Swimming Socialism Won’t Work

By David

Many of you will have read the most recent issue of the American Swimming Magazine. It is the one with a photograph of David Marsh on the front cover and an editorial piece congratulating him and several others on the transformation of the Mecklenburg Aquatic Club.

The editorial does not tell us much about what’s going on at Mecklenburg. It does suggest there has been a combination of interests that are in the process of creating a “Center of Excellence“. In our view one of these initiatives is good and deserves everyone’s support and admiration. The other is naked “state socialism” and should be condemned and resisted.

The admirable part is summarized in the editorial as follows. “At MAC, Club President and former Coach, Jeff Garckle gets the kudos for visionary leadership to move MAC to the front of the pack.” In the true and full spirit of all that’s best in the United States MAC has built its size and quality to become one of the country’s most successful teams. Its history is everything that US Swimming’s world leadership has been built on – private enterprise. It’s the stuff that produced Mission Viejo and Santa Clara. It’s the environment that gave this nation General Motors and Microsoft. And then MAC blew it – big time.

They succumbed to the lure of socialism. For these purposes we are calling the US Olympic Committee and US Swimming the sport’s governing bodies; its Congress, White House and Supreme Court. The editorial says that US Swimming “helped put together resources from the USOC to produce this new scenario which is expected, over time, to strongly impact the ability of the USA to produce Olympic Medals.” That’s socialism, that’s the “state” interfering in activities that are none of its business. Running or financing swimming clubs are no more the responsibility of the USS or USOC than financing Microsoft is up to George Bush.

In a private enterprise society, such as the United States, the role of government is to establish and protect an environment that encourages its citizens to pursue free and purposeful lives; to lead modest lives or scale impossibly high heights. The role of government is environment not participant. The journey belongs to the people not the government. Mill and Locke should be required reading at USS and USOC. They have a responsibility to create an environment where any Club can become a Santa Clara. Theirs is not to anoint and finance a chosen one. Theirs is to consider the health of the whole nation and all its participants and not provide disproportionate resources in to a selected few – that’s socialism and it won’t work, not in elite sport it won’t.

It encourages all the wrong attitudes. Administrators become adverse to risk; political correctness becomes more important than results; five year plans more admired than a practice set. Just look at New Zealand. They’ve been doing what’s planned at MAC for the last four years. In their case NZS chose a club called North Shore to be their MAC. A woman called Jan Cameron was their David Marsh. Millions have been spent, for nothing; not one world record or gold medal at any meet that begins with the word “World”. Who are the great New Zealand swimmers of the recent past? Danyon Loader, Olympic Champion, Trent Bray World SC Champion, Anna Simcic World Record holder, Antony Moss and Paul Kingsman, Olympic Medalists and you know what none of them ever had anything to do with NZS’s center of excellence. While millions are spent at MAC some Mark Spitz will be missed while the sport’s administrators are engrossed in making sure their experiment in socialist largess produces something.

America’s founding fathers wrote a document called the Constitution. It’s a fine text that provides some powers and severely restricts others. Those responsible for funding MAC have just gone way beyond anything Madison or Franklin would have found acceptable and swimming in the US will be the worse for it.