USA Field Hockey NEWS Executive Director's...

Executive Director's Report- Week of June 14

June 14, 2010, 4:13 p.m. (ET)

Week of June 14, 2010

Over the June 5/6 weekend, the USA Field Hockey Board of Directors had their second meeting of the year and it was held in Colorado Springs. The meeting had an agenda full of items ranging from a presentation and discussion relative to our high performance programs including a new approach in development of the men’s program; as per usual, financial reports were made; and topics to some that may seem to be mundane (e.g. trying to sell the existing office building in Colorado Springs to find a more efficient and economical situation, and the reassessment of the entire USA Field Hockey insurance program) were discussed. It was a weekend packed with interesting topics, great discussion, and high quality interpretation of programs by staff to the Board as to progress being made within the organization.

What follows are short descriptors pertaining to highlighted areas during the Board meeting. These snippets do not include all areas discussed; just the highlight topics. It is a little lengthy. Apologies in advance:

       I.            Review of USA Field Hockey Insurance Assessment
         You may be of the mind that insurance product and insurance related discussions are so boring as to make your eyes glaze over. They often are, but they must be had as insurance is the most valuable asset of the organization. Attached to the Board agenda was an insurance assessment completed by ESIX, an insurance brokerage in Atlanta. ESIX is a brokerage that deals almost exclusively with sport organizations, handles many of the Olympic NGBs, and knows the sports insurance marketplace well. The assessment revealed several gaps in coverage, and wrong uses of language. It has been my experience in the past that ESIX provides a comprehensive collection of insurance products and at a good premium cost. When I was with USA Triathlon and then USA Water Ski, I had ESIX do assessments and they come back with a stronger and more complete insurance package at a lesser cost
Review of USA Field Hockey Health Insurance and other similar employee benefits
         Currently our organization has an arrangement with a PEO provider called Tri-Net. Tri-Net charges an annual fee of $27,060 to provide various HR services (i.e. broker health insurance, broker workman’s comp, provides some HR administration, provides various template HR documents). Typically PEO providers do not provide the highest caliber of healthcare options. Our current program graphically illustrates the lower level of quality. We have been working toward a better healthcare program, and will have it underwritten next week. That program will provide for substantially better services, less deductibles, and generally will be a better benefit for USA Field Hockey employees.
 III.         Discussion relative to Futures current and going forward  
        The entire Futures program needs to be re-visited. Although it has been around and successful for a number of years, there may be areas that need tweaking or revising.  In June, we will meet with Regional Directors and do a thorough SWOT analysis on the current status of the program.  It is time to get in-depth reports, feedback, best practices from our Regional Directors.  A wide spectrum of questions will be posed.  Is it time for change?  Is the paradigm switching from individual development to clubs?  Is our current Futures business structure the most efficient way to operate Futures?  Facilities are an ever growing cost of Futures. Is there another way to tackle these rising costs?   Is our athlete identification system selecting the best athletes?  What are we doing well?  What needs improvement? With the information gained from our June meeting we will strategize the best way to move forward. 
 IV.            Discussion relative to conducting international events (financial and relational impacts)

a.       The recent past history within USA Field Hockey has had the organization hosting a number of FIH events principally for relational purposes and to place the USA within the powerbase of the sport competitively and politically. Hosting FIH competitive events places the host country typically in a power position due to hometown advantage. The financial side offers a different aspect as FIH events traditionally in the USA do not make money or even break even.  Staging the FIH BDO Jr. World Cup and FIH Congress were losses, and the recent FIH Women’s World Cup Qualifier cam in at a loss.
b.      The value of these events needs to be weighed in light of the international exposure and relationships they naturally develop verses the financial and other assets consumed to run them in this country.
c.       International events are expensive.  Sponsors, vendors, spectators, and grant funds are the core revenue producers.  Events must be held within a major FH marketplace to maximize revenue sources.  If events are located outside our marketplace it is difficult to attract spectators.   With spectators, come vendors and sponsors.  In all three international events we’ve held starting with the Congress in Nov’ 08, we have fallen short on our revenue predictions. On the expense side we are prudent with our expenses, but it is difficult to achieve the balance needed to reduce losses.
d.      All FIH major events all require television.  Television cost ~$30,000 per day to produce.  The FIH receives funding from countries who buy the signal; however, in the USA it is difficult to sell the signal to US networks.  We are looking into the webcast possibilities, but production remains the major expense and regardless of whether the signal is picked up via television or Internet, the cost for a quality production is very high.
e.       The FIH is looking for countries who can bring sponsors to the table with ‘big bucks’ and for long term commitments to host the major events.  World cups, Champions Trophies, etc.
f.        Relational impact with the USA, PAHF, and the FIH is important for countries desiring to be competitive and on the Olympic podium.  What is our responsibility to be a ‘world player’ on the international scene?  Without involvement it is difficult to have decisions made in our favor.  Home field advantage also plays a role in wanting to host an event.  As long as the monitory loss is less than the cost to send the team to the event in another country, it is a win-win to host the event.

V.            Discussion relative to Town Hall Meetings to date (5 have been held)

a.       To date, five Town Hall Meetings have been held (4 at NIT; and 1 at Cal Cup). All have been temperate. During NIT, much discussion revolved around safety equipment (or, not), umpire consistency and recruiting of new blood, and the creation of more events that would thereby create more opportunities to play. There were lamentations of the lack of turf playing surfaces, and concerns relating to high school rules verses FIH rules. Much of the conversation at Cal Cup dealt with boys’/men’s development.
b.      Further Town Hall Meetings will be held at the 2010 Festival.
Much discussion dwelled on financial reporting. Currently, the national office provides financial reporting through a large toolbox of reporting instruments to the Board monthly with a thorough interpretation of variances. More limited reporting is provided quarterly through the USA Field Hockey Weekly Report via the inclusion of the P&L documents. The next weekly report (after the June close) will be expanded to include not only a P&L, but also a Balance sheet and statement of Cash Flows (the documents were requested by a member to be included and we are quite happy to do so).
Simon Hoskins, USA Field Hockey Marketing Director, provided a status report on sponsorship development. He is on schedule to meet our end-of-year projections and we are working toward the development of several non-endemic (those that are not related to this sport) sponsors. Non-endemic relationships take a great deal of effort to produce due to the huge amount of research required to determine and then meet large corporate needs. Terry Welsh, USA Field Hockey Technical Director of High Performance presented new strategies for the women’s side to achieve Olympic programme qualification for the London Olympic Games, and briefed the Board on new approaches to be employed beginning in 2011 to help build the men’s pool of athletes. That program will be announced in the Fall of 2010. I must say that this meeting was productive and collegial, and I was duly impressed with the expertise provided through deliberations by the Board. 
What is in a name? Our organization is very proud to have ASICS as Key Sponsor within our quiver of sponsor supporters. ASICS is a very familiar name to me as I remember when I first started running in the seventies that my first pair of running shoes was a set of Tigers. Tiger was the ASICS brand as it was known at that time within the USA and perhaps even globally. Now ASICS is ASICS everywhere and I wondered how the name was derived.

ASICS is a Japanese company which was founded in 1949 when Kihachiro Onitsuka begin making basketball shoes in his living room. He named his company ASICS as an acronym for the Latin phrase “Anima Sana in Corpore Sano” which means “a sound mind in a sound body”.

Phil Knight, a track runner at the University of Oregon, and his coach, Bill Bowerman, founded Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964 to actually distribute ASICS shoes in the USA. In 1971, that arrangement came to an end, and Blue Ribbon Sports decided to manufacturer their own shoes, and the company became NIKE.

It is interesting to probe into the massive marketplace of sports shoes and apparel. Studying the various companies one finds a lot of intertwining of companies before many broke apart to become stand alone. Some made it; most didn’t. It is also interesting to learn how names of companies developed and why they were named the names they have today (e.g. ASICS, a sound mind in a sound body; NIKE-Greek goddess of victory; Saucony, a river in Pennsylvania which comes from a Native American word meaning “swiftly flowing river”; Reebok, named for an African gazelle; and Avia, from the Latin word meaning “to fly”). It is our pleasure to be associated with one of the longest standing and highest quality of all, ASICS.

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: “BP expects to capture “virtually all” of the leaking oil by early next week. But if not "virtually all" of the oil, then definitely “nearly most” of it. Or at least “almost some," but probably closer to “next to none” of it.”  


Have a great hockey week!
Steve Locke
Executive Director
USA Field Hockey