subsequently use for publicity and/or promotional purposes in television, newsprint, advertisement or other media, my name or pictures of me participating in any tournament or event without obligation or liability to me. I have read the information provided and certify my compliance by my signature below. I also understand any fees are not refundable.
Participant Parent or guardian
if under 18 years old’
…[It was reported that] the reply-card system and related programs had produced about 1600 new members since June, 1982, but it was not known how many had renewed. A program to yield this information has recently been set up. [‘Cale to make a compilation of renewals and drop-outs.’] All equipment companies had dropped the program because of the work involved. [A list of these new members’ names/addresses could prove useful to clubs.]….
…Bill Hodge expressed concern over the apparent lack of control of finances at the U.S. Open and the lack of a budget. A report from that event showed an approximate break-even position, with income still due from one sponsor; but expenses were $8,000 higher than expected. The accounting was not complete, lacking certain receivables. Hodge agreed to present a budget for the 1985 U.S. Open before the Dec. meeting. Thiem to request Masters and Simon to present a more detailed accounting.
…Since certain discounted [USTTA] memberships lost money, it was agreed to institute modest increases in memberships [previous costs in parentheses]…One-year adult $20 ($15), three years $50 ($35). Junior $15 ($10), or $5 ($3) without the magazine. Life $200 ($150). Family $35 ($25). [I’m not so sure you’d call those increases “modest.”]
…It was generally agreed that ratings ought to be handled from Headquarters. Boggan to discuss with Simon….[Simon didn’t agree.] In his November Ratings column, Dan takes us through the key steps the computer takes to come up with a player’s ratings. An unrated player’s initial rating is based on game-score results against rated players. A player who gains 50 or more points in a tournament is flagged by the computer and the Chairman may make an adjustment to that player’s starting rating. If so, his opponents really played him at his new higher rating.
…It was reported that Masters had contacted Lake Placid in connection with a possible U.S. Junior Championships there. After agreeing that the contact should have been made by Tretheway, in his capacity as USOC facilities coordinator, it was agreed to aim these Championships for July, 1985, and to hold a Junior Camp afterwards. The second-choice venue would be Oklahoma City. [Tretheway reports that ‘Joe Ogilvie, Allen Cornelius, and Ron Shirley are providing instruction and programming for nearly 300 kids this winter. Like Table Tennis World, they have a permanent playing site that the USTTA might use for regional programs.’]
…Agreement was expressed with Boggan’s appointment of Power Poon as Venue Coordinator [for the National Sports Festival, July 22-Aug. 4, 1985], Tom Baudry as Sport Host, and himself [he later in his stead appointed Tretheway] as NGB Coordinator.
…After some discussion, it was agreed that the U.S. team of umpires at the forthcoming World Championships would be Partridge, Dillon, Gad, with Moskowitz as alternate. Each would receive 2/3 of his airfare from Olympic funds, and uniform.
…It was proposed and agreed that a certain umpire [inactive for a while] not be accepted [as a very high-level official] in any future major events until he demonstrated his ability in lesser events [meanwhile allowing those who’d recently been very active the opportunity to serve in such a high-level position].
…It was agreed that for the preceding season, the male and female Athletes of the Year should be George Brathwaite and Lan Vuong. [In making this decision, the E.C., conscious of a pending USOC time requirement, bypassed Bill Walk’s Selection Committee, pleading there wasn’t enough time for that Committee to decide on a choice.]
…Dissatisfied with the performance of certain members (not from the USTTA) of ITTF committees, Harrison had suggested ‘that, not less than six months after the appointment of committees and commission members, chairmen shall have the right to report to the Executive Committee on their performance, and to recommend their removal from the committee or commission upon failure to contribute to its work.’ It was agreed that Kennedy should submit this to the ITTF.
…It was agreed to continue to support Kronlage’s 1988 bid for the World Veterans’ Championship. [Such persistency on Yvonne’s part would eventually pay off…in 1990.]
…The EC recommended that Boggan explore ways of exhibiting TT Historian Chuck Hoey’s collection. [I presume I didn’t know how to exhibit Chuck’s collection, but it didn’t seem he did either. I’ll receive a belated Dec. 17th reply to my letter to him in which he’s “hopeful of arranging a first-class exhibit for a prestige international event,” and dreaming of touring the Orient with at least some of his enormous collection. Of course, he doesn’t know what lies ahead—that he’ll one day be a long way away from McLean, VA, living abroad, working as the Curator of the ITTF Museum in Switzerland, and putting on mini-exhibits of his collections at World Championships, while along the way becoming a U.S. Hall of Famer.]
…Boggan proposed eliminating the by-law that mandates prior EC membership for candidates for President and Executive Vice-President.
…It had been proposed that the USTTA set up, either alone or in conjunction with clubs or members, playing centers throughout the country. McClure to check with the USOC the legality of the Association’s owning property, and contributing to private enterprise. [He did check, and no Olympic money can be used to help establish—what we need most—commercial table tennis clubs. Boggan, however, will try seriously to set up such a club in New York City—more on that later.]
…Earlier, Hornyak had proposed that Tretheway [be given a three-month trial run,] work on a membership-development project, the results to be evaluated at the next E.C. Meeting, at a total cost of $2,750, including salary and expenses, with the USTTA not to be obligated in any way. This was accepted 4-3-2 [a very close vote]….It was agreed that Tretheway’s funds should be paid monthly, that he should keep a telephone log, that there would be no formal contract, that he would report to Boggan, and that he would fly to Las Vegas for the U.S. Closed.” [Elsewhere, Bob points out that his ‘total 1983 income from the USTTA was $750.’ He’ll do better this year.]
In addition to these Minutes, I’ve tried to keep readers of this volume USTTA-informed through my own sometimes private correspondence and through my monthly Presidential “Up Front” column, which you’d begun to read excerpts from in Chapter Twenty. I’ll continue sharing here evolving items of interest, then go on in a later chapter to year-ending developments.
Soon after the above Minutes had been published in SPIN, the USOC Newsletter issued the following news (reprinted in SPIN, Oct., 1984, 3):
“COLORADO SPRINGS—The United States Olympic Committee will receive a total of $75 million from the surplus of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee after the 1984 Olympic Games, and it will support U.S. athletes in future generations.
USOC Executive Director F. Don Miller says that the organization will place $50 million into its newly created U.S. Olympic Foundation, and the remaining $25 million will be distributed equally [equally among the USOC’s 35 National Governing Bodies of amateur sports in this country…thanks to our USTTA Olympic delegate Jimmy McClure, for one, who, at an all-deciding USOC meeting, spoke up urging such equality].
What does that mean to U.S. Table Tennis?
These monies are expected to be distributed in January, 1985.”
I want to make it clear to everyone concerned that with this windfall we’re first going to pay off our debts, then follow up with a sound investment program. Likely, we’ll establish a special Foundation, similar to the one the USOC itself has formed, with an aim to preserving all, or 90% all, of this incredible principal. That would leave us then, beginning in 1986, some $75,000 a year in interest to apply to our ongoing Programs—this in addition to our regular quadrennial-allotted $40-50,000 Olympic money.
I said in my September “Up Front” column that U.S. Table Tennis needs to promote both professional and amateur players, for I believe that if an audience for the sport is to be generated we’re going to see more and more professional players (if necessary, in whatever guise is appropriate for them). Asked in Los Angeles recently if it were possible that the 1988 Olympic Games could be open to professionals, IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch replied that the IOC must be realistic. We are living in the ‘80’s. We’re not living in the ‘20’s.” So there’s no doubt where his head’s at.
To review the definition of a professional as given by ITTF President H. Roy Evans (SPIN, Sept., 1984, 8): Professionals “are those who have contracts to play involving a salary or wages with any kind of organization, be it a government, national, or regional association, or with clubs or commercial enterprises. Players who have direct contracts with commercial enterprises for sponsoring equipment will also be regarded as professionals.
A player may remain an amateur if he accepts prize money, expenses, and a fee for participation in any event specifically organized by the ITTF.
A player can remain an amateur if he agrees to his name being used on equipment provided the contract is made between the manufacturer and the player’s national association. The association or club may make payments to the player in accordance with Article 2. 1. 3 of the ITTF Constitution, and provided that not less than 15% is retained by the association or club.”
On Sept. 29th, I wrote ITTF Secretary-General Tony Brooks that the USTTA would be lobbying against the extremely limiting1250-Swiss-franc (roughly $600) rule. We want to expand, glamorize the sport, I said—and, if one is to keep his/her amateur standing, to be allowed to win no more than $600 in any one event in a U.S. Open tournament that’s supposed to have stature is ridiculous. How can our sport be taken seriously? In other words, it’s our USTTA opinion that in this country the 1250 Swiss-franc rule is actually hurting the sport. I then found out about the new 5% ITTF recognition-fee rule, and told Brooks that the USTTA would like a waiver of this rule until next year’s ITTF meeting in Gothenburg.
I got a reply from Tony (SPIN, Nov., 1984, 11). Nope, he says, NO ONE in 1984 has the authority to overturn the COUNCIL’s earlier decision; if the USTTA wants to hold tournaments in which the first prize in any one event is more than 1250 Swiss francs, players attending such tournaments cannot accept prize or appearance money and retain their Olympic eligibility—not unless the USTTA pays the ITTF a five-percent-of-the-total-prize-money recognition “tax.” (At the recent U.S. Open, some winners opted not to receive cash prizes, so were given trophies instead. At the upcoming U.S. Closed, the Men’s first-place prize is $1,500…the seventh-place prize $700. The ITTF “tax” would be over $600—some would ask, “What does the Federation do for that money?” And do the Council members want, world-wide, to encourage or discourage big prize-money tournaments? Or, for reasons best known to themselves, do both?)
It seems to me that if we want to make table tennis a recognized spectator sport we can’t continue in the same old way. Take the upcoming U.S. Open Team Championships as an example. If ever there was a participatory tournament the USOTC’s is it. All that play is great. But what a mess. So many sloppily-dressed, unaesthetic-looking players adjacent to those with a touch of class. What sponsors want this mish-mash? And what outside spectators want to mingle with the players’strewn-about gear, their food and drink debris? Mel Eisner will devote an entire “Up Beat” column (SPIN, Jan., 1985, 16) to the fact that while all workers at a tournament might do their individual jobs well and make, with one exception a successful tournament, nobody knew how to, or wanted to, publicize it, so there was no public to see it.
With the USOTC’s, one gets the idea that no one connected with it, hard-worker though he/she may be, wants seriously to try to publicize it, not only because of the work involved but because the tournament itself might be something of an embarrassment. Couldn’t USOTC improvements be made? For instance: The installation of a large, golf-tournament-like electronic or multi-colored scoreboard indicating the standings of teams, and where the most important ties are being played. An imaginative use of (colored?) curtain-dividers for separate Men’s, Women’s, or Divisional play. Ringed-round chair arrangements to provide a more attractive court look and focal point. Wouldn’t it be worthwhile for the USTTA to spend money on such a project?
Also, just as Danny Robbins and Bob Allshouse approve of a tightening up of the USOTC match-presentations, so they urge that no sanction for any tournament be given unless the tournament sponsor can show he (she) is working under USTTA direction with his local media.
Robbins makes the related point that, given the generally poor publicity of not only the USOTC’s but many another tournament, we should immediately begin to train interns at Colorado Springs on how to issue professional press releases and see to it that TV and radio stations in every tournament area are given the right kind of table tennis update. Tretheway helpfully points out that the USOC has a manual “Dealing with the News Media.”
Speaking of interns, we learn (SPIN, Feb., 1985, 14) that “Timothy Bald, 27, joined the USTTA Headquarters staff under the USOC’s intern program. Bald earned his Master of Science Degree in Physical Education/Sport Management from Western Illinois University and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration/Marketing (Cum Laude) from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa.
Bald, who earns the prestigious salary of $4 a day, has been busy with such problems as putting together a USTTA player photo file, establishing inventory control of USTTA merchandise, preparing a new club affiliate list for input into the USOC computer system, as well as working directly with Bob Tretheway on various membership development programs. Bald lives on the USOC complex and will be with the USTTA through May of 1985. Tim, like the Association’s President, enjoys an occasional cigar and cold beer. His career goal is to join the management staff of a professional football team.”
I’m going to pick up the USTTA’s evolving relationship with Bob Tretheway a little later when I talk about our year-ending Dec. E.C. Meeting. But now, to close this chapter, I’m going to show you some of what Bob’s friend and Colorado Springs Headquarters co-worker, our SPIN Editor Tom Wintrich, has to say in an undated 7 and ½ single-spaced-page statement to the E.C. entitled “Vision, foresight: that’s what I think I best offer the USTTA.” As you’ll see, Tom couldn’t be more in tandem with Bob’s advancement, while yet fostering more than a little of his own. Go for it, Tom:
“…SPIN magazine represented a major change in the Association’s history. Deliberately, I looked forward not backward and followed intuition, sensing that the national publication was indeed the communicative link of the organization. To me it was THE WAY to reach the members, THE WAY to effectively unite mass consciousness directed toward a common goal.
The name SPIN is a one-word description of the modern game but it was also chosen to identify with what I perceived as a new era in American table tennis: group A member status in the USOC; administrative headquarters at the OTC; USOC funding; NSF participation; inclusion in the 1983 Pan American Games; and now official inclusion in the ’88 Olympics. The word ‘spin’ denoted physical revolution; the name SPIN connotes a revolution to consciousness.
If we are successful in doubling our membership in the next four years, half of our numbers will consider those major changes merely the status quo. By the end of the ’92 quadrennial, more than 75% of the membership may have the same perspective. That outlook is what I mean by vision.
SPEND THE MONEY
The $658,000 coming our way I consider a delightful pile of fuel to feed the small fires of opportunity smoldering all around us. I suggest we ignite those fires immediately, but not without a quadrennial master plan.
Don’t mistake the following statement as optimistic hype: I believe we could be one of the wealthiest National Governing Bodies in the USOC.
…Like the manufacturers and distributors we have a product to market. Their product is the equipment of the sport, ours is the sport itself.
The best approach to market our product, I believe, is to acknowledge that the Association IS a business—one that now has the capital to invest in itself. Certainly, we should eliminate all current debts and invest a sizable chunk of the windfall monies, but let’s not be too timid….[We] have the advantage of running a business concerned more with perpetuity than net profit.
…You people on the EC are the policy makers but it is vital to me as a personal administrator of this Association to have input in the organization’s long-range planning. Given my position as editor, advertising director, business representative, and sometimes surrogate executive director, I only ask for your thoughtful consideration of the growth-plan presented.
First, though, please think about your current management team at Headquarters. Since losing its only Executive Director, the office has not skipped a beat in maintaining business-as-usual. This is notable since it was no secret that tension existed between the remaining staff. But time has a way of spawning objective analysis, and the people involved are now working together. What’s even more remarkable about the situation is that we are doing this without a specific leader. We all perform our separate duties, but it is a collective effort. No one is on an individual power trip.
I suggest the Association keep it this way. Forget hiring ANYONE as Executive Director for the time being….Instead…
HIRE BOB TRETHEWAY FULL TIME
Bob has paid his dues for 18 months as a volunteer. He has initiated the best coaching program to date….He has nearly doubled the Colorado Springs TTC’s membership and even added a ‘second’ club….Tretheway is already your NGB for the 1985 National Sports Festival and he was recently the USTTA representative at an NGB meeting in Oklahoma City…. In the last three months he has traveled to Southern California, Northern California, Baton Rouge, Oklahoma City, and Kansas City. You have already contracted Tretheway to develop membership—this has to be the major thrust of the USTTA’s quadrennial planning. If you give him this much responsibility, he deserves a job….
ACTIVATE A RESIDENT TRAINING PROGRAM AT COLORADO SPRINGS BEGINNING SEPTEMBER, 1985
This may cost the USTTA $50,000 a year, including a resident coach, administration costs, and per diem expenses for athletes, but it will offer a dream-come-true to our young elite players who are the competitive future of the U.S….
CONTRACT THE SERVICES OF JOSEPH POTOCKI & ASSOCIATES
…Modern Pentathlon, Rowing, and now Water Polo have signed with Potocki….Maybe we won’t have to spend a dime of our windfall money because there are companies out there who will gladly pick up the tab for [such a natural corporate sell as] the RTP….We need corporate sponsorship of the U.S. Open, U.S. Nationals, and biennial trips to the World’s. Let’s put the pressure on Potocki to generate the funding….
…Let’s aim for 5,000 NEW members, specifically targeting the under 12 youth market. The Cub Scouts Awards program alone could produce this increase and it logically follows that we could investigate the market the Brownies offer us. In short, a concentrated effort on the young only, as they become Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, junior high students, high school students, and college students. That market continually guarantees us ten years of individual player development….
RECONSIDER OUR ACCOUNTS PAYABLE SYSTEM
…I still do not understand why the Association burdens its Treasurer with check-writing, especially when it’s Headquarters that does the computer in-putting of all the checks written…. Let Emily sign payroll checks…. [ Also,] the Colorado accounts payable should be paid out of Colorado….
BUILD FROM WITHIN FIRST
…Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the USTTA’s foundation is based on individual clubs and tournament activity. It has never been focused on the national school system…[and] we can’t devote a serious effort toward this goal….[We] do not yet have a network of coaches, programs, or administrative support to back up such a grand-scaled scheme….
USTTA SANCTIONED COMPETITION
…How simple it is to stage exemplary tournaments, either locally or nationally. I am personally concerned about this issue and have already initiated an instructional program designed to EDUCATE our tournament directors. The December issue of SPIN has my introductory article on how to time-schedule tournaments [see Chapter 28 in this volume], and there will be many more articles in the future relative to running competitions.
Educating directors is a program that will cost the USTTA little money as the brunt of it can be accomplished through SPIN. However, I would personally accept even more responsibility for this program’s success by conducting seminars in the field. Thanks to my travel budget, I go to all the major tournaments (so you’ve got two USTTA liaisons from Headquarters on the road), and there would be no reason I couldn’t come in a day or two early to conduct tournament-directing seminars. For example, I have already offered to time-schedule Bill Hornyak’s Duneland event, but, more importantly, I’ve offered to teach his LOCAL crew how to do it themselves….[As you’ll see, they could have used such help.]
JUNIOR PLAYER EXCHANGE WITH SOUTH KOREA
Through the USOC and the Korea Olympic Committee, it is possible for the USTTA and the Korea Table Tennis Association to invite one another to participate in joint player-camps at each other’s NGB Olympic Training Center….
I suggest we send a team of 10-12 USA juniors to train with junior Koreans at their training center in the summer of 1986. In the summer of 1987, we would host the Koreans at Colorado Springs….
I have already made good contact with the head researcher of the Korean Sports Science Institute and he is very willing to help us arrange this exchange—in fact, he suggested it. This man immediately took to Stan Wolf of Colorado Springs, who speaks excellent Korean. The two got along marvelously and Stan has agreed to assist with the negotiations, including composing the formal written request in Korean….
USTTA FRIENDSHIP MATCHES, 1987
Invite the Swedish team (especially if they win the Team’s at the ’85 World’s) to the United States to play the USA in friendly Corbillon-style competition in a city like Minneapolis that has a large Swedish population. I think it would be an ideal pre-Olympic promotion for us….We could also invite the Chinese….
SPIN BECOMES A FOUR-COLOR SLICK MAGAZINE, 1987
…Hopefully we will have an increased membership base by the ’88 Olympics to justify this format change….
[WHAT WE DON’T NEED TO BE OVERLY CONCERNED WITH]
…Membership development should be our first priority….The three things I think we need NOT be overly concerned with at this time are: (1) TABLE TENNIS IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM. (2) SPECTATORS. (3) TELEVISION.
I realize that to state that the above three things are unimportant at this point in time can be considered table tennis heresy. But to my way of thinking, if we devote our energy to these items…we have far too few members [5,000] to YET affect a real change in those three ultimately vital areas of the sport’s future growth.
I personally have to conclude that after 51 years we still face a grass-roots challenge that must be met first. Until we do that, I’m not sure we’re really advancing the game or organization. Our great advantage now is that we have abundant opportunities to fulfill our collective goals, and I hope in four years we will face a different challenge—that of coping with a rapidly expanding USTTA.”
I, Tim, must say in closing this chapter that, after our Executive Director’s departure, I think many a reader of this volume must feel, in following the multiple activities of Boggan, Tretheway, and Wintrich, it’s as if the USTTA had three simultaneous replacements for Haid—all receiving some different form of remuneration and hoping for more.