Butterfly Online

April 18, 2014

The Next USATT CEO

I'm somewhat surprised that there still isn't any "help wanted" note from USA Table Tennis for the next CEO. Previous CEO Mike Cavanaugh announced his resignation on March 26. Presumably someone is working on this.  

I just hope the USATT Board doesn't fall into the same ongoing trap we've been ensnared in since our beginning in 1933, and try to sell a "broken" product. I put "broken" in quotes because there's really nothing wrong with the sport (which is why it is so successful overseas in Europe and Asia), but with the way it is developed and promoted in the USA. And I should put "developed" in quotes as well since there's no serious effort to develop the sport from USATT.

There's this belief that the solution to our problems is to raise money. That's like saying the solution to being rich is to be rich, which sounds great except it doesn't explain how to get rich. Raising large sums of money for USATT is an extremely difficult job at the moment (and in our past) because we are a status quo organization. Sponsors want to get in on the ground floor of a growing sport, not the attic of a small one that's satisfied with the status quo. (And when I say satisfied, I'm referring to actions, not words.) Raising money has been a priority of nearly all our past CEO's, it just isn't publicized much because none were successful at doing it. 

I've blogged about this before, and I'll undoubtedly blog about it again, but what's needed is a CEO who is a table tennis person, whose primary focus is to develop the sport. That means developing a growing network of regional leagues; the recruitment and training of professional coaches and those who wish to run junior programs; a professional league or circuit; setting up regional associations that focus on developing their own regions; developing the U.S. Open and/or Nationals into truly premier events; and similar projects. (Some of these are being developed independently, and USATT could help tremendously by making them top priority items.) We don't need these programs to be highly successful to attract sponsors; we need them to show promise, and that's when sponsors will jump in to be on the ground floor of our growing sport.

USATT needs to hire a CEO from inside the sport committed to developing the sport from within so as to better sell it outside. It's a lot better to fix the product and then sell it then to try and sell a faulty product. That's the point of my Ping-Pong Apartments essay. Any amount of money we can raise now will pale in comparison to what we could raise if we first create a more saleable product. 

We need a five-year plan. There are two types of five-year plans: those that are made for political purposes (for show), and those made to actually accomplish something. The latter is what is needed. And then we raise money and take the sport to the next level. But alas, we'll likely try to skip the development step, just as we have done in the past. It doesn't take great money to get started on this process, but it is the process to develop the sport that will attract the sponsors and money needed to take it to that next level.

We have the opportunity to start fresh. We rarely have this opportunity - the last time was at the 2009 Strategic Meeting, where we had a brand new group of board members. But a few people at the meeting were able to convince them to stick to the same old stuff while convincing them it was new, and the opportunity was lost. Alas, it's not hard for a few people to do this. All they have to do is look convincing and argue for the same great-sounding non-specific general stuff that never works. Specific programs are needed to develop the sport, not just general proclamations to develop something or other.

Who will be the next CEO? It probably won't be me. To be blunt, I don't look good in a suit. (For the too-literal minded, that's a metaphor, meaning I don't look like a "conventional" CEO.) So who will it be? I don't know, though I keep hearing rumors. Whoever it is won't be successful unless he has great table tennis experience, vision, energy, and gets complete buy-in and support from the USATT board.

Training Camp in China

Want to train in China for three weeks this summer? Here's info! There are camps all over the U.S. and the world this summer, including my club, MDTTC.

Table Tennis Tutorial, Beginning to Advanced

Here's the video (58:58). Alas, it's in Chinese, no English sub-titles.

2014 Highlights "Special Moments and Great Plays"

Here's another great video (9:00) from Jim Butler for USATT, showcasing many of the most memorable rallies and moments over the past year.

Elderly and Disabled Encouraged to Play Table Tennis

Here's the article.

Ariel Hsing is Running for Class of 2017 Social Chair

Here's her campaign page! Amazingly, her "About Me" page doesn't mention table tennis - you have to go to her "Events" page to find that. (Though there are a few small photos at the bottom of the home page.) But we do find out she's allergic to bananas!

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Re: April 18, 2014

I'm not seeing a link for the 58:58 tutorial?  Thanks.

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: April 18, 2014

Oops - sorry about that, I've put in the link.