February 13, 2019

Tip of the Week
Wanting to Win Versus Hating to Lose.

Pink Eye
As noted the last couple of days, I've been sick in bed with Conjunctivitis, i.e. "Pink Eye." I'm 80% over that, and no longer look like Frankenstein's monster. There's still a lot of puffiness, I'm still going through Kleenex faster than a coach can feed multiball, and I have the energy of a smooshed ping-pong ball, but I'm back in action. Alas, my stomach seems perpetuall queezy right now. 

USATT Election
A USATT election is taking place, with three candidate running for my current position - Mike Babuin, Bruce Liu, and Lily Yip. (As I've blogged about, I chose not to run for re-election. It's someone else's turn! I expect to stay neutral in the election.) Here is the USATT Election News Item. Here is the pertinent info from it:

  • Voting will start on February 25, 2019, and end on March 3, 2019. Voting will be on-line only.  
  • Eligible voters must have a current USATT membership that has been valid for at least 60 days prior to February 25, 2019, be in good standing with the association and be 18 or older. 
  • The ballot will be emailed to USATT members on February 25th.
  • Members should vote for only one candidate. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the eligible votes cast, then there will be a run-off election between the top two candidates who received the most votes.

Here is election info from each.

Mike has produced eleven videos where he covers various USATT issues. (He told me he's recorded about 30 so far, and the rest will go up regularly over the next couple of weeks.)



USATT Teleconference
USATT had a teleconference on Monday night (Feb. 11, 7PM to about 9:30PM), which will likely be my last USATT meeting. Up until a couple hours before it began I wasn't sure if would be able to attend, or at least speak in the meeting due to my voice being a croak due to "pink eye" (see above and previous blogs). But my voice miraculously cleared up late that afternoon, probably due to the antibiotics I'd started taking the day before. Here's a rough synopsis. (I think all nine board members attended, plus a number of staff and committee chairs.)

  1. After roll call, we voted to approve the minutes of the October, 2018 meeting. Normally this should have been done long ago. We were supposed to vote on it in a previous meeting, but at the time it came up, we only had four board members on the call and so didn't have a quorum. There was one major point of discussion as the minutes included mention of the discussion we had of the "Board Election, and Nominating and Governance Committee." I remember this clearly, as it pertained to me since the election is about those running for my position, and several others also remembered this. But Rajul Sheth vehemently insists we never had this discussion, and so voted against approving these minutes. (This wasn't out of the blue - we've had a copy of the draft of the minutes for months, and he brought this up long ago.)
  2. We received a written High Performance Report by HPD Jörg Bitzigeio.
  3. There was an update on the CEO search. Most likely CoGeo - the firm hired to help with the search - will send recommendations to the CEO Selection Committee in about four weeks, which will then do its own evaluation, which could take up to another six weeks. So most likely the board will be voting on the hiring of a new CEO around late April.
  4. We had a financial update. There had been financial discrepancies found in USATT accounting, likely caused from the transition from our previous accountant to our new one, Chris Mauro. The main problem pertained to something like $500,000 in entry fees received in 2017 for the 2018 World Veterans Championships, making it look like we had a huge amount of money in 2017 that was then lost over the next year. To make absolutely sure, we had hired an outside accounting firm to go over the books, which they did, and nothing nefarious was found. USATT will also have its annual outside audit, which for 2018 will come out around September. (As an accounting layman, I don't know why it takes so long, but I'm assured that's normal.) 
  5. I led a long discussion on the USATT Board Code of Conduct. There are some silly things in it, as I explained. For example, it requires board members to "support" all decisions by the board, whether they voted for them or not. The problem is that "support" has many meanings. Using Webster's, the board could "weaponize" this by insisting it meant that board members had to "defend as right" and "argue for" decisions they don't agree with. Or, as I also pointed out, we could define it as meaning "to uphold or defend as valid," which is a bit more reasonable. As I pointed out, with the current wording, if a board member is asked his opinion on a decision he disagrees with, he has to lie and say that he believes the decision is right and argue for it, or he could be found in violation of the Code of Conduct! So I proposed changing board members will "Respect and support the decisions of the board" to "Respect and uphold…" Ed Hogshead disagreed, arguing that outside of meetings, the board should speak with one voice. (He and I have a fundamental disagreement here.) I also proposed a change to the part where it says that board members shall not "be critical, in or outside of a board meeting, of other board members or their opinions." I want to take off "or their opinions." There were a few other similar items I wanted changed. However, while it looks like the board will overwhelmingly approve these changes, there were some disagreements on language. So this was set aside, and board members were directed to email their recommendations to me, board chair Anne Cribbs, and USATT attorney Dennis Taylor. (So far none have been received.) I discussed this issue at greater length in my January 14 blog, in the segment on the teleconference.
  6. We received a short report on the status of a proposed General Membership Code of Conduct.
  7. There was a long discussion about a proposed "Understanding between USATT - ITTF North America and TT Canada." Tony Kiesehofer, ITTF regional director for North America, was on the call to take questions. In simple terms, the ITTF hopes to run more events in North America.
  8. We had an executive session to discuss personnel/legal issues. I can't believe that XXXXX did XXXXX to XXXXX!!! Wow!!! :) See, if you were on the board you'd get to know all about this!
  9. We discussed a proposal to change the USATT mission statement to match the new one listed in the new USATT Strategic Priorities. Surprisingly, most of the discussion here and previously (via email and our last teleconference) was over whether to use a comma or semicolon at one part. Yeah, this was, IMHO, a Dilbert moment. It didn't affect the meaning, just the emphasis, in the opinion of some, though I don't agree. I stayed out of the discussion, though previously when asked I said it didn't matter. We voted to approve the new mission statement, with the "comma" version. So, are you on Team Comma or Team Semicolon? (Or maybe Team Previous?) You decide - here are the two"versions"; I'll let you find the change. 
    "The Mission of USATT is to support, develop, grow, and inspire the table tennis community, and to provide resources that enable athletes to achieve sustained competitive excellence and pursue Olympic and Paralympic success." (This was the approved version.)
    "The Mission of USATT is to support, develop, grow, and inspire the table tennis community; and to provide resources that enable athletes to achieve sustained competitive excellence and pursue Olympic and Paralympic success."
    =>Here was the previous Mission Statement:
    "The Mission of the USATT shall be to enable United States athletes to achieve sustained competitive excellence in Olympic/Paralympic, Pan American or Para Pan American Games, and other international competitions, and to promote and grow the sport of Table Tennis in the United States, while creating a lasting value for our members."
  10. There was a proposal by the Ethics and Grievance Committee to make several changes the bylaws to protect USATT from obvious nuisance grievances. Few people realize that USATT board and staff spent more time over about one year on one single person than the other 8000 members combined - because this person discovered that he could use loopholes to force USATT to address every single one of about 100 nuisance "grievances" he filed. He lost on every single case, but I personally spent over 110 hours on this issue, and others spent even more. (It was one of a number of reasons I decided not to run for re-election.) It was one of the biggest wastes of USATT time and resources in modern history. I was one of the ones who asked the EGC to look into fixing this problem, and I am grateful that they have done so. I agreed with all of the proposals, but several board members still had questions on some aspects and others hadn't had time to review them, and so it was tabled until next meeting. As to the changes themselves, there were several, but one in particular was a simple solution: it allowed the EGC, in consultation with the USATT attorney, to judge whether a complaint has merit rather than being forced to go through a formal hearing, etc., that forces the accused parties to spend huge amounts of time and money on their defense. A nuisance grievance may seem like something you can ignore, but if you don't defend against even baseless accusations, you could lose and you don't get a second chance.
  11. There was a short discussion of the problem of match dumping, but that'll be taken up again at a future meeting, with possible recommendations from the tournament committee.
  12. Update on the Board of Directors Election. (See segment above.)
  13. Update on Committee membership process and status. The number of people who volunteered for USATT committees was disappointing, so there is going to be another push for such volunteers. (See my January 28 blog on this, and this news item that just went up.)
  14. We had a written Foundation and Fundraising report from Carl Danner.
  15. Chief Operating Officer Mark Thompson gave a US Nationals update. Entry form was delayed as they are trying to add some new events, such as mini-cadet teams, which I hope they can fit in. (It'll likely be out next week.) The official hotel will be the Renaissance Hotel. The tournament is July 1-6 in Las Vegas.
  16. There was discussion of the upcoming USATT board meeting, March 29-31 at the ICC club in California. This will likely be the first meeting with someone taking my place on the board.

2020 USA Table Tennis Olympic Selections
USA Olympian Wang Chen created a "We the People" White House petition about the 2020 Olympic Games Athlete Selection Procedures. As I blogged on January 7, I don't agree with them either. All three of the candidates running for my position on the board are also against them. It's unlikely they'll get the 100,000 needed, but who knows. (NOTE - I put this up a few hours after the blog went up, so initial readers might not see this.)

Portugal Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event taking place now through this weekend in Lisboa, Portugal.

USATT and ITTF News Items
Rather than redundantly link to every one of their main news items, here are their news pages. I've linked directly in segments below to many of the most interesting ones.

New from Samson Dubina

New from Tom Lodziak

New from Eli Baraty

New from EmRatThich

Creativity in Table Tennis
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Backspin Back Through the Duct Tape
Here's the video (18 sec, with slo-mo replay) of Matt Hetherington. I tried this once and hit the tape a zillion times on the way back before I was able to get it through one time. But seriously, this type of practice is great for developing spin and serve control. Put various targets on the table and spin your serves so the ball hits them on the way back or swerves around them. (Here's a good place to link to Matt's Coaching Blog index.)

Loop, Loop, Smash Combo
Here's the video (5 sec) - a loop against backspin, a loop against block, and then a smash.

The First Episode of ITTF's Inside My Mind, Featuring Ding Ning
Here's the video (68 sec).

Timo Boll | Training 2019 Table Tennis
Here's the video (7:12).

Training with Adrien Rassenfosse
Here's the video (13:57) of the Belgium player, from Arnaud Scheen.

DHS ITTF Top 10 - 2019 Hungarian Open
Here's the video (6 min).

Half a Century of Playing the US Open Started in a Red Mustang and a Road Trip
Here's the USATT article featuring Homer Brown, by Richard Finn. In December Homer competed in his 50th consecutive U.S. Open. (I'm chasing him - I've been to every Open and Nationals since 1984 - 35 in row for both - and every North American Teams (previously called the U.S. Open Teams) since 1976 - 43 in a row.

Royals Induct Former Broadcasters Into Wall of Honor
Here's the article on USATT Chief Operating Officer Mark Thompson as he is inducted into the Reading Royals (hockey team) Wall of Honor.

WAB Featured Club: Han-In Table Tennis Club
Here's the article on this New Jersey club, by Steve Hopkins.

Boston Bruins’ Pucks & Paddles Raises $119,000
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter Eight of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "Reader's Views." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at www.timboggantabletennis.com. Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Let's Get More Females Playing Table Tennis!
Here's the USATT video (2:15), featuring Lily Zhang and Wu Yue.

Table Tennis, Best Of
Here's the video (7:33).

Table Tennis - "Never Give Up!"
Here's the video (5:41).

2018 Table Tennis Year Review
Here's the video (5:12) from Pong Universe.

Enter the Snake: Twist of Fury
Here's the video (2:45) featuring Adam Bobrow. It's pretty hilarious - why don't more players use this shot? My guess is it'd be pretty effective up to perhaps the 2000 level, and sometimes beyond that! You should be able to read the bounce of the ball by the way it's spinning in the air toward you, but since you are not used to seeing this shot, few players can react correctly. Strong players who are nimble on their feet and don't react prematurely can adjust at the last second after seeing the bounce - but it's tricky!

Table Tennis Challenge w/ Timo Boll | Müller vs. Hummels
Here's the video (14 min) - I'm not sure what's going on as it's in German, but it has Timo Boll, and involves "around the table" play and some sort of challenge match. Presumably Müller and Hummels are some sort of celebrities? Comment below if you have any idea of what's going on.

Sunny Bunnies Table Tennis
Here's the cartoon video (31:52, with the first 3.5 minutes featuring table tennis)!

Space and Table Tennis
Here's the cartoon!

Crazy Funny Table Tennis Ping Pong
Here's the video (2:19)!

The Funniest Moments of Table Tennis 2018
Here's the video (23:59)!

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