Should the USCF be run like a Business?

I keep on hearing and reading statements about how the USCF is a business and should be run like one. At the USCF Executive Board Meeting in Newburgh on May 21, which I attended, proposals were discussed about how the business the USCF is in should be improved. I want to think about the implications of this.

Until the White Knight, Yasser Seirawan, came forward with his plan to obtain sponsorship for the US Championship, the US Championship was a sure money looser, costing $125,000 per year to run, with no hope of getting that money back.

Therefore, the Executive Board had a good business reason to cancel the event this year. Indeed, it should have been canceled permanently.

Tim Redman proposed that Chess Life magazine be cut to 40 pages. George DeFeis suggested that all Tournament Life Announcements be moved to the USCF web site. Somebody (I cannot remember who) said that the chess columns should be cut and moved to the web site and new writers should be invited, who will presumably work cheaper or for free.

An excellent idea was presented by George DeFeis that at events such as the National Elementary Championship, where two thousand children participate, most of whom are accompanied by at least one adult, the USCF should sell booth space to exhibitors. It was estimated that 30 exhibitors would pay one thousand dollars each for the right to place their booth at the National Elementary Championship.

Another idea by George DeFeis was to swap advertisements, so that an ad for John Hancock Life Insurance would appear in Chess Life in return for an ad for the USCF in their publication.

Tim Redman said that the decision of how much dues should be charged to the members is purely a business decision and therefore the Executive Director and not the delegates should decide on the dues structure.

All of these are interesting ideas. If the USCF is purely a business, there is no doubt that these should be adopted.

But is it entirely proper to think of the USCF as a business? Do we really want Pokemon Cards sold at the National Elementary Championship? Should we allow video game distributors to market their products at kiddy chess tournaments?

Do we want ads for Pepsi Cola to appear in Chess Life magazine?

Do we want to cut established columnists like Benko, Evans and Soltis out of Chess Life and replace them with unknown writers who will work cheaply or for free?

I would like to hear comments about these and related business questions.

Sam Sloan

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