Who's on First and Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth!

Richard Hunkler, PhD.
Water Polo Planet
03/15/08

If the USAWP were to change the names of their Executives to Who, What, I Don’t know, Why, Because, Tomorrow, Today, and I Don’t Give a Darn then Abbott and Costello’s following baseball routine might explain what is going on in an Executive Board meeting?

It appears that USAWP’s number of fires, hires, and resignations is trying to set a record for Sport NGB’s in this country and maybe even a record for the Sport NGB’s in the world. Some people who work for the USAWP must feel as if they are in an episode of Rod Serling’s , “Twilight Zone”.  We could call the episode the “Vanishing Executives and Staff” or the ”Revolving Door to Nowhere” and the “Beast from the East Is My Boss”?

There are rumors going around about how staff members are being fired and one of these rumors is as follows: 

CEO decides to fire Jane Doe, a staff member, for doing what he told her to do. The CEO calls everyone into his office and says in a very loud voice, “ Jane Doe you are fired”. After learning how the staff member was fired by the CEO, the BOD tells the CEO he has to be more sensitive when he fires a staff member. CEO decides  to fire Betty Jane for not enough subordination on her part. She forgot to bring him his coffee and say “Here is your coffee my Emperor.”  The CEO calls everyone into his office and tells everyone who has a job to please leave the room and in a loud voice, everyone hears the CEO say, “Not so fast Betty Jane!”

Of course the above paragraph is fiction but my old Daddy told me that sometimes when the shoe fits you are going to have to wear it, especially if you cannot afford another pair! However, we do need to remind the USAWP CEO that continuity is important to any organization that wishes to grow, to place silver coins in their coffers , and to win gold medals in the Olympics and World Championships. It appears the USAWP spends more time finding and training new Executive Officers than they do in solving real problems.  Maybe if the CEO would try to hire Executives that have both water polo and business experiences because hiring people that only have business experience is just not working. If the USAWP continues to subscribe to the revolving door method of finding and training executives then we will have to continue the same old, same old, good old boys style of business.

A lot of times it seems to a USAWP member that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. For example there are 10 months until the Olympics and the USAWP has no money to give to the US Men’s and Women’s Team Players to augment their USOC stipends so they can train full time and not have to worry about anything else but water polo. Duh! How could that be – no extra money for Olympic players? One of the USAWP’s goals is to medal at the Olympics. How do we expect to do that if we tie the player’s fiscal hands to a small stipend. Help us free up the players’ fiscal hands so they get down to the business of winning the Olympic gold medal. Dr. Watson, a “plan is a foot” to help the players to become financially solvent so they can concentrate on bringing back the gold. I would like to call this plan the“Don't look a gift horse in the mouth plan” and I would like to call the Victory 2012 fundraiser the “Do look a gift horse in the mouth plan”. The new plan is found at the following link:

Men's National Teamhttp://www.waterpoloplanet.com/HTML_link_pages/MNT_Fundraiser.html

What is really sad is that the USAWP wants nothing to do with this financial plan to help the USA players. If you don’t believe me then go to the USAWP web site and see if you can find just one thing about this plan. We know the USAWP didn’t think up this plan but that is no reason for them not to support the plan. Any plan that helps our Olympic players is a good plan. Is this going to be the  same as the “Saved the UCD Water Polo Program” in which the USAWP showed up  but they showed up “a day late and a dollar short”.  My old Daddy always said that you do have to look a gift horse in the mouth to make certain the plan is legitimate and to make certain the plan actually delivers the money to the players.

Let us look to see why this “Don't look a gift horse in the mouth” plan was necessary in the first place. It has to do with two key words and they are priorities and trust. Why wasn’t  supplementing the Olympic players’ USOC stipends a number one priority? This is not our idea but it is the idea of the USAWP. Their mission statement is as follows :

Mission Statement:
The Mission of USA Water Polo shall be to grow the sport of water polo throughout the United States and win medals in Olympic, World Championship, and Pan American Games.

How is the US Men’s and Women’s Team supposed to leave 100 % of their effort in the pool when they have to think about how they are going to pay the rent (rent is not cheap in southern California),  pay for food ( have you seen the amount of food  a water polo player eats during the season), pay for transportation to the pool and back ( have you bought gas lately ), and so on and so forth. I know money doesn’t grow on trees but I am positive that  “priorities” would have help placed more money in the pockets of the USA Olympic water polo players.

Now let us talk about trust. It appears the USAWP is not required to tell either the government or the membership how they use funds that are raised in any individual fundraiser. This leads us to believe that individual fundraisers such as the Golf Tournament and the Victory 2012 Fund are going toward whatever the CEO wishes and not toward the National Team players. Moreover, since the USAWP has chosen not to disclose how the funds the USAWP have raised are being used, many in the water polo community have chosen not to donate money to the USAWP individual fundraisers. In today’s economy trust is not given away freely; it has to be earned and an explanation of how funds are going to be used goes a long way toward earning that trust. The “Don't look a gift horse in the mouth plan” is legitimate and will deliver the money collected to the US National players. Where as the the Golf Tournament and the Victory 2012 fund may be called the “Do look a gift horse in the mouth plan” because you don't know how those funds are going to be used.

Gift Horse

If you are as disappointed in the USAWP for not supporting or advertising the “Don't look a gift horse in the mouth plan” as I am then write an email to the Board of Directors. Tell them, “You are mad as hell at the USAWP and you are not going to take it anymore!” And remember it is not “I am Polo!” but rather it is “We Are Polo!” The email addresses of the Board of Directors are as follows:

Mike Graff: Chairman mgraff@usawaterpolo.org

Bill Smith: Secretary bsmith@usawaterpolo.org

Ed Reynolds: ereynolds@uaswaterpolo.org

RoAnn Costin: rcostin@usawaterpolo.org

Richard Esterkin: resterkin@usawaterpolo.org

John Hendrickson:jhendrickson@usawaterpolo.org

Sandy Nitta: snitta@usawaterpolo.org

Bob Sternfels:bsternfels@usawaterpolo.org