In a letter addressed, "Dear USA Triathlon Key Stakeholder," USA Triathlon's board president, Barry Siff, responded to Life Time Tri's decision not to sanction. Key Stakeholders, according to USAT, are Race Directors, Coaches, Officials, Committees, Clubs, Region Chairs, Board of Directors, Staff and Partners. Other letters to Key Stakeholders over the past 3 months included one regarding the departure of CEO Rob Urbach and the presentation of USAT's new strategic plan.
This particular letter defended triathlon's national governing body in the U.S., stressing USAT's experience and risk management expertise, while criticizing Life Time's move.
The letter "resulted in the circulation of misinformation," according to Siff. Among these was Life Time's characterization that USAT's one day membership was a "hidden fee." While the fee is not hidden, it is often considered a component of what has become known as drip pricing: fees like this, and the registration "convenience fee", that are not disclosed until the end of a registration process.
Siff also took issue with time penalties characterized as "surprises."
Below is the text of the letter in full, and a thread on the Slowtwitch Reader Forum discusses the letter:
Greetings, I hope this finds you well and your season has so far proven to be both rewarding and enjoyable!
I am writing to address last week's announcement by Life Time Tri that it will no longer sanction its eight races with USA Triathlon. This announcement resulted in the circulation of misinformation, as well as several questions being posed to us. None of these items are new, and we have addressed them many times over the years.
However, as we continually strive to communicate openly and proactively with our community, I wanted to once again clarify some specific points:
The benefits of sanctioning with USA Triathlon are many.
- Experience – USA Triathlon has sanctioned more than 40,000 races over the last 35 years, delivering athlete peace-of-mind by ensuring, among other things, industry-wide safety standards and high-quality event criteria.
- Event Services – USA Triathlon offers an experienced and expert team to support race directors and event production companies with questions and issues, as well as provide certification, best practices, educational opportunities, and other resources.
- Risk Management – Sanctioning ensures unmatched insurance protection designed specifically for multisport events – not gym memberships – to cover the event, the athlete, and the venue at the most nominal cost possible. Athletes (and their families) and race directors who have unfortunately needed to utilize this general liability and excess medical coverage, including in the tragic circumstances of catastrophic incidents, can personally attest to its irreplaceable importance. The costs incurred by USA Triathlon and our policy providers to cover claims and defend against unwarranted lawsuits have saved race directors tens of millions of dollars over the years.
Other points of clarification:
- The cost for a USA Triathlon one-day membership is not a “hidden fee” as alleged by Life Time. Race directors are strongly encouraged to always notify athletes in advance about the requirement for either USA Triathlon annual or one-day membership.
- Utilizing USA Triathlon Rules and Certified Officials does not result in “surprises” for athletes. In fact, just the opposite. Implementing penalties mid-race (i.e., penalty tents) actually does the following:
Removes the ability for any due process or realistic appeals by athletes – The process of assessing USA Triathlon penalties does not interfere with the athlete during competition, but instead allows the athlete to address any concerns about the violation after completing the race, and may result in the penalty being rescinded should a mistake be determined.
Threatens on-course safety – For sprint- and Olympic-distance age-group races, having officials on motorized vehicles directing athletes in real time to penalty tents can significantly decrease on-course safety, particularly on the bike leg. Short-course races for at-large age-group athletes differ considerably from long-course races, elite races, or age-group world championship races where penalty tents can all be more effectively integrated.
Regardless of claims to the contrary, customized event offerings such as the ability for athletes to choose their own wave/start time or have greater access to transition areas, are already being implemented at other sanctioned races and are not new concepts. There are many examples currently within USA Triathlon’s 4,000-plus sanctioned races where these approaches and other innovations have been successfully offered. Our goal as a sanctioning body is to be flexible and accommodate event-specific requests whenever possible, provided they do not compromise safety or the quality of experience for the athlete.
For competitive athletes, sanctioned races provide coveted points for USA Triathlon Regional and National Rankings (comprised of more than 37,039 athletes in 2016), including USA Triathlon All-American status. And only sanctioned races provide the opportunity to qualify for USA Triathlon National Championships and the chance to represent your country at ITU Age Group World Championships as a member of Team USA.
As the official National Governing Body (NGB) for the sport of triathlon in the United States, we are responsible for selecting and training teams for international competition including the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We are dedicated to supporting and growing youth and women’s participation in our sport. Our commitment to paratriathlon is perhaps the strongest and most successful in the world. We help educate first-time triathletes, as well as race directors, coaches and officials. And we have a very strong Safe Sport program, helping protect our members, including the most vulnerable.
The fees for one-day and annual memberships are recirculated back into the sport to accomplish all of this – and more – while fulfilling our mission to advance and promote the sport of triathlon. For example, this year we will award $60,000 in youth grants, directly assist high school programs and state championships in significant ways, and continue to support our NCAA Emerging Sport for Women initiative in order to reach full championship status.
Change for the sake of change is not a compelling strategy. Ultimately, the sport loses as a whole . . . a “strategy” that is not good for anyone.
The letter closed with, "As always, we welcome feedback, questions and concerns, so please feel free to contact me personally," and, "Our commitment to you and our great sport is unwavering, and we thank YOU for being such an important part of it."