The ICC Americas has been conducting townhalls across the US and socializing the plan and membership model for USA Cricket with leagues and stakeholders. According to the plan, USA Cricket will hold its first board meeting before April 2018 and expects to seek ICC recognition before June 2018.
By Venu Palaparthi
USA Cricket launched a series of townhalls beginning September 11 to discuss the timeline and action items surrounding the future of cricket in the U.S. Topics for the townhalls included the new membership model; process and benefits for athletes, coaches, match officials, league and club administrators; and the timelines for the four pillars of the strategic framework - sustainable foundation, participation, performance, as well as fan and market development.
The first townhall was held on September 11 in Washington DC. Subsequent townhalls were held in New York (September 12), Dallas (October 5) and Chicago (October 6). The next townhall will be held in San Francisco on October 11 followed by Los Angeles on October 12. Notably, the Dallas and Chicago townhalls were broadcast live via USA Cricket's YouTube page. Click here
for a replay of the Dallas townhall meeting.
The meetings were open to everyone who registered via a public webpage. League and club administrators across the country were encouraged to attend the meetings because a number of the changes to the membership structure need to be factored into their plans for 2018. [As a public service announcement, here are the links to the remaining townhalls: San Francisco
or Los Angeles
for those who would like to participate.]
Participants were also allowed to participate remotely at the last two meetings. The townhalls are being conducted by ICC Americas USA Project Manager (Eric Parthen) and Project Officer (Wade Edwards), who have already incorporated some of the feedback from earlier meetings. As an example, a suggestion was made in New York to broadcast the meetings live, and this was implemented for the Dallas meeting.
As a first step towards building a sustainable foundation, the ICC Americas team is rolling out a new state of the art membership engine and customer relationship management (CRM) system combining customer engagement, associate management and marketing automation. In time, the USA Cricket CRM system will also incorporate a high performance system and a competition management system. Wade Edwards noted that using the CRM system, "We can effectively understand that member from the first point of contact, from when they first click on an ad on a website to then coming a member of our organization and then over the years, a long term member - that journey is important for us to know and understand the trends in the cricket community." Edwards said that the system would enable USA Cricket to be a sophisticated governing body. "We can be quite market-leading in this space," Edwards said.
The new individual membership plan that USA Cricket expects to launch in November proposes an array of benefits to members including personal injury insurance coverage; voting rights; participation in local, zonal and national events; educational resources; development camps; zonal staff support; annual meeting privileges and other member offers that will be announced over time.
"USA Cricket will try to unearth partnerships to stretch the impact of the development program," Eric Parthen said. Differentiating individual insurance coverage versus organizational coverage, Parthen said that USA Cricket is being modeled after ther national governing bodies. Whereas individual coverage is intended to cover player injury, organizational coverage is what parks or townships expect when they ask to be listed as additional insured, Parthen observed.
Membership for individuals will be free through March 2018. For the remaining three quarters of 2018, the fee is expected to be $35. Founding members will pay $100 as membership dues that will take them to the end of December 31, 2019. Beginning January 2019, the annual fee is expected to be $70. For organizations, there is no fee at the start, $75 from April to end of 2018 and $150 from January 2019 onwards.
"We need to earn some trust, we need to prove that what we are saying is what we are going to do," Edwards said. The first five free months will allow members to assess benefits before they commit to paid membership. Charging of fees from April 2018 is also intended to align with the cricket season because that is when leagues and clubs make membership decisions. "We think people will jump on board and fees and revenue will come if we do it right," Edwards hoped. The idea was that the ICC grant would cover the cost of providing a number of services during 2018, gradually allowing USA Cricket to stand up on its own feet. Reinforcing Edwards' observations regarding the fee model, Parthen said that the ICC expects positive momemtum as members see value. "[The membership plan] is one aspect of revenue. We envision having a philanthropic arm that will give major gifts. Through ICC investment, commercial investment, philanthropic investment, through sanction fees, we can deliver way more than $70 worth of value."
Talking about the election, Parthen noted that anybody that is a member as of December 2017 will be eligible to vote in the elections scheduled to be held before April 2018. According to the new plan, individual members elect three directors, one will represent clubs, one will represent leagues and two directors will represent athletes. Nominating and Governing Committee, which will be set up in the coming months will pick three independent directors once the seven elected directors have been seated. The goal is to ensure balance and diversity by selecting three independent directors who can fill the gaps. "Members of the nominating committee cannot join the board," Parthen noted.
Individuals intending to contest in the election can self-nominate for the election using a standard form. The candidates will be screened by the nominating committee following which a one-page candidate statement will be posted on the website. The election will be an electronic process that will be overseen by the nominating commitee, the sustainable foundation group, an independent auditor and the ICC legal department.
Talking about the progress to date, Parthen said that brand and social assets had been launched and USA Cricket had 11,000 followers as of the last meeting. Parthen said the successful launch and the enthusiastic response to the social media presence brings credibility to the organization. He reiterated that the remaining actions for the year include implementing the database and world class website in addition to the naming of the nominating committee. USA Cricket also expects to launch an entry level programming and coach education early 2018.
Once the new board is seated in April 2018, USA Cricket will seek recognition from the ICC board in the Ireland meeting in June 2018. Three zonal staff will be hired starting 2018 and once these staff are fully engaged, three remaining zonal staff will be hired. Parthen also said that a relationship with National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) will be launched in 2018.
Speaking about the cricket timeline for 2018, national teams could be going on tour to Asia in the near-term to give them additional chances outside of World Cricket League events so that they can learn how they can win in an high pressure environment. Also, USA Cricket is looking to have its own time in Nagico 50 working with Cricket West Indies. Combines and zonal high performance programs are expected to continue to help in the task of talent and staff identification. USA Cricket will continue to foster the younger group in the U17 to U19 age groups and expects to have a national championship event towards the end of 2018, Parthen said.
Concerns were raised about potential ballot-stuffing by folks seeking to take advantage of free membership by signing up thousands of members pre-election with no intention of having them continue post-election. This tactic could help them to steer more individual directorships to their preferred candidates. Acknowledging that this was a possibility, Parthen said that given that the organization is expect to have thousands of members, and that each member's address would be verified, and ultimately such a tactic to get an upper hand in the election would be significant undertaking. Edwards underlined the fact that the member data would be available to members and asked the members to be vigilant and raise any concerns that affect the electoral process.