The official results are in for the recent election to determine the 2 new “General Membership” seats on the 9 member USA Team Handball Board of Directors. Former National Team player Jennie Choi and Denver Team Handball Coach/Player, Attila Agoston edged Minnesota Team Handball organizer Craig Rot.
85 valid ballots from USA Team Handball members were received by the USOC Audit Team and each voter had to rank all 3 candidates in order of preference. For each ballot the candidate that was ranked first received 3 points, the candidate ranked second received 2 points and the third place candidate received 1 point.
The overall point total for the 3 candidates was
Jennie Choi: 176 points (34.51% of overall points awarded)
Attila Agoston: 175 points (34.31% of overall points awarded)
Craig Rot: 159 points (31.18% of overall points awarded)
With the ranking system used for voting it’s possible that as few as 9 additional voters supporting Craig Rot could have tipped the scales in his direction.
Commentary: Low turnout is a reminder of sport’s low profile
Only 85 out of a roughly 1,000 members of USA Team Handball bothered to cast a ballot in this election. A less than onerous process (print, scan and email a ballot) that took me roughly 5 minutes to complete. Perhaps the low turnout can be chalked up to the quality of the candidates and an assessment by members that each of the candidates were qualified and would be capable board directors. Certainly, that was my assessment when I found out who the candidates were and it was also my assessment after I had the opportunity to chat with each of them. That being said I was still able to pick a preference even if I wasn’t overly concerned with the outcome.
Regardless of the reason for apathy there is no getting around the fact that 85 voters is a paltry number and a stark reminder of the low profile this sport has in this country. At different points in time I’ve reflected on just how low a profile. In this piece written last year I assessed that there were maybe only around 300 hard core fans in the U.S. Certainly, there are a number of ways to demographically look at the sport in this country and depending on how you want to define fandom you can edge that number up. For sure, thousands of Americans saw the sport on TV during the Olympics and liked what they saw. Federation membership is also on the upswing with over a 1,000 dues paying members, many of them youth players. A low number, but better than 300 or so it was just a few years ago.
In remains to be seen as to whether this low turnout is just a blip on the road to the sport’s greater awareness in this country. With one of the two board members just serving a two year term, there should be another election in a couple of years. With gains in overall membership the voter turnout should increase. Additionally, two years from now one can anticipate that it will be more clear as to what Federation plans and programs are in place and executing. Instead of dealing with hypotheticals there will be reality and a greater likelihood for candidates with differing viewpoints. Yes, some mild controversy to get voters energized never hurts voter turnout.