Tuesday, November 29, 2022

USA Racquetball reveals financial difficulties

USA Racquetball (USAR) today issued a statement that partially detailed the dire financial straits the organization is in. We had speculated the USAR may have money troubles, when they made the appointment of Mike Grisz as the Executive Director, and that he would be working pro bono (i.e., without salary).

Today USAR stated they have restructured operations based on projected revenues, including memberships, which are approximately 5,000 or half what they were prior to the pandemic. Annual membership revenue is said to be down $125,000. The restructuring leaves USAR with one paid employee, and volunteers taking up the slack. That’s not a good situation.

Moreover, the operations of the USAR’s national championships, which is one of their most important activities, ran at a loss of $170,000 in 2022. That deficit combined with reduced revenues has put USAR in dire straits.

Thus, the USAR is making an appeal for financial donations in hopes of raising $100,000 by year end to give themselves a fresh start for 2023.

The importance of a National Sport Organization (NSO) cannot be overstated. It is the NSO that provides overview and guidance to a sport, especially in terms of rules of play, national championships, national teams, player ranking, and coach training. These provide the framework for a sport.

Without a strong NSO a sport’s profile within a country diminishes, because there would be no one carrying the torch for the sport. And internationally the country may miss competitions if there is no way to select players to represent the country, let alone support those players to go to an event. 2023 is a Pan American Games year, and the number of players a country can send to the Pan Am Games will be determined by how well a country does at the Pan American Championships in the spring. Thus, it’s important to have a strong showing at the Pan Am Championships, so that you can send as many players as possible to the Pan Am Games.

But USAR has struggled to send teams to international competitions - especially the Pan American Championships, which is an annual competition - even before its current financial situation. How are they going to do so in 2023? The US Olympic Committee may provide support for going to the 2023 Pan Am Games, which will be in Santiago, Chile, as it’s a multi-sport event second in size only to the Summer Olympics, but you have to qualify players to compete there.

Many players view the Pan Am Games as racquetball's Olympics, as it's the largest event that includes racquetball. While Pan Ams are not a global event, the best racquetball countries are in the Americas, so the Pan Am Games generally have the best racquetball players competing for gold.

Hopefully, the USAR’s appeal will be successful, and they can get to a more financially stable position. Racquetball originated in the United States, and the USA was the leading country for much of its history. They are still one of the leading countries, which makes the USAR’s predicament all the more poignant.

Follow the bouncing ball….

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