Men’s Pan American Championships (USA Withdraws as Host)

[html] According to a report on the Canadian Handball Federation website, the Pan American Team Handball Federation (PATHF) has informed member nations that the USA will no longer host the 2008 Senior Men’s Pan American Championship. The Championship was originally scheduled for 24-28 June, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia and it’s organization was being supported by the Dekalb International Training Center (DITC) in nearby Dekalb County, Georgia. PATHF nations have two weeks to submit bids to host the tournament.
The Championship tournament also serves as qualification to the 2009 World Championships and the top 3 teams will book tickets for Croatia next January. With Brazil and Argentina both heavily favored to qualify, Team USA would likely have battled the remaining nations for 3rd place. As the USA narrowly lost to Greenland in 2006, the home court edge could have played a decisive factor in this year’s championship. Additionally, concerns with defections might have resulted in Cuba deciding not to participate. Now with the Championships moving to a TBD country the USA will have neither home court and the Cubans will be the odds on favorites for 3rd place.

This is the second time in recent history that the USA was scheduled to host a Pan American Championship only to see the tournament moved to another country. The 2005 Women’s Championships were scheduled for Cortland, New York, but were moved due to visa complications for visiting nations.  Just this past Summer, Mr. Marc Daniel Gutekunst of the DITC traveled to Brazil to present the PATHF Exec Committee with their plans to host and according to VP-PATHF North America, Dennis Berkholtz they received unanimous support from the committee.
Team Handball News is not certain as to the exact reason for the USA withdrawal, but Email correspondence with the Greenland Federation indicates that it was somehow related to TV broadcast requirements. As the USOC has not decided on whether to certify a new USA Handball Federation there is no official body to address this issue. A request for information from the DITC has so far been unanswered.

Canadian Website Notice: PATHF Exec Committee Notes: [/html]

2 thoughts on “Men’s Pan American Championships (USA Withdraws as Host)

  1. Over the past two years I have always found it amusing which news posts on this site generate the most comments. It appears the most ground-breaking or impacting story on the domestic scene garners not much more than a whisper while discussion abounds about the proper way to develop the sport of handball (i.e. discussion on Title IX) from people who are not willing to support that development with their own money. The real issues facing the existence of our sport (i.e. lack of funding and/or corruption) is glossed over while everyone wants to pontificate about how to spend other people’s money in a fantasy realm where a lack of funding is not the problem. The discussion is always centered around, “We know there is a lack of funding, but IF we had the money, this is what should be done.”

    Everyone in handball has gotten EXACTLY what they deserve. Instead of developing revenue streams, and more importantly, supporting those that could generate that revenue stream, American handball aficionados (who are incapable or unwilling to raise funds) prefer to dictate how any potential money raised must be spent and allocated.

    There was a clear choice two years ago that was presented to every single American handball member. Vote for a new constitution for USATH and restructure the organization so that those with the ability and desire to raise funds could do so unfettered. The vote was passed with a resounding yes! However, the lack of individuals to fully comprehend that that restructuring signifies a very difficult time and would result in the financial “tightening of the belt” was displayed quite quickly. The choice I am referring to was not the vote on the constitution, but the wherewithal to stand behind that decision regardless of USOC sanctioning. The choice was presented with the announcement of hosting two separate National Championships. On one hand was the proposal for the clubs to remain banded together and attend the USATH National Championships, even though the cost for the event would be high. Or, to attend the USOC sponsored national championships with the same old guard that had failed to deviate the organization from its self-destructive path for the previous decade and continue to receive/expect the handout of USOC funding (i.e. leach off of someone else’s money).

    Everyone remembers the choice that was made.

    As a result of that choice, the “official” 2006 National Championships were attended by all of the clubs and gave a de facto endorsement of the ultimate USOC intervention while failing to comprehend that the USOC’s only responsibility is to National Team support – and that support is solely at the discretion of the USOC. The USOC had PUBLICLY stated that future funding (for ALL NGBS) was to be determined via PERFORMANCE measures at the National Team level – i.e. winning medals in the OLYMPICS. The USOC had also PUBLICLY stated that they have NO responsibility to develop sports or run NGBs. That intervention led directly to hosting the 2007 National Championships on Easter weekend and a decreased lack of participation from a significant amount of clubs. In addition, that intervention also directly led to a lack of proper funding for either National Team to qualify for the Olympics and the subsequent removal of ALL funding for handball in the U.S.

    The decision by the USOC to eliminate all funding for handball was vindicated by the subsequent NGB application process. Two organizations arose to be considered the new NGB. These two organizations had many flaws between them, but might have had a possibility of becoming a combined organization that could prosper. However, the inability of these organizations to work together exemplified to the USOC that those still involved with handball cannot cooperate for the overall good of the sport. One organization specifically stated that it would NOT work with the other organization even though the other organization had pledge fund support! This led to the resignation of some of its board members before a USOC decision was even made, and again, demonstrated the fraction within the sport and everyone’s unwillingness to consider the good of the sport over their own political objectives.

    Why is it obvious that both organizations were motivated by political objectives? Neither organization has moved forward in developing their NGB plan without the USOC sanctioning. In other words, unless the organization is granted the POWER to force others to comply, neither will go forward with their plan – each for different reasons.

    Why does an organization NEED the title of National Governing Body to develop the sport? What difference does it make? None, unless you are requiring / expect funding and support from the USOC. However, it is clear in the USOC charter that one of the requirements to become an NGB is that that organization be self-sufficient, something that each organization demonstrated that it was not.

    What is the impact of this announcement of the withdrawal of the 2008 Men’s Pan Am Championships from the U.S.? It underscores that the DITC does not have the influence or financial wherewithal that it proclaimed it had. It shows that the DITC does not have immediate funds or the ability to raise the necessary funds to support the program.

    Some people will say, “So what?” Well, Dekalb County approved the sweetheart deal for the DITC to lease housing facilities in the county on the specific assurance that the DITC would bring in these types of events to the area to spur economic growth. This failure is tantamount to demonstrating that they are incapable of fulfilling one of the key tenets of their contract with the county. Does this now mean that the county will revisit the established contract with the DITC? Will it be considered a breach of contract? If the DITC could not afford to host a simple event, how will it PAY to send the Men’s National Team to the 2008 Pan Ams? Recall, all of the previous teams were sent with USOC funds – funds that have now been eliminated. Will the team members be required to pay their own way such as Canada does? If so, many of those members do not have the financial ability. Canada at least has a NGB to coordinate. What do we have?

    But those athletes are getting EXACTLY what they deserve as well. Their only voice in this, their self-elected athlete representative to the USOC, has continually supported actions that have undermined long-term growth and development for the immediate benefit. They have not removed him and found a better voice. The chickens have finally come home to roost.

    This particular news post exemplifies and proves what I have been saying for over a decade – that no one can grow or develop this sport with the over abundance of handball leaches within this sport looking for handouts.

    Again, what is the significance of this development? It is not the death of handball in America; that has already happened. This is merely the coroner signing the death certificate.

  2. Mike: Your comments on the state of handball are very often right on target. The way you communicate them very often are not.

    Having said that your blog of Feb 6 is a good base for discussion for those few of us who continue to plod along attempting to make a great sport a great sport in the U.S. I have been trying since 1969 and have not yet found the answer.

    Before I get to the meat of some discussion I want to put to rest your continued efforts of disrepecting the work of Matt VanHouten both on and off the court. Matt is the players rep which is in itself is a very difficult position to be in. I don't think you have been privy to the many times he has defended the athlete and their rights and to this day continues to do so. He often doesn't get his way because unfortunately the athlete often takes a second position to what really matters. Most often that is just the way it is. We all try to change the system but it is a time consuming and difficult task. So we struggle on.

    On a second matter regarding Matt, you constantly criticize his selection to the Men's team. As you are aware, there is a selection committee that selects the players competing at the National Team level. I have been a part of that committee and at times have left Matt off my list and have recommended a younger goal keeper. I, like you, believe we need to train younger players and move on. But I am outvoted for two reasons – (1) the committee is charged with taking the best team and (2) Matt is as good as or better than the young goalkeepers. My vote loses but I do respect the system in place and the people making the decisions with me. Having said that, I have been to all the recent competitions and no one plays better than Matt in the goal for 5 to 10 minutes when the No. 1 keeper needs a blow or gets injured. To say the least, he has been outstanding in competition. Not only that, he is a leader off the court. For the good of the sport, please move on. Matt has been and is good for our program.

    Let's move on to the good stuff – I totally agree and have done so since I was President (1996-2000) that we must organize and manage the handball program as if the USOC doesn't exist. I found out the hard way as you did, that when they give you money they control you. And as we have all found in more recent years, their charge has everything to do about the Olympic and Pan Am programs, not about development. That is their mandate and it will never change. We must learn to govern ourselves and raise the funding to do so.

    Which leads to my next point – your comments on the point regarding the proposed status of the new NGB, specifically the Utah group, are not accurate. From day one their leader, Dieter Esch, has made it quite clear that (1) he would not have any comments until and if the group were named the NGB. I did not agree with that decision but have since learned, he was right; (2) the Utah group has always said they are open to working with anyone that wants to be involved. Behind the scenes Mr. Esch has had many conversations with all sides of the issues. It was the other group in the second meeting with the USOC that said they would not work with everyone. Because of that statement, some members of the that group left. They understand the importance of everyone having to work together. Mr. Esch will make that happen; (3) Mr. Esch is well aware that the new organization must stand alone. He is well aware of the USOC and what they do and where they put their money; and (4) the Group realizes the importance of raising money and I can only assume they will do that before they will do much else.

    The problem now is whether the USOC will give one or the other group the power to organize and manage the new NGB. Let's hope so. It's a fresh start for everyone. No one states it better than you – we all have to compromise past history and methods of operation and work together for the good of the sport. Let's make the effort to do so.

    Regarding DITC withdrawing from the Pan Am Champs and their leadership of the Men's program. As you know, I assisted in putting the USOC and DITC agreement together. The agreement was signed in early Sept. Now it is mid Feb. and not much has happened. I am no longer involved in the program as the DITC agreement says they are the leaders of the Men's team until after the Olympic games and they have made it quite clear they will handle it themselves. They sold me on having the money and the wherewithal to manage the program and host the Pan Am Champs. I am not certain they have the funding and I am the one with egg on my face regarding the Pan Am Champs because I worked hard to secure the event for the U.S. But there is an agreement in place and we must respect that. Let's support the Men's program best we can and let DITC show themselves as being for real or just another group that found the sport difficult to get a handle on.

    In closing, let's hope the USOC names a new NGB as indicated at their board meeting next weekend. If they do, let's work together to make a new beginning.

    If they don't name a new NGB, I will continue to do what I can to get the sport going in the proper direction and work along side anyone else who continues to make this great sport great in the U.S.

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