Non-California Master's Teams Gets Hosed by the USAWP CEO

Richard Hunkler, PhD.
Water Polo Planet
10/15/10

Will the city that is going to host the 2011 Masters Championship please take one step forward – not so fast Atlanta! In 2008 Atlanta bid to host the 2011 Master’s  National  Championship and has been working their tushes off trying to create a First Class National Tournament, only to be told by Chris Ramsey they will not be hosting 2011 Master’s National Championship. In a public announcement stating that Atlanta will not be host of the Master’s Nationals, the CEO of USAWP, Chris Ramsey said, and I quote, “This is no reflection on the Atlanta bid and efforts to date, which was superb,”  If it is not a reflection on Atlanta’s bid then who the devil does it reflect on. Could it be a reflection on the USAWP’s CEO and Board of Directors word - I don’t know; do you? I thought a person’s word was a person’s bond. I also thought a written contract was a written contract was a written contract and a written contract by any other name should still be the USAWP’s bond.

People my age and even some who are younger than me saw the movie, “Ghost Busters” and laughed their butts off. It appears that Chris Ramsey’s announcement to Atlanta was not a “Ghost Buster” but rather it was a “Trust Buster” and no one is laughing anything off.  After learning about the fiasco in Atlanta, how many non-California cities do you think will want to make a bid for the Master’s National Championship, (or any other National Championship),now that this has happened? A bid is hard work and the awarding of a bid shouldn’t be taken lightly. What the USAWP does affects not just the CEO and the Board of Directors but it affects all of us in the water polo community. If we can’t keep our word to the people in the water polo community who can we keep it with? The USAWP “Trust Busters” has made me both embarrassed and ashamed of the way Atlanta was treated by our organization and this is not the first or only time I have been embarrassed by our CEO. Oh I almost forgot Atlanta was given a “special tournament” to host in lieu of the 2011 Master's National Championship. Does anybody know what the “special tournament” is?

Reasons Why Chris Ramsey Re-Opened the Bid to California

In Chris Ramsey’s public announcement he gave some reasons why he re-opened the bid process and they are:

 1.1) Our decision is about creating more Masters events sized to the expected participation from the regions in which they will be held. 

1.2) There is a long tradition of teams caravanning to Masters Nationals within California, where we generally have 70-90+ teams participate. 

1.3) 30% of those teams indicated they would not make the trip across the country, so we felt we had to rethink our plan, which will now include at least one new signature tournament hosted by Dynamo Water Polo Club and the rest of the Atlanta water polo community, in late March or early April, 2011.” (The numerals on the sentences are meant to be used in general discussion by me.)

Reasons Why Atlanta Should Have Been Allowed to Keep the Bid

The following quotes from the public announcement might be thought of as reasons as to why Atlanta should have been allowed to host the tournament:

2.1) Since we submitted our bid to host the 2010 Masters Nationals Championship in June 2008, the Atlanta water polo community knew we offered Masters water polo a first-class event.

 2.2) We take pride in the high quality of our bid, facilities, organization and long-standing commitment to develop water polo at all levels, including Masters.” explains Len Simonis, ATL 2011 Tournament Director. 

2.3) Our plan for the Masters Nationals involved well over 300 Atlanta-area players, coaches, referees and families, which we hope to translate into support for our new 2011 event.

2.4) With little effort and still ten months before the 2011 MNC, we’d already identified over thirty first-time Masters teams from the Midwest and East coast,” shared ATL 2011 President Stuart Sheldon. 

2.5) Continued growth in first-time participation from the majority of the U.S. plus the promised international recruiting efforts by USAWP had us on track for a large and high quality Masters Nationals. (Again the numerals on the sentences are meant to be used in general discussion by me.)

Comparisons Between the Two Sets of Reasons

Ramsey’s reason 1.1) Our decision is about creating more Masters events sized to the expected participation from the regions in which they will be held. I think that has been trumped by the two Atlanta’s reasons “2.3) Our plan for the Masters Nationals involved well over 300 Atlanta-area players, coaches, referees and families, which we hope to translate into support for our new 2011 event and 2.4) With little effort and still ten months before the 2011 MNC, we’d already identified over thirty first-time Masters teams from the Midwest and East coast. One way to create "Masters events sized to the expected participation from the regions" is "To boldly go where no man or woman have gone before".

Ramsey’s reason 1.2) There is a long tradition of teams caravanning to Masters Nationals within California, where we generally have 70-90+ teams participate.  You've got to be kidding. You changed the bid so teams can go caravanning? The following three Atlanta reasons not only trumped Ramsey’s reason but they blow it away: 2.1) Since we submitted our bid to host the 2010 Masters Nationals Championship in June 2008, the Atlanta water polo community knew we offered Masters water polo a first-class event.  2.2) We take pride in the high quality of our bid, facilities, organization and long-standing commitment to develop water polo at all levels, including Masters. 2.5) Continued growth in first-time participation from the majority of the U.S. plus the promised international recruiting efforts by USAWP had us on track for a large and high quality Masters Nationals. And you can do all the caravaning you want at the Atlanta lake beaches and/or the Civil War museums.

Ramsey’s reason.  1.3) 30% of those teams indicated they would not make the trip across the country, so we felt we had to rethink our plan. Firstly, Ramsey only canvassed the 70 to 90 California masters team. Why didn’t Ramsey also canvass the teams outside of California? It would have been very easy for him to canvass the 30 first-time teams found in 2.4 of the Atlanta reasons? Lastly, Ramsey said that 30% made him rethink “the” plan. Let’s see 30% of 70 teams is 21 teams and 30% of 90 teams is 27 teams. Guess what Ramsey the 30 first-time master’s teams from the Midwest and the East, found in 2.4 of the Atlanta reasons, would have offset ether the 21 or 27 teams that said they wouldn’t go to a Master’s Nationals if it were in Atlanta. You can take the Masters National Water Polo Championship out of Atlanta but you can't take Atlanta out of water polo because they have more class in their small pinkie than the CEO has in his large body of poor decisions.

Conclusion

We all know the real reason why USAWP re-opened the bid process to California teams and it has nothing to do with Chris Ramsey’s farcical reasons named above. IT HAD TO DO WITH “SHOW ME THE MONEY”. It appears CEO got cold feet about having the Masters National Championship in Atlanta because he knew even though he could make some money in Atlanta he also knew he could make a boat load of more money if the Masters Nationals were in California. Don’t get me wrong because I think making money for the USAWP is a perfectly legitimate goal but the rub comes in how you go about raising the money.

You don’t do it  by awarding a Masters National Championship to a city, letting the city spend two years working on the championship, and make-up some inane reasons as to why you are taking it away from them. Doing this instead of telling the truth is again what makes me both embarrassed and ashamed of the USAWP, the CEO, and the members of the Board of Directors who allowed the bid to be changed.  My word is my bond and I truly hope that someday this becomes a belief of the USAWP, the CEO, and the members of the Board of Directors who let this happen. By waiting two years before telling Atlanta they cannot host the Masters National shows poor communication skills on the part of the CEO and it also stinks from California to Atlanta of plans to make ill gotten money and bad judgment  

Even before the bidding process for the Masters Nationals started Chris could have said to the water polo community, “We are making good money off of having the Master’s National Championship in both California and Las Vegas so we are going to keep it in these localities for another couple of years and then we are going to rotate the site – we will hold it two times in California, then one time in the Midwest, and then one time in the East and then start the same rotation again.” This is what the coaches of the US National Women’s Collegiate Championships did!

Someday I hope to see the acronym, USAWP, and know that USA doesn’t stand for California but that it stands for the United States of America. This won’t happen until National tournaments from the juniors to the masters are hosted by states outside California, the Top 40 has 10 to 20 girls playing who are from outside of California, the US Men’s and Women’s teams have players on their roster who are from outside California, and the Men’s and Women’s Olympic teams both have several starting players from outside of California. Do you really think if water polo is only played in California that there will still be a Olympic Men’s or Women’s Team in this country?