This past Tuesday, the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph posted an article highlighting USA Team Handball budget woes and the decline in funding grants the Federation has received from the USOC. For those that follow the sport closely, the controversy regarding what funding the USA Federation receives or doesn’t receive from the USOC is a long standing issue. What was striking to me (and others), however were some of the quotes in the article which called out the USOC.
Here’s a sampling of the article:
The USOC is primarily “going to fund sports that are going to win medals in London,” Pastorino said, maintaining that “there ought to be some credit given for building a long-term development program, a grassroots program, to get us to our ultimate goal. … The message we got this past winter completely counteracted that.” He claims the USOC told NGBs, “Forget about what we said in 2008. Medals talk. Make do with less.”
My reaction was, “Wow, looks like General Manager, Steve Pastorino was even more forthcoming then he was at the Press Conference a couple of weeks ago. He must have had a follow up interview with Brian Gomez, the Gazette Telegraph reporter.” Email follow-up with Steve Pastorino, however, indicated that this had not been the case, and the article quotes were based on the press conference from a couple of weeks ago. And sure enough, a review of the press conference audio shows that those quotes are transcribed pretty accurately. (You can hear for yourself (see below). At around 44:20. Christer Ahl asks the financial related questions.) In the context of an hour long press conference covering a lot of topics the comments were significant; in the context of a short newspaper article that focused on financial issue, though, they were even more so.
As I highlighted before, these financial troubles weren’t new “news” for most American Team Handball followers. Christer Ahl’s follow up article on the press conference had already touched on many of the key points from the press conference and Christer and I were both a little surprised with the candidness of some of Steve Pastorino’s comments regarding USOC support.
But, while Team Handball News might be a significant player in the Team Handball world we are, but a bit player in the sporting world (although, it should be noted there are a significant number of Colorado Springs visitors to our site). What we report reaches a smaller audience. The Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph isn’t the New York Times either, but Colorado Springs is still a decent sized city, and most importantly it’s the home of USOC HQ. You can bet that every single USOC executive read the article with interest and a little frown as it doesn’t paint the USOC in the best light. Additionally, the story has also been picked up by other outlets like MSNBC and Sports Business Journal Daily.
It remains to be seen if there’s any fallout from the article. If there is, it can’t be because there’s anything incorrect in terms of content. I’ve had my disagreements with how USA Team Handball has spent the money it’s received from the USOC and other sources, but you’ll find no disagreement from me regarding the inadequacy of the paltry sum Team Handball receives in comparison to other sports. For some time I’ve been working on a series of articles which breaks down just how inconsistent, non-transparent and arbitrary the USOC process is. Looks like it’s time to dust off the draft, clean it up and post it.
Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph (30 Aug 2011): USA Team Handball in financial fight with USOC: http://www.gazette.com/sports/fight-124178-financial-handball.html
THN (18 Aug 2011): USA Men’s Team getting ready for PANAM Games: http://teamhandballnews.com/2011/08/usa-mens-team-getting-ready-for-panam-games/
THN (19 Aug 2011): AUDIO: USATH Press Conference: http://teamhandballnews.com/2011/08/audio-usath-press-conference/
THN (3 Jan 2011): The Budget Shell Game: http://teamhandballnews.com/2011/01/the-budget-shell-game/