In the valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

With Ike out of the way down south (still searching for Tina), things are getting back to normal. Witness the latest podcast. While not the best in terms of sound quality, Handball Talk’s 3rd episode was very timely.
I’ve amassed quite a collection of emails from you and was considering another “from the mailbag” feature. Reading over these emails (a few of them date back to July 2008) I noticed some of them were similar in terms of questions and comments.
Hence, I decided to answer them in a more generic way, which will also allow me to share it with the THN readers. Please note that *some* questions have been edited for clarity.
I will do my best to stay on topic and not stray away from the subject but I offer no guarantees…

Q: What happens if the NGB (and the leadership) if it doesn’t meet its obligations? Can they be fired? You keep referencing the “probationary” status. Who has jurisdiction over the NGBs?
[color=#ff0000]A: I am not sure what can be done to keep the new NGB honest. Contacting the USOC would be one way. However, considering how the USOC is yet to return phone calls to the WSJ reporter, who authored the well publicized team handball article prior to the Olympics, that may not be the most productive approach. Contacting its board of directors or even the president, may be an alternative. Either way, officially, I know of no other method. On the “probationary” status, that is what the USOC press release stated. I actually asked John Ryan about his interpretation of it and he stated that it’s similar to an employment probationary period. The USOC would be the responsible entity.[/color]
Q: You seem so bitter! You are never happy with what others are doing for this sport. Why are you so critical of the new NGB?
[color=#ff0000]A: Am I really bitter? I don’t think so… I am far from bitter. Actually, I am quite the opposite. But I do admit that I can come across as overly critical. Truth be told, I have no tolerance for posers and incompetents. At any level and in any facet of life. I would like to think that everyone else feels the same. The new NGB, in my personal opinion, is the poster child for the above traits. As stated before, this is not personal. I just happen to know this industry very well and know enough about it to be in the position to question the authority. I was honest about the fact that I am not one who will sit around and wait for things to “come around”. The current NGB administration has no experience – something they admitted openly and for which I gave them a lot of credit. I should note that this group is craftier than its predecessors. They’ve shown an uncanny ability to (mis)inform, take credit for achievements that do not belong to them and to (generally) get away with not doing anything productive… [/color]

[b]Editor's Note: [/b] I've turned off comments for this item, but have placed them and a copy of this article in the Forum section of the website:

Q: My daughter is 15 and she fell in love with team handball during the Olympics. Are there clubs in the Midwest where she can learn the game? What about tryouts. I emailed the federation three times but never got a reply.
[color=#ff0000]A: Dianne, thanks for your email. There are several clubs in the Midwest. Please reference my email which contains a link to the Google Map of Clubs. Additionally, I will follow up with you to further discuss your options.
The fact that you did not receive a simple reply to your emails is, unfortunately, unfortunate. You are not the first one to report on the federation’s lack of communication. Whatever their reason is, I can assure you it is a good one. It always is.[/color]
In terms of tryouts, a few have been advertised on the federation’s website but there is nothing confirmed. Even if they are to take place, the NGB is yet to announce who will do the talent evaluation. Currently, there is nobody within the current federation capable of evaluating it. I can and will put you in touch with the right people.

Q: I heard about WNT and MNT tryouts. Have the coaches been selected?
[color=#ff0000]A: To my knowledge no coaches have been named or identified yet. Which begs the question: who will do the tryouts evaluation? Things that make you go hmmmm….[/color]
Q: My team was scheduled to travel to the NC and Chicago tournaments. Upon finding out that we are now required to pay a per player membership fee and a per team fee just to participate, everyone backed out. What’s up with that?
[color=#ff0000]A: Greg, you are not the only one flabbergasted by the NGBs decision to pillage the clubs of some extra $$$ . The release of the “new” rulebook was poorly timed not once, but twice. If that is how the new NGB intends to stimulate the growth of handball, we are all in trouble. There’s been plenty written on this subject. If your team/club has decided to forego participation to any upcoming NGB sanctioned tournaments, know that you have made your choice and notice has been served. [/color]
Q: How were the new GM and Technical Director positions selected. There was never a job posting for them. I read that there are job postings for the regional directors and coaching positions. Why?
[color=#ff0000]A: LOL. I am still trying to get an answer on that very question. Honestly, friendship played a big role. It’s just like politics. You give a job to those who helped you get there. Neither one is fully qualified for the job but that is now a moot point. I am not sure how to answer your “WHY?”question[/color]
Q: Why is there no news on the Miami tournament scheduled for spring 2009? Shouldn’t it be a big deal that the French Ligue Final Four is coming to the US?
[color=#ff0000]A: Oh but it is a big deal. Maybe the biggest single team handball event to have come to the US, outside of the Olympics. I have been chasing an interview with Miami’s Coach Zaharia for a few months and I am glad to report that I have secured on. He looks forward to talking about and addressing a number of issues related to his tournament. All I can tell you is to buy your tickets early and schedule your Spring Break vacation around that event.[/color]

Q: Bogdan, I live in Utah. I wanted to share some information with your readers and also ask a question. I was told by several sources (I work for the local state government), that the $300K that the UTHF pledged, were not private money but were actually promised to by the city (or county) of Salt Lake as collateral, if and when the UTHF would win the NGB bid. It is also my understanding that the new NGB did receive that money and is using it to pay the salaries of the new GM and Technical Director. I contacted the NGB (by phone and email) but I could never get a hold of anyone. Do you know if any of this is true? I played handball in college back in the mid 90s. Too old to play now. Keep up the good work.
[color=#ff0000]A: Chad, thanks for the email. I heard some of that as well but so far I have not been able to verify any of it. Officially, you may know more than I do. I can’t vouch for its accuracy but maybe someone else out there can shed some light on this issue. BTW, if the $300,000 is used on two or three salaries, that’s pretty messed up. My understanding was that the money was to be used to inject some life into the current handball infrastructure. One could surmise that they have already ran out of funds (if their salaries are 80K each, more than half the $300K is gone). Why would you be so concerned with collecting membership fees right of the bat? Because they have no leg to stand on or a business plan to generate the funds. [/color]
Q: We have a tournament in Houston coming up and you have failed to mention or write about it. Why don’t you cover tournaments, even if you are not involved in them?
[color=#ff0000]A: Fair enough. I will be glad to do so. West Point contacted me in early Spring asking me to setup a small tournament (scrimmage games) with the Houston Stars and the Firehawks, to be held in Houston in conjunction with Army’s football game in College Station at the end of September. I agreed to and spread the word around. There seemed to be plenty of interest. I made arrangements to host the weekend mini tourney in one of the premier high school gyms in Houston’s East end. Unfortunately, I never heard back from WP. Recently I learned that the Firehawks are the organizers of the tournament. They will field two of their teams (men) and get to host the WP squad at dilapidated Melcher Gym facility (roughly the size of a tennis court). Some teams had to cancel (Mexicans) , while others – to my knowledge – were invited late (such as the Houston Stars). The newly SW Regional Director will attend the “tournament”, most likely to collect the $50 per person fee that the Firehwaks are charging every player (not an NGB membership fee as far as I know…). [/color]