Ray Lee

Whose money is it anyway?

I’m sure everyone by now is familiar with the incident in Shanghai, where the US Venice Cup team held up an anti-Bush sign during the medal presentation ceremony.  However, not everyone will be aware of what has happened since.

The whole thing sparked a fair amount of controversy in the USA — reactions ranged from amusement to outrage.  There were voices calling for lengthy suspensions from international play for the culprits.  But many of those voices have suddenly been stilled by a more recent action of the ACBL Board, which is threatening to cancel International Fund games — the main source of revenue for the USBF and US international teams (other than the usual array of wealthy sponsors, of course).  Suddenly, for many, the idea of losing that money seems to be worth more than any kind of patriotic principle.

Let me further relate that I received an email this morning from a prominent Canadian, urging me to organize a letter of support for the beleaguered American women from my Venice Cup players, to help prevent the loss of this funding for Canada.  My response was that (a) I personally didn’t support them (I think at best it was the height of discourtesy to the WBF and their Chinese hosts, not to mention Americans who don’t happen to agree with their particular political viewpoint) and (b) I wasn’t sure Canada wouldn’t in the end be better off without relaying the ACBL to dole out money to us.

Over the last few hours, though, I’ve been thinking, and it seemed to me that this whole thing goes much deeper.  I remembered that a few weeks ago, Linda received a personal letter from Jay Baum congratulating her on being appointed captain of the Canadian Venice Cup team, and proclaiming her a worthy representative of the ACBL.  Now this was curious for two reasons:  first, she was selected and approved by the CBF, who then submitted her accreditation to the WBF — the ACBL had no involvement at all;  second, she’s actually not even a member of the ACBL, but prefers to pay annual dues directly to the CBF to belong to that organization.

Now the ACBL BOD, in response to the actions of some US players, are effectively threatening to cut off international funding from Canadian and Mexican teams.  Just after we returned from the tournament, the ACBL web site carried a piece on how the US teams did — no mention of Canadian teams.  What price ‘representing the ACBL’ now?  And unless one of the people who were there submits an article, I’ll bet there won’t be any coverage of our teams in the  Bulletin either.  Any time you get close to the organization, it’s hard to escape the impression that the ‘A’ in ACBL is very meaningful — it’s run by Americans for Americans, and Canada is just a great source of revenue.  Let me give you one more example.  Every NABC includes an International Fund game, and on the basis that some percentage of participants have to be Canadian, the CBF used to receive some of the money raised. That was cancelled a few years ago; these days, any Canadians who play in that game should be aware they’re funding the US teams.

In a previous blog, I opened a discussion of fund-raising by CBF, and how we have to do more of it, and do it better.  Perhaps if the ACBL cuts us off completely, we’ll get moving and organize our own International Fund Week across the country.  We won’t have to pay the ACBL sanction fees, and I suspect we’ll get a whole lot more revenue from it. But in any event, the CBF will be forced to get moving and raise its own revenue.  I suspect too many people are too much in love with their masterpoints that we can’t get Canada out of the ACBL in the foreseeable future, but at least we can separate out the whole business of our international representation and run our own show in that regard.

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