Wednesday, July 18, 2012

a very strange advance delegate motion

ADM 12-20(Jim Berry, OK)
Add to Article III, Section 8 the following:
The USCF will offer any person under the age of 13 a USCF life membership which will receive publications online only upon payment of $500. Explanation: Upon receipt of the $500, $400 will go to LMA and $100 will go to USCF operations. This member will have all of the rights and privileges of USCF membership except publications will be online only. The purpose of the ADM is to extend
scholastic tournament activity into chess players teenage years.

A life membership is $1,500 for adults and $750 for seniors.

7/23 -- To my confusion, most members of the scholastic committee are voting for this. I am not sure if they think:
a) Kids will stick with chess as teenagers if their parents buy them a life membership, and we will have more active members.
b) Kids will not stick with chess, and we will make a lot of money.
c) It takes until you are 31 for buying this to make economic sense anyway, so it's well-priced. But in this case, why are we charging adults $1,500 and seniors $750? Wouldn't it make more sense to have an ADM bringing all the prices into line? If I was an adult life member, I would be annoyed.


Keith Ammann said...

All that's going to create is a bunch of parents who are that much more cheesed off that their kids don't play chess anymore, because they sank 500 bucks into it.

Gurdonark said...

I wonder if anyone ran the 500 dollar number by an actuary.

Anonymous said...

Gurdonark has a good point.
They must know how many kids drop off and by what age. With that info and knowing what they have gotten on return of investments, and being a bit conservative, one could calculate if the USCF will come out ahead or not.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

I hear people saying all the time "scholastic members drop out in huge numbers and don't return," but I think that's not true. Everyone I know who starts playing chess as an adult, really started as a kid, took a 20 year break and started playing again when their kids are a bit older. I suspect the USCF doesn't really have a way to track people who played before 1991 and have since rejoined.

Anonymous said...

In regard to your comment from July 27, 2012 8:59, it is probably true that everyone you know who plays chess as an adult started as a kid and later "re-enlisted." But that may be the Pauline Kael effect. Aghast that Richard Nixon was re-elected in 1972, she exclaimed, that "no one she knew voted for him." You may know a core of very enthusiastic chess players - people who stopped not because they drifted away from the game but because other aspects of life became a higher priority: kids, spouse, career. Knowing why the kids who stop and who do NOT later come back is of course a harder task but that is the group the USCF needs data on.
One final example is the fate of American luxury car brands like Cadillac. Before a few huge SUVs favored by pro athletes and rappers, the brand aged steeply - that is the typical customer was well into the so-called "golden years." The executives were faced with a dilemma -how to expand and make their brand younger while not completely alienating their older dependable customers. In US Chess there is clearly a segment of pretty serious players who play in tourneys and clubs regularly - can the game be popularized beyond them? That is the challenge faced by the USCF. Most golf and tennis fans do NOT play in tourneys but do play for fun with friend and family - that is the type of reach chess may need. The hard core group may never be that big - how many people played in 2 or more tourneys a year or go regularly to a club (weekly or monthly)? 5-15-20% of USCF members?

Gurdonark said...

I think that the older player example in anonymous comment July 27, 2012, 3:07 p.m. makes a good point unconnected to the actuarial impact of youth player attrition.

The USCF faced an issue similar to Cadillac in how to expand to a younger audience. Whereas Cadillac solved this issue (and now has record sales) by a combination of improving its product and generating more youth-facing products. this happened only after a huge misstep or two,including an economy "K" car gussied up as a Cadillac.

I love the USCF and I still play at tournaments in my 50s. I even run one once in a blue moon. But
the USCF tournaments now in this part of the world are all about chess for juniors. While a few older players among the strong players have still play actively, adult membership steadily declined. Part of this is that in an internet era adult club participations of many kinds has faltered. Part of this is internet chess.

Yet the USCF's approach has failed to find the way to keep older players playing. It's not so much a youth v. age thing as that the USCF organizers have figured out how to run junior chess tournaments, but the organizers have not figured out how to keep adults coming and how to retain junior players, who leave chess behind along with dungeons and dragons and gym class.

My two cents is that what is missing is the sense of "belonging" that chess associations gave in the 70s, as tournaments seem more like commercial ventures and chess-for-rated-fun has declined.But I claim no genius of analysis on this.