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PostPosted: 08 Oct 2018, 11:16 
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So a national board member, a state council member and a local district committee member walked into a bar ...

Sorry couldn't resist the classic joke opening. Oh and one was a state level umpire and another a national level umpire. And all 3 of us play as well.

Yesterday the 3 of us were involved in running / officiating (but not playing) at a certain corporate games table tennis tournament. After it had ended, and we had finished putting stuff away and done some intensive results recording peculiar to the corporate games, we got to talking about the state of organized table tennis in out country / state / district. We agreed that we would not be able to solve all of the problems in the time remaining, whether alcoholic libations were consumed or not (and they were not). Given that all the chairs were gone, it was even what you would call a stand up meeting.

First on the agenda was the new social members fee for next year being levied by the national organization. The state person reckoned that it would drive away membership as the state organization has had a social membership for a few years which was used to bolster the numbers when reporting to government bodies for grants. Given that the new national social membership fee is going to be what the state membership fee is currently, and that public liability insurance would be on top of that, the state guy reckoned that the state membership fee would have to be doubled to maintain current revenue, such as it is for the state, and table tennis players of whatever level being frugal would simply not affiliate.

Next was the increase in public liability insurance costs from the national body. This too would cause issues from the state, in fact the state body would be looking to see if it could get a cheaper quote per member, and some larger clubs with many social members would be doing similarly. The national person urged the state person to communicate with national in the event of a cheaper insurance quote being received, presumably so that the national body could use that. Again that frugality of table tennis players.

Next was discussion of the state level difference between social level of membership and competition level of membership. Yours truly is unhappy that the current definitions have some exceptions and this conversation highlighted that there are even more exceptions in existence. The national person would very much like the "levels" to be uniform in every state, however even using "social" level in some state is not acceptable. The district of which yours truly is a committee member is extremely unhappy that there are players in other districts playing what is regarded as "competition" but only paying "social" level fees, while our district makes every effort to ensure that all players in our competitions are "competition" level members of the state. One more time for the frugality of table tennis players, both within our district and without.

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PostPosted: 08 Oct 2018, 12:49 
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What exactly do "social members" get? A newsletter, at the very least?

Probably time to initiate a formal ratings system and open ratings classes at tournaments. "Social" players will play in tournaments if they stand a chance to win something and get to play a lot. The reason you can have tournaments that feature 40-50 tables in the US is because there are a LOT of lower rated players who attend, and they come to play as well as watch. Having your name published once in a while in a newsletter (even if it's only a listing in the ratings table) is a great incentive to take part!

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PostPosted: 08 Oct 2018, 15:23 
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Insurance and a warm fuzzy feeling? :)

An example was given of 6 guys who used to just play each other in a shed on a farm. Whoever owned the shed sold the farm and now they had nowhere to play. They found a public hall to hire somewhere, but needed proof of public liability insurance to hire it. By themselves they would have had to pay some astronomical premium, but affiliating meant that they paid only the social affiliation fee and were able to use the umbrella insurance certificate.

They apparently have no desire to play anyone other than themselves, and no communication either.

Did I mention that table tennis players are frugal?

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PostPosted: 08 Oct 2018, 18:52 
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So the insurance is IT? I wonder how many people find themselves in such a situation. Around here, they'd probably find some venue - a public gym, a church hall, etc. which has a table. Or they could set up a table in someone's porch - no insurance needed there? Yeah, I can see such members leaving in droves (if there were many of them to begin with) if they were made to pay even a trivial amount. I mean, we hang around this forum because we're INTERESTED in table tennis. Would the six guys playing each other in a barn actually have a real interest in the game and what goes on in it, other than how it affects them? A lot of the social players here don't (which is why the players in the lobby were still playing to 21 points..).

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PostPosted: 09 Oct 2018, 09:49 
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From my experience the fee structure is pretty bad (NSW state), you have the breakdowns in the delineation and no followup at tournaments on who is signed up for what level of play. Meaning that there is no enforcement and therefor no real desire for players to do anything other then pay the lowest fee. As is human nature. The other complaint is that the state body, in NSW, feels like it only cares about the play within the greater Sydney area. Meaning that regional players also don't feel like they get anything from the higher fees and therefor this pushes people to pay only the lowest fee possible.

Add to this the fact that if the higher level fees were suddenly pushed out to regional players some would possibly just not play as the feel of misrepresentation or lack of care from the state body is a real issue. Specially if they don't see any reason or real changes added to their payment.

I personally don't have any answers as its a complicated and challenging situation and agree that as a state organisation to have split fee structure is not conductive to good business operation and costings. However, I just feel in regional NSW that I see none of the national associations touch and barely any of the state associations presence (fees aside). So an increase in the difference from social to competition just feels like feeding an association that looks to greater Sydney area and forgets the regional players that exist in the state. It would not be a one time thing that I have heard the line "why pay them that when they do nothing for us" spoken in the club when it comes to state fee paying time.

While I understand that this is not the complete truth of the statement, the situation is this its most definitely the sentiments of some of the regional player base.

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PostPosted: 10 Oct 2018, 07:23 
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Apophis,

I haven't been to a tournament for a while. I agree that they should enforce their own rules. I did say that our district ensures that every player in our comp is at comp level.

Mention has been made that things are too Sydney centric. Did you know that next year's National Juniors will be in Wollongong? I suppose that is still "greater Sydney area", but still.

There are many players that ask what the registration fee gets them. They attempt to cheap out and pay as little as possible. Then they ask what the state (and national) body is doing for them when it doesn't get the money it should from them and all the other such players. Did I say that table tennis players are frugal? :)

Some of this is from the legacy of many table tennis clubs previously being sub clubs of licensed clubs and so players were effectively subsidized by the gambling and drinking at the licensed clubs. With many of the licensed clubs going from being very much community based to being run as a (self serving) business, there are many more TT clubs (and players) having to stand on their own 2 feet. I am a little ambivalent about this, having previously been a player and office holder at such a sub club. Way back when, the table tennis facilities were available for free whenever the licensed club was open with the exception of one weekday morning a week. This was changed when the licensed club upgraded its facilities to a fee to play, and table tennis sharing its area with gym activities (well, vice versa) and only available 2 evenings a week. On a subsequent upgrade to facilities the licensed club strung the tt sub club along until it eventually told the tt sub club that there was no place for it in the new facilities and that members of the sub club were welcome to buy the tables if they wanted to. I currently play at a tt club that was previously a sub club at a licensed club but is now in a council youth club hall.

The split fee does make some sort of sense.

The social fee is for those who want the insurance, and covers that but barely anything else. This helps the state say that there are more players in our sport and so helps with government grants etc. Apparently the state was giving some amount from this to the national body even though the national body did not recognize a social level.

The competition level helps with "seed money" for tournaments that the competition level allows participation in. Admittedly I do not know what proportion of comp level players actually play in tournaments.

The national level I suppose helps with some of the costs associated with state rep teams. As a state level umpire who occasionally umpires at national level or higher I pay the national level. I can't remember whether going to the national vets requires national level. I think it does. I have gone to play at the national vets a few times in the past, and to national juniors as a NPC when my eldest represented NSW a number of years ago.

As an umpire I attend the state umpire association AGM which is helpfully on an hour or 2 before the state AGM at Olympic Park. Because of this I have attended the state AGM as the district rep. Unfortunately every single member on the council is Sydney based, and there is quite a large overlap with the umpires. I am not sure whether it is possible to nominate for state council without being present and then do everything by phone hookup.

The other unfortunate thing about table tennis here is that everyone involved has their own little empire and often will not support things that don't enhance their empire. When I say empire, I mean club, district, business etc.

Last year, the local district association attempted to help get table tennis going at a new PCYC in the northern beaches area. My idea was to try to get a coach involved who would run things for casual players but could also do coaching with the PCYC as their base (think Paul Zhao at Hornsby PCYC). There is actually a coach living across the road from this PCYC, but they were already committed to coaching at at least 2 other venues, including AWD. Anyway it ended up that the coach and I ran 2 sessions a week at the PCYC. The management of the local PCYC was happy to have TT there but were of very little help in getting it to grow. I myself arranged for a photographer from the local paper and took time off work and liaised with a journalist to get an article in the local paper to try to advertise the PCYC as a TT venue. The rest of the local district committee were already involved in running their own clubs or the association. It ended up with only yours truly turning up, and after trying to get a replacement, when I told the PCYC that I wouldn't be able to do it this year with my daughter doing the HSC that was it. As a not entirely unhappy addendum, there is some small amount of TT there now one evening a week apparently, but unconnected with the local district.

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PostPosted: 10 Oct 2018, 09:49 
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apophis wrote:
Add to this the fact that if the higher level fees were suddenly pushed out to regional players some would possibly just not play as the feel of misrepresentation or lack of care from the state body is a real issue. Specially if they don't see any reason or real changes added to their payment.


Would people actually stop playing??? If they're just playing informally, why should they? (If they were playing organized tournaments that's another matter.) They'd stop PAYING, but that's another matter... :lol:

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PostPosted: 10 Oct 2018, 09:58 
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I especially like the line "..their own little empires..." that is totally classic and in a lot of cases I agree with that statement. This makes things so hard to mange for sure!

Iskandar, Maybe. With the conpetition between sports getting juniors i can see parents going for a sport that has a better fee to reward structure. Also the frugal nature of players is a real issue that is hard to overcome in a lot of cases. I was on a committee where players said they would walk if the fees increased at all. So, it is something to be conscious of.

Lots of good points made Retriever. I'm really surprised to see Juniors not in Sydney to be honest, baby steps, but this is very encouraging. It is a huge turn off that the majority of the state junior circuit is held at Homebush/Sydney, where costs for travel are as off putting as time and costs of entering the tournaments. Well, previous to the Wollongong venue, this is not NSW state, however it is a great step away from the traditional centre at Olympic Park.

One of the other things I get asked is "Why dont NSWTT do any coaching in regional areas like cricket/soccer *insert other sports*? Specailly when I pay the fees" This I think is one of the biggest turn aways from TT in this state.

Also even when signed up, at any level, you are not guaranteed to get even an email/newsletter to let you know what is happening in the State association regarding events. So again the fees are hard to justify to new players let alone existing ones when the answer is "just because" and "I can't answer that" to most of their questions. This kicks off that innate frugal behaviour of TT players.

In terms of fees, With no enforcement, lack of understanding/information available on what social, competition and national level play consists of with the large discrepancy of costs, the lack of answers and resources available to players and the centralised state association focus on the metro areas. I cant see things changing locally.

I also agree that most Clubs are standing on their own two feet as, lets be honest, NSWTT is only there for the insurance cover as I see no state level influence at our club other then fees.

I also agree with the staff and operators for NSWTT being based in Sydney means that the majority of events are going to be based there. Unfortunately I dont see any impetus to look outside to other regional areas at all, it has been this way for years, even when I was a Junior (I'm now in my 30s) it was this way. Not an easy thing to resolve unfortunately and I also agree that a phone hookup / skype like meeting may not work in the current associations infrastructure.

I am also only looking and commenting on this from the players point of view and what I hear and get asked. If I was to ask any of the cricket/soccer/hockey/netball/basketball guys in town about state level involvement I would be pointed to someone to get answers at the very least and I would mostly have access to an email newsletter upon joining. NSWTT doesn't even email a simple newsletter to members.

I wish I had less salt and more sugar, I would love to see the majority of players pay the comp level fee and give the state association more capital to spend on development of the sport. I just cant justify what the benefit to them is to paying it, even I wonder why I pay the higher fee myself some days, as the lowest state fee gives the same amount of engagement, information and access to state level events as the highest fee does.

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PostPosted: 10 Oct 2018, 11:26 
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Apophis,

There used to be a formal newsletter called Loop from the state. That disappeared. Now there is a bulk email sent out to those who tick the box on the rego form. This mostly consists of advanced warning of upcoming events - tournaments, coaching training courses & umpire training courses.

A few years ago the state did put on a group coaching session in my district. It may have been around the time that the district did not want to affiliate because of "What has the state ever done for me?". The state will organise a coach to go to a school as a one-off I believe. I don't think it will go to a TT club like that. Again in the distant past, our local club did organise group training sessions over a number of Sundays, and it may have been with the then state coaching director. I also suspect this may have been a transaction between the club and the coach concerned.

As far as the junior circuit being in Sydney / Homebush, unfortunately that is where the vast majority of juniors are. 8 - 10 years ago when I was involved in juniors as a result of my eldest, there was one from Goulburn, and 2 from the far north coast. They had to have a coaching schedule completed and signed off in addition to a requisite number of (Sydney) tournaments. The Sydney based juniors had obligatory training at Homebush and Cabramatta and Maroubra.

As far as not understanding the different fee levels, it was instructive when I confronted the state council members with what was written on their explanation of fees on the registration form. One was flabbergasted by what I pointed out - I didn't ask whether anyone there had actually read it previously as I suspect I knew what the answer would be.

Table tennis is a cheap sport (played by cheap players). Unfortunately the fees are spelled out piecemeal. So we pay $X each time we turn up to play. We pay $Y to be part of the club. We pay $Z to be in the local comp. We pay $A to the state. The only thing not in general knowledge is how much of the state fee is passed on to the national body and possibly then on to the ITTF. As an adult in local football (soccer) you pay one large dollar amount up front (which admittedly has insurance as a large component). You don't then pay a fee every time you play a match or train. You don't know how much of what you pay to the club goes to the local association or state or national body or FIFA. It is simple, expensive but simple. I think Golf is a little more like TT in that you normally pay each time you play but pay 1 upfront fee to be a member of a club, but it is still only one upfront fee.

As I have said previously in this thread, I too would very much like the state to police its own policies. We at our local district level attempt to ensure that everyone playing in our comp is registered at the comp level or better. In the past this has been very hard to enforce due to a number of things: players being registered via a different association, eg Vets or "direct" and the ability in the state database to only associate a player with one association; players registering with us under one name but the state with a variation of that name or vice versa (there is at least one individual on the list of coaches on the state web site under 2 names :( ). Unfortunately, the state is not in a position to refuse someone turning up on the day for a tournament and paying whether or not they are affiliated correctly.

Don't worry, I too wonder sometimes. I have paid the national level fee for the past 2 years but not gone to any even state level events as player, umpire or administrator, let alone national level ones.

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PostPosted: 10 Oct 2018, 11:34 
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How important IS insurance to the typical social player? Or even players who attend clubs but don't participate in organized competition? My other hobby is building and flying model planes. When I was in the US I was paying $40 a year to the Academy of Model Aeronautics for a monthly magazine and insurance. There, insurance, even for the casual Sunday flier, is very, very important given the level of risk. The AMA underwrites the existence of chartered clubs by insuring them. The chartered clubs have to make certain that everyone who flies at their field is an AMA member and is covered by insurance. AMA publishes a safety code that clubs and fliers must follow in order to prevent accidents. I can't see social table tennis as being in the same category when it comes to risk. Sure, someone might slip and fall and hit their head against a table, but there isn't any appreciable risk to the general public that could result in large claims. So I suggest that more be done to hold events (tournaments, leagues, etc.) which are more inclusive, where everyone can play against others at the same level and has a chance to win something. And the association should do what it needs to do to encourage others to hold such events.

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PostPosted: 10 Oct 2018, 15:16 
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iskandar,

If you want to hire a public hall from a local council and play, which is where a number of clubs in the state are, then the council will ask for proof that the group is covered by public liability insurance. If you are just a small number of people, the premium will presumably be much larger than if the state body or national body arranges it. Economies of scale, probably similar to your model aircraft flying example.

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PostPosted: 10 Oct 2018, 15:24 
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Late breaking news - the national body has revised its social level fee down from $10 to $6.25. This should make the state body happier, and may have been as a result of pressure from the state body. It is reported under News - TTA Board Meeting Key Outcomes Summary - September 2018. Full member registration has gone up by $2.50 from the original figure for next year :(

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PostPosted: 11 Oct 2018, 02:00 
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Retriever wrote:
iskandar,

If you want to hire a public hall from a local council and play, which is where a number of clubs in the state are, then the council will ask for proof that the group is covered by public liability insurance. If you are just a small number of people, the premium will presumably be much larger than if the state body or national body arranges it. Economies of scale, probably similar to your model aircraft flying example.


Sure, but how many informal players are in this boat? This assumes the players are organized to some degree (at least a "club"), the club could be affiliated with the state organization and pay them for a share of the bulk insurance policy, and the club would charge its members a fee to cover this and other expenses. Woudn't this be more convenient for the individual club members, rather than having individuals pay the fee directly to the state organization? This way, those who need the insurance pay for it, those who don't don't. Sure, if you had a larger number of players paying, you could reduce premiums even more, but this, by definition, would have to involve participation by a lot of people who don't actually need the coverage.

Retriever wrote:
Late breaking news - the national body has revised its social level fee down from $10 to $6.25. This should make the state body happier, and may have been as a result of pressure from the state body. It is reported under News - TTA Board Meeting Key Outcomes Summary - September 2018. Full member registration has gone up by $2.50 from the original figure for next year :(


Ah.. so we're actually talking about pretty small amounts of money here.. :lol: Still, I'll bet there are TONS of social players who aren't members, since the $10 (or $6.25) doesn't really get them anything other than coverage, for, say, if their bat slips out of their hand and conks someone sitting at the bar...

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PostPosted: 11 Oct 2018, 07:36 
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iskandar taib wrote:
Ah.. so we're actually talking about pretty small amounts of money here.. :lol: Still, I'll bet there are TONS of social players who aren't members, since the $10 (or $6.25) doesn't really get them anything other than coverage, for, say, if their bat slips out of their hand and conks someone sitting at the bar...

Iskandar


Accidents can happen. If it's to a non-member, the principal/director can be held responsible. At my very small country club registrations are renewed annually and everyone pays the social level fee except for a couple of us who play state or national level tournaments and register at competition or national level. We do take some risk and allow the odd new player to 'try out' during the year without paying registration, but when registrations are due all current players must pay.

The social level is important. Our club wouldn't exist without a handful of regular kids and I'm not sure how their parents would react if they had to pay competition level fees on top of the normal weekly fee that covers the hall hire. It's quite a jump from $10 to $70.


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PostPosted: 11 Oct 2018, 08:59 
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Maybe I'm missing something. I belong to two clubs, one of which is pay per session (£3 for 2 hours) with no club membership fee, the other of which is actually a multi function club with snooker, squash and gym facilities plus a little cafe area, and requires a yearly membership fee of £50, plus fees per use of the facilities (£4 for the table tennis room). For this I do not need a membership of Table Tennis England, but I can get a free one if I want, which gives access to information.

The first club is insured by the coach from per session fees, and is a bit of a bargain. I don't understand why anyone would (or would need to) pay fees to another body for social play.

However, I play league for the second club (the first does not have a league team yet). To play league, I pay a fee to TTE for a Player Membership (£16), plus a fee to the local league (£6). £22 yearly in total. It allows me to play in events up to 1 star tournaments. If I wish to play a higher level, there is a Player Licence, which is extra (£38 instead of £16). The league has a list of all player members eligible to play competition. (The club I play league for, the one with the snooker, gym etc, does not charge us for use of the table tennis room for league matches. Most other teams levy a fee up to £5 per match, which is used to pay for the venue and possibly insurance.) It's not difficult to keep track of who has paid what; it's all computerised.

The league even supplies the balls to be used, one for each home fixture. Of course, people still complain.

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