Thursday, February 17, 2011

After openly criticizing FINA's cultural issues Steve Munatones has been removed as a FINA open water referee!

Business as usual with the governing bodies. Either you walk, talk, and dance in lock-step or you are fired. The road between FINA and USA Swimming is littered with those who had an opinion that countered governing body dictates and as usual constructive voices are punished and punished severely.

Steve Munatones is a casualty on that road for wanting solid change to make open water swimming safer, more global and successful. In my opinion he got hammered for having those thoughts. It is time to hammer back!

General S. Patton, a true leader was always open to criticism. "...If everyone is thinking alike then somebody isn't thinking." That was a quote of his.

From Swim News and yes I am holding my nose linking to to them:

A source told SwimNews that the American, a leading figure in the open water world, has been punished for "speaking to the media about internal affairs". Many argue that there is nothing internal about the death of a swimmer and that all issues should be transparent, with honesty, however painful, the only path to progress worth taking, the only path likely to result in meaningful change of the kind that Crippen himself had called for.


It's time for USA Swimmers and coaches to realize that they are essentially talent to be exploited. Olympic team members once they are selected should consider unionizing as soon as they are assembled post nationals. Perhaps, in a truly legal definition of a non-profit, maybe USA Swimming and FINA are not really non-profits? USA Swimming is NOT acting like a non-profit in my opinion. None of the governing bodies are. They are really good at collecting money and paying salaries to their execs but they don't pay swimmers.

Could the Salvation Army get away with the same practices to finance their organization? Really look where all the money is going. The average swimmer isn't even making a minimum wage! - So is it time to create a new regime? You guys have the votes, you can decide who runs USA Swimming.

Governing bodies are making millions-of-dollars off the Olympics and other leveraged marketing vehicles and are giving so little back! They don't offer scholarships, health insurance, nor athlete pensions. What has USA Swimming given to the subject of their non-profit?

It is time for athletes to start learning about trade unions, forming unions and questioning if a $34-million-a-year organization known as USA Swimming is a for real non-profit. If not, swimmers are entitled compensation for the fruits of their labor.

In Egypt the citizens protested because they were only making $6.30 a month as a minimum wage. Our USA Swimming national team members make nothing and pay dues.


homegrown said...

a real shame- and not an uncommon tale.

re your point: rallying the athlete. that does require the athlete to take on a whole new dimension to their pursuit: the game (admin) of politics.

while essential to their continued survival, the amount of energy (emotional and logistical) that it saps is huge and largely disproportionate to the return in value (especially in the short term). Tacking that onto a challenging training regime (considering the focus and commitment athletes require) usually results in either the athlete putting out sub-par performances, or getting fedup with the sport altogether, or just letting go and making his/her own way (which is way less energy than trying to fight an incumbent and often corrupt head).

It is my experience that the mindset of some officials administering a sport (only thinking about how to stay employed) are at odds with the mindset of the athlete (how to PB) and honest volunteer (how to grow the sport).

Which one should be the real ambassador for the "sport" and who is serving who at the end of the day gets lost in translation...

Swimming is not unique. Most (if not all) sporting bodies (on all scales) suffer potentially similar fates.

Hidden agendas and money fuel the motives for those "in power" (how did they get there in the first place anyways?) and they will wield that power to protect their past/ego/legacy, forsaking the future of the sport.

it'll take a radical, swift change (nothing short of a revolution) to break the cycles that continue to dominate and hinder the progress... but lead by who?

Russell Payne said...

Re the toll of the politics game, I am a pro swimmer trying to crack into the national team. I agree that while there is a non-trivial amount of energy investment required, I would argue that it is nothing compared to the energy required by the full- and part-time jobs that most of my peers and I need to hold to make this work.
I would like to add to your comment and this post that most of us are not looking for a huge share of swimming's profits, I am personally just trying to get to subsistance levels of income. I agree that our sport, like many others, needs an ambassador. As you stated, the problem is that many of those best suited to lead the "revolution" don't have much to gain from it. It may just require a slightly more grassroots effort.
I think this is a very interesting discussion and I'm looking forward to seeing it closer to the forefront of national-level consciousness.

Russ Payne

Tony Austin said...

Thank you for that comment. I am very flattered you posted.

I am sure a pro swimmer would be more that grateful making only 10% the salary that Chuck Wielgus makes. In fact most people would for 10% of his salary is about $75,000.

Making 5% would be even higher than the national average and only ding USA Swimming's pot of gold by 12%.

Anonymous said...

Steven Munatones is the greatest supporter and noise behind open water today. Shame on you FINA, AGAIN!!!!!