The Disorganization of USAW

For years people have lambasted USA Weightlifting for failing to grow the sport or perform well internationally. I’ve publicly defended USAW regarding the performance aspect and have also pointed out how they get a reprieve from growing the sport (CrossFit will take care of that). However, there’s still something that they should be on trial for: how awfully disorganized they are.

Some of us remember how a couple of years ago the online streaming feed did not work for nationals — a big hiccup. And people who were actually present at this year’s Arnold Sport Festival (AKA “The Arny”)

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Chris and Mike specifically refer to it as “The Arny”. If someone says “The Arnold”, they will ask them, “The what?” over and over until they say, “The Arny”. Then they’ll say, “Oh, the Arny?”

The schedule was changed on Thursday, the night before all of the lifting started. Whether or not they allowed lifters into the Senior National meet after the deadline or they allowed too many lifters is irrelevant, because the result was that several lifters were not privy to this schedule change and missed their weigh-in times and therefore were told that they could not lift. To make matters worse, the sessions did not start and end on time and the 94-A group ended after midnight. Then the 105-A session started at 8:00 AM the next morning. For people like me who wanted to watch both sessions, we barely got any sleep and it ruined our Saturday schedule at The Arny. To be clear: USAW ruined my Saturday at The Arny because of their disorganization.

I wasn’t present at the American Open this past weekend, yet I hear the venue was good and things were relatively organized. There were only a couple sessions that ran long and only a few weird things (like how there was only four lifters in the 94-A session). Yet, they had a scheduling problem again.

On Sunday morning I logged onto the official USAW American Open page to download the “tentative lifting schedule” and the “tentative start list”. The times on each list were available the day of the meet, yet they were different. This caused a friend of mine to miss his weigh-in and therefore not lift. He was told he should have checked the night before. Sorry USAW, the customer is always right. For a guy who works a full time job and is spending his hard earned money to attend your meet — that he’s giving you money to participate in — he shouldn’t have to double and triple check your mistakes. And even if he had seen the discrepancy in the ‘start list’ and ‘schedule’, he would have had to show up and say, “Okay, which one of these is correct?” (and some how find the time to do this since his flight got in late on the night he was supposed to check USAW’s accuracy).

In good, worthy companies the customer is always right. REI allows 100% refunds, no questions asked. Wal-Mart is a juggernaut and can afford to accept stupid refunds. Small business know that they need to treat their customers well in order to continue receiving business. Why should USAW be any different?

In the last year there have been more than one national meet that has had this scheduling issue. What the hell is the problem? Is the entry form deadline not adhered to? Are more lifters accepted than the venue can allow? Are more lifters accepted than the schedule can allow? Why can’t the schedule be set two weeks before the event? I realize that it’s in the ‘rules’ that the schedule can change the night before it starts, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay. Why? Because there are people paying hundreds dollars to travel to these national meets and they are told that they aren’t allowed to lift because USAW is incompetent. I’ll again point out that this has happened to more than one person this year — and it’s happening because USAW is disorganized.

If the lifters simply missed their weigh-in, then that’d be their fault. But the reason they are missing the times are because USAW is posting the wrong times, and even doing so on the day of the meet. This isn’t just bothering me because a friend of mine was screwed out of not lifting — and was denied lifting as an extra in another session — or because I had a crappy weekend at The Arny. It’s because 70’s Big receives over 100,000 unique readers a month. Through this website I’ve personally sent at least hundreds of people into USAW, and then USAW consistently shows disorganization in how they conduct their operations. Why would I want to send people to use an organization that consistently fails? And you know what? USA Powerlifting doesn’t have these problems!

In fact, at The Arny USAPL’s platforms and stage were set up and looking very professional the night before the meet began. Meanwhile USAW was scrounging around throwing their stage in place late into the night before The Arny kicked off. And don’t get me started on poor judging in the USAW. Not only was it abysmal at Nationals (to include a judge who was at least 130 years old), but I also heard it was poor this last weekend. But these are grumblings the regular USAW members deal with. They see it as normal and not something that will change.

Horse pucky. Just because an organization is consistently bad doesn’t mean we should be okay with it. I’ve seen fraternities with better organizational skills. USAW should, at the very least, refund the meet entry fee for people who miss weigh-ins on the account of USAW’s failings. In actuality, I think they should also refund travel expenses, but that won’t happen since they can’t even acknowledge that the fault is theirs (or return my call).

All I know is that I’ll be hesitant to recommend new lifters to join the USAW until I see that they show better organization.