March 19, 2013

USATT: Fairness Versus Progressive Issues

For many years I've advised and argued that USATT leaders need to divide issues into two types, which I call "Fairness Issues" and "Progressive Issues." Both are important.

Fairness issues are those that involve the ongoing governance of the sport. They include setting up procedures for selecting teams; most membership issues; the running of the U.S. Open and Nationals and other similar events (including site selection, dates, choosing personnel, etc.); disciplinary actions; the magazine and website (which can be used to promote progressive issues, but are not progressive issues themselves); and many more. These issues take up the great majority of the time for USATT leaders. Look over the agenda or minutes for any USATT board meeting, and it's dominated by such issues.

Progressive issues are those that grow the sport. There are many different opinions on how this should be done, such as junior development programs (both elite and grass roots), leagues, schools, TV, growing the U.S. Open and Nationals, professional circuits, etc. It also includes raising money for the sport, if the money is used in progressive ways.

The problem is that Fairness issues take up an inordinate amount of time. They are often timely, and so leaders feel they get priority over Progressive issues. They often take a lot of time. And so they dominate the agenda, while progressive issues are regularly left out.

If our sport is to grow, it is imperative that its leaders stop spending so much of their time on the "Fairness" aspects of our sport, as important as these issues may be. These issues, by their very nature, can be sent to committee, where a fair decision can be made. If there isn't a committee that addresses the issue, create one. Then, when the committee reports, USATT leaders should almost always accept their recommendations, and move on. Sure, they need to oversee these things to make sure there's no serious problem with the committee recommendations, but if the committee is really coming up with such bad decisions, the solution isn't for the Board of Directors to constantly intervene; the solution is a better committee.

I've had this "talk" with every USATT President (now renamed as the Chair of the Board of Directors), Chief Executive Officer, and most board members for the past 25+ years. Most agree in principle, but few have actually taken it to heart. It's easier to simply deal with the Fairness issues, which makes it seem like they are doing the job they were elected, appointed, or hired to do, and it always seems important at the time. But afterwards, I think they realize that these issues, while important, do not stand the test of time; they leave the sport as it was before, without any real growth or legacy. That, in a nutshell, is a history of our sport.

If the goal of USATT leaders is the day-to-day running of the sport, and to leave USATT roughly as they found it, then they should focus on Fairness issues, as most USATT leaders end up doing. If they want to leave behind a growing and more prosperous USATT, they should send those issues to committee, and focus on Progressive issues, and grow the sport.

Reviews for Table Tactics for Thinkers

It's still selling pretty fast at It's gotten seven reviews so far, all 5-star - read them over, and then buy your copy today! (One comment mentions that much of the material is from past Tips or my Blog. While I did use a number of past articles, it's about 70% new material - plus, as mentioned in several of the reviews, they are now all organized in a logical fashion.) Most of the sales have been at Amazon, but I've also sold a bunch at my club and at the Cary Cup Championships this past weekend. I'm working now to have it sold by table tennis distributors, now that the Amazon price is close the regular retail price. There'll be a full-page color ad in the upcoming USATT Magazine.

USATT's High Performance Committee

Here's a report on the High Performance Committee's actions, from new High Performance Committee Chair Carl Danner. I have high hopes for him, and will probably be working with him on some issues, since a number of players from my club fall under the committee's jurisdiction, i.e. top players and up-and-coming juniors.

Wang Liqin's Second Decade

Here's an article on Wang Liqin's second decade on the Chinese National Team.

Chinese Team at Werner Schlager Academy

Here's the article: "Once again the Werner Schlager Academy located in Austria was chosen by the Chinese team to make its last preparation for the 2013 World Championships to be held in Paris in May."

Ping Pong and PTSD

Here's an article from Military Mental Health on how table tennis can relieve the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, as some Vets believe.

2014 Youth Olympic Games Mascot

Here's an article from the ITTF on "Nanjinglele," the new mascot for the Games, which will take place in Nanjing, China, in August, 2014. "The mascot of Nanjing 2014 'Nanjinglele' derives from a prestigious specialty of the host city, known as the 'riverstone.' The graphic design of the mascot takes an imitation of the typical shape and appearance of this stone but in a creative and artistic way in purpose of catering to the youth’s taste, and meanwhile, highlights the colors from the emblem’s palette to achieve good congruity with the other brand elements."

Teamwork and Innovation Decisions

Here's an article by former Indian star Chetan Baboor on "Getting Teamwork and Innovation Decisions Right," where he uses table tennis (and other sports) as examples on how teamwork and innovation always play a vital role in this success, whether in sports or business. The article is from Live Mint and the Wall Street Journal.

ICC's 10th Anniversary

Here's a video (54 sec) commemorating ICC Table Tennis' tenth anniversary.

Is There Something Better Than Table Tennis?

Here's a new highlights video (6:43).

Nepal Table Tennis

Here's a picture of Nepalese children playing their version of table tennis in Bhaktapur, on the outskirts of Katmandu, Nepal.

Playing for Parole

Here's the picture - but it must take great control to aim between the bars! I'd like to try it. But which side of the bars would I be on?

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