Keep Your Hands out of My Wallet!

If there was any doubt that the IJF, and by extension the national organizations, didn’t care for the athletes, here’s proof that the only thing that matters is how much each organization can make off rank and file players, coaches, and officials.  I call this highway robbery.

While in Paris for the World Championships, I had heard that the IJF had issued its latest diktat on where athletes could reside while they were at IJF tournaments.  In case you haven’t followed the issue, prior to the new ruling, athletes were “encouraged” to stay in the host hotel and pay outrageous nightly fees of $200-250 per person.  There was some leeway that allowed you to circumvent that “encouragement.”  You could stay somewhere else, but you got dinged with a financial penalty.  Recall that USA Judo charged you $200 to enter the Miami World Cup if you didn’t stay in the official “resort” hotel that no athlete in his right mind would ever need or want.  It charged less if you stayed in the official resort, but those rooms were very expensive.  With the new “policy” that “get out from paying exorbitant hotel charges” has been slammed shut.  Here’s the announcement from USA Judo regarding the issue, with my comments interspersed.

USA Judo Outlines New Rules for International Travel by USA Judo Junior Teams

Based on feedback from organizers of international events as well as IJF leadership and USA Judo staff recommendations starting with the upcoming World Junior Championships in South Africa and moving forward the following will be the policy that USA Judo will enforce relating to official USA Judo Junior International team travel and participation:

My comments: First of all, I think that no national Judo organization had any real say in this matter.  This is a no-brainer for the organizing committees.  I’d like to find out what USA Judo staff members went along with this theft of hard-earned money.  The staff must surely know that athletes and coaches will now be paying a lot more to participate in what is fast becoming a rich man’s sport.  My guess is that Jose Rodriguez, USA Judo’s Executive Director, found this very appealing.  It reinforces what USA Judo has already demanded with the Miami World Cup.

1. All official coaching and support staff and participating athletes will be booked for housing, ground transportation and meals directly through the official organizing committee.

My comments:  This looks like a sensible decision, until you factor in the “extra cost” that each athlete, coach, official, and parent will be charged.  My daughter and another U.S. athlete paid over $500 a night to share a room while at the Worlds in Paris.

2. All personal coaches expecting to coach from the mat-side chair and expect to have an accreditation to do so will book their housing, ground transportation and meals directly through the official organizing committee.

My comments: Can’t say much about this other than the cost associated with this privilege.

3. Parents and other traveling friends will have the choice to be booked through the official organizing committee or may decide to book directly with any local hotel, etc…  However, it must be clearly understood that they will receive no support, recognition or status from the organizing committee.  USA Judo will not have the choice to request accreditation for those staying outside the booking of the organizing committee.

My comments: At least the parents have the choice.  My bet is that before this new ruling, they didn’t receive any kind of support, recognition or status from the organizing committee, so it has no effect on the parents.

4. USA Judo according to IJF rules and that of each organizing committee will be the only entity booking and entering a USA Judo official delegation in the event in question.

My comments: On the face of this, this too is sensible, and it doesn’t change the previous policy.  On the other hand, it’s yet another tool that USA Judo can use to control its members, especially personal coaches.

It is the hope of USA Judo that everyone understands that we must abide by the rules of the events we are attending, just as every other country does.  Further, the above policy, we believe will help make the international trips for Junior athletes less stressful given the fact that in many cases this is the first time the athletes may be traveling out of the country.

My comments: Less stressful?  It depends on how you define this.  It’s nice to have travel arrangements taken care of, but the stress comes when you receive the bill.

In another fundraising rip-off, USA Judo announced “that IJF and PJC dan rank certificates are now available for purchase through USA Judo.  These certificates are a nice accompaniment to your USA Judo dan rank certificates.”  Nice accompaniment? Makes me want to fire off my order right now.  Heck, I might even order duplicates just in case I want to embellish another wall.  That way I’ll also save $20 on a second processing fee!

All kidding aside, I’ve never understood why it was important to have a Kodokan certificate let alone one from the IJF or PJC.  I guess some people feel the need to be more validated than others.  I’m also pretty sure your Judo doesn’t get any better if you have those certificates.

In any case, what you used to purchase for some $30 each now costs you slightly more.  For example, the IJF/PJC certificates for yodan will only cost you $575 on top of what you already paid USA Judo, USJA or USJF, which also runs in the hundreds of dollars.  The certificates for rokudan will cost you $800, but what the heck!  Now that you’re going through USA Judo, you’re guaranteed that your precious certificates will arrive within so many working days. Sure takes a load off your mind, doesn’t it?

I’d like to ask you to take a few moments to relax in a comfortable chair and ponder this. What could we do for Judo at the grassroots level if instead of stroking our ego, we put that “IJF/PJC certificate” money, or the “USA Judo/USJA/USJF certificate” money, into local development?  OK, I can see you smiling now. Mind boggling, isn’t it?

The fundraisers from the IJF, EJU, PJC and USA Judo just keep coming and coming.  I can’t wait for the next method of separating me from my hard-earned money.  If you can think of the next form of highway robbery, please share it with my readers and me.

5 thoughts on “Keep Your Hands out of My Wallet!

  1. IJF approved:

    Training uniforms
    Competition Bra for women
    meal bars
    Team doctor must be certified through special IJF certification
    IJF-logo water bottles

  2. “In another fundraising rip-off, USA Judo announced ‘that IJF and PJC dan rank certificates are now available for purchase through USA Judo. These certificates are a nice accompaniment to your USA Judo dan rank certificates.'”

    I laughed out loud when I opened my mail from USA Judo and read about this.

    And the politics involved in elite judo can truly be disgusting. Just as a side note, that’s nice that parents will still have some choice as to where they stay, but I’m guessing that doesn’t apply when the parent is also a coach.

  3. It is rather amazing how creative the human mind can be when it comes to doing what is wrong, then to be able to justify that position. There are many days I would just love to walk away…and I do have other interests. No more “punk *ss politics from JA JF and USA Judo. No more dealing with the IRS, State AG and the Cities of Portage and Three Rivers and their outragous fees. No more worries about recruiting, retention and cleaning up rank messes that someone else made. I get tired of the 8th and 9th degrees and the kids with USA back patches walking around like world beaters, but rarely get past the 1st round internationally. This is where people will generally shrug their shoulders and go “I don’t know” The sad fact is we do know. We know what is wrong and how to fix it. I know whatever the national organizations do, I can do better and for a fraction of the cost. And my players will be as good and more than likely held to a higher standard. We need to say enough is enough, tear down the current model and do what we need to do to make Judo what Judo is suppose to be. Unfortunately, the majority of people will do nothing. It is easier to just go along…to fit in…to associate with those 8th and 9ths…to enjoy inflated rank…to be accepted but not respected. No more.

  4. The ethos has changed completely. In the early days associations were for the benefit of the members. Today the members seem for the benefit of the associations. The only legitimate escuse would be if Judo were no longer a Cinderella sport and top players able to gain financially as they do in other sports.

  5. I could not agree more with R.H. Russell and Robert Treat. I believe you covered it all.
    Robert wrote: “There are many days I would just love to walk away”.
    Well, I did walk away after 32 years. I will just put my gi back if I go to South Florida, or back overseas.
    What has killed Judo here is not MMA or BJJ, but the nasty politics.

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