I told you more posts were forthcoming….
* A note about this post: It is more serious than most of our blog entries, but I (Judy) have thought about the issues below for a while now. I take full responsibility for the content of this post, since Diane never raced in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference. Also, I started writing this on Feb 29th, but I’m only finishing it now. My bad. *
* * *
I’d like to start today’s blog entry by comparing two emails which arrived in my inbox yesterday. The first was from the listserv of the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (the ECCC). A student has asked if plans for the season’s first race weekend would be altered because of snow. The original question and response from conference director and all around awesome person Joe Kopena read as follows:
> I hate to be that guy, but there’s supposed to be a big dump of snow
> beginning of next week. Is there a date by which we will know for
> sure if the racing is happening?
Caveat extraordinary events like the roads being literally destroyed
(*) or it otherwise being super clear racing can’t happen (**), the
earliest we would make a call like that would generally be Friday.
The roads would have to be coated in ice or snow or be under active
polar bear attack to have a cancellation.
(*) This has indeed happened in the past.
(**) E.g., the Rodale course in Trexlertown, PA doesn’t salt or plow,
so snow even a couple days out is often a deal breaker; hence no
ECCC races there in many years. Everywhere else, you can
clear/melt a lot of snow in just one sunny day.
This is a great example of the ECCC ethos. Conference leaders and management recognize that not only do athletes make hotel reservations, travel plans, and class arrangements well in advance of race weekends, but also that qualifying for nationals requires precise planning of race attendance.
Several hours after I got this note from Joe, an email was sent out to the Western Collegiate Cycling Conference listserv (WCCC). It read as follows:
As you all might have gathered from the title, we are forced to cancel our planned Napa road race. Our permit application was denied by Napa County after months of preparation and planning with their office. We were not offered any means to appeal the decision. On the behalf of our team, I apologize for contributing to an already truncated season with another butchered weekend.
However, we will still hold a criterium with both collegiate and USAC categories on the Sunday of our race ‘weekend’. It will be on the Land Park course in Sacramento, a fast loop with a tight S-bend chicane on the backside. It’s a hallmark of the NorCal crit lineup, one we haven’t used for collegiate racing in three years. We hope you all make the trip up (or down, or sideways) for it!
This was sadly sent out by our own UC Davis team president. I do not want to implicate or blame him at all – it’s really the culture of unaccountability perpetuated by the WCCC that I want to highlight here. Since the beginning of the season, at least three races have been cancelled. And while I recognize that some cancellations were beyond the control of race promoters, ultimately the number of events being killed at the last minute reflects a basic truth about WCCC racing: it is okay to cancel a race.
It’s okay to cancel a race in the WCCC because there are no consequences for doing so. Each year, the conference doles out race weekends like candy on Halloween. In contrast, ECCC schools must bid for race weekends. Each fall, representatives from all ECCC teams gather to vote on a race schedule for the spring. Race promoter hopefuls must present the courses they plan to use – and most importantly, contingency plans for things like denial of permits. Better yet – come to the planning meeting with some sort of verbal guarantee that you will be granted a permit. And if you cancel your race three weeks out one spring, you can be sure you won’t be granted a race weekend the following year.
I really wish that hosting a WCCC race were more of a privilege and less of a right. I believe this would make for fewer but better quality race weekends. And most importantly, it would remove the no-fault cancellation de facto policy currently in place.
I’ve been thinking for a couple years about the differences between the WCCC and the ECCC, so this post will be the first in a series. But before I sign off, I would like to comment on the recent spate of emails on the WCCC listserv. There’s been vigorous discussion on out-of-conference riders displacing nationals points for within-conference riders. I won’t weigh in on the issue itself. But I will implore everyone who emails the listserv to proofread your notes before hitting send. You are a college student, for crying out loud. You represent your team and your school when you send emails out to large listservs. So if you want to be persuasive, construct logical arguments, make sure your sentences are grammatically correct, and please use proper punctuation.