Thursday, June 12, 2008

Backs to the wall

There has been a lot to complain about lately. The 33rd America’s Cup is in the crapper and the Catamaran is out of the 2012 Olympics. Add the war in Iraq, human rights concerns in China, a tough local economy, rising gas prices, environmental issues… it makes for quite the Molotov cocktail. In this climate, why the heck would US SAILING initiate the concept to require the American sailor to join the national sailing authority?

We strongly suspect US SAILING did not anticipate the reaction of the American sailor. Now they are in an awkward position of arguing with their customers, trying to explain their value when they haven’t sufficiently demonstrated it. Based on the recent Scuttlebutt poll and comments, there are plenty of people that feel they should join US SAILING, but they feel quite differently if it is required.

If you are highly vested in the sport, actively playing the game, supporting US SAILING shouldn’t be a hard sell. However, US SAILING has done such a total botch job in presenting the idea of required membership, and now finds itself in a stand-off with the very people they need to be working with. The Board of Directors will vote on the issue next week, and the burning question will be in how well they listened to their customers. For them to say, “Heh, we screwed up” would solve a lot of problems, and would likely provide a pretty nice starting point for the American sailors to reunite and move forward again… together.

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At 7:31 PM, Blogger Scuttleblog said...

A little background on the poll. It was intended to run only a day, and had been continuously running in the mid 50’s percentile in support of US SAILING before a Sailing Anarchy thread started with this plea:

"Please go to this survey, I beg of you, and vote "No." Let's stack the cards, because on Tuesday next week the U.S. Board of Directors is voting on this mandatory proposal and they don't need some poorly worded survey that has no real statistical relevance helping them make the wrong decision."

Remember, we were only asking: "Based on the what you know right now, should American sailors who actively compete be joining US SAILING?" We purposely did not ask people's opinion on mandatory membership. We already knew the answer to that one.

What we have learned about our polls is that they tend to reach their result very quickly, and regardless of how long they run (typically 1-3 days), the result varies very little. When the SA Forum told people how to vote (with some people voting multiple times), the poll result swung ten points. Pretty dramatic, and it would seem to put into question the validity of the poll.

Regardless, we stopped the poll when we planned to, and published the results, both those that we had continuously seen from the start, and those following the input from the SA thread.

At 8:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Put a gun to my head and say that I can't race if I don't join USS? No way!

What they will accomplish is quite the opposite of what they intended...

At 8:22 PM, Blogger Peter Huston said...

GREAT photo caption.

I'm just not sure who the pussy is supposed to represent. Capron and his band of deaf-mute pussywhipped Board, or the recreational racing sailor.

But nice to see a bit of humor injected into this otherwise sad state of third world political hackery.

At 8:35 PM, Blogger PaulK said...

... and on the other hand, Sailingscuttlebutt has been providing USSailing a soapbox to promote its version of the idea numerous times with articles from various officers at the top of its newsletters, while limiting responses to a few letters (250 words max) at the end. Like the war in Iraq - if you present one side of an argument and squash alternate viewpoints, people tend to go with what they've been told first. The fact that despite this major advantage, the poll was only running with about 50% of respondents favoring the change until "outsiders" got wind of it should be a major red flag to US Sailing officers. If you only ask stupid people who should be President, chances are you get a stupid candidate. US Sailing doesn't need to convince the people who are already members to join - it needs to convince the people at Sailing Anarchy that they should join. Instead of faulting them for "skewing" the results, the Powers That Be need to realize that their target market is the guys who vote against current proposal. Unless they can CONVINCE new members to sign up without FORCING them, US Sailing is doomed to failure. As I suggested in a letter to the Sailingscuttlebutt editor, (not yet included at the bottom of any newsletter as far as I know,) perhaps we should impeach the current crop of US Sailing officers or create a different, more responsive association that people DO want to join.

At 9:40 PM, Blogger Scuttleblog said...

paulk - I suggest you do a word count on which side of this argument has gotten more space... I think you would be surprised.

At 10:14 PM, Blogger Scuttleblog said...

Wow, I just went back and saw that this topic has been going on since Issue 2555, March 18th. Not much has changed. It would be great to see this idea get tabled, however, if a membership plan is approved, i pray that it only impacts those folks playing the game at a very high level. I would hate to lose the innocent question posed to crews on any given weekend thoughout the country, "Anybody want to drive?"

At 6:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The poll asked if competing sailors SHOULD join.

The poll did not address the mandatory membership at all.

I believe the poll addressed the wrong question.

Anonymous strikes again

At 6:48 AM, Blogger Scuttleblog said...

Heh anonymous, what do you think the response would have been if the poll asked about mandatory membership? I think we all know what the answer would have been, so I believed that it wasn't the right question to ask.

The point of the poll was to learn where folks stood without the consideration of required membership. However, I was likely naiive to think that everyone could seperate the two issues.

I strongly believe that it is important for US SAILING to learn that there is another way out of this mess, that we all don't hate them, we just need a compelling reason to support them. Learning what we SHOULD do is the first step for them to believe that mandatory membership is not needed.

Unfortunately, the thread at Sailing Anarchy sabotaged this effort. - Craig Leweck


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