Publisher's note: I wrote my own views about USA Triathlon's proposed Bylaw changes. I don't like the changes. Nor do I like the fact that the resolutions proposed were sent out only with the ballot containing supporting language (no dissenting view attached).
Ben Collins is a sitting USAT Boardmember (below is our file photo of Ben). He is one of a number of pros who've contacted me, opposing the Bylaw changes. He asked if he could write his own "open letter" and here it is.
I’m writing to ask that you take five minutes to make your future experience in the sport of triathlon better. I’m asking you to vote “NO” on the bylaw changes that have been put to membership vote on the current USA Triathlon (USAT) ballot sent out last week. These changes would reduce your voice in the organization, would limit the ability of members to run for leadership positions within the organization, and would exclude some of the sport’s most passionate competitors from being eligible to represent you.
These changes are the brainchild of the US Olympic Committee (USOC), proposed under the guise of creating a “competency based board”, while in reality the changes are meant to allow the current power structure to self-nominate and protect their positions of power from potential opposing views of our triathlon membership.
Remember, reading this is not enough, as the ballot itself does not have an opposing view published. As such, the default for unsuspecting members will be to vote away their own rights. Those of us who care about our sport, people like you who spend their weekends reading about triathlon, we need to vote against this measure to ensure it does not pass. This is the last step in the approval process and if the bylaws change there is no going back. You need to vote!
Below are the three main reasons why you should find the USAT ballot in your email, open it and click “no” to the USAT Bylaw changes. Do not let our members be tricked into voting away their own rights!
The proposed changes limit ability of members to run for board positions
The proposed changes include language that limits the ability of members to run for positions on the USAT board of directors. Currently any USAT member can run for the board by collecting 50 signatures. The proposed bylaws would require a prospective board member to be selected by the nominating and governing committee (NBC), meaning the pool of eligible leaders is selected by the current leaders.
This nominating system will lead to cronyism, with no method for an outsider to become elected into the power structure of USAT.
The proposed changes reduce member representation
The proposed changes reduce regional representatives from 8 seats to 6. These other two seats would become "Independent Directors" who are elected directly by the NGC, further propagating cronyism.
So, your regional representative would be responsible for representing a larger area, so you would have less of a voice. And instead there would be new directors who weren't voted on by the membership.
The USAT Bylaw changes are an attempt by the current leaders of USAT to protect their positions and interests. As we have outlined, these changes are not in the best interest of the USAT membership, and the Athlete Advisory Committee asks that you vote against the ballot measure to amend the bylaws. Please share this with your fellow USAT members, and let your voice be heard. Vote No.
The proposed changes limit the ability of athletes to hold board positions
The proposed changes prevent anyone able to run for a board position as one of the three elite athlete representatives from running for any of the remaining nine seats. This means anyone who has represented the US in triathlon at an elite level is ineligible to represent their region for a period of ten years.
This is highly unusual. If passed, USA Triathlon would become the first national governing body under the USOC to limit the number of athletes able to hold board positions.
The proposed changes limit the people who are most passionate about our sport from taking leadership roles. Currently athletes who competed in ITU World Championships back in 2006 would not be eligible to run for as a regional representative, even if they're now retired and are working as coaches or race directors.
For example, David Kuendig is the current Mideast Region representative, and he competed in an ITU world championship in 2012 as an elite. He has since retired from elite competition, and under the bylaw changes would ineligible to run for reelection next year.
Shoot this down.
When you go to vote you will see how the proponents of this bill worded the ballot. There is no opposition view posted, and it will pass by default if YOU do not take action. Do not be tricked. The people pushing this through cannot be removed from power if we let them pass these changes, essentially protecting their positions from activist members with different views.
To vote against this bill, search your inbox for an email from firstname.lastname@example.org, under the name “USA Triathlon Election Coordinator”. There you will find a link to the election ballot, along with your member number and password for login.
VOTE NO, and share this information.
There is no dissenting argument posted, and USA Triathlon controls the email list for members. It is up to us to spread the word about this measure, and to convince others to vote no along with us. After you’ve voted, please ask your friends to do the same. Share this story with them so that hopefully we can prevent our sport from being taken away from us.
Thank you for taking part in this election, and I hope to continue representing the interests of the greater membership in the future. If you have questions, you can find my email below.
Athlete Director, USA Triathlon Board of Directors