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  1. #1

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    U.S. Figure Skating Governance on the Chopping Block

    Excellent analysis about the upcoming proposal by US Figure Skating to change our federation's "grass roots" governance.

    Go to Ice Skating International:

    http://www.iceskatingintnl.com/archi...%20Council.htm

    Those going to Governing Council really need to think long and hard about this. Do we want our federation to go the way of the ISU? Meet every other year? In the meantime the staff and Board have free rein to do as they please?

    If the reason for the change is money, there are other things, which are suggested in the piece, that can accomplish the goal. And they would do so, without taking away the little bit of grass roots power we have.
    Happy Skating!

    Crzesk8dad

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    I think there is very little "grass roots" governance already, a few large clubs seem to be the ones who have influence. The adult committee seems to be made up of only high level adult skaters.

    Our club prefers the every 2 years idea- we can't afford to send a delegate each year. For some reason, this year we aren't even sending a proxy Although a yearly meeting in a more affordable place (Myrtle Beach? Are they kidding) would be a nice solution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    IThe adult committee seems to be made up of only high level adult skaters.
    I know for a fact this statement is inaccurate. As a former member of the AC myself, they take great pains to have diverse representation on the AC . . . from levels to disciplines.
    In my spare time, I like to interview figure skating legends.

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    Quote Originally Posted by manleywoman View Post
    I know for a fact this statement is inaccurate. As a former member of the AC myself, they take great pains to have diverse representation on the AC . . . from levels to disciplines.
    I will second manleywoman on that. You can look at pages 44-45 in the 2011-2012 USFS Directory. Looks to me like the majority of members are a solid Bronze-Gold level. Hardly "high level" overall when just a few jump out at me as being Masters level. Our Adult Committee is in stark contrast to any other Athlete representation on the other US Figure Skating committees, which is primarily limited to current or former junior and senior skaters -- a majority of whom who have qualified for nationals and even internationals.

    Anyway, I don't think the representation on the Adult Committee of all things has much to do with the original topic of larger scale proposed changes for US Figure Skating's plan for how and when they host Governing Council -- and how that may, or may not impact, the "grass roots" skating community.

    Back to the original topic:

    I have mixed feelings on the changes for how/when Governing Council takes place. I applaud the cut back to two years, as it will save many clubs a lot of money that is spent sending delegates. Many years are kinda dull in the changes that are proposed... and many proposed rule additions/edits are not THAT urgent... I don't see why much of this business cannot be discussed and voted on every other year.

    My understanding is that with Governing Council taking place every other year, the membership doesn't just "give up full authority to headquaters and committees" in the off year... business simply is tabled and then voted on by the membership at the next Governing Council. Even if it's 1.5 years away. So I don't think we're loosing our grass roots representations/rights, nor throwing full authority to US Figure Skating (HQ & Committees), either.

    However, I don't see these Governing Council changes as the ultimate fix to US Figure Skating's overall budget concerns -- which is one of the big reasons for this change. It's such a small portion of the budget. The article outlines some other good fixes that could help financially on this front as well (consistent location = cheaper contracts with venues, have the association pay for far less individuals to appear on their dime, etc.).

    And overall, there are far bigger issues on the US Figure Skating budget that need to be addressed. Governing Council is just a drop in the bucket.
    Last edited by Rochelle; 04-30-2012 at 08:01 PM. Reason: formatting

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rochelle View Post
    My understanding is that with Governing Council taking place every other year, the membership doesn't just "give up full authority to headquaters and committees" in the off year... business simply is tabled and then voted on by the membership at the next Governing Council. Even if it's 1.5 years away. So I don't think we're loosing our grass roots representations/rights, nor throwing full authority to US Figure Skating (HQ & Committees), either.
    The flaw in that statement is that business will be tabled and voted on later. Business will be implemented immediately and then can only be undone 1.5 - 2 years later if the members do not like it. Business will go into effect immediately any time the Board approves it and will not be sitting on a "table" inactive and collecting dust waiting to be approved by the GC later.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rochelle View Post
    Back to the original topic:

    I have mixed feelings on the changes for how/when Governing Council takes place. I applaud the cut back to two years, as it will save many clubs a lot of money that is spent sending delegates. Many years are kinda dull in the changes that are proposed... and many proposed rule additions/edits are not THAT urgent... I don't see why much of this business cannot be discussed and voted on every other year.
    Can't speak for all clubs, but my club does not provide any financial support for its delegates going to Governing Council. And it's one of the largest clubs (membership-wise) in the country.

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    Quote Originally Posted by halfloopy View Post
    The flaw in that statement is that business will be tabled and voted on later. Business will be implemented immediately and then can only be undone 1.5 - 2 years later if the members do not like it. Business will go into effect immediately any time the Board approves it and will not be sitting on a "table" inactive and collecting dust waiting to be approved by the GC later.
    For conversation sake, what business in the past decade has been passed before Governing Council that has had to be undone at Governing Council? I'm drawing a blank. If there's been cases in the past, I'd be interested to know what.

    Looking over the minutes of their monthly meetings, most business approved (or not) is for: National / Qualifying competition sanctions; Judges / Officials / Tech appointments; competition selection process (Worlds, JR Worlds, etc.); and housekeeping / clarification type stuff.

    If they've tried to "sneak in" massive rule changes in the past prior to Governing Council in the past, I don't recall it being earth shattering enough in the past decade for me to remember it.

    Do they have the power to make major rule changes at their monthly meetings?

    I ask this question, as I'm not certain if they have "free reign" to do vote on/pass/initiate any rules they want at monthly meetings... or if there are restrictions on what type of business they're able to propose / amend / revise / etc. in their monthly meetings vs. Governing Council). Regular business at their monthly meetings just seems so non-threatening to the average skater, when you read their monthly minutes.

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    He makes some interesting suggestions that are worth further consideration, but one small nit:
    Often business is brought to the Governing Council that the grass roots have no idea was in the works until the meeting book shows up in April. Exhibit D is one such piece of business.
    'Exhibit D' was introduced at last year's GC, so members have had over a year to think about it.

    Still - lots of seemingly good ideas for cost cutting in his opinion piece. It will be interesting to see how the vote goes on this one.
    "I miss footwork that has any kind of a discernible pattern. The goal of a step sequence should not be for a skater to show the same ice coverage as a Zamboni and take about as much time as an ice resurface. " ~ Zemgirl, reflecting on a pre-IJS straight line sequence

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rochelle View Post
    I will second manleywoman on that. You can look at pages 44-45 in the 2011-2012 USFS Directory. Looks to me like the majority of members are a solid Bronze-Gold level. Hardly "high level" overall when just a few jump out at me as being Masters level.
    I just looked. Of the 9 athlete reps, I believe 1 is Bronze (possibly Silver now?), 1 is Silver, and the rest are Gold and Masters. Most of the 23 at-large members are adult skaters, and of the names I recognize (which is most), I think there are 2 or 3 who are Bronze and a few who are Silver. Most names I remember from the Gold and Masters results from Sectionals and AN.

    If you think about it, it's not too surprising: in order to be asked to serve on the Committee, people in leadership roles have to know who you are, so if you don't go to AN, b/c you either haven't been skating long enough or just don't want to compete, you're not going to get on anyone's radar screen. So the Committee membership is those who go to AN and have been for many years (which means they've been skating for many years). I can understand how it gets to be that way (although I know of several lower-level skaters who served on the Committee in past years, I think nominated by their club), but let's be honest and not say that skaters of all levels are equally represented on the Committee. All you have to do is look at the recent rule changes (like the Adult MIF tests) to see that.

    Back on topic....in the sectional conference call a few months ago, it was said that USFS got a lot of complaints about this year's GC location and that in the future, they plan to have GC in "hub cities." Whatever that means. I hope the same thinking is applied to SA, lol. There was talk of potentially having meetings via webcast during the year, so the role of a club's GC delegate(s) would be expanded to include those in-between meetings. Is that included in the proposal?

    It does seem that a lot of the important stuff is voted on by the Board and 'approval' at GC is just a formality. In fact, most rule changes are voted on and passed en masse. I know any proposal can be isolated and discussed, but unless it's a highly visible topic (like the MIF changes), most attendees aren't going to be too interested in dragging out the vote. And since the Board has such a large voting block, unless it's a highly controversial issue, a few delegates aren't going to have much luck in getting the full GC to see things their way.
    Last edited by Debbie S; 05-01-2012 at 03:59 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Debbie S View Post
    but let's be honest and not say that skaters of all levels are equally represented on the Committee. All you have to do is look at the recent rule changes (like the Adult MIF tests) to see that.
    You're forgetting that several of the representatives are Pairs and Dance skaters.
    In my spare time, I like to interview figure skating legends.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rochelle View Post
    Do they have the power to make major rule changes at their monthly meetings?
    I don't think so; of course, one's definition of "major" may vary. I'm remembering a particular decision a few years ago, maybe three years ago?, to allow changes to the requirements for the FS, Pair, and FD tests to be implemented by BoD decree if (and only if) the ISU made changes to the well-balanced program (WBP) requirements after Governing Council. Since that had to be officially approved, that suggests to me that the BoD doesn't have much major independent power - but I've also never seen an October promotion to National judge be challenged at the May meetings; technically, I suppose that it could be isolated at GC, as any action of the BoD is eligible for isolation, IIRC. (Oh, except releasing skaters to foreign federations: can't isolate those! Oh, and the budget: they don't like to give GC the details of that, either, and I can't recall seeing a request for isolation on the budget granted.)

    (The competitive well-balance program requirements for Junior and Senior are tied to the ISU requirements, so if the ISU decides that Senior FS WBP has only three spins, USFSA implements that change. However, the test requirements are not governed by the ISU and technically need to be approved by Governing Council before they can be implemented in the test structure. The new guideline gives BoD the power to implement ISU changes to WBP into the USFSA test structure, so if the ISU reduces the spin elements in a Senior WBP from 4 to 3, USFSA can do the same immediately, instead of waiting another 11 months for the next Governing Council. This change was implemented after multiple years of the Senior Pair Test having vastly different requirements than the competitive Senior Pair FS. Since almost all of the Senior Pair tests are of competitive Senior teams, this meant that they had to shoehorn random elements into their competitive program in order to test. This was a serious waste of training resources, although it could be absolutely hilarious to watch teams abandon choreography and do an extra death spiral where the second throw should go, and a pair spin in place of the third lift... the choreography would end up making no sense. I felt so badly for the teams.)

    Quote Originally Posted by BittyBug View Post
    He makes some interesting suggestions that are worth further consideration, but one small nit:
    'Exhibit D' was introduced at last year's GC, so members have had over a year to think about it.

    Still - lots of seemingly good ideas for cost cutting in his opinion piece. It will be interesting to see how the vote goes on this one.
    Grass roots had no idea this was under consideration until this year's meeting book was published? Under what rock has he been hiding?!?! The first Exhibit that would have introduced a biannual GC was in... *checks calendar; contemplates current age, can't count that high, not enough fingers* ... well, I don't know for sure, but I want to say that this was first proposed at a GC somewhere in the 2004-2006 time frame. There was enough, um, "loud but completely polite discussion" at the Sectional meetings and in hallways and in back alleys under the cover of darkness that it was withdrawn from the stage before being opened to floor debate, IIRC. And I swear, it's come up since then, too. Anyone else remember? I used to keep my GC meeting books, but I think I finally recycled them a few years ago, or else I'd double-check my memory with the "green sheets" ("Requests for Action") from past GCs - but I am positive that we've seen a written proposal for a biannual GC before.

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    According to the charts on the USFS website this specific plan was not developed until the task force started working on it in Fall of 2011. There have been plenty of ideas about changes in the past, but this specific plan was put together in the last 6 months.

    And actually what he says is

    "Often business is brought to the Governing Council whose details the grass roots have no knowledge of until the meeting book shows up in April. Exhibit D is one such piece of business."

    I think the details only came out in April when the webinars took place. I don't remember the specific plan being out for discussion at regionals or sectionals last year.
    Last edited by halfloopy; 05-02-2012 at 01:57 AM.

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    Have been hearing for so many years about how many wasteful ways money is spent at these events. From catering, to tech support, to all sorts of ways in which expenses for some members are reimbursed. Way to often it seems like the athletes are an afterthought. Shame.

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