Kicking it up a notch.

Initially, this article was a comment I posted as feedback to another, authored by [link=]Michael Chamberlain[/link]. Without a doubt, after reading it again, it is best suited as a blog entry.

It's hard not to get frustrated. This is no different than government politics. Everyone runs on a certain platform, trying to make a difference. Once they reach the top they turn dumb. In government politics you have to deal with special interest groups and the corruption associated with becoming someone's b**ch… In team handball, other than meaningless perks and a few paid international trips, sprinkled with some virtual power (nothing to lead or control), I just don't see it.

Sarcasm and personal opinion aside, how can something so bad and inefficient last for so long? I know apathy is at the root of why nothing has changed. Au contraire, matters have gone South instead.

In the end we are all responsible. The fact that we get frustrated and give up, fosters more of the same. It is time that others speak up and start developing, even if it is one high school at a time.

The development of this sport should be treated like a business. Those who have been at the helm of team handball over these past tumultuous years have, I have no doubt, had the best interests of this great sport in mind. Unfortunately, they've failed. This is nothing personal. Their failures do not make them bad people. Inept? Maybe.

Hurdle was right (and he still is, whenever he crawls from under his rock)! He called it like it was and, in the process burned a lot of bridges. Hey! TRUTH ALWAYS upsets those who HIDE IT. Hurdle did what had to be done, at the right time but in the wrong place and to the wrong people…
Never one to win you over with diplomacy, he did tell the US team handball community what they did not want to hear. He often antagonized and that was used against him. Rightfully so, I might add. Two years later, his blunt and tactless statements still ring true.

And yet, developing handball should not be a popularity contest. It is a business. Should be run as such. With goals, plans, responsibilities and, most importantly, accountability.

If you are in this business to just play handball or to further your own personal agenda, say so. It's OK to be a leech and an egomaniac. Besides, you will not be alone. Admit it and move on. You will sleep better at night.

In the end, there will be room for everyone, in this vast world of team handball… Just take a side. Burn a few bridges. Get to know your friends. Avoid your detractors. Most of us are still young enough and full of energy with plenty of enthusiasm left, to see that team handball still has a chance in the USA.

This is not about the new ATHA (of which I am a part of) or its quest to earn the NGB certification but it may as well be. Detractors will see to it to make it so…

Some (and you all know who you are…) are still looking for a free ride. Others are genuinely frustrated with the persistent status quo. Still, a small faction is out there trying to figure out new ways to fool everyone yet again. And the rest, I am happy to say, have joined the ATHA.

To each his/her own. There are options available. All you have to do is pick! That's the easy part. The hardship begins as soon as you will have to hold yourself accountable.

Don't be shy. Fire back at me… If you can spell and reason, I'd love to read what you have to say.

3 thoughts on “Kicking it up a notch.

  1. Bogdan, we just don't have enough people who have the passion and clarity of vision that you do… I just hope that unlike those who have come and gone, you will hang in there. It IS going to get better, we all have to believe that! Now, I'd like to also say what a refreshing change it is to have the ATHA. From your thoughts, I am assuming that ATHA will be primarily focused on grassroots development and on behalf of the Condors, I will do everything I can to help the youth movement. As the selected ATHA representative from the Condors, I look forward to receiving correspondence from the ATHA so that I can submit the dues for the Condors.

    Second, I'd like to have to say a few words here about Mike Hurdle. He has not crawled under a rock, and he is doing well. When he ran for the Presidency of USA Team Handball, Mike had a very specific goal: moving the sport forward either by doing it himself or by exposing those who are stalling the progress of our sport so that other can take the charge. He was not given the opportunity to grow handball as President of USA Team Handball and Mike Hurdle's sacrifice in showing the true motives of USOC and USATH Executives is the reason why we now have to knowledge to develop organizations like the ATHA. In summary, Mike Hurdle has done his job and it is now up to us to continue the charge.

    I'm going to take the time here to comment on some criticisms often level at the USATH brass: corruption, ineptitude and failure are thrown around often. First of all, THERE IS NO CORRUPTION IN THE SPORT. Corruption often has the undertone of breaking the rules for personal financial gain. I have been witness to a lot of rules broken for power and personal vendettas, but nobody has stolen anything. I think it would be wise to refrain from calling anyone in our community "corrupt". People like Jan O'Shea, Jim Thome, Dennis Berkholtz, Mike Cavanaugh have sacrificed decades for our sport. We may judge their competence, but let's not undermine their passion and sense of duty.

    This brings us, of course, to ineptitude and failure. The same people you accuse of failure will claim that they've never been more successful. The individuals working with the USOC operate according to the priorities of the USOC. And based on these priorities, I think that O'Shea, Thome and others have been quite successful. Is USA Team Handball's primary goal to grow the sport? It is not. Its FIRST goal is to field teams for international competition and if time and ressources allow, then pursue other interests such as fielding competitive teams, developing playing opportunities, implementing grassroots programs and so on. I have had the chance to see National Team preparation from the inside, and it's far more difficult that I anticipated. That in itself takes up ALL of Mike Cavanaugh's time, and he is the only full-time employee working in the sport. All the aforementioned others spend limited time, so they're not going to accomplish more than the primary objective of sustaining 2 National Teams.

    Now, if you think I'm praising them for their work, I am not. But they do what they need to, within the functions of their office. And we should just save our energy from going after them, bid them good luck and go about our business. Everyone in the sport should ask themselves this basic question before getting involved in the sport: How do you wish to advance the sport of team handball in the US?

    For the USATH old guard, it's clear: by maintaining national teams.
    For the AHA, it seems we have an answer: by creating grassroots programs.

    There's much more to be done, but it's a start. Since we can't agree on what to do first, we should each do what our conscience tells us, but WITHOUT INTEFERENCE.

  2. Hello Ray. Thanks for the comment. I agree with you. I would like to clarify a few things for reference.

    My comment/remark about corruption was made in the context of government politics not team handball.

    Also, I want to make it clear that I have nothing personal against anyone and there will be no personal attacks of any type on anyone.

    I am also very aware of the power of perception. Especially the public one. I think it is impossible to accuse someone of failure. Especially in sports where it is all about the bottom line. Failing to qualify for tournaments, losing games, undeperforming is not an accusation. It's a fact. That is why we tabulate scores, have standings, award medals. To reward performance.

    You mentioned a lot of names. They are all good people as I have stated before. However, it is of little concern to me how busy or overworked, or shorthanded they are. Everyone should still be held responsible and accountable for successes as well as failures. Mitigating factors notwithstanding. Why make escuses. You take a 7M shot and you miss it. Does it really matter that the crowd was loud, the ref distracted you and the goalie headstanded (he he, PUN INTENDED!). No! You missed it. That's it. You accept responsibility and stop the buck from being passed around.

    The ATHA may or may not be the answer. The ATHA however, will be a uniter. Everyone will have a voice. Strength in numbers. Grassroots and national team representation require the same priority. Failing to understand this concept will perpetuate failure of this sport. Notice I said sport not national team. You can always scrounge up players to represent a country. That, is easy to do. Performance is not.

  3. "If you can spell and reason…" Well I can't spell or reason so I probably shouldn't reply but outside of recommending a site for a NETHC tournament which was about a 10 min. walk from my house and tabled a couple games on a Sun. morning (poorly I might add) at said tournament, I've haven't really done anything for the sport. I know that people will use that against me but that's okay because I feel I'm doing the best I can with the abilities and resources I have (which are quite small).

    My point is, as a big fat guy I like to be able to [i]see[/i] the matches but I also realize that purely top-down approach is not the answer but a mix of grassroots (creating high school and college teams) and high-visibility programs (a league but also the beginning of cooperation with other national federations and a weekly hightlight show of the German League in English) is the way to go.

    I know that everyone is doing the best they can given all that has happened over the past 18 months and that there will continue to be challenges but these will be overcome if we continue to work together. Even if I continue to do less than I would like to do.

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