This was my first executive meeting and it became a preview for the upcoming January 2022 board meeting. Lots of good conversations about the changing world that is engulfing water skiers with new expectations, possible rules and requirements from Congress. It was pointed out that we have received letters directly from Congressional leaders related to our handling of Safesport and background check expectations as a national governing board (NGB). It was also evident that insurance companies use their influence and control for demands to force the implementation of some of the newly defined requirements on our membership as well. What was enlightening was that membership in USOPC has little impact on these requirements. Our membership as a recognized NBG is an incredible benefit to keeping our credibility in the eyes of potential sponsors and media outlets for future funding and support for teams, events and athletes at a variety of levels.
The most critical conversation of the morning included details that our membership needs to be aware of no matter the sport. We are going to have to figure out a way to comply with the new requirements.
A great deal of conversation has been shared about the impact of new requirements and membership criteria as well as questions about disassociating from USOPC. For insight into where the requirements for coaches, managers, drivers, and all other officials comes from consider the following, SafeSport was created by the US Congress and is mandated to all sports that are affiliated with the USOPC as well as any other amateur sports organizations.
Untangling USAWSWS from the USOPC is a challenge at many levels. Nearly $600,000 over the last 3 years of USAWSWS’ revenue has come from the USOPC. We also benefit from additional sponsorships and grants solidified by the organization’s USOPC relationship. That revenue is benefit to keeping the lights on. Even if we had the money to go independent the organization's legal liability could increase substantially and it seems, we cannot avoid congressional or legal oversight.
Blaming the current USAWS leadership for the mandates misses the point. No one in leadership at USAWSWS or AWSA has the power to do away with the mandates nor did they create them. If SafeSport and background mandates are the last straw and you are going to quit over it, you will have a hard time finding a new sport. The national governing body for soccer, softball, baseball, bowling, hockey, tennis, weightlifting, swimming, surfing and most other organized sports all fall under "Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017". It is understandable to dislike the mandates. It may also be inconvenient and burdensome at a time when we need to encourage membership growth, but it is an unfortunate reality of the world we live in.
The board has assurances from Nate Boudreaux, USAWSWS Executive Director, that the details related to the liability and responsibilities for the LOC will be clarified in greater detail. He relayed we have seen few changes from past years except in minor language clarification.
USAWSWS is also working to meet the security demands of online technology and will be implementing a new Membership Dashboard. This new resource will be announced shortly via email requesting a reset of your member access password. This new platform is designed to meet the security expectations of the membership and will integrate some new features that will be implemented over the next year including simplified tracking of certifications, licenses, background checks and educational successes.
Please remember we are a great family of people that love water skiing and we have the ability to come together to make it work for everyone involved.