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Joerg Bitzigeio Resigns as USATT High Performance

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pongfugrasshopper View Drop Down
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    Posted: 09/02/2019 at 7:20pm
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Purett View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Purett Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/02/2019 at 10:16pm
finally some good news 1/2 of the parent sand players at the ranking tournament said he is not good for the US table tennis
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/04/2019 at 10:04am
Originally posted by Purett Purett wrote:

finally some good news 1/2 of the parent sand players at the ranking tournament said he is not good for the US table tennis

He probably wasn't if you focus on some things, but I hope the good things he tried to do get noted and other HPDs do them better.  His tenure reminds me of Jurgen Klinsmann's with the US soccer team.  I think the biggest issue is that Joerg didn't play at a national level so he probably didn't appreciate how such players felt about his approach.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jfolsen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/04/2019 at 11:23am
Personal opinion here, I have no inside information: I think a lot of the friction is the difference in culture.
Our elite table tennis system in the USA has been based on trials and competitions. You win, you are in, lose and you go home. A form of meritocracy.
 
The other system is autocratic, hire a leader (HPD or coach), then let him make decisions as to what is best. That is a big, big shift in culture. No longer are you in charge of your own destiny. Being better than others is no longer the only factor, now the leader can make decisions not solely based on who is best at that time.
 
I am not making judgement on either system. The most successful system in the world is an autocratic one (China).
 
One other factor is money. Our trials system fits our decentralized system, where players are training independently all over the place and meet to decide who will be on the team. They don't train together because there is no money for a centralized year round team where players get a stipend and there is a full time facility. That structure would be a staple of an autocratic system, but we don't have those resources here. It would also bind the players to the system, as they would be beholden to the centralized authority for their livelihood.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DonnOlsen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/04/2019 at 12:37pm
Originally posted by jfolsen jfolsen wrote:

Personal opinion here, I have no inside information: I think a lot of the friction is the difference in culture.
Our elite table tennis system in the USA has been based on trials and competitions. You win, you are in, lose and you go home. A form of meritocracy.
 
The other system is autocratic, hire a leader (HPD or coach), then let him make decisions as to what is best. That is a big, big shift in culture. No longer are you in charge of your own destiny. Being better than others is no longer the only factor, now the leader can make decisions not solely based on who is best at that time.
 
I am not making judgement on either system. The most successful system in the world is an autocratic one (China).
 
One other factor is money. Our trials system fits our decentralized system, where players are training independently all over the place and meet to decide who will be on the team. They don't train together because there is no money for a centralized year round team where players get a stipend and there is a full time facility. That structure would be a staple of an autocratic system, but we don't have those resources here. It would also bind the players to the system, as they would be beholden to the centralized authority for their livelihood.

The likelihood that you are correct concerning the factor of culture is high, especially when one folds in the information on his previous conflicts.  His difficulties even in Germany revealed a lack of local cultural predilections, revealing an inflexibility when resistance was manifested.  For someone seeking the positions he seeks, this is a character flaw.

I'm thoroughly unsympathetic to his career outcomes in the U.S., as he had directly available to him a very finely staffed High Performance Committee that should have functioned as a wealth of highly valuable information to assist in his perspectives.  In addition, there was an unquestioned leadership failure from the top in the reporting structure, as proper leadership oversight should have appropriately intervened.

Thanks,
Donn

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stiltt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/04/2019 at 12:58pm
Gordon can tell us more about why he was a good pick and what went wrong. Yes, conflicts in high level sports are harder to manage than a typical office feud and apparently, like a bad cop, he was more ready to escalate than defuse delicate situations.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Gordy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/04/2019 at 1:37pm
@stiltt - I am sorry, but as this is a personnel matter I do not believe it is appropriate for me to comment. I hope you understand.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote alphapong Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/04/2019 at 3:34pm
John and Donn, 

I think you really hit the nail on the head. When one tries to "Europeanize" the American system without a European budget to do so, one is really embarking on a foolish quest. Round peg - Square hole. Really unwise.

I suspect what happened was something like this: 

Joerg: Do exactly as I say, and I will deliver to you many wonderful things. US table tennis will rise to great new heights! Look how good Kanak and Lilly are playing! Look what the French coach did when Brasil listened to him! Now they are tops!

50% of the Board: You are from Germany? Timo is from Germany too. We looooove Timo! You must be awesome!

Board members elected by membership: Wait a minute. We are not sure that can work in America. We don't think the membership who elected us wants this. Kanak was already #1 in the U18, and Lilly #2 in Cadets and #5 in juniors world ranking. Don't you think WCTTC and ICC might have had something to do with their success? Why should we look at Brasil? Should we not look at what you did in Germany? 

Joerg: What! How dare you question me? I resign! (But, I might come back if people stop being so mean to me. You have 30 days to come to your senses. Now, athletes please right me letters of support. I need to try to get rid of all those who will not acknowledge my deity. There must be no opposition to my glorious plans.)  

Membership: Joerg resigned? Yahoo!

USATT: "There is no public substantiated evidence to support any claims or rumors that the USATT High Performance Director has offered or submitted his resignation."

Membership: Wait, "Please confirm or deny in plain English whether the HPD tendered his resignation."

USATT:                                                      (crickets chirping in the background)

2 Weeks later -

CEO: I accept your resignation. Sean O'neil is appointed interim HPD.

Joerg: Oh, crap.


Edited by alphapong - 09/06/2019 at 10:46pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote alphapong Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/04/2019 at 3:45pm
Some might find the below exchange interesting as well. IMO. The amount of secrecy, cover up and disinformation coming from some of the board is horrendous. We need to put pressure so this kind of garbage stops. 




My follow up letter to the Chairperson - 

8/30/19

 

USATT Board Chairperson Anne Warner Cribbs,

Today I find myself in the unfortunate position, that I must remind you of some past events, and then ask that you to remedy the current situation.

On November 6, 2018 you announced that Chief Executive Officer Gordon Kaye resigned his position effective November 30, 2018.

This left USATT without a CEO until May 20, 2019, when Virginia Sung was hired for this role.

With a new CEO on the horizon, and the HPD’s contract coming to it’s conclusion, many USATT clubs, athletes, and members breathed a sigh of relief. They now had reason to believe that a solution for the division caused by the HPD and his policies might be coming soon.

Less than 30 days before the appointment of the new CEO Virginia Sung, you represented USATT in concluding a new lengthy and expensive contract with the HPD. This was done without giving the majority of the board any opportunity to review the contract, or provide input. This is not acceptable for a NGB like USATT.

You also did so illegally, as this was in clear violation of USATT bylaws, which state that the CEO should perform such functions.

 

m. No member of the USATT Board has the responsibility or authority to participate in the management or operation of USATT. The Chief Executive Officer is the only legal representative of USATT, though Board of Directors my (sic) represent USATT in an unofficial capacity.

USATT Bylaws 7.2

 

The Chief Executive Officer shall:

c. determine the staff needed to effectively carry out USATT’s mission, goals and objectives, within USATT’s budget;

d. oversee the hiring and termination of all staff;

e. either directly or by delegation manage all staff functions;

USATT Bylaws 14.4

 

In any case your behavior was highly inappropriate given:

The HPD contract was NOT yet expired.

The majority of the board members did not have an opportunity to review the contract.

The new CEO was due to start in a matter of weeks.

It was becoming increasingly clear the HPD’s policies were facing growing opposition, and creating anger among a significant percentage of the membership

The contract you negotiated was of lengthy duration, expensive and entirely inappropriate given the current financial difficulties that USATT faces.

With opposition growing, the HPD eventually tendered his resignation. When he did so, you withheld his letter of resignation from the CEO (the one who has the authority to accept a resignation) and board for over one week. Additionally you did not allow its discussion in the next board meeting. Although you eventually distributed the letter of resignation, you directed board members to keep the resignation secret.

The HPD discussed his resignation with athletes at the Pam Am games and asked them to write letter of support on his behalf.

When I heard of the HPD’s resignation, I wrote a letter acknowledging it, and offering suggestions on how to avoid the division and anger that the HPD had created.

On August 15, 2019, someone directed the USATT Media and Communications Director Matt Hetherington to make misleading posts on social media, that called in to question whether my information regarding the HPD resignation was correct.

There is no public substantiated evidence to support any claims or rumors that the USATT High Performance Director has offered or submitted his resignation.

...

In regards to this matter, only information made public through official USATT channels should be considered, and as no such information has been published, there is no evidence to support any hearsay about the HPDs position now or in the future….

 

We both know that at this time you had the HPD’s letter of resignation in your possession. So there certainly was evidence to support my claim.

When I gave you an opportunity to clarify via email, on August 28, 2019 you stated, “I don’t have any additional info to report at this time.”

Actually, it seems you are in the habit of withholding relevant information from the USATT membership. You hold many closed executive session meetings, and direct board members not to discuss agenda items.

USATT is not an intelligence agency, or a secret society. We don’t need secret meetings and disinformation campaigns. We need transparency.

Additionally, many have asked, “lf the HPD intended to resign, why would he ask young athletes to write letters of support?”  So, his resignation may well have been a ploy to attempt to remove any staff who were not in agreement with his policies, and to remove any real oversight for his position.

Your behavior gives the appearance that it was your intention to collude with the HPD, and help him achieve his goals.

In a climate where three members of the high performance committee recently resigned, letters of opposition were signed by more than a dozen table tennis Olympians, and anger is growing among clubs, athletes and members, you seem completely detached from the will of the membership, and seem to want to exercise a greater amount of authority than that given to you by the USATT bylaws.

Given your behavior it is clear that you are not fit to chair the USATT board of directors.

I am calling on you to remedy this situation by immediately tendering your resignation.


Dave Hanson

Director Alameda Table Tennis Center.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote alphapong Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/04/2019 at 4:12pm
Originally posted by stiltt stiltt wrote:

Gordon can tell us more about why he was a good pick and what went wrong. Yes, conflicts in high level sports are harder to manage than a typical office feud and apparently, like a bad cop, he was more ready to escalate than defuse delicate situations.

IMO, central to the failure was an inability to learn from the past. Remember, less that a year before Joerg arrived there was a big blow up, and the previous HPD resigned. A big part of the blow up was self funded camps, that would be a factor for national team selection.

Apparently no one among the HPC, or USATT leadership apprised Joerg of what went on before him. And I don't think Joerg is really the kind of guy to care to find out. I think he just wanted to enact his great plan, and did not care what the little people think.

Also, I think many at USATT failed to correctly understand what had happened. Some dismissed the whole thing with, "Well the HPD was not a good communicator, and that club that made a stink was out of line." The problem was not a communication problem, or one trouble making club. The problem was the HPD’s message, “You need to come to self funded camps or you will not be on the national team.”

Here is a direct quote from an email Joerg sent me when we communicated on the topic.

“ I can’t answer the question of why regular USATT camps have not been the case in the past, as it was before my time here.”

I like Sean, and I believe he will proceed with knowledge of what has gone on in the past, so he wont make the same mistakes.
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