Saturday, February 05, 2011

'Swimming World' disables reader comments for 'ASCA' Founder, John Leonard's Op Ed!

John Leonard has been lobbying the public via Swimming World for FINA to appoint a coaches position on the FINA Bureau for some time. Mr. Leonard has used words like "democracy" and has even evoke the death of "Fran Crippen," which I found summarily objectionable, to resonate his point.

It is my belief that politicians trying to convince the public to vote their way generally use fear, sentimentality or both to evoke an emotional response. It is my belief that a coaches position at the FINA bureau is in ASCA's best interest and not in any way shape or form in the athlete's best interest. Athletes need a union not a governing body that makes tens-of-millions-of-dollars off their aquatic labor and then gives them nothing in return.

I am not a fan of ASCA and I have criticized John Leonard's on the Swimming World message boards on at least one or two occasions. Apparently Mr. Leonard may have insisted, and I want to make it clear that this is a guess, that Swimming World turn off the message board for his Op Ed so as to free him from having to confront what he may view as shrill or unflattering criticism and thereby not be forced to defend his position. I don't know, this is merely a guess/opinion. Take my opinion at face value but I must ask, why is the comment option turned off for just his article?

So, since I cannot voice my critique at Swimming World, I will voice it here.

Here is a snippet from the article my response below it:

And surely in a sport dominated by professional athletes and coached by Professional Coaches, the input from one of those professional coaches cannot be anything but a wonderful assistance to the volunteers of the FINA Bureau.


Swimming is NOT dominated by professional athletes, that statement is demonstrably absurd. Swimming is populated with swimmers who can barely scrape together their daily bread without the help of parents, colleges, or friends. In the United States you can count on one hand how many swimmers make a middle class income or better.

This nonsense that swimmers are professionals because if they win a moderately big meet it could translate into a $20,000 check does not wash either. The training cost, traveling expenses, accommodation fees, and taxes will erase at least 60% of those winnings and that is assuming that the "professional" in question won the meet not just one race. Ask yourself this, What do swimmers make if they "just" made it to the final?

It has been my observation as of late that any coach that reaches the rarefied air of governing body politics is, in my opinion, essentially a "Yes-Men" to the governing body that put them there and pays them handsomely. Allowing a "coach vote" will simply double-down the power of the governing bodies thereby out voting individual swimmer interests.

Also, in my opinion, governing bodies do not want professional swimmers, nor unionized swimmers who tell the execs at USA Swimming, "Hey, 10 people on your executive staff make $2.7-million dollars, how about FIFTY of us swimmers divide up $2.7-million dollars like you guys do?" If they did, USA Swimming would still have 25-million or so to spend of furniture and websites.

I think this is a very dark hour for Swimming World and this is something they should be embarrassed about. They gave John Leonard a soap box and allowed the readers no chance to leave a response or rebuttal. Disabling comments so as to stifle public criticism of an OP Ed when the comments section is alive and well for other Op Eds gives the appearance that somebody has very "thin skin" in my opinion.

Why is it that one man can use the extraordinary credibility of Swimming World; (trust me when I say that Swimming World has extraordinary "street cred"), to make a political statement which subsequently gives the appearance that Swimming World endorses his views without allowing the "voters" in his proverbial "democracy" the ability to voice their opinions back at him?

If anybody wants thriving professional in our sport it is FINA. Keep governing body "Yes-Men" out of the way. Return tech suits back to swimming so that athletes will have something to sell in exchange for an honest living.

The photo is licensed under Creative Commons.


Glenn said...

Hmmmmmm... does strike as strange that they wouldn't allow posts on this article. Probably not the best practice in selecting which articles you're going to allow posts... either allow them, or don't. Of course, if you don't allow any posts... then you end up like that other "swimming news" blog that's a total one way opinion piece ranting website. Some people are just too afraid to accept honest reaction from the public. If so, don't post those articles... like I don't. ;) I'm chicken.

Anonymous said...

You'll enjoy this too...

This blog will be next!

Tony Austin said...

John Leonard is in full-out lobbying mode. He has now tweaked his message to includes athletes so as to try and gain support.

Where were the athletes in this dialog 6-months ago? And what athletes will they pick, some forgotten swimmer from decades ago who needs the FINA paycheck or will it be a representative the athletes elect! No specifics at all, just hot air.

This gentleman has used Fran Crippen, has evoked the red,white, and blue concept of Democracy, and now is dragging in the "poor" athletes into his debate to perhaps get his ass; (in my opinion), or a "yes-man" on the FINA's board.

How many women at FINA? Will that be his next cause Celeb?

Is John Leonard complaining that the USA Swimming Form 990 shows that perhaps only 20% or less is actually going to the athletes themselves and the rest going into the USA Swimming machine?

Is he complaining that USA Swimming owns the insurance company that insures USA Swimming athletes and that it is incorporated in Barbados and we don't even know who is drawing salaries from it?

No, he is complaining that he can't get a proverbial "yes-man;" (in my opinion), on the board so as to ensure people like him can "guide" the sport instead of athletes like our Olympians who need to make a living and are not able to even afford a place to live in most cases.

Sometimes I feel like I am a guy on the Titanic who has spotted an iceberg and everybody thinks I am either too stupid to really be taking seriously, or they are too afraid to voice an opinion that is far more accurate and far more articulate than mine for fear being pulled off a relay come the Olympics games much like Gary Hall was!

Swimmers need to unionize or create a political action committee and go to the congress with the USA Swimming Form 990 and demand that at least 51% of what USA Swimming is raking in from the parents is giving back to them.

Anonymous said...

The plot continues to thicken as it relates to USA Swimming, ASCA, Mark Schubert and Sean Hutchison. It appears to be on the fast track to getting a lot worse before it gets better. Consider the latest developments...

Schubert was cooperating and sharing information with the attorneys suing USA Swimming in the sexual abuse trials. He also obtained photos (through a private investigator) that showed Hutchison appearing to being cozy and intimate with one of the FAST post grad athletes. USA Swimming, in fear of the potential damage that Schubert can cause, settled with Schubert for two millon dollars on the condition that he not cooperate with the attorneys opposing USA Swimming and he keeps quiet about the Hutchison issue.

When the Hutchison scandal broke in the Washington Post, Hutchison told USA Swimming and the leaders of FAST that he was gay and it is impossible for him to have a sexual relationship with one of his female athletes. However, there has been some new developments and Hutchison has not been on deck at FAST practice for the last three weeks and many of the FAST post grad swimmers are now swimming unattached at the upcoming Missouri grand prix. There is something going on and it doesn't sound good.

USA Swimming paid over 15 million dollars in legal fees to defend sexual abuse lawsuits in 2010. A new sexual abuse lawsuit against USA Swimming has been filed in Seattle, WA and two more are forthcoming in Indianapolis, IN and Bakersfield, CA. With several trials coming up and the new lawsuits, it would be safe to estimate that legal fees figure to more than double in 2011 past the 30 million plus mark.

The television media is preparing another piece against USA Swimming and is looking into ASCA's John Leonard and Peter Banks writing letters of recommendation for notorious Irish pedophile coach George Gibney for jobs with clubs in the United States and working as a consultant for USA Swimming.

USA Swimming and ASCA are very similar in that they both have rubber stamp boards that don't provide oversight to their executive directors and employees. Both organizations manipulate, profit off of, and squander their membership's money.

Tony Austin said...

Wow, you know more than I do. Awesome. It's good to know that there are people out there trying to get the governing bodies to fly straight instead of straight to the bank.

I commend you, whoever you are. :-D

surfer said...

what has ASCA done for me as a coach and athlete?

-Annual dues
-Made it essential to attend annual convitions where the same thing is repeated... at large expense.
-forced the ban of tech development in swim gear.
-been a bully when i raised concerns in the organization

where does all the ASCA money go?

Anonymous said...

It's been the same "swim mob" with their "Dons" runnin it for over thirty years. While most of us out here are living from pay check to pay check, the "Godfathers" are getting fat off our dues and mandatory certification and education fees. What a scam.

Anonymous said...

You asked " What has ASCA done for me as a coach and athlete?" The answer is just enough to keep you, your fellow coaches and ASCA Board members from looking into what it does for John Leonard.

John Leonard likes to say ASCA is "staff driven". Any one who has ever worked there knows the only one driving anything at ASCA is John Leonard. The ASCA Board has no idea what is going on at ASCA unless John Leonard tells them. The Board members support John Leonard not ASCA members.

John Leonard is a self promoter. Maybe some day the curtain will be pulled back to reveal what John Leonard has been doing at ASCA for over 30 years.

Anonymous said...

You asked " What has ASCA done for me as a coach and athlete?" The answer is just enough to keep you, your fellow coaches and ASCA Board members from looking into what it does for John Leonard.

John Leonard likes to say ASCA is "staff driven". Any one who has ever worked there knows the only one driving anything at ASCA is John Leonard. The ASCA Board has no idea what is going on at ASCA unless John Leonard tells them. The Board members support John Leonard not ASCA members.

John Leonard is a self promoter. When the curtain is pulled back many people in swimming will be shocked!

Tony Austin said...

I published this a second time because you added a paragraph at the end. Please avoid duplicates