Got a Beef with USPA?
by Jan Meyer
Life's a Beach! Everyone gripes about how little USPA does for them. Well, you're wrong. USPA does a great deal for it's membership. It does what it's membership tells it to do.
USPA certifies jumpmasters and instructors. If they didn't do that, your first jump would have been like Mr. Hicks in Proof or Fandango. Our organization promotes a positive image of skydiving to the general public. Whuffoes know that we use two parachutes, and those square parachutes. They've seen us at demonstration jumps, insured and expedited by USPA. USPA prevents other users of airspace and controlling agencies from neglecting parachutists or infringing upon their rights. USPA helps us skydive, every day of the year.
Next time you slam USPA, ask yourself if USPA even knows about your problem. Have you contacted your Conference Director or any Board member and told him about your beef? If the first person you talk to doesn't, won't or can't help, find someone who will. Keep pestering Board members until they hear you. (They hear best when you explain your situation in a calm manner and don't make personal insults.) The best way to be heard is to talk to a few Directors first, follow up with a written version of your problem, and talk again after they and all others you've sent copies to have had a chance to review your letter. In all types of communication, avoid profanity, even if the other guy uses it. You'll look more professional and will be heard.
A written account is imperative. It consolidates and clarifies what you have to say. If you have to, record a conversation with another about your scenario, then have it transcribed into letter form. It's much easier to write the same way you speak, than trying to do what your English teacher said you should do.
You should be able to get your ides aired, reviewed and revised with USPA's inputs. Your talking and writing might not change the way USPA does things. You may be surprised and enlighten as to the hows and whys of the way our organization is run. Both parties will reach a mutually acceptable solution by understanding the other. The key is to iterate upon the existing situation until you get to a more acceptable situation. Take an inch at a time until you get a mile. Keep moving towards the goal you want. No one can do this as effectively as you can.
Now that you know how to be heard, what do you think about where national competitions are held? Someone said at the San Diego BOD meeting that competitors will go to wherever the competition is held regardless of cost. If they want to compete, then they'll be there.
The logic behind the Muskogee site is that it is geographically centered. Theoretically, Muskogee should present the same amount of travel difficulty (or simplicity) for everyone. Travel to and from the site is not the big complaint. The weather conditions are first priority for just about everyone. Even a good and very much appreciated relationship with the local Chamber of Commerce can't make up for rain, clouds and wind.
Enough people have spoken so that USPA is considering new sites for national competitions. The Collegiate Nationals have been moved to Florida this year. Some jumpers may remember that the reason the Collegiate Nationals were moved to Arizona (from Florida) was because they got rained out too often. College students sacrifice a great deal to be at these meets during the holiday season. If the weather is great in Florida this winter, then no one can really complain. Wait until it gets rained out before you write any letters.
The Nationals site for 1990 is up for grabs. Muskogee may still be the site. Other potential sites are in Arizona, California and Florida. Competitors must voice their opinions now!!!! What do you think about doing accuracy jumps in July in Arizona? Is turbulent air a strong enough reason to dismiss this site? Or will this give an extra challenge to each competitor? Would you like to give another location a try, just so you don't have to go to Muskogee again to watch it rain? If you complain about the Nationals site in 1990, it'll be because you didn't take the time or make an effort to move the site to your favorite place.
Originally published in Sport Parachutist's Safety Journal V1, #4 Nov/Dect. 1988.
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