O Log - Yet Another USOF Thread

[23-Sep-05] 

    I guess most eyes are supposed to glaze over at that title, but there is an thread on AttackPoint that potentially bears some observations, especially when it includes, in jest or not Perhaps secession is the answer? Does that mean succession from the IOF, or succession from USOF?

    Apparently, the US has come out in official support of Micro-O, when no one (that I'm aware of) in the competitive Foot-O community (that is, people likely to be at a Foot-O WOC) is in support of the idea. Apparently such support as was presented to the IOF by US officials due to perceived similarity to Trail-O, by pro Trail-O officials (under the logic that it will drive the development of Trail-O, forgetting what the Foot-O people may or may not think).

    I'm on the USOF board (as a representative of the competitive people), and have done Trail-O and Micro-O. The latter 2 were on 1:10 maps, and the Micro-O, which was some years ago, was billed as a training, but it was the same basic idea, run into the circle, punch the one bag of several with the correct code, the penalty being the time wasted going to incorrect bags (which IMHO is the most sensible and interesting way to do Micro-O in the first place, but I guess not as TV friendly??? and a topic for another day in any case ...).

    The first observation is the Micro-O and Trail-O are unrelated, therefore the motivation to accept one to drive the other is misplaced. Micro-O involves running and navigation, just like Foot-O. The best who can navigate on the run to the correct feature will win Micro-O, just like Foot-O. The only out-of-band mental decision that seems different is the cost optimization of taking penalty loops vs the cost of more precise navigation in the circle. I'd argue that a cost optimization problem in this family is already present in Foot-O, just not so distilled out.

    Trail-O does not involve running or navigation, nor does it involve the above decision, with the exception of a couple of timed controls. Trail-O involves excruciating fine compass work, logic, observation, visualization, and deduction (including the possibility that no flag is hung correctly) in an outdoor setting. Fine activities for those who enjoy them, but with the exception of visualization, so expensive and non-core in the course of Foot-O or Micro-O that one would almost always accept the penalty (under present Micro-O rules) than pay these costs. I liken Trail-O to field checking at a distance, a fine and valuable skill, but not in play when running thru the forest navigating. One only need look at how one trains for activities to see if they are the same, and I'd argue the training (and who would be successful at each) would be completely different.

    Well, that seems a bit geeky, and being not so much an expert on either discipline, lines of challenge of my thesis seem present. A more serious observation in this thread, however, is the observation that there seems to be an obvious representational imbalance in USOF. I've probably written about this before, but why not ...

    My contention is that there is some percentage of USOF, say F, that is serious or elite in Foot-O, and another percentage, say T, that is serious or elite in Trail-O. Forgetting the overlap of F and T, which I'll handwave away as low, I would contend that F is substantially greater than T.

    However, I would argue that on the USOF board/leadership, that F is not substantially greater than T, in fact, I'd argue that T is not less than F.

    If I were to try to back up these contentions with data, I would look at how many times a USOF member hopped on a plane or drove 6 hours to do F or T, look at starts in each discipline, looked at A meet/championship results in each discipline, look at number of trips overseas, etc.

    On the board side, I would lexically analyze minutes, discussions, and motions, and ask leadership to rank their top three priorities.

    Well, I could do this, but I should probably start looking for a job. Anecdotal observation, being close to both, seems to support my contentions. For example, the board gave us a Trail-O bid championship (despite no Trail-O A meets ever, to my knowledge), yet getting sprint/middle/long as the premiere Foot-O championship, an issue festering in the competitive Foot-O community for years, suffers from lack of traction despite my (feeble sole board member) efforts. Arguments for Trail-O champs include "it is an IOF discipline" ...

    To be clear, before someone bashes me for being anti Trail-O (which I'm not), my only contention here is that there is a representational imbalance (I'd make the same observation if F and T were reversed (tho of course I would not be incented to do so)), and in a healthy organization, representational imbalances need to be fixed. Moreover, it has been observed that the board tries to focus on too many things. A weak organization (defined by me as an organization with more priorities than resources) needs to let some priorities hit the cutting room floor. In my mind, those priorities that remain are insurance and F. There probably needs to be less focus on T until the rank and file are starting long threads on various fora whining about it.

    So, how can the representational imbalance be fixed? People who care about competitive Foot-O performance have to be on the board. Our butt is kicked at WOC by countries with a fraction of our population, and I'm not talking so much about Northern Europe. I have traveled to some of these countries, tho not done an in-depth study, but my speculation is that there is more focus. Of course, the US is a powerhouse in Trail-O, having medaled at 2 consecutive WOCs -- genuinely impressive results to be proud of. Perhaps there is a correlation between performance and focus after all. The question is -- is there enough resource to spread the focus, and is it representational?

    Getting elite Foot-O people to be on the board is tough. It seems their job is to train and race, and in the US at least, time is scarce enough for these activities, yet alone time to be on the board. Failing that, people on the board have to ask "what does my constituency want?". Well, that's what I've tried to do anyway, we'll see how it goes. That is what a representative does, regardless of personal priority (for example, I'm happy with 2 day classic vs sprint/middle/long, and the last thing I want is sprints promoted to premiere, as I am slow as dirt ...).

    Failing that, perhaps succession isn't in jest ...

    We'll you're really a geek if you read this far. At least first control is fascinating. This, besides being on the bland side, comes off as ranty and whiny if not executed perfectly, and just like first controls, that is rare in my case ...

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