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Too Bad, So Sad

March 26, 2009

An email from Bob McNamara, incumbent head coach of the USDBF:

The IDBF-ICF issue: a coach and paddler’s perspective

Bob McNamara, Philadelphia

The international tensions between the IDBF and the ICF have recently
reached the US with the creation of a new organization, Dragon Boat USA
that is under the umbrella of USACK. I strongly believe that as a
matter of principle that the ICF should back off its attempts to take
over the sport. As a matter of honor and loyalty, individual paddlers,
coaches and teams should not support any USACK/ICF activity in dragon
boating that infringes on the established domain of the USDBF and the
IDBF. If, on the other hand, the USACK/ICF would respect the authority
of the USDBF/IDBF a positive working relationship could be mutually
beneficial. The basic issue relates to control of the sport at the
national and international level. In simple terms it means which
international group has the right to hold “World Championships” and
which national entity has the right to formulate the National Team.

USACK and the ICF are latecomers to dragon boat and their assertion of
authority is presumptuous and ethically suspect. Clearly dragon boating
would never have risen to its stature or popularity if that had been
left to the ICF. It was solely the efforts of the IDBF that took the
sport from a festival scene to a true international sport. Without the
IDBF we would not have seen the tremendous growth of dragon boating in
the USA, Canada and elsewhere. Within the USA, it is the USDBF that has
sent representatives to IDBF World Championships since 1995 and created
a regional structure and national championship race-off. USACK has only
just formalized an entity yet it is already advertising itself as the
National Team that will compete for the World Championship.

Those US paddlers who have been graced with participating in IDBF world
championships, particularly those who have won medals in these races,
owe much to the hard work of the IDBF. Without the IDBF the great
sporting and cultural experiences these individuals have enjoyed would
never have come to pass. No Penang, Sydney, Berlin, Shanghai, Poznan,
and on and on. Any such individual that participates in aiding the ICF
attempt to control dragon boating is disrespecting this legacy. Some of
the individuals who are creating this alternate US “national dragon boat
team” have benefited from the IDBF efforts and are, in my opinion,
demonstrating a shallow “me first” type of disloyalty to those who
brought the sport to its current level.

Those who paddle and coach the sport in the US owe allegiance to the
USDBF regardless of whether they have ever participated in the IDBF
worlds. It is the USDBF that has promoted the sport and the many racing
opportunities now available to you in the US. The ICF entities have not
been part of the growth of this sport either here or in Canada where
many of us race.

USACK already has its cake; it controls the Olympic bids for paddle
sports. One would think that they would spend all of their energy
trying to improve on the spotty US performance in those sports rather
than stake a false claim to hosting the US National Dragon Boat Team.
USACK should stop trying to compete with and instead support the USDBF
by encouraging young paddlers to try our sport. USACK could then
benefit by tapping into the young talent we introduce to paddling. The
General Assembly of International Sports Federations (GAISF) has
recognized dragon boating as distinct from canoe and kayak and the
authority of the IDBF over the sport. In the USA, we need to move
forward with that in mind and actively resist any attempts by USACK, an
organization principally involved in canoe and kayak, to control dragon
boat or to declare itself the home of a national dragon boat team.
Those who have benefited from the IDBF should not now turn their back on

Can’t we all just get along?  Who gives a $hit if your plastic medal says “ICF” or “USDBF”?  I don’t think the rats in my garage mind one way or the other.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. lori permalink
    March 26, 2009 9:01 am

    WTF? I just want to paddle.

  2. chuck permalink
    March 26, 2009 9:47 am

    “a coach and paddler’s perspective”
    I don’t see a paddler’s perspective… all I read is griping.

  3. malachi permalink
    March 30, 2009 2:38 pm

    Perhaps it’s time for the paddlers to dump both these groups of jokers / politicians and start our own organization. All I know is I didn’t vote for any of these people, I didn’t choose any of them and honestly I don’t want or need any of them.

  4. April 2, 2009 9:36 pm

    OK, one paddler’s view:
    I have been paddling for over three years under the system from PDBA/USDBF/IDBF. Organized races is a big part of DB. The point is in the past years, which organization is doing the work and get the DB sport established as of today. That organization should get the proper credit it deserves.
    I am open to see the other side of the story.

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