Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Richard Hunkler, PhD.
Water Polo Planet

wrong treeIn the year 2009 I started writing articles about why I thought Chris Ramsey shoudn't be the CEO of the USAWP. The reasons follow:

Chris Ramsey the Honeymoon for Being the USAWP CEO Is Over!

More Questions for the USAWP CEO Chris Ramsey

Do Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth

A List of Ten Reasons the CEO Has to Go

USAWP CEO Is Still in Town


In 2010 I continued to write article why I thought Chris Ramsey really shouldn't be the the USAWP CEO. The   added reasons are as follows:

Could This Be the USAWP on the Current CEO's Watch?

Seven Deadly Sins Leaders of Sport Federations Should Avoid Redux

Some Loose Ends

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


In 2011 people on the WPP message board started to give reasons why Chris Ramsey shouldn't be the USAWP CEO:

USAWP Treats Their Non-Senior Employees Like Low-Class


MORE people started to write on the message board why Chris Ramsey shouldn't be the USAWP CEO:

USA Water Polo... What do they do?


 Duh! I began to realize that my articles and the message board articles were going after the snake's tail, the CEO Chris Ramsey, and what we needed to go after is the snake's head, the USAWP Board of Directors. In other words, all these years I have been barking up the wrong tree. If we are going to get something done with the CEO, the chosen one, then we are going to have to get something done through the BOD. Maybe we fell asleep at the wheel because before we elected the members to the BOD we should have created a no fault clause for getting rid of members of the BOD. The BOD created just such a clause for the CEO.  Let us remember what the folksy and common sense possum named Pogo said, “The enemy is us”. This is because we elected most of the current members of the BOD. It is going to be very difficult if not impossible to “un-elect” them because of the way the USAWP Bylaws were written.

The only recourse we have now is to ask the assembly to refuse to ratify new members presented by the BOD – members that are not willing to at least listen to the USAWP members for their input.  Some people in the water polo community are jaded and they think since the USAWP pays airfare, hotel and meals for all the assembly members to come and vote that the assembly members will never fail to ratify new members presented by the BOD. I happen to believe that is not true and if members are presented with the facts about a proposed member of the BOD they will not necessarily rubber stamp the approval of that person. I don’t think in the short run this will be necessary to do.

In my humble opinion, I think what we need are more members that have experience in managing and running a NGB. To my knowledge we only have three Board Members who have this type of experience and they are Sandy Nitta who helped run several of the previous USWP’s and Jerry Lester and Ellen Estes Lee who have not run a NGB but have experience of how one is managed from going through it as an athlete on a US Team.  Granted most of the other board members have a great amount of business acumen but I still believe having experience with a NGB tops any other type of business experience. Thus I would love to see half of the number of members on the BOD with this type of NGB experience. There is an old saying that if you want to know where you are going then you have to know where you have been.

Are we really better off today with a CEO who spends money like it grows on trees, who thinks the solution to every problem is to hire more staff, and who treats his junior staff as though they are illegal immigrants. Oh yeah and a majority of the BOD lets him do it.  Let me give you an example of a major ongoing USAWP fiasco:

In 2011, Referee dues went from $90 to $110 with the promise that referee training would be free through USAWPRA and Referees would get a free 1 year membership in referee schedule and online direct deposit payment. They also promised that referees would get evaluations and pay based on their level.

The referee training requirements are here

The “free online” classes promised for January 15 and March 15th were never posted so there is no free training. All referees had to be trained as of May 1 or lose their certification.

Dog TalkSo as of now, only the 40% of the referees in the nation who live near an “in person referee clinic” are certified. No one outside California except a few in Chicago and 3 in Ohio are certified. The On Ground clinics are $35.

Then in March, referees were told they would have to pay an additional $20 for background checks. Little League charges $10 so obviously USAWP is making money off the background checks.

The Online assigning through Arbiter that USAWP runs, they take $1.00 for each game from the referee.

So, in total:

Extra Dues in 2011 = $20.00
Background Check = $20.00
On Ground Clinic = $35.00
$1.00 per game (assuming this person referees 20 games) = $20.00

So this year, the average California referee pays an extra $95 for FEWER SERVICES.

For the men and women outside California, It is not even worth it to join at the cost of $190 in membership fees. This is far more than they will ever recoup by doing USAWP sanctioned games.

And by the way in a recent letter from Jim Cullingham the USAWPRA has changed the date for recertification from May 1 to June 1. Please keep in mind that any referee who did NOT pay the $20 for the background check was suspended and was not given any extra time to get it done. BUT when USAWP does not do what THEY promise, they just hand out an extension.

Click on the following link At the top navigation bar, next to News, click on Referee School. It gives you a runtime error and it has been like that for about 4 months :)

Maybe the USAWP is not suppose to know anything about computers but refereeing is a task that the USAWP is supposed to know a lot about. I will tell you how to improve the referees’ organization about 200% - remove the USAWP from the USAWPRA.  We need Midas as the CEO of the USAWP because it is said that everything he touched turned to gold. What we have as the CEO of the USAWP is an anti-Midas because everything he touches turns to … Use your imagination but first I will give you a hint; what it turns into stinks to high Heaven!

And what about the ODP’s proposal to have the players on the age group National teams raise a $1000 each for the USAWP? For the person who thought that up we should create a new anthem with the words, “cha-chink, cha-chink, and cha-chink” to be played on the USAWP cash register.

Nobody KnowsAlso what bothers me is that one of the primary criteria for becoming a member of the BOD is that you will donate big bucks to the USAWP every year. That is very magnanimous on the part of those board members who can do this and I sincerely thank them. The $1000 a year contribution I give the USAWP each year is pale in comparison to what they give (however, you must remember I live on a fixed income). But I also believe there are other criteria that are as important if not more important than the ability to make large monetary donations to the USAWP. Donating large sums of money to an organization can sometimes be interpreted by the staff to mean that these people should be treated like “blue light specials” at Wal-Mart. This would be acceptable if the USAWP were a profitable organization and it sold stock and paid dividends because that would be business as usual. But the USAWP is a non-profit organization and it should treat all its members the same. Right now many members hardly ever get there emails or telephone calls returned and they are the last people to be told about changes that affect their organization and their membership. Transparency is a wonderful tool for earning trust Chris and many of the members of the BOD should try it more often.

The BOD must feel fairly safe because only the Board of Directors can change the USAWP Bylaws and they can change them without the approval of anyone. Well, I want the BOD to feel safe but more importantly I want the US National Team players and coaches to feel safe. We should do nothing to disrupt their training or their chances to win a medal in the 2012 Olympics. There are some things we can do at the conclusion the Olympics such as refuse to pay fees and join the AWP. In the mean time I am going to donate my $1000 bucks to the USAWP but because of the lack of their transparency I will ask, no I will demand, to know how my donation will be used and hopefully you will do the same.