Low Hanging Fruit for the new USATH GM

No, these three apples can really be plucked easily.

As anyone who has followed the trials and tribulations of USA Team Handball through the years knows the sport has some huge challenges.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and it won’t be quick and easy to solve all of USA Team Handball’s challenges either.  New General Manager, Matt Van Houten, most likely already has a massively long checklist of things to do.  Some of these items may take years to fully address and it’s only a matter of time for a chorus to rise up and start complaining that nothing has changed.

Fortunately, however, there are a few items that should be relatively easy to fix.  Items that can be accomplished to show near term progress while the more difficult items are addressed.   Herewith, is the low hanging fruit:


This hardly needs any explanation.  Not only has it been updated way too infrequently for over a year it is has been woefully lacking in substance and style.   Here are a couple of recent examples to highlight a few obvious problems.

  • Don’t post a one paragraph link to a bland IHF story on the upcoming challenge tournament.  Two USA youth teams are going to the tournament, but you wouldn’t know about it from this post.  Why not a story about some of those athletes and their ongoing preparation?  Or better yet, strongly encourage those athletes to blog about and during the upcoming event.
  • There was a major club tournament last weekend in Chicago.  Why not a photo and a story or at least a link to a site with all that information?    Heck, I’m guessing, if asked, Craig Rot would have done a nice little write-up of the whole event.
  • Find better quality photos.  The blurred “IHF trophy” block letters and the photo of the new GM just don’t cut it.
  • Finally, if a site has an audio interview with the new GM, wouldn’t it make sense to link to relevant content like that.

The need to fix the webpage simply cannot be understated as it is the all important, first impression for literally thousands of potential fans and players of the game.   Probably more than a few potential sponsors, as well.  USA Team Handball cannot afford to let folks conclude as this Orange County register reporter did during the Olympics, that the sport is not a priority and that our webpage looks like it’s hosted by Geocities.

2) Secure a sponsorship deal with U.S. TV networks currently broadcasting Team Handball

Yes, there are networks broadcasting the sport in the U.S.  In former USATH CEO Mike Cavanaugh and former USATH GM Steve Pastorino’s fantasy world they would have walked on to the job with this situation in hand.  Cavanaugh tried for years to secure a TV deal unsuccessfully and Pastorino finally was able to facilitate a deal with the MHz network.   The MHz deal is gone, but now two networks (beIN Sport and Univision Deportes) have chosen to broadcast the sport totally on their own.

As far as I can tell (multiple emails regarding this topic to the Interim GM and BoD President have not merited a response) there has been no dialogue between the Federation and these two networks on potential sponsorship of USA Team Handball.  The MHz Network had some sort of deal with the USA Federation, so I’d like to think these two entities would also jump at the chance of sponsoring the Federation in exchange for a little promotion on the USA website.

3) Post USA Team Handball’s financial data on the Federation website.

The Federation’s own by-laws state the following:

Section 17.5. Website.

USATH shall maintain a website for dissemination of information to its members. USATH shall post on its website its Bylaws.  Additionally, USATH shall post on its website its most recent annual financial statement and its most recent 990 Form filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

Yet, the latest and greatest information is the 2009-2010 IRS Form 990 and a bad link to the 2011 BoD approved budget (it goes to a Form 990).    As we are approaching calendar year 2013 it’s more than high time to post more current information.   Not only is it a requirement, it’s the right thing for a transparent federation to do.

And to be even more transparent, some explanatory documents which highlight what key financial decisions are being made, and why in greater detail would be highly appreciated.   As an example of what not do, just try to decipher the notes regarding finances in the last two board meeting minutes (Feb 2012, May 2012).  These explanatory documents would not have to be a detailed prospectus, but they should give members real insight as to how much funding is going to support the various programs, be it club development, national team trips or organizing the Club National Championships.

So, three easy tasks that hopefully can be checked off the To Do List.  In the coming weeks, I’ll try to highlight some of the more important and challenging tasks that will require some heavy lifting.