National Age Group Ticket Sales

For two or three days all hell has broken out about the unavailability of public tickets for the National Age Group Championships. Swimming New Zealand say they allocated 10 season tickets to each region. The tickets were offered for sale on the internet and within a few minutes they were all sold. Many parents, from all over the country, had booked and paid for travel and accommodation and were now not going to see their children swim. Those that Swimming New Zealand relies on most were being punished. It was another classic Swimming New Zealand shambles.

A Wellington lawyer, named Eugene Collins, expressed the frustration felt by many in an eleven page letter to Swimming New Zealand CEO, Steve Johns. In addition to expressing his frustration Collins did a brilliant job of setting out the responsibilities Swimming New Zealand has to the sport, to the competitors and to the supporters; responsibilities that are being abandoned by Swimming New Zealand’s arrogant neglect.

Summarising eleven pages is not an easy task. Many of the valid concerns raised by Collins will be missed. The letter has been sent to most clubs. I would recommend reading it in full. The table below attempts to summarise his key arguments and concerns.

It is of concern to note that the AGM minutes on your web site for both 2015 and 2016 are in draft and there are no minutes at all for 2017.

Why wasn’t a reasonable notice period given to stakeholders?

When did SNZ decide to reserve 10 all-session passes for each Region? 

Why did they decide on 10 when they have spectator seating for up to 1100 spectators?

There are 13 regions in NZ so that is 130 tickets reserved for members in total, which represents 11% of available seats given to regions equally. This results in some regions proportionally receiving a greater share of the reserved tickets.

Do SNZ see this as treating its members in a fair and equitable manner?

What is the SNZ policy for tickets sales at NAGS?

If it has one why has this not been communicated to members?

If it doesn’t have a policy, why not?

The communication on ticket sales was poor and in reality non-existent and key stakeholders have been let down as a result.

We are the key stakeholders.

We want transparency and collaboration on all matters.

We want policies on critical matters.

We want fostering interaction and communication across SNZ, regional associations and member clubs.

We don’t just want it because our governing body’s constitution says that SNZ must provide these standards.

We want it because it is about being fair and equitable and because it is what we deserve.

It really is disappointing to find that SNZ’s key stakeholders are still not getting collaboration, transparency, policies and clear communication regarding something as significant as the release of tickets to the most important meet of the year.

A perusal of the recent annual reports would suggest that SNZ is talking the talk regarding the importance of volunteers to the organization but are not walking the walk

Shouldn’t SNZ reflect that fact by ensuring that as many as those vital and critical people as possible have a fair and equitable opportunity to watch their children compete.

Collaboration, Transparency and communication is essential to be seen to be fair and equitable.

On this occasion SNZ has fallen seriously short of achieving this.

There is not one word that is not relevant, accurate and deserved. Swimming New Zealand will have an excuse for their allocation of 130 public tickets in a 1100 seat stadium. My guess is they will claim 900 seats are required for competitors. No one should be surprised. Swimming New Zealand has a ready-made excuse for every transgression.

However, despite the validity and importance of Collins’ letter, I feel no sympathy whatsoever – none at all. Why? Because, in my view, Collins is complicit in the wrongdoing. My response to Collins is simply – I told you so.

For eight years Swimwatch has reported on an endless list of similar mismanagement. One thousand two hundred and forty eight stories have been posted on this website, most of them addressing issues very similar to this ticketing fiasco; in fact some far more serious. For example we have discussed the policy that, in my opinion, destroyed the swimming careers of two generations of young New Zealanders. We highlighted cheating in the selection of teams. We talked about the errors of expensive high altitude training camps and poorly programmed competitions. We pointed out the lies endorsed by Swimming New Zealand when it signed Lauren Boyle’s record application. We lobbied for swim meets to be taken away from dangerously shallow pools. We exposed badly planned pre-Games camps. We questioned administrators holding positions that appear to breach the spirit of the constitution. We questioned the competence of Johns and Cotterill to govern the organization. We disputed the rush into a shockingly undemocratic constitution. The list of Swimming New Zealand’s incompetence was huge.

And do you know the response we received? Well Swimming New Zealand portrayed Swimwatch as Don Quixote tilting at windmills. I am told the Wellington Region, that Collins belongs to, went into committee in several Board Meetings to discuss whether it was possible to close the website down. Social media sites complained about a negative bias. Raumati Club was ordered to remove the Swimwatch link on their club website. And I understand the Chairman of the Wellington Region obtained legal advice on whether the website could be removed. The Chairman of Swimming New Zealand went as far as to use the Annual Report to attack Swimwatch.

It is fine for Collins to be upset when Swimming New Zealand’s bad behaviour affects him personally. But where has he been for eight years? What has he done previously to correct the multitude of Swimming New Zealand wrongs? This latest episode has been a long time coming. It is just the latest event in a long and sad series. If Collins had paid more attention yesterday he would not have these ticket problems today.

However, I guess it’s better late than never. The problems highlighted by Collins will continue for as long as the incompetence of those that lead the organization is not addressed. I hope that Collins now applies his skills to addressing the necessary reforms.

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