Ken Monzingo to the District 22 Board

May 9, 2011

My problems with our International program

I’ve discussed with my district in detail the painful $165,000 a year we give to the World Bridge Federation just for the USBF’s right to play in their tournaments (far less than 1% of ACBL players do). This de facto “membership” in the WBF through its proxy, USBF, offers absolutely no benefit to ACBL, even though this money is sent to Europe via the league’s general fund – our money. I’ve voiced protest at why we choose to pay $1.00 each for all members of ACBL instead of USBF, our National Board Organization (who’s in complete charge of our international play) paying the WBF’s tariff in accordance with their 300-400 membership. I’m told it’s because we are the “Zonal Authority” – say what? One of my constituents, who is also dismayed at our actions on this, suggested the following solution:

“We give ACBL members the option of joining USBF, if they wish, with extra dues just as Canadians can opt for the CBF or not, as they wish, when they join ACBL. Then the USBF, as a WBF member (as it is now), can forward WBF dues and membership count based on its membership, not ACBL membership.

Then those opting for USBF membership can have voting rights in the USBF (which they do not have now). That would make the USBF a more democratic organization.”

 My board, and those in my district who write letters support me on my stand 100% (I have yet to receive the first comment from the other side – if there is one). Try to explain this spending to your districts, especially to the majority who play in clubs. They are bridge players. They play bridge. That’s what they do. They care little about paying for the rich and famous, along with four or five of our ACBL board members, globe-trotting around the world. They did not ask, not want, to be USBF members, or to be subject to something called WBF zonal authority, nor any other bridge organization other than ACBL, their home district, and their home unit. And, they expect me and you to protect their money and their beloved bridge association. So far, I haven’t.

  I’ve also discussed with my district the additional $225,000 players donate each year to send expert and highly paid professional USBF players and their wealthy sponsors to these worldwide bridge games. This is like explaining a foreign language in Braille. They do not understand why we do it, nor why we allow it to happen, but they do not like it. The IF donations, and all ACBL monies come only from you, me, and our constituents. The league has no products to market, no service to sell. Our seventy-five year old association is totally, completely, dependent on money from our members – raised from their donations and their annual memberships, from the club contributions of the 3200 sanctioned bridge games, from the table sanctions of the 1150 annual sectionals, sanctions from 130 regionals a year, and profits from the three NABCs.

 Since we receive little accounting of where, what for, or to whom our annual International Fund donations go, why not sever all invisible USBF/WBF relations and allow ACBL to retake charge of our international program - with or without USBF? Then we could have junior programs that include all juniors, and all open, senior and women’s team trials scheduled, promoted and played at our NABCs, available to everyone, open and announced as such. Why not – it’s ACBL?

Our current International Program, enjoyed by much less than 1% of the ACBL membership:

 Donations annually to USBF via IF et al: $225,000 (see the breakdown below)
WBF de facto “(non) membership”: $165,000
NABC Housing of WBF officials: $ 10,000
                                     Total tally: $400,000 (x 3 = $1.2M during your 3-year term)

 

International Fund Revenue 2010 % of Rev 2009 % of Rev $Diff %Diff
Club Games $164,588 73.2% $160,704 70.7% $3,884 2.4%
Tournaments 2,744 1.2% 1,860 0.8% 884 47.5%
Spring NABC 20,878 9.3% 20,474 9.0% 404 2.0%
Summer NABC 19,342 8.6% 25,127 11.1% (5,785) (23.0%)
Fall NABC 17,222 7.7% 19,223 8.5% (2,001) (10.4%)
Total Revenue 224,774 100.0% 227,388 100.0% (2,614) (1.1%)
             
                           

International Fund: The International Fund, (above) is a restricted account, supported and maintained from donations via International Fund games, NABC surcharges and membership entry donations. We funnel over $225,000 a year from the IF to USBF (not ACBL) which they use to pay world travel expenses for the country’s best players – professionals and experts – plus their wealthy sponsors, to compete in international play. USBF financials supply very sketchy information on who gets to go and what the process of selection involves. But they host team trials for their members to compete for the right to represent them. I believe these team trials, which are rarely announced in ACBL publications, are open to all, but you must be a USBF member and pay them additional annual dues to compete. The card fees at the trials are in the $360 per entry, plus $120 per session/per team range.

The International Money: Although I am not in favor of donating so much money to USBF without a full accounting of its use, I don’t have too much of a problem with the $225,000 they receive to support their programs – somebody has to pay the International travel tariff. But show us the numbers. I do think they could do some fund raising outside ACBL – they’ve shown the ability to raise an extra $200,000+ for the failed WBC tournament here in Philadelphia.

 However, I do have a major desire to eliminate the $165,000 annual check we send to the World Bridge Federation for absolutely nothing other than to give USBF permission to participate in their games. No other country is taxed anything close to what we are – we pay an amazing 27% of the WBF membership dues – yet all enjoy the same advantages. We are being played for a sucker here – and an expensive one at that – and we should refuse to waste this league money any longer, suggesting USBF negotiate membership with WBF since they are the country’s National Bridge Organization, completely responsible for all our worldwide play.

  The huge savings ACBL would reap from withdrawing from this invisible “faux membership” in WBF ($1 half million three-year term - or, if we eliminated both the USBF donations and the WBF membership it’s $1.2 million in your thirty-six month term) could be better utilized for the greater good of all. A few alternate suggestions to use the money:

1. An aggressive advertising program in AARP journals and other senior media.
2. Better sponsorship for our GNTeams ... and maybe NAPairs.
3. Increased entertainment and excitement features to our NABCs.
4. An expanded school (education) program for all Juniors nationwide.

Any of these options would benefit the majority, or the entire, ACBL membership. A better way to go.