A couple dozen elected officers and directors run U.S. Figure Skating all year until in May, they reluctantly answer to the sport’s Governing Council (GC), a congress of several hundred delegates from the skating clubs around the country. The Board of Directors likes to spend money; the GC is more reluctant and has final approval of the budget. The Board looks at the GC much as Congress sees say, Ron Paul.
This month, the Board tried to wrest control from the GC via amending By Laws because the GC has put limits on the Board’s spending when it isn’t raining from the sport’s rainy day fund. The Board likes to send lots of skaters to obscure international competitions because officials get free trips with the teams, often to nice places in Europe or Asia. The GC prefers to send skaters to events where they have a chance to medal while representing the U.S. but that reduces the number of events attended quite a bit, displeasing the Board and the officials it blesses with such travel. This is a big deal.
Meanwhile, rink operators prefer to rent ice to hockey; there aren’t enough figure skaters. Knowing that it costs an upper ranked girl’s family upwards of $50,000 a year to do her thing may help explaing that. Once out of a beginner class, instructors teach one skater at a time. As is well known, few boys are interested and the thousands who once danced ballroom on ice for pleasure have departed like TV coverage.
The sport has based its rewards on multi-revolution jumping; that reduced the average ages of its champions and therefore of its serious participants. A juvenile ectomorph has a better shot at triples than does a nubile teen or grown woman. Some 90% of beginners vanish within 3 years.
Congress goes on spending regardless of lacking the money; its members are concerned with buying votes and aren’t willing to displease voters by cutting the flow of goodies even though the end is economic destruction. They don’t care so long as they’re reelectted first. U.S. Figure Skating’s Board is elected too and depends for reelection upon a cadre of officials (judges and such) in the clubs; these must be rewarded with positions and assignments that in turn depend on investing in events, travel and the like. But the TV income has gone and so have sponsors. How this plays out should be instructive.
Skating’s Board has shown as little interest in the loss of male participants (It was orginally a male-only sport), its mass of ice dancers, its older participants and the declining availability of ice time as Congress has shown in solving the problems in Social Security, Medicare and financing endless war.
There is though, one notable difference: Nobody has to figure skate…