Message from the USOC Regarding Olympic Day Success

The USOC issued the following message today to those who participated in Olympic Day 2014:

“Thank you for your participation in Olympic Day 2014. Over 500,000 Americans celebrated Olympic Day while participating in 1,055 celebrations in 813 cities. With celebrations in all 50 states and 11 locations abroad, 2014 was a paramount success—making this year the most successful Olympic Day celebration in United States history.

Olympic Day is a celebration for youth around the world to observe the Olympic values of Fair Play, Perseverance, Respect and Sportsmanship. It is also a day to celebrate the International Olympic Committee’s three pillars: Move, Learn and Discover.

More than 875 Olympians, Paralympians, coaches and hopefuls helped to spread the Olympic spirit across the United States. While attending Olympic Day events, athletes shared the Olympic ideals of Fair Play, Perseverance, Respect, and Sportsmanship.

The U.S. Olympic Committee thanks everyone who contributed to the incredible success of Olympic Day and for their continued support of the Olympic Movement.”

USA Dance celebrated Olympic Day in three cities in 2014 – two in California and one in Florida.  Let’s try to increase that number in 2015!

 

A Tribute to Jerry Bonmer

I read the notice sent by USA Dance today that Jerry Bonmer, Membership Director, was leaving his position at the end of this month, but was surprised by its brevity.  On July 29, 2013 in a post on this site I wrote that it was Jerry who sent me and my husband, Mark our membership cards when we joined USA Dance (then USABDA) as brand new competitors in 1985.

When I became a member of the Governing Council in 1996 Jerry was one of the first to congratulate me and I could always count on his advice and encouragement over the years.  And whenever I took a position Jerry did not agree with, he let me know that too, loud and clear!

During my years as a Regional Vice President I sat next to Jerry at most of the Governing Council meetings and Jerry was never shy about speaking his mind on any issue before the GC . There was never anyone better than Jerry at turning the direction of a meeting around that had headed off course and making sure that the GC concentrated on the most important thing, which was keeping the best interests of the membership front and center in any discussion.

Jerry and his wife Sue are founding members of USA Dance and were present and involved in many of USA Dance’s milestones over the decades. Additionally, Jerry could always be counted on year after year to assist at Nationals – handling any and all competitor membership issues right there so that all who were eligible to compete were able to do so without delay, and assisting in any other capacity as needed.  He interacted with the chapters on a daily basis, providing membership data, sending out membership cards and promptly answering membership questions.  Many chapters grew to rely on Jerry and the membership data he provided them.

I enjoyed frequently sitting with Jerry and Sue at Nationals where I could hear what the Bonmers had to say about so many of the couples, as their knowledge of and friendships with scores of dancers was legendary.  And Jerry always had many stories to tell of USA Dance’s early years – its champions and  those who played an important formative role in the organization from the very beginning.

Jerry is the last founding member of USA Dance to leave the Governing Council, and I look forward to seeing a fitting tribute to him in the next issue of the American Dancer Magazine.  I consider Jerry and Sue to be true friends, and look forward to the continuation of our friendship in the years ahead.

Olympic Day 2014 a Success!

The Nor Cal Chapter of USA Dance held two Olympic Day events in 2014 – On June 21st at Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo and on June 22nd at The Shops At Tanforan in San Bruno.  Our guest Olympian was rower Mike Altman (2004 and 2008 Olympic Games).  Mike spoke to the audience about the Olympic values of perseverance, good sportsmanship and fair play and reminisced about his own personal journey to the Olympic Games.  Members of the public stopped by to speak with Mike afterword and to get his autograph.  Mike brought with him lots of Olympic athlete cards, which were a hit with the kids in the audience on both days and were eagerly picked up.

Since an important element of Olympic Day is to encourage people of all ages to become physically active, what better way to get good exercise than to dance.  Nor Cal Chapter members took to the floor with a series of DanceSport demonstrations, followed by a simple Cha Cha lesson, allowing members of the public from the very young to senior citizen age to stretch their legs and learn a few dance steps.

My thanks go out to all who made these events a success:  the USOC, the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee, Olympian Mike Altman, and the staffs of the Hillsdale Shopping Center and The Shops At Tanforan.

And thanks also to Nor Cal Board Members:  Vice President Karen Andersen, whose masterful job as MC kept the events moving while imparting information to the audience about the history of each dance and the dancers they were seeing; Chapter President Jim Kleinrath who did double duty as a demonstrator and dance instructor, and Chapter Secretary Mark Scardina, who also did double duty as DJ and photographer.

And a final special thank you to our wonderful DanceSport athletes, who shared their passion for dance with the public not only through their wonderful dance routines, but also by joining in the Cha Cha lesson afterward:  Pre-Teen athletes Tyler Li and Anjelica Lowe, Junior athletes Lance Yasinsky and Paloma Pronin, and Adult/Senior Athletes Jim Kleinrath dancing with his student Junko Tanabe.

The celebration of Olympic Day strengthens the link DanceSport has with the Olympic Movement, and the Nor Cal Chapter of USA Dance was very pleased to have done its part  in bringing the Olympic message to appreciative audiences in Northern California.

Sports for All Commission Has Held its First Meeting

I returned earlier this week from the first meeting of the WDSF Sports for All  Commission.  WDSF President Carlos Freitag welcomed us and made some opening remarks about the establishment of this Commission and the important work he hoped it would tackle.

Chair Heidi Estler of Germany, Sandy Brittain of Canada and Professor Rainbow Ho of Hong Kong and I spent the early part of the meeting getting to know one another better and discussing our respective backgrounds and what motivated us to become interested and involved in promoting dance and DanceSport in our own federations.  We also discussed how promotion of DanceSport could be tied in to the Olympic Movement as a whole.  We then got down to the business of planning future projects that we hope to roll out later in the year and in 2015.

I was happy to take the minutes of the meeting, and once the minutes are reviewed and approved, information will be released on the future plans and activities of the Commission.

 

WDSF Sports For All Commission Meeting

Next week I will be attending the first meeting of the WDSF Sports For All Commission.  The meeting will be held in Bucharest, Romania in conjunction with the WDSF’s Annual General Assembly.  On the Commission agenda will be a discussion of ideas on how the WDSF and its member federations can work with the IOC and the national Olympic Committees to further the Olympic message that participation in sport is a human right for all men, women and children of all economic strata and in all societies around the world.

If USA Dance members have any ideas they would like to suggest on this topic, please contact me.

 

As DanceSport Prepares to Become a Pan American Sport – Some Thoughts for USA Dance

Participation in the Pan American Games is moving ever closer for DanceSport as more Latin American countries are added to the roster of nations whose national Olympic Committees accept their DanceSport federations as members.  In the next few years USA Dance will need to make some important changes to its bylaws in order to fully comply with the requirements set forth in the U.S. Amateur Sports Act and the USOC Constitution for National Governing Bodies (NGB’s) in order to prepare for DanceSport’s entry into the Pan American Games.  I would like to discuss in this column one of the major changes to the bylaws that will need to be made as well as some related issues that need attention.

In 1996 USA Dance made application to the USOC for recognition as an NGB. The USOC allowed some flexibility in certain provisions of the USA Dance bylaws because USA Dance was initially approved as an affiliate member of the USOC rather than as a full member, and had very few World Team athletes at that time. This affiliate status allowed USA Dance to select athlete representatives from a larger pool. This pool included not only world team or elite-level adult international style competitors, but also championship level athletes in open or age-protected senior age categories.

This flexibility, however, would no longer be afforded at such time as DanceSport becomes a Pan American sport, at which time all NGB provisions of the USOC Constitution would need to be satisfied.  That document defines athlete representatives as individuals who “must have represented the United States in the Olympic, Pan American or Paralympic Games, (or) World Championships…within the ten (10) years preceding election.”

At that time any individuals serving on the DanceSport Council not satisfying that eligibility requirement would need to resign from their positions as DanceSport Delegates and be replaced with elite competitors who are currently representing or had represented USA Dance in the last ten years in World DanceSport Federation world championships.  If an election for DanceSport Delegates were held today, two of the four Delegates presently serving on the DanceSport Council would not be eligible to run in that election and would need to step down from their positions.

At such time as DanceSport becomes a Pan American sport, USA Dance will be moved from the Multi-Sport Organizations Council of the USOC on which it currently serves into the NGB Council, and an athlete will be selected to represent USA Dance athletes on the USOC Athletes Advisory Council, with the rights, privileges and responsibilities associated with full membership as a Pan American sport. In the run up to this recognition, USA Dance will be subjected to ever closer scrutiny by the USOC to ensure that the sport is being properly managed in a fair, ethical and responsible manner. Even today as an affiliate member of the USOC, USA Dance is required to afford member athletes, officials and organizers all due process rights in the event USA Dance takes disciplinary or other action against them or they file a grievance against USA Dance for alleged denial or restriction of their rights.

USA Dance athletes, officials and organizers who claim unfair treatment are afforded the right to have their grievance reviewed by the USOC ombudsman and/or assigned to a panel of three individuals chosen from other Olympic or Pan American NGB’s to hear and adjudicate the grievance. NGB’s that are shown to be noncompliant in affording their members the necessary due process face disciplinary action themselves from the USOC.

The USOC also looks askance at individuals who may be financially profiting from their position of oversight of the sport in any capacity. As such, individuals should not be serving in administrative or governance positions where they are a party to the formulation or approval of rules or regulations that may financially benefit them.

USA Dance now needs to start grappling with and addressing issues of this nature in order to be well-positioned to apply for Pan American sport status when DanceSport becomes eligible in the near term.

WDSF versus WDC

I was perusing the World Dance Council (WDC) website the other day and came across this statement on their home page:  “The WDC is the World authority for all Dance for both Amateurs and Professionals”.  How can the WDC be the “world authority” when it is the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF), that is designated by the International Olympic Committee as the International Governing Body for DanceSport?  Let’s compare the websites of the WDC and the WDSF to see what each one offers the amateur DanceSport competitor.

The Amateur League of the WDC lists two pages of competition rules, while the WDSF competition rules go on for 61 pages, with a number of supplemental documents.  The WDSF rules cover everything from anti-doping, to proper organization of a competitive event, to the conduct of judges.  In fact, there is an extensive supplementary section dealing specifically with the ethical behavior expected of adjudicators.

And the WDSF costume rules provide page after page of detailed descriptions of what is and is not allowed in competition, complete with diagrams.  A particularly detailed description exists for the costuming of juvenile and junior competitors.  The WDC’s costume rules for amateurs on the other hand, state only that costumes must be “in compliance with each of the Ballroom and Latin-american disciplines” and that they “shall conform with accepted norms for men and women in competition-dancing.”  There is nothing listed on the WDC website to guide the parent on age-appropriate costuming for children.

And how important and significant does the WDC consider its amateur competitors to be?  It devotes only one page to photo galleries from the limited number of WDC amateur competitions, with the last update being a competition that took place over six months ago.  The WDSF, on the other hand, has close to 1,000 pages of photos from its competitions, including many of the most recent ones from 2014 supplemented by scores of videos.

And to top it off, the Chair of the WDC Amateur League is a professional whom the amateurs had no role in selecting, leaving one to wonder how much freedom competitors have within the Amateur League to chart their own course within the WDC.   The WDSF, on the other hand, has an Athletes Commission where athletes may voice their opinion on a variety of subjects in a democratic manner and are surveyed on their interests and concerns.  There is also a separate Professional Division so that professionals have their own area within the WDSF where issues specific to professionals may be addressed.

Competitors have the right to choose which competitive events they will enter.  However,  competitors who choose only to dance in WDC-affiliated amateur competitions are doing themselves a great disservice, and depriving themselves of the opportunity to compete in the world’s largest, most competitive  and most comprehensive system of DanceSport competitions in the world – those organized under the WDSF umbrella and its network of over 90 national federations.

 

OLYMPIC DAY – CALLING ALL USA DANCE CHAPTERS!

There’s still time to register to hold an Olympic Day event, which celebrates the values of the Olympic Movement and the joy that sport and a physically fit lifestyle bring to our lives.  Olympic Day is celebrated each June 23rd in 160 countries around the world, and celebratory events can be staged any time in June.   The USOC provides a banner and informational materials as well as a template to all who sign up to host an Olympic Day celebration.  In past years USA Dance chapters have organized Olympic Day events that have included Olympic-themed social dances as well as dance and DanceSport demonstrations at shopping malls, emphasizing dance done competitively or recreationally as a wonderful way to stay fit for people of all ages.   Interested chapters are encouraged to visit the following site for further information and to register their event with the USOC.

http://www.teamusa.org/About-the-USOC/In-the-Community/Olympic-Day.aspx

WDSF Appoints USA Dance Past President Lydia Scardina to the Sports For All Commission

I am honored to receive an appointment to the World DanceSport Federation’s newly created Sports for All Commission.  USA Dance has issued the following press release regarding the appointment:

“USA Dance, the National Governing Body for DanceSport in the United States, proudly announces that the World DanceSport Federation, the global governing body for DanceSport and member organization of the International Olympic Committee, has appointed San Francisco-resident Lydia Scardina, immediate past president of USA Dance, Inc., to the newly created WDSF Sports For All Commission.

Ms. Scardina will serve on this prestigious Commission along with Sandy Brittain, president of Canada DanceSport, Professor Rainbow Ho of the University of Hong Kong and Commission Chair Heidi Estler, vice president of DanceSport Germany, German DanceSport Federation.

The Sports For All Commission will partner with the IOC, the National Olympic Committees and the various National DanceSport Federations throughout the world to promote the concept of healthy physical activity for people of all ages, emphasizing the role of dance in furthering  these healthy lifestyle goals.

The Sports For All Commission, as explained by the WDSF, promotes the Olympic ideal that sport is a human right for all individuals regardless of race, social class or sex.  The movement encourages sports activities that can be exercised by people of all ages, both sexes and by those with different social and economic conditions.

“I am looking forward to this new challenge and the opportunity it presents for the WDSF and its member federations, including USA Dance, to work hand in hand with the IOC and the National Olympic Committees in this important endeavor” states Ms. Scardina.”
 

 

USA Dance – the True Leading Authority for DanceSport in the U.S.

In the January 24, 2014 issue of DANCE WEEK I came across a statement by the president of the National Dance Council of America to the effect that the NDCA is the “official governing council of dance and dancesport in the USA.”  In my opinion, this statement is incorrect and confusing because the only organization recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as the National Governing Body (NGB) for DanceSport in the U.S. is USA Dance.

USA Dance’s NGB designation is of prime importance.  The Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act, an Act of Congress which was signed into law in 1978 gives the USOC sole authority to determine which organization may be designated as an NGB and which may not.    Among American dance organizations, only USA Dance holds the NGB designation.

The president of the NDCA goes on to state in DANCE WEEK that the NDCA is the “leading authority of dance for Professionals, Amateurs and Pro/Am competitors”.  This too is a questionable statement, given that the NDCA has no NGB status conferred upon it via federal law.

Just as USA Dance is recognized as the NGB for DanceSport in the U.S., its international federation, the World DanceSport Federation is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the International Governing Body (IGB) for DanceSport world-wide.

Both the WDSF and USA Dance are democratic organizations, giving members a voice and a vote, an important criteria which the IOC and the USOC considered in granting IGB and NGB status to these respective organizations.  Other important criteria include  transparent grievance and appeal procedures for all athletes, officials and organizers that meet well defined international standards as well as the national standards established in the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act.

The National Dance Council of America may well be a trade association that is in the business of protecting the interests of organizers of NDCA competitions, but only USA Dance has the right to call itself the National Governing Body for DanceSport in the U.S.