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Old August 16th 03, 04:26 PM
Bruce Draney
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Default Is This Truly a Crisis Anymore?

Perhaps one of the most frequently misused terms at USCF and on this
forum is the word, "crisis". Every year it seems that someone points
out that we are once again in a financial "crisis". Use of this term
dates back to at least 1996 when Dorsch and Eade claimed there was a
financial "crisis". At the time this was denied vehemently by their
opponents. Then when Redman took over, his opponents claimed there was
a "crisis" going on and they retook power. Last year, the ongoing
"crisis" led to the Delegates voting to allow USCF to move out of New
York if necessary. This year, with the announced staggering losses of
$364,000 in a single year, we are once again faced with a "crisis".

My American Heritage Dictionary gives the following definitions of

cri0sis (krh2s*s) n., pl. cri0ses (-sTz).
1.a. A crucial or decisive point or situation; a turning point. b. An unstable condition, as in political, social, or economic affairs, involving an impending abrupt or decisive change.
2. A sudden change in the course of a disease or fever, toward either improvement or deterioration.
3. An emotionally stressful event or a traumatic change in a person's life.
4. A point in a story or drama when a conflict reaches its highest tension and must be resolved.

I suppose 1b and 3 come closest to describing what has been going on at
USCF for over 7 years, but frankly speaking I'm beginning to think that
a USCF "crisis" is really just the modus operandi. We are continually
in a state of crisis. In fact we may not have left "crisis" mode since
Al Lawrence left. Perhaps some like Wayne Praeder feel that we were in
"crisis" mode even after dues were raised in 1995.

I almost wonder what the last year was where USCF wasn't in "crisis"?

If crisis mode is the norm however, it sort of negates the whole meaning
of the term, sort of like putting oneself on "Red Alert" permanently.
The USCF has been so screwed up for so long, that I just kind of shake
my head sadly that they cannot seem to get their act together or even
come up with any sensible ideas that will help improve things.

They have now dug themselves so deeply into a hole, that in my view it
will take a virtual miracle to save them from their worst enemy,

There is really plenty of blame to go around, and I don't believe that
anyone set about to intentionally destroy the organization, yet the best
intentions have done nothing to help and have probably accelerated the

Current adult regular membership is now approaching 22,000's. Those
members paying the highest annual dues are now down almost 10,000 from
what they were in 1995 when dues were raised from $30.00 to
$40.00/$35.00. There has been a drop in this critical category of
almost 2,000 since January.

I am no longer confident that this category can be seriously revived.
Many of the recruiters of these members were tournament directors, a
number of whom have quit directing tournaments. Even if the dues were
rolled back, a very unlikely prospect amidst a massive financial
shortfall, this would probably only keep the number from dropping
significantly and would probably not in my opinion start causing the
number to rise.

Much like many other critical junctures, USCF missed the boat on this
years ago, when immediate and forward looking actions might have made
the difference.

Three things appear to be clear:

1) USCF loses money on their primary service which is rating chess
tournaments. It has been losing money doing this for probably
at least 15 years, or whenever the big scholastic rating boom

2) USCF may or may not have broken even on a large and expensive
B&E operation that consumes a significant amount of our borrowing
potential committed to inventory.

3) The only clearly profitable sector of revenues for USCF appear to
be dues, and the only significantly profitable subsector of the
dues revenues are the revenues from adult regular members.

To me this pretty much means that USCF must:

a) Find a huge untapped treasure chest of revenue.
b) Find a way to keep all current USCF regular adult members
as members.
c) Find a way to recruit large numbers of adult regular chess
members to replace the ones quitting.
d) Find a way to make other membership categories more profitable
e) Immediately make the most austere and draconian cost cuts ever
conducted by a technologically inept organization.

Variation a) sounds really good to politicians, and of course if there
was a campaign going on, all of the candidates would no doubt be
claiming they would do a) if elected. We all know that the guy down the
street sells some magic seeds that grow money trees.

While b and c seem like good ideas in theory, keeping and recruiting
adult regular members has not been successful since 1995, so without
some type of incentive or initiative, it will be difficult if not
impossible to pull off in my opinion.

While d) sounds good to me, scholastic and youth members and coaches are
unlikely to appreciate further increases in what they pay.

Right now, it looks like it's going to be e), so hang onto your butts
everyone. If you thought service was great NOW, are you in for a

Best Regards,

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Old August 17th 03, 12:48 AM
Kevin D. Nyberg
Posts: n/a
Default Is This Truly a Crisis Anymore?

How about--catastrophe?

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