Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Unintended consequences

The law of unintended consequences, where actions of people always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended, may have found itself a home in the dispute involving Farrah Hall and U.S. SAILING. While the Buttheads are screaming out, “We are tired of sports and courts” and “When did Scuttlebutt become”, we may not be able to ignore how a protest by Farrah Hall at the U.S. Olympic Trials may soon result in a rewrite of the U.S. version of the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS)... and more.

While Farrah failed in her bid to be the U.S. representative at the Olympics, I was curious if it was a secondary goal of hers to change how protests and redress hearing are held. While Farrah did not respond to my question, her advisor John Bertrand replied, “It was her intent to see that issues like she faced are handled fairly in the future.” Okay, works for me, but it will be interesting to see what else changes along the way.

Out of the blocks, the costs may be less money for U.S. athletes and a less effective Olympic selection process. Some will say that U.S. SAILING really screwed up by spending an estimated $145,000 to defend the Protest Committee at the U.S. Olympic Trials. However, U.S. SAILING believed they were proper, and likely felt obligated to defend them as a result of Hall’s pursuit of justice. Regardless, I am sure U.S. SAILING breathed a huge sigh of relief when the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) agreed that the proceedings were held in accordance with the rules in place.

Then there is the manner in which the U.S. will be able to hold the trials to select their representatives for the 2012 Olympics. Historically, the U.S. has had a single event in their country, and the winner gets to go. However, with some of the classes having very small fleets at the trials (five 470 Women and six RS:X women), the expected plan for some classes was to use the results from several international events to determine the representative. However, if the selection process must follow USOC guidelines, and if the standard RRS did not do so, odds are any event held outside of the U.S. won’t be approved.

Any plans that the U.S. SAILING Olympic Committee had for determining their selection process for the 2012 Olympics are now completely on hold until U.S. SAILING and the USOC agree on what changes must be written into the U.S. version of the RRS.

USOC decision:
Farrah Hall’s statement:
US SAILING statement:

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At 9:06 PM, Anonymous NAMT said...

After reading all the documents posted here on Scuttleblog I am surprised that Senior members of US Sailing's Board & Committees appear to lack an understanding of the concepts of natural justice, and fairness and equity within their own rules and those of the ISAF.
While falling on their swords may be an extreme expectation of US Sailing's morally challenged actors, their resignations certainly should be expected.
US sailors deserve better leadership.

At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Richard Jepsen said...

full disclosure: I'm a committee leader at US SAILING, although not in competition. However, I know many of the board and committee leaders and they are not "morally challenged actors". They are selfless, hardworking volunteers who are trying to give back to the sport. They have an awesome responsibility to govern a very complicated sport in which the stakes, at the elite level, are extraordinarily high.. Seems to me the leaders were presented with a no-win situation and did the best they could. However you might judge the results of this unfortunate episode, I ask that you consider the position those leaders are in.


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