Friday, October 5, 2012

USA Swimming Talking Points Memo for Board Members: Blogs are Obviously Lying

This morning, I received a memo in my e-mail inbox. Titled "FAQ for Board Members and Others", it was not originally addressed to me, although I guess I fit into the all-encompassing others category. The memo (an FAQ, frequently asked questions) was issued following the USA Swimming convention in Greensboro. It is one part hilarious- every question is written not in the format one would use to actually question someone at USA Swimming, rather they are quite obviously written by someone on the inside seeking to dictate what questions people should be asking them. It doesn't take long for them to get to a topic that's pertinent to this blog: namely blogs.

Question 4 reads:

When a website or blogger distributes incorrect or misleading information about USA Swimming or any of its volunteer or staff leaders, how are we responding?

See what I mean about the wording? Please tell us, how are we responding to all those lies on blogs?

"There are no requirements that bloggers “fact check” their postings, and we have found that attempts to set the record straight are usually ineffective...Although we do not publicly respond to these website or bloggers, USA Swimming President Bruce Stratton and senior staff will always be happy to respond to any individual member’s questions about the content of these sites"

Here are some facts:

1. In fact, there are some requirements that I "fact check" my blog, one being that I am subject to the same kinds of laws surrounding defamation as any other form of media, and have taken pains to write what I know is true

2. Susan Woessner and Chuck Wielgus actually did publicly respond to this blog, meeting with me in Atlanta last December during the Duel in the Pool. At the time, Wielgus made great pains to tell me ahead of time that of course we could not discuss any of the facts presented in my blog, and then when pressed wouldn't give any reason better than "because I said so". 

3. Great to hear about Bruce Stratton being happy to respond! I will write him right away and ask him what he thinks of my blog! If you are a loyal reader, you should ask him what he thinks to, his e-mail is (use an @ symbol instead of what I wrote).

Ok, on to question number 5:

How should we respond when coaches, officials or others talk negatively or express concerns about USA Swimming or its volunteer and staff leaders?

Well, obviously if people express concerns we should do some due diligence to see if they are true. Right? 

"At a minimum, a reasonable response is to tell people not to believe everything they read, and to understand that especially with sensitive issues and legal matters, that USA Swimming’s leaders are frequently unable to make public statements"

Oh, I guess not. So there are two categories of things concerns according to USA swimming:

1. Concerns we should not believe because everyone knows blog=lies
2. Concerns you obviously can't require USA Swimming to address because there is legal action pending.

But, don't worry!

"USA Swimming President Bruce Stratton has continually expressed his willingness to listen to and talk with members who have concerns"

Let the e-mails begin! I am very interested to find out how receptive Bruce Stratton is to membership. As a USA Swimming member, I have never met anyone that has had their concerns addressed by him individually or heard that he was available for this purpose before. I'll post any communication I receive back here so that I can spread the word.


  1. Very predictable response from USA Swimming. Toss a blanket over it and call all of it lies. People largely couldn't care less/won't question and USA Swimming knows it.

    Let's rephrase USA Swimming's assertions with accurate words. This is essentially what they are saying...

    "So what. This coach raped or molested children 37 years ago. Are you really going to make an issue of this?"

    What they want you to focus on is the "37 years ago" and distract you from the "raped or molested children" part.

    Even if USA Swimming is trying to avoid legal liability for this instance (and yes this is their primary goal), the point is that an alleged child abuser has been operating in their organization from the 1970's until last year. Scary.

    USA Swimming continues with their "Deny, Deceive, Distract, Delay" approach to any controversy.

    Good post Chris!

    [shameless self promotion] Swimming Exposed will be turning into a more frequent commentary point [self promotion ends - thanks Chris]