Dan Schroeter's Open Letter to Steve Lacelle

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by Uboat, May 25, 2005.

  1. Uboat

    Uboat New Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2005
    Messages:
    225
    Likes Received:
    0
    Dan Schroeter has been sending this email around and posting it here and there. What does everyone think? He raises valid points but should there be an emphasis on DH anymore? Honestly? Discuss.

    ----------
    Dear Mr. Lacelle,

    Just when I was hopeful that you represented a fresh breeze in the CCA - someone from the "outside" who could come in with a clear eye and, beholden to none of the special interest groups clamouring for attention within the sport, steer the CCA back to something closer to its original purpose of promoting, organizing and representing all cycling in Canada, you pull this stupendously wrong-headed move out of your hat. Or at least I assume it was you, since it comes so soon after you assumed your post. Maybe I'm wrong - maybe its just your board rebuking my daughter and the downhill community in general for publicly embarrassing the CCA last September over the issue of national team members having to buy their World Championship jerseys from the CCA. Though, I did subsequently notice in the minutes of the Board's meeting of last November that "it was agreed, in principle, that in future the National Team uniform is a well-deserved memento for both funded and non-funded athletes", so I guess my initial suspicion remains that you are behind this move to reduce the CCA's already miniscule funding for DH.

    Its a little hard to figure out from the lists of Canadians who competed at last year's Worlds, but I think the CCA ended up funding 16 of the 30 XC cyclists you actually sent (as opposed to nominated). In comparison, you only funded 3 of 16 downhillers making the trip. What did you spend on the three funded DH riders - perhaps $9,000? maybe less? But now, because the CCA is apparently "faced with the need to dedicate more resources to cycling disciplines on the Olympic program ... in order to offer financial assistance to more athletes at the Elite Cross Country Level", you are going to redirect this already paltry funding so that 3 more elite XC riders can be funded, over and above the 8 elite riders you already fund. And, bear in mind, that several of these eight are already directly funded with Sport Canada allowances of some $18,000 annually (each), while no DH riders can receive such allowances. So exactly where does this compelling "need" come from, and what do think this funding shift will get you? Let's pretend that you implemented this policy for last year's World's and see what you would have got for your money. I think that the next two elite men in line for funding would have been Peter Wedge and Roddi Lega, who finished 58th and 65th respectively - out of 73 finishers! It would have been little better for the elite women, where the next two women in line for funding would presumably have been Trish Sinclair and Karen DeWolfe, who finished 42nd and 56th out of 74 finishers. I'm sure these are all great people, and I have nothing against any of them, but do we really "need" to fund such results? - just so we can beat our chests and say, we're no. 42?. Come to think of it, why do we send so many entrants to the Worlds, instead of concentrating our limited resources on where we can get some results? There were 46 countries represented at last year's MTB World's, yet Canada's entrants comprised almost 7% of all entrants and about 10% of the entrants in the elite XC races. In fact, other than for France, which hosted the event, we appear to have sent the second largest team to the Worlds! Instead of stripping downhillers of the few funded spots they had, why don't you apply your limited resources more selectively? Implement a policy that you'll fund no-one unless they have a top-20 (or name your favourite number here) in a World event within the last year or two. Add a few of your most promising juniors so that they can gain some experience, and then head off with a team of less than half of what you are currently sending, with ALL riders funded - and all within your existing budget of supporting about 35 riders.

    To not fund any DH riders representing Canada at the Worlds is such a slap in the face for the sport. Through more good fortune than good planning, the CCA finds itself with at least two female Canadian DH riders capable of top ten finishes in the World (full disclosure - one is my daughter), plus a handful of other Canadian women that are not far off that pace. None of these riders are eligible for any direct Sport Canada funding, and the World Championships represents the only stage where they can go to race for their country, unlike XC riders who also have the Olympics, Pan-Ams, Commonwealth Games etc. Instead of taking money away from this group, you should be happily increasing it to promote the best DH results that Canada has seen on the world stage in over a decade. This was a sport in which Canada once led, but CCA neglect, while our main competitors were increasing their support, have served to push Canadians off the podium. Its time to correct this situation, not make it worse.

    And forget that nonsense that this move is about bringing DH into line with the CCA's policy for Cyclo-cross, where you don't fund any Canadian riders to the CX Worlds. Rather than cut DH funding to align it with even more inadequate CX funding, you should be looking for ways to increase funding and support for both of these two non-Olympic sports, given all the tied funding you already receive from Sport Canada to support the Olympic cycling disciplines. Why? - because the CCA's historical commitment, and its current "Mission Statement", is "to lead and support the development and growth of cycling in Canada". Note that this statement refers to all cycling, without any mention of limiting support to only the Olympic cycling disciplines. If you are still not convinced, consider the following, drawn from the CCA's "Vision Statement", where the CCA indicates that it is their ambition to:

    - Strengthen the sport of cycling
    - Increase the rate of participation in the sport of cycling
    - Ensure the best representation of cycling by Canadians

    Does your withdrawal of DH funding to the MTB Worlds, and your non-funding of the CX Worlds accomplish any of these visions? I sure can't see how. If you do, maybe you can tell me. And, while you're at it, please explain how this decision fits within the following published CCA "Strategies" for implementing your "Mission" and "Vision" statements:

    - The development of elite athletes
    - Accessibility to cycling opportunities

    and, my favourite CCA Strategy of them all:

    - A balanced emphasis on all aspects of sport cycling.

    In your first quarterly report (which I thought was pretty good), you indicated that 58% of the CCA's current funding comes from the federal government. I presume much or all of this involves the Sport Canada funding tied to the Olympic cycling disciplines. However, my six years of economics training, with help from my $5 calculator, suggests this leaves 42% of your budget that is presumably not tied. Plus, you have laid out some clear objectives to grow the CCA's revenues by 25% in each of the next years. Given this, and in light of the above strategy, surely this should mean much, much more funding for the non-Olympic cycling sports, not less.

    DH (and related gravity cycling sports like free-ride and four-cross) have major and growing followings of enthusiasts in Canada, far outnumbering those of many of the Olympic cycling disciplines. I don't know where you live, but go to a bike store and see what's selling these days. In Vancouver, where I live, its fully and partially suspended gravity bikes, much more so than other frame types. I point this out only to acknowledge that DH represents a major cycling sport pursued by many Canadians and is entirely worthy of significant levels of support from the CCA. One traditional area of support for any sport involves funding the elite performers in the sport to go to the World Championships. They are there representing their country and providing the followers of their sport in Canada with role models and heroes that inspire them in turn to excel, yet others to take up the sport, and all of them to be the healthier for it.

    I strongly encourage the CCA to re-consider your decision and at least start to implement "a more balanced emphasis on all aspects of sport cycling" in your funding allocations.

    Note that to encourage wider public debate and examination of what I believe if a very ill-considered move on the CCA's part, I am copying this letter to various media that follow cycling in this country.

    Yours truly,
    Dan Schroeter
     
    Tags:


  2. Eddie Arzouian

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Messages:
    409
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm a very pleased to see Dan Schroeter bringing this up.

    I applauded him for having the courage to speak out last summer regarding the jersey issue (charging athletes to wear a sponsored jersey to represent Canada at the World Championships in Italy). I'm glad he is doing so now.

    Indeed, as Mr. Schroeter states, it seems that issue was satisfactory resolved even if it took publicly embarrassing the CCA to get it done. It would not have had to come to that had the CCA been able to admit a mistake and correct it in a timely way. As I have said before, the CCA has had a way of not doing the right thing lately.

    Like Mr. Schroeter I had hoped Mr. Lacelle was going to change that management style.

    I do not yet have a position on this whole downhill issue.

    I am very glad to see it being debated. I was going to post something myself but had been waiting to avoid the further appearance of my "highjacking " this web site.

    Mr. Schroeter makes a good point that Mr. Lacelle has said the CCA plans to increase its funding by 25% and downhill should be getting more money not less.

    While that is true it is still only a plan and we have heard these plans before.

    The key will be actually finding more funds. Until that happens I can see why the CCA would not be ready to spend more on non-Olympic sports. In fact, given that the CCA is finally going to fill the staff vacancies that have been left empty for far too long, years in some cases, it will need more money for those salaries until new revenue is found.

    I have made it no secret I have applied for the new position of Director of Marketing Operations. If I get the job it will be my direct responsibility to find more money for the CCA. I strongly believe that the CCA can increase its funding even more than Mr. Lacelle's objectives stated in his 90-day report.

    Frankly, if I were Director of Marketing Operation and did not meet those goals I would consider it a failure. You can copy and hold this statement for future reference if you like.

    Rob Jones, Editor of Canadian Cyclist made an interesting appeal in his editorial on this topic. To paraphrase, Rob said this would be a good time for downhill and its sponsor to set up to the plate and show their sport is viable. I agree. In fact, I would further argue that very few corporate cycling citizen are pulling their weight when it comes to supporting the sport in this country. In a word, sponsors have been cheap.

    Maybe it is not their fault because the way the sport has been managed in the last few years is weak as well.

    There is an opportunity to change this now.

    We will see if the CCA does the right thing.

    If it does, as Mr. Schroeter suggest, there should be more money to go around not less.

    Of course, it will take a good three to six months to begin to turn this around. Another season will inevitably be lost. I have been saying that would be the case since August 2003.

    You know who to blame for those three or more lost years.

    Put the right people in place now and 2006 should be a better year.
     
  3. Eddie Arzouian

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Messages:
    409
    Likes Received:
    0
    Allow me to point out something further.

    Above I wrote, "Mr. Schroeter makes a good point that Mr. Lacelle has said the CCA plans to increase its funding by 25% and downhill should be getting more money not less. While that is true it is still only a plan and we have heard these plans before."

    As proof to what I was saying, to illustrate the difference between making something happen and a plan, remember what I wrote already three weeks ago now, from May 6, 2005 on this forum in the thread "CCA issues more platitudes":

    "Take one small example. Lacelle mentions selling 5000 units of the 2004 Olympic jersey this year. The jersey was made last year! The Olympics were last year. The tab on the new web site was created about 10 months ago, last year. Nothing has been done in ten months. The site has to be running within about three weeks if the CCA hopes to capitalize on sales this season. Nobody in Canada buys cycling jerseys in August."

    I visited the CCA web site just now, the merchandise tab there still says , "coming soon". Well, apparently not soon enough. Last time I looked my local shops were not selling CCA merchandise either. I'll look again today. So, when and where will 5000 units of CCA 2004 Olympic jerseys be sold? In November? I doubt it. In Canada cyclists buy jerseys in May and June. May is already over.

    There is planning and there is action.

    There is talking and there is doing.

    There is theory and there is experience.

    Some of us have already sold over $100,000US in jerseys.

    Others are still thinking about doing it.

    There is doing nothing.

    There is doing the wrong thing.

    There is doing the right thing.

    Let's see if the CCA has learned the difference yet.
     
  4. BillyBlass

    BillyBlass New Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    Messages:
    85
    Likes Received:
    0
    Honestly? My heart is not broken, that is for sure. You would get the same reaction from me if I read that Canada was not going to support the Aerial Gymnastics (Trampoline) team.

    When I read this letter, I was surprised to see that DH was funded to begin with, and CX was not.

    As honest as Mr. Schroeter is in disclosing the fact about his daughter being affected, there still is a conflict of interest with his letter. He is certainly not speaking for me. In my opinion, the COO is removing the chaff.

    If some nice big funding comes by in the future, then reconsider.



    The quote by the COO; “a more balanced emphasis on all aspects of sport cycling”. I consider a sport like DH a “dilution” of CCA resources. Is the CCA to be responsible of those mimes juggling balls on their unicycles as well? I hope not. Though I may be surprised.



    Mr. Arzouian, how do you market a sport like DH? It takes place in the sticks as well.



    One thing that Mr. Schroeter sort of mentioned that I agree with is the sending of athlete to world events only to place badly. Repeatedly. Should not send anyone at all that does not meet some sort of criteria like what is used in Track racing. Cut your losses and use that money for development and hope that 5 years down the road we have athletes getting into the top 10 consistently.
     
  5. Eddie Arzouian

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Messages:
    409
    Likes Received:
    0
    Since you asked me directly, I think DH is marketable in the same way Downhill Skiing is. In fact, it is probably easier to get TV coverage of downhill than to get good footage of a MTB circuit race.

    TV crews already know how to do downhill skiing.

    Also given the fact the DH uses a lot of equipment, is flashy and takes a short time to run, it makes it that much more marketable.

    Would I rather see cyclists race up and then race down? Yes.

    As for your plan of not sending athletes to world class events because they cannot place well and then speaking of development, I think you are missing the point. ATTENDING some of these events IS DEVELOPMENT. I would prefer to see younger riders going and getting shelled than 40-something athletes who have been to three or four Olympics over 12 or 16 years and never done anything.

    One of the big faults I found with the Canadian Olympic Committee's selection criteria in 2004 was that it was TOO HIGH. Those high standards were supposed to get us better results.

    They did just the opposite. Results were worse.

    Why?

    Because I think in some situations athletes were peaking to qualify and not for the Games themselves. Other countries select their athletes earlier, put more trust, faith and resources toward them at get better results when it counts.

    Furthermore, the long-term problem of not sending more athletes this time will be felt in the next Games when we send athletes with no prior Olympic experience from 2004.
     
  6. BillyBlass

    BillyBlass New Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    Messages:
    85
    Likes Received:
    0
    Problem with this letter is that it addresses so much. My statement was with reference to Mr. Schroeter's letter. So I will try not generalize next time.



    I do get the point, I agree with your above statement. It is what I should have written.



    Maybe I should have asked you, if you got that marketing position, where would DH fall in terms of your priorities? This is a rhetorical question for now. I realize you do not have a position on DH yet.
     
  7. Eddie Arzouian

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Messages:
    409
    Likes Received:
    0
    Downhill and BMX are probably the two disciplines I know least of in cycling.

    That being said, BMX is a Olympic event and Downhill is not. Therefore, CCA has to give priority to BMX.

    I think neither is going to raise the profile of the sport in general by itself.

    The first thing to do with Downhill would be work more with existing teams and race organizers to get better coverage of their events. It is pointless to attempt to market the sport without something concrete in terms of media to take to them. I check the "cycling" section of the sports boxscores every day. I do not recall ever seeing a CDN downhill results in those boxes. Why is that?

    The CCA can and should be assisting ALL organizers, clubs and team to market and promote themselves better. There is much that can be done and accomplished by just improving the ways results are communicated to the media and public.

    For all bigger events I believe it is as important for the CCA to ensure the event is being well promoted and reported upon as it is for organizers. Many organizers will put on good events but be either overwhelmed or unqualified to follow up with results and reports to news outlets in a timely and professional fashion.

    The CCA with its marketing and communications should be assisting in that. What's good for a race organizer should also be good for the sport in general when it comes to media coverage.

    In terms of specifics, one thing I would do with all cycling disciplines is create a directory of sponsors for all events and all teams and link this from the CCA website.

    By that I mean simply listing who is sponsoring what, and what those companies do. This sounds straight forward enough right? Well, try to find this information in one place. If you are a reporter or a potential sponsor and you are trying to figure out who else is in the sport before you get in, it isn't easy. Furthermore some teams even the bigger ones in Canada just assume because something might be a local household names it is know everywhere in Canada. But nothing could be further from the truth. Most of the time people (the general public) have no idea who the sponsors are on rider jerseys.

    Establishing this data-base is a simple enough matter. It could be used by everybody in the sport.

    It isn't in any one person's interest to do, so it is something the CCA must be doing.

    I have dozens of simple idea like this that are needed to get things in order, as a first step before the real job of heading out to the corporate community to knock on doors.

    There is a great deal we have to do internally before we will be ready to go mainstream.

    Ideally, each discipline should have its own title sponsor for national series, not one sponsor owning the whole sport unless that sponsor is paying very big bucks indeed.


     
  8. BillyBlass

    BillyBlass New Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    Messages:
    85
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks again for a well thought out reponse Mr. Arzouian.

    These two paragraphs (among others) you have written can support a thread on their own.

    The first one I agree with 100%. There is not much I can add to it.

    The second one I really like. It is as if cycling is a welfare state, each disipline fighting each other for a hand-out from the CCA. Empowering the disiplines to raise their own cash is something I never thought of (among others). Well done Sir.
     
  9. dropped

    dropped New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ed's second point is on target! TH has essentially "owned" all championships in all cycling disciplines in Canada, had their name displayed internationally for years, all for a paltry $100,000. What an advertising bargain.

    Definitely time for a change and having a different titular sponsor/discipline is a wonderful way to get it rolling. Great suggestion Ed!
     
Loading...
Loading...