Monday, February 23, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different

[From Scuttlebutt. Sailing Anarchy provided the link to the actual ruling below.]

USOC DECISION REQUIRES CHANGES TO RACING RULES Portsmouth, R.I. (Feb. 22, 2009) - A hearing panel appointed by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) issued a decision Friday that states the provisions of the International Sailing Federation’s (ISAF) Racing Rules of Sailing governing the conduct of protests and requests for redress do not comply with the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act and USOC Bylaws.

Based on an initial reading of this decision, US SAILING, the national governing body of the sport, believes the panel’s directives, if implemented, will fundamentally change how the sport of sailboat racing is conducted in the United States.

In its decision, the USOC panel adopted arguments presented by the attorneys of a competitor at the 2007 U.S. Olympic Trials – Sailing that would require protest committees to consist of at least 20 percent athletes and that the well-established provisions in the Racing Rules of Sailing concerning the conduct of protest and redress hearings violated U.S. law.

This is the second of two complaints against US SAILING filed with the USOC by the same athlete. The first complaint was dismissed when the arbitrator granted US SAILING’s motion to dismiss on the basis that the protest hearings complied with all due process requirements and that the protest committee’s decision was a “field of play” decision not subject to review. One year after the filing of the second complaint and nine months after the arbitrator dismissed the first complaint, the USOC hearing panel concluded that the sport of sailing doesn’t comply with the USOC bylaws.

The USOC’s decision requires US SAILING to amend portions of ISAF’s Racing Rules of Sailing pertaining to protests and redress in the U.S. -- Read on:

A link to the USOC decision can be found here:

1 comment:

Mike Weber said...

This is serious? Not just some ill-conceived prank calculated to get everyone's knickers in a knot?

Ok, let's review.

First, the definition of "eligibility" -- a common word in the English language the meaning of which was once well known to and understood by us all -- is now changed. It used to be that "eligible" in terms of qualifying events meant that you met the requirements to compete in the event. Period, full stop. Once those preliminary qualifications are met, the question whether one qualifies and moves on to the next level of competition is one determined by "success," not "eligibility." To conflate the notion of eligibility to compete in a qualifying event with success in the qualifying event distorts the plain meaning of words and sets the stage for theater of the absurd.

Second, and related to the first, the other-worldly devotion to semantics in the Hall decision is as perverse as it gets when it comes to competitive sports. Here's a novel idea: in sports, who is the winner and who is the loser is determined on the field of play, and the field of play is defined by and includes both the rules of engagement and the procedures for applying the rules. Don't like the rules? Don't play!

Third, be careful what you wish for. The whole notion of "athlete" representation on sailing protest committees is a hoot. What's next, gymnastic judges must be gymnasts? Ok, sixty-year-old overweight dude coming off your quadruple bypass, when was last time you did an iron cross? Forty years ago? Never? Well golly gosh, you must not know a thing about gymnastics and your score (um, was that a determination of eligibility or success?) must be ignored.

Fourth, a snow-board afficionado, a volleyball guy, a shootist, a swimmer and a "multisports" person get to decide what works in competitive sailing? Including the including an athlete rule? Can you say hypocrisy?

Finally, was the decision that sent Nancy Rios rather than Farrah Hall to the Olympics problematic? Of course it was. Things perhaps could have and should have been done better under the existing rules. But is the answer to turn the entire sport -- including its rules and its procedures for implementing its rules -- entirely on its head? USOC, get off the roids. Stop flexing. Not perfect, but nonetheless ISAF and USSailing comprise thoughtful, experienced people who love and are dedicated to their sport. Sorry volleyball and snowboarding guys, but you are without a clue. The entities that organize and orchestrate competitive sailing events constantly strive to improve themselves always with the competitors' best interests uppermost. Unless and until you understand that and put aside your "USOC RULES" attitude, well then stfu.

Of course, that's just one guy's opinion . . . .