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?
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 bruce_at_strattoncpa.com (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?
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
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!
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.