EB MEETING IN MIAMI
Board supports cutting back Book and Equipment Sales
Following is a partial and unofficial report of some matters discussed by the Board. The issue of rating system "activity points" is not included here as it has already been the subject of reports on this website.
BOOK AND EQUIPMENT SALES: A motion was passed to allow the Executive Director to gradually scale back the Book and Equipment business to the point that only "basic" items would be sold. This scaling down would occur through outsourcing options and increased advertising of other vendors' products. McCrary opposed the motion, expressing concerns that reduction of the in-house business to "basic" services, increased reliance on advertising other outlets, and outsourcing through use of independent vendors (such as linking to Amazon.com and the like) would reduce a membership benefit and renewal incentive that still makes a substantial contribution to net revenues supporting other programs.
CORRESPONDENCE CHESS: The possibility of discontinuing correspondence chess was discussed, but McCrary and Warren spoke against elimination. Postal play is believed to be operating at a very slight loss, but provides a membership benefit that promotes membership retention. No motion was made, and this program is expected to continue.
SCHOLASTIC COUNCIL: Co-chairs Steve Shutt and Pat Hoekstra were present as representatives of the Council. Most of the Council's agenda items were positively resolved by the Board. Scholastic regulations were approved, and a motion was passed requiring the office to be more flexible in resolving defective rating reports (for example, reports including expired memberships the organizer is willing to pay for). A major problem was reported with the processing of rating reports that have minor flaws, causing significant delays; the office will be expected to address this issue as a high priority.
INTERNET MEMBERSHIPS: These non-Chess Life memberships, priced at 80% of regular dues, were previously authorized and will be implemented by the office, beginning with full adult memberships.
Editor's comment: Although I have not seen any figures on which the Board may have based its decision to cut back the book and equipment sales program, it seems highly unlikely that this is a wise move. Book and equipment sales have historically shown a consistent profit for USCF, and common sense indicates that with so many other vendors within the chess world remaining in this business year after year, they too are probably making a profit. If others in the business make money, why should not USCF be able to do the same?
Actually, the federation should be able to do better than other vendors. USCF enjoys substantial advantages over its competitors: the prestige of being the national chess organization, the goodwill that stems from using the proceeds of its sales to fund American teams overseas and other worthy chess projects, and the ability to advertise in Chess Life at cost and to operate concessions at national tournaments.
Fortunately, the reduction of USCF sales will be gradual- likely so gradual that the delegates will be able to reverse this policy at Framingham in August without too much damage, which I suspect they will do.