A couple of weeks ago, a reader named Catherine left a comment with the request that I weigh in on the recently announced Dressage Canada elections. I could be lazy and answer by simply sending Catherine to posts on this same topic from past years. Calling the annual change in guard on DC’s committees an ‘election’ is somewhat misleading. This year, the individuals mentioned in last week’s DC press release swept into office on the magic carpet known as ‘acclamation’, which is a kind of euphemism for ‘default’. That’s right, the prospect of volunteering one’s time, energy and ideas to a DC committee is about as appealing to most people as the proverbial root canal. And who can blame the DC membership from feeling that way? In the dozen or so years of its existence, DC has become better known for what it doesn’t achieve than what it does. Numerous sudden departures from the board and various committees have ranged from the odd individual to an entire committee resigning en masse (High Performance, no less), and have become one of DC’s most defining features.
It’s hardly surprising that if you look at the average Canadian DQ’s list of fun things to do in one’s limited free time, being on a DC committee is not even close to making the top ten. Which is really a shame, because there are an awful lot of people out there who have something to offer – from ace show organizing to ideas for development programs to skillful tulip tiptoeing to create team criteria that don’t send athletes scurrying for cover (or lawyers). I have already said on more than one occasion that the current composition of the DC board gives cause for optimism that the tide is turning in DC’s favour – which would in turn have an inevitable positive impact on the sport. I am also hopeful that the special delivery of Desi Dillingham to our shores – as long as we stay out of her way long enough for her to do what she does so well – has real potential to turn the ship around once and for all.
The annual DC elections are a kind of doctor’s physical for the organization – a taking of the vitals, if you will. The lack of applicants for committee positions this year indicates the pulse is still weak; but recovery from near-death tends to be a bit of a long haul. I would hope that by this time next year DC members will actually be called on to vote, rather than just be told that a few tireless and generous souls are willing to keep on keeping on until someone else wants the (volunteer) job.
The exception to all the acclamation this year is for the role of Chair of High Performance, which isn’t surprising since it’s by far the sexiest volunteer position in the organization. Catherine was dissatisfied with the lack of relevant detail in the bios posted on the DC website. I don’t have a great deal of light to shed that isn’t already in the applicants’ bios and letters of intent. I do know that all three individuals possess skills and experience that make them worthy candidates. There is one thing in the letters of intent that impressed me, and it was Tony Eames’ acknowledgment of the potential for conflict of interest. Tony proactively addresses what is an inevitable reality in equestrian sport in Canada (and I suspect is in fact true of all sports in all countries, no matter how big the sport or country) and he takes personal responsibility for mitigating conflicts – real or perceived – arising from his relationship to one of Canada’s top dressage competitors. If there is one thing in the three applications that stands out for me, it’s that.
As I write this I am flowing eastward into the European time zone to attend a close friend’s cosy French wedding (for the Chorizo fans out there, yes he is with me).
Until I post again, à bientôt!