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Regarding point 7 in Gene's summary of the annual meeting:

I am in favor of requiring measurers to join USATF. RRTC has developed valuable materials in support of certification measuring training. Collecting a modest membership fee could incentivize us to maintain these materials with regular updates and improvements, and maybe pay for someone's time as needed to perform this on a regular schedule.

Has RRTC ever given any thought to having its own separate membership? Instead of the dues going all to USATF, we would allocate a portion to the USATF general fund and the remainder to RRTC's own treasury. In theory, this could allow us to pay for server and/or connectivity upgrades, a certification application web site, additional admin support, better accommodations for conventions, and/or other good things.

I for one would gladly pay more than $30.00 annually to support such an upgrade to RRTC. $50.00 would be well worth it to me.
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It doesn’t say much for an organization that has to force people to join. The benefits of membership alone should be enough to attract members.

There was a time when some footraces (most notably Boston Marathon) required that runners join AAU, precursor to TAC and USATF. This was hugely unpopular and created a backlash of resentment among the runners.

Columbus Marathon was forced by USATF to require membership as a condition for running. There was a USATF booth set up at the Expo so that people could join. The complaining was huge, and Columbus fought for and succeeded in getting rid of the USATF membership requirement for the runners.

By requiring certifiers and measurers to be members are we perhaps losing sight of the fact that those people are already helping USATF? It seems ungracious to force them to pay for the privilege.

If USATF wishes to increase membership it might be more useful to show prospective members the benefits. If the benefits are attractive, people will join without coercion.

No, we should not force certifiers and measurers to be members of USATF. What they do already helps USATF. That is enough.
I understand your position, Pete. I respect it, too.

My viewpoint is that, since certifiers are now required to pay the $30.00 annual membership, we should think of ourselves as having more skin in this game. I for one am grateful for the opportunity USATF has given me. Simultaneously, if we are now going down the road of USATF membership, we can legitimately ask for and expect a little more support, IMHO.

I have no criticisms of anyone nor complaints about anyone in RRTC or USATF who has given so much of his/her time and expertise over so long to ensure we maintain standards of excellence. I'll say it again, since I have been a more active measurer in the last several years (I began in 1985), and especially since I have been a state certifier, I have grown to have a huge amount of respect for not only this selfless dedication of volunteers, but for the high level of technical expertise of RRTC members as well. My participation with such wonderful folks is stimulating. Accordingly, I also find myself more and more drawn to analyzing our work processes, with an eye to efficiency and simplification.

A few years ago, I think there were a couple of steps in our certification process that were arguably broken. They have since been fixed. I am therefore not about fixing anything that is broken or unbroken. Not unlike others of our group who have interesting ideas about what we do and how we do it, I too have some thoughts about improvements and their concomitant benefits.

Though many of my friends close to my age seem to have remained firmly on the wrong side of the "digital divide", I see a nearly equal number of seniors who are technologically literate. These people welcome technological change and improvements in everyday life. Most of us realize that younger generations have reached adulthood with expectations about the role of technology in society that may be quite different than those many of us reading this do. Accordingly, my position is that, in the interest of "succession planning" for RRTC, as well as in the interest of certification systems that are easier, quicker, and less prone to errors, we have in front of us now a huge opportunity. And a way to simultaneously step up our excellence to a new level.

So, what does this have to do with USATF membership? In terms of the income to USATF generated by 45 or so men and women paying $30.00 a year, maybe not a whole lot. Yet, $1,350.00 a year, were it to be dedicated to RRTC, would add up in a few years to something meaningful. We could underwrite dedicated server space, better connectivity, maybe some more admin support, or better pay for those of us who do the heavy lifting for course certification administration.

Now, think of each measurer being required to pay a once-per-year fee that would go directly to RRTC. If all the measurers out there paid $15.00 or $20.00 per year, we could finance the development costs for an in-house all-electronic web submission process in short order. Or, we could hire a contractor to set up and manage such a site. Imagine being able to fill out all the forms and additional info as needed via a web interface of the sort that is common today (think how Turbotax, LinkedIn and many other sites work well for completing and submitting forms online; think how well Picasa, Flickr and other sites work for scanning and easily uploading images, documents, and electronic files).

So, in a way, Pete, I am agreeing with you. If we as a group have little or no interest in keeping up with technology or in embracing readily available process improvements, then I will join forces with you in lobbying for revocation of the USATF membership requirement. We should expect something more for our outlay, IMO.

Alternatively, if we want to move ahead to embrace the inevitable rather than wait until we are sadly behind the times, I am on board not only with the annual dues requirement, I propose we institute a funding mechanism that we can employ to expedite needed upgrades. If not an annual measurer fee, perhaps a fundraising campaign - web-based, of course. Accordingly, I hereby publicly announce my commitment to helping make all of this happen when we elect to move ahead.
Lyman, you have an interesting idea. If the membership fees from measurers and certifiers could be earmarked for Web development, that would be huge! It may be a tough sell, but I do believe that a single point-of-entry for measurement data through final listing makes lots of sense.

Our current system has the measurer fill out the application, then the Certifier transfer it to the certificate. The Registrar then re-types the certificate information into a database, which gets pushed to the USATF server. Chance for typos each step of the way.

I am looking forward to input from others!
What's in it for me? What would USATF membership do for me as a measurer? If the RRTC website requires too much work or too much typing to free it from errors, that should be the responsibility of USATF. I also don't see how forcing membership onto volunteers helps the volunteer join the "digital age".

The idea that USATF membership dues will be earmarked for the RRTC is a long stretch. Think about earmarking dues paid by road runners being used only in support of road running.

Requiring USATF membership for measurers doesn't seem to have any advantages, except a small increase in USATF income.

This from a 70-yr old who has been a road runner USATF member for about 40-years and still doesn't notice the benefit. I join only to voluntarily support the organization. Make membership mandatory and watch that support be re-evaluated.
My thoughts on the comments above.

First, I don't think a measurer should be forced to join USATF. As for our Certifiers, that's a different story. They verify work as to it being accurate according to USATF standards. Hence, they do represent USATF in some manner. The measurer doesn't.

We couldn't exist without USATF. They are the ones that set the standard for certifying a course not us. They give RRTC a budget in excess of $13,000 per year. For us this money goes to many things such as
1. paying for this site
2. paying individual to do a verification
3. paying some of the officer's expenses
4. Maintaining web housing on the USATF site
5. Purchasing supplies when needed
6. Providing leadership workshops with expenses paid for the Chair.
7. Providing money to have measurement workshops.

Duane is correct mistakes can be made with data being entered. However, are we going to allow a measurer access to the database? Even if that is done, the checks on all levels would have to be done. What is frustrating for me as Registrar is our Certifier's as a whole don't check the final product online. Ken Hardwick has done a service every year by finding several mistakes that I have made. This is much appreciated, but these could be avoided if our Certifiers checked their courses online. Just because one person pushing info into the data doesn't mean that it will be correct.
I appreciate these thoughtful responses.

Guido Brothers: Have you ever got a good measuring job referral from Of course you have. Was it valuable? I hope so. Would you have got the same referral without being a member of Yes, unless USATF denied referrals to non-members. Have those referrals been worth a $30.00 membership? I sure hope so. What about the benefits Gene mentions? USATF may seem like a large organization. But if you look at its published financial statements, you realize USATF does not operate with a large budget. I for one grasp the opportunities that USATF has given me. I am grateful for them.

Rather than earmarking certifier or measurer dues for RRTC, I am recommending we devise some funding mechanism to take a modest annual fee from each measurer who submits at least one course per year. Whether this would take the form of dues, an application fee, or something else I have not thought of is a topic worthy of discussion, IMO.

I agree that forcing measurers to join USATF is not the best way to go, for all the reasons that have been made in prior threads in this medium. Nevertheless, consider that some other funding, such as an annual application fee of say, $15.00 from say, 250 measurers per year, as an example, would produce $3,750.00 we can use for upgrades.

I have no mission to get anyone to join the Digital Age, the Age of Reason, the Age of Majority, or any other epoch. I think most of us here will agree that it is only a matter of time before all certification applications are submitted via a single-point-of-entry, as Duane calls it. I grasp that we might have to run dual systems for a while to iron out any beta bugs and to accommodate those of us who may not initially like a web entry system. But, Guidos, how many years do you think will pass before all courses are submitted on line without anyone having a second thought about it? 20? 10? 5? Sooner? I would guess you realize the inevitability of this. My question is, what are we waiting for, if there are substantial benefits to be reaped - for all involved?

Gene: you ask good questions about such a system, and rightly so. Covering every devil's advocate or straw man question in advance is the right way to ensure a worthwhile product. Addressing your questions, consider that our web-based entry system will easily accomplish all you want and more. This is part of the beauty of this. First, concerning errors: a well-designed entry page helps reduce errors by guiding the entry process. Important data could not be omitted. Incorrect dates, certification numbers, drop & seps would all but be eliminated, for instance, by checks built into the software. Measurers would simply complete a simple web sign in, pay the application fee, and submit. You and everyone in RRTC would have username and password access to view the data. You and a few other heavy lifters would have "edit" access to make any needed changes.

Further, we wouldn't even have to impose on USATF web developers for this. We could handle the development by a skilled contractor. Then, we could annually run the fee collection via a web link at absolutely no cost to us. We could even use it to activate modest fund-raising campaigns for certain purposes - say, steel tape calibrations, or inexpensive standard measuring vests for all measurers. We can fee collect and fund raise at no cost whatever to us. We could start this within a week if we had the will to do so.

I look forward to a continuing dialogue about this.
The online application submission that I envision would not enter data directly into the USATF database. It would reside elsewhere until the Registrar did the final check, and clicked "Submit".

If we integrated a login process (certainly should), then the measurer's name would never be re-formatted (John as Jonathon, Bill as William, etc). Each measurer's Race Contacts could also be saved, so they would start typing a Race Contact's name, and it would self-populate (with the ability to say "no, that's not the one, or edit the Contact's info).

I complete my applications in Excel right now. Whether I enter the info into Excel, or an online form, makes no difference to me. If I enter it online, I know that what I submit is what will show in the database, unless someone finds some error. We would even program a check for all surface types adding-up to 100%.

We could also turn off the annual application fee, if we wanted to. If we had a $15 per year app fee, and found we did not need additional funding (don't be like the government, and never remove a fee), we could turn it off for a year, or three. The beauty of Web programming is that it is fluid. Changes to the application are made on the Website, and everyone is instantly using the same form.

Good idea, worth more discussion.
There are some good ideas floating around here, and also some pitfalls. Without going into all that I'd like to put in my 2 cents to say that I can see requiring certifiers to join USATF but I'm not in favor of asking measurers to join. Pete's comments brought up all those bad memories of the AAU membership battles; let's not get back into that!

We should recognize and celebrate the fact that we have a very rare and valuable bird here, by which I mean our structure-- we let anyone have a go at this work, and we try to make it very clear how to do it. I think it's in keeping with that idea to not require any membership or extra fees.

If we need money to upgrade technology couldn't this be done by increasing the registration fees?
OK., Lyman, I agree that I get some support from USATF in the form of referrals. However, I also feel that I give USATF value by my measuring work. This seems to be a good deal for both. I still fail to see how this supports mandatory USATF membership. You, and others, apparently agree that mandatory USATF membership for measurers would not add to the value of our service.

In my view the RRTC operates on a fair and conservative financial footing. Expenses are carefully considered and pretty transparent. I don't see a pressing need for more RRTC funding. Without such a need, forcing USATF membership on measurers seems punitive or authoritative.

Also, in my view, any scheme that earmarks measurers USATF dues is bound to fail. I guess this also agrees with Lyman.
The idea of forcing measurers to join USATF is a non-starter in my view.

However, an online way to submit measurement data for certification could have merit. Before rushing to support it, some questions should be addressed:

1) Would the online data-submission be flexible, or would it require one standardized method to measure and collect data? Several computerized data-calculation methods have been created in the past, but stalled because they did not have the flexibility to accommodate the various ways a measurer might collect his data. A single standardized data-collection format would make the online submission easier, but would carry with it the downside of the stifling of the various ways that a measurer might choose to ride the course. Many courses are not easily measured in continuous start-to-finish or finish-to start rides. In other words, would we need to create a one-size-fits-all method and decree that this is the only way data can be submitted?

2) Where would be the certifier in the scheme? The online program could correctly calculate the data, but what of the other aspects of the submission? Does a human being ever get look at the submission?

3) Would the online method require all measurers to be computer literate? Many measurers are, but not all, especially when it comes to artistic things like map-drawing. Confining course measurement to those with above-average computer skills would force many to employ a professional measurer.

4) Human certifiers have been able to adapt to many different ways that a measurer might choose to submit data. Sometimes it is a horrible job, but with back-and-forth between measurer and certifier the job gets done. The new, “improved” online system might have to work pretty hard to achieve the same user-friendliness.

I think it’s an attractive idea, but doubt that its time has come.
I don't see measurers sending in their measurement data through a web interface. As Pete says, there are too many different variations of that data to make that feasible.
But certainly the rest of the application, including the calibration data, could be submitted through a web interface.
That being said, at least 80% of my time as a certifier goes to understanding the course measurement data (it's often not straightforward, but then neither is the data from my measurements!) and understanding the map and working with the measurer to improve the map.
I started off this topic with the idea of requiring measurers to join USATF. The discussion has caused me to change my mind. Nevertheless, I still see merit in requiring a temporary once-a-year application fee for non-member measurers. This is still one topic, IMO.

A separate topic is employing existing technology to make our processes more efficient and more error-free. Therefore, I will ask that interested persons move their attention to one or both of these discussions in new topics I have established in the "USATF/RRTC TOPICS" section of this forum.

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