The Empowering Olympic, Paralympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2020 (EOPAAA: S. 2330) became law on October 30 last year, creating the potentially powerful Commission for the Study of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the US.
Membership ended last Friday, so what now?
The composition of the Commission includes 16 members, eight of whom are women and eight are men, and ten current or former athletes in the Olympic, Paralympic or Pan American Games:
John Dane (sailing)
Benita Fitzgerald Mosley (track and field)
Nancy Hogshead-Makar (swimming)
Edwin Moses (athletics)
Brittney Reese (track and field)
Jordyn Wieber (gymnastics)
Patty Cisneros Prevo (basketball)
Karin Korb (tennis)
Melissa Stockwell (swimming & triathlon)
Athlete Advisory Board of USOPC (1):
Han Xiou (ex-chairman; played table tennis)
The six non-sporting members include:
Rob Cohen, president of IMA Financial Group and a trustee of the USOPC Foundation;
Mitch Daniels, former Governor of Indiana;
Bill Hybl, Managing Director, El Pomar Foundation; twice USOC President;
Dionne Koller, professor of law at the University of Baltimore;
Rob Mullens, Athletics Director at the University of Oregon;
Joe Schmitz, former Inspector General of the United States Department of Defense.
It is a powerful group and no one can say that the athlete’s voice is not well represented, with 10 out of 16 members (62.5%). Koller has been announced as co-chair and Xiao could be the other.
What will the Commission do now? His responsibilities are described in detail, including 10 items specified:
an overview of the most recent reforms implemented by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee;
a description of the proposed reforms to the structure of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee;
an assessment of whether the board of directors of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee is composed of diverse members, including athletes
an assessment of the participation of athletes in the United States in the Olympic and Paralympic Games;
a description of the status of a license agreement for the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee;
an assessment of whether the United States is achieving the goals for the Olympic and Paralympic Games set by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee;
an analysis of the participation in amateur athletics of (I) women; (II) disabled persons; and (III) minorities;
a description of the ongoing efforts of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games to the United States;
an evaluation of the functions of the national governing bodies (as defined in section 220501 of Title 36, United States Code) and an analysis of the responsiveness of the national governing bodies to athletes with respect to the duties of the national governing bodies under article 220524 ( a) (3) of Title 36, United States Code; and
a review of the finances and financial organization of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
The Commission must meet within 30 days of the appointment of the last member, i.e. by 2 May 2021 at the latest, and will need to obtain funding and appoint a staff. It must hold at least one public hearing and has a subpoena authority. The Commission is responsible for:
No later than 270 days from the date of entry into force of this Act, the Commission shall submit to Congress a report on the results of the study conducted… including a detailed statement of findings, conclusions, recommendations and proposed policy changes.
That would mean that the Commission would have to complete its work before the end of July, when the Tokyo Olympics are actually underway. That is not going to happen, and the deadline will undoubtedly be extended.
Membership in the Commission has many athletes, as well as a number of people who know a lot about the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Hybl served as a two-time president of the organization, Fitzgerald Mosley was the organization’s Chief of Organizational Excellence and later Chief Operating Officer. As a trustee of the USOPC Foundation, Cohen has a deep understanding of the organization’s finances.
Moses has a long and distinguished career as an athlete advocate, as well as a deep commitment to anti-doping, and one of the most respected people in the Olympic Movement. Wieber, 25, is not only an Olympic gold medalist but also a Larry Nassar survivor and will add an important perspective on athlete safety.
Hogshead-Makar is a civil and athlete rights attorney and has been a virulent critic of the USOPC. No one can say that the organization’s harshest critics are not sitting around the table; it remains to be seen how effective it will be in promoting meaningful change.
So what are the priorities?
MoneyNo surprise; the USOPC lives on a percentage of US television rights payments to the International Olympic Committee and the TOP sponsors of the IOC. The question is how the organization spends it, for example, is it worth having the Olympic training centers? Should the members of the Olympic team be paid for training fees? and whether any effort has been made to create new financing options.
StructureThe EOPAAA required changes to athlete representation at the USOPC level and for U.S. national governing bodies. They have been implemented or are being implemented, but the Commission could go further. At its core, the American Olympic Movement is a volunteer organization built on the foundation work of thousands of people helping young athletes learn, train, and compete in sports. Will they get help?
Role of the national administrative bodiesHow much support should be given to the NGBs versus the USOPC in Colorado Springs? This will be an important point of discussion, especially as the USOPC provides significant funding to many of the NGBs. Can some NGBs handle even more money?
IOC relationships The EOPAAA clearly violates the Olympic charter, in the sections empowering the United States Congress, by joint resolution, to to resolve the board of directors of USOPC or to end recognition of a national governing body. The IOC is fully aware of these issues but currently has other priorities; what will the Commission recommend?
Goals. Perhaps this question is the most discussed. The then US Olympic Committee emphasized the performance of the Olympics over basic programming many years ago and quickly became the best medal-winning National Olympic Committee in the Olympics. Will that change?
An important element of that discussion will be the consideration of the legal instructions to the USOPC, the Ted Stevens Act Olympic and Amateur Sports Act 36 USC 2205, originally passed on as the Amateur Sports Act 1978
It is clear from the actions of USOPCs over many years that it has only a limited understanding of what is in the Ted Stevens Act and Congress has even fewer. Therefore, the Commission would do well to appoint the architect of the Amateur Sports Act, Mike Harrigan, as Executive Director.
Harrigan lives in the Washington, DC area and has been continuously active in seeking greater attention to the demands of the law that no one pays attention to (for many years). With its help, both the Commission and the USOPC will gain a much stronger grasp of what the law requires and what they can do to help the Olympic movement in the US
There are those who see the Commission as the tool to deconstruct, or even destroy, the USOPC. There is no doubt that the organization needs to keep modernizing and has serious weaknesses, but the Commission itself is also on the ground: it has the burden of making the right choices and recommending the right solutions, otherwise the responsibility for failure lies on the agenda. it.
As the saying goes For those who are given a lot, a lot will be asked
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