1983: E.C. and Other Matters (Including Foot-stamp Arguments).
This year, 1983, marks the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the USTTA. As we’ll see, it’s also a time of upheaval in our Association unparalleled since the 1930’s. I’ll begin this volume with some changes—relatively normal ones—then move on from there.
Rufford Harrison, the Association’s Recording Secretary, reports on recent changes made by the USTTA Executive Committee (TTT, Feb., 1983, 14).
One is the new eligibility requirement for the U.S. International Team Squad. It’s now “the same as for the U.S. Closed”—that is, “either citizenship or a recent ‘green card’ is necessary.” Jack Carr says (TTT, Mar., 1983, 14) that months earlier he’d told the ex-Indian National B.K. Arunkumar “he couldn’t play in the U.S. Closed because he didn’t have a green card.” However, Jack says that when Kumar checked with other officials supposedly in the know, all of them told him he could play. So he prepared to come to Vegas under that assumption.
But once at the U.S. Closed (which reportedly was to air on ESPN in February, but apparently because of a lack of sponsorship would not air at all), Kumar found he could NOT play, nor could the transplanted-to-California South Koreans headed by Jae-ho Song. But Carr wonders if the sudden vote of the E.C. at their Vegas Meeting to prevent players like Kumar and Song from participating in the World Team Tryouts was legal. However, Carr’s wondering made it no less legal.
Rufford notes the USTTA agreed that, since the Canadians have found a sponsor, they will hold the next North American Championships/North American World Cup Qualifier.
The USTTA proposed to the ITTF that in order to lessen the element of deception in serves “the racket must be kept above the level of the playing surface until the ball has been struck.”
I had called attention in my Vol. XI (p. 434) to Horst Zodrow’s article (TTT, May-June, 1982, 9) in which he felt the USTTA’s “tax” on those who wanted to play in a major tournament with a homemade racket was a racket in itself. Now a homemade racket manufactured by one who intends to use it in competition is presumably no longer subject to Approval and Testing/Inspection Fees and the accompanying relinquishment of three such rackets to the USTTA Equipment Committee.
Following are the new Chairs of USTTA Committees: Wendell Dillon replaces Dr. Michael Scott as Disciplinary Chair; Dick Butler heads Junior Development (formerly Junior Olympics); Marshall Lipton replaces Forrest Barr as our Legal Advisor; Jimmy McClure is the USTTA’s Olympic Chair (that’s new); and Bob Tretheway will be in charge of our (also new) Pan Am activities. The current National Tournament Director replacing Dillon is Andy Gad. Andy, who’d been Midwest Regional Tournament Director, has been replaced by Forest Milbourn.
Jack Carr remains the Nominating Chair—but he’s not happy. Rufford criticized him—said his Committee members didn’t “travel enough to meet potential candidates.” Carr, though mindful that the Nominating Committee needs more candidates willing to serve on the E.C., said, Yeah? And suggested he was ready to give up the Chair. He keeps asking different people questions, but they don’t answer him. He enumerates for those who hopefully might be interested in serving on the E.C. what’s expected of them (from Jack’s viewpoint a lot), and finds hardly anyone interested.
Carr urges all members to vote in the upcoming election for E.C. officers. (See cover of TTT, Feb., 1983 for beginning Campaign Statements.) Six candidates are vying for the three Vice-President spots, and incumbent Lyle Thiem is running unopposed for Treasurer. Jack’s Nominating Committee members—Dave Cox, Dick Feuerstein, Bill Haid, and Dr. Michael Scott—offer their V-P recommendations. Here in order are their preferences: 1. Mel Eisner. 2. Tom Walsh. 3. Bill Hornyak. 4. Eugene Wilson. 5. Pat O’Neill. (Bill Hodge is also a candidate—perhaps late to run or be accepted.)
Contrary to the Nominating Committee, President Schiff (TTT, Mar., 1983, 28) urges a vote for Pat O’Neill. Sol says, “This is the strongest endorsement I have given any candidate for USTTA elected office in all the years I have been in table tennis office….One of the best decisions I ever made was to appoint Pat O’Neill to finish our Fred Danner’s unexpired term. In the short time Pat has been on the E.C. he has completely shaken up our Committee by submitting re-organizational plans and proposals for the future.”
“Pat is a businessman managing a large real estate company with hundreds of people under him. He is a top salesman and is very capable of helping us sell our sport to the public….Vote for Pat O’Neill. I need him—but, more importantly, you need him to represent the USTTA membership with his proven ability and sincerity.”
Mel Eisner, the Nominating Committee’s #1 choice for Vice-President, in his Jan. 20th “Upbeat” column spoke of how a heart bypass would allow him to play table tennis again (it’s just a “plain pleasure” to do so), and, having come through the operation successfully, how upbeat he’d felt when he received phone calls, messages of good will, and visits, including one from USTTA President Schiff. Sol, as Jimmy Connors said of a fellow pro tennis player, “plays like a ping-pong player, with a lot of wrist”—and that’s of course because Sol is a ping-pong, er, table tennis player, and probably played tennis that way too. I note that many readers will be pleased to learn that Sol is fast fully recuperating from his nasty fall at the U. S. Closed in which he broke his wrist in three places.
I, too, had thoughts on the elections (most of them echoing Dick Miles’s suggestions to me):
“…The only hope for table tennis to be taken seriously in this country is that those who are dedicated, who have the international experience to understand and care about excellence—that is, table tennis as it’s played where people are expected to make a living at it—can come up with sophisticated worldly-wise leaders capable not only of fund-raising but of re-organizing, of knowing specifically what to do with the money once they get it.
Here are five things I think any candidate would want to work for—simultaneously, if possible.
Begin prototype real USTTA open-every-day clubs—large enough for 20-table (especially school) tournaments and leagues. At present, most USTTA ‘clubs’ have devastating ‘image’ problems and their members do very little if anything for the USTTA….
Begin prototype country-wide boys and girls leagues by sending consciousness-raising ‘teams’ into schools—these ‘teams’ to consist of a speaker who knows how to talk to teenagers and phys. ed. people, and who has a film to show, and an experienced young exhibition threesome, two guys and a girl…all of whom can make a living from their day-to-day work. Naturally the prototype clubs and the prototype school ‘teams’ would work hand-in-hand in the various areas. [I must say, looking now at what I’d written almost 30 years ago, and knowing that in 1984 I’d have the chance myself to try to begin…well, something, all this seems right-minded but VERY ambitious.]
Begin sending U.S. teams—full-time players, coaches, filmmakers, promoters—all over the world. Send them to every international tournament possible. Only in this way can we learn to become a super-power in the sport. Clearly it’s no accident that year after year the best U.S. players are those who’ve gone abroad at considerable personal courage, sacrifice and expense to learn their costly expertise. These players and their supportive parents truly believe in the sport—believe that History will vindicate their actions. The average USTTA ping-pong player (not to be confused with a USTTA circuit player) has almost no comprehension of what it means to be an aficionado. They are worlds apart.
Begin increasing prize-money purses for the best players and get these matches covered by TV in (what in the past has not been done) a multi-camera exciting way.
Begin creating more and more one-table dramatic matches—especially team matches—in a well-lit, boxing-ring-like court with darkened surroundings to an audience that can do (what they do in their living rooms at home): eat, drink, smoke, cheer, swear, bet. [Oh, alright, maybe not all of those things.] Also, the differing personalities of the players must be stressed and human interest stories done on them. Both the venue and partisan audience are of very great importance.”
[Well, as I assess in 2011 what Miles and I suggest here, I have to say, How, practically, did we think such costly things we ideally wanted would come about?]
Mel Eisner in his Campaign Statement says, “Table Tennis needs strong direction. It needs those who can work for the sport to bring sponsorship and expanded participation to it.” Money and Members—that’s where it’s at for Mel. We’ve seen in earlier volumes Mel’s accomplishments which he summarizes in his Statement. Now, if elected, his “major programs would be directed towards those events and promotions which would attract TV and media coverage, and the large commercial and private sponsorship that goes with it.” Also, it’s the Youth who “generate the greatest interest and participation—so that’s where the work has to be.”
Bill Hodge’s career, too, we’ve followed. In his Statement, he details his track record, emphasizes his organizational ability, his efficiency, and says generally what he wants but not how to bring it about—“I want table tennis in schools at all levels…want Junior players to have more international play…want top players to make more money; but we must also fill the needs of the average player.”
Bill Hornyak, in a very short Statement, doesn’t even mention what he’s done, says self-effacingly. “Vote for the candidates that you believe have the ability and devotion to successfully accomplish and fulfill their promises.”
Pat O’Neill, also in a short Statement, says the Planning Guide he presented to the E.C. was well-received and he wants to be elected to complete his re-organizational task of seeing that the USTTA operates “in a more professional, profitable and efficient manner. The next five years are going to be crucial for the survival of our sport. You need capable and hard-working leadership. I assure you that I will work diligently to improve the quality of your governing body.”
Tom Walsh in a long Statement repeats some of what he’d said earlier (TTT, Feb., 1982, 15) and what I’d taken strong exception to in my Vol. XI (212-213). Tom says, “The USTTA must nurture club and individual table tennis activities primarily on the lowest organizational level….Many club presidents will tell you that they can see little advantage to belonging to the USTTA when the clubs give all and receive virtually nothing beyond an article and ratings in Topics. It appears to us that we are underwriting activities for prima donnas to visit foreign countries for their greater honor and glory, certainly not ours….Our tournaments are supported by very average and below average players. They often help beyond financial fees because they are willing also to do the physical labor so necessary to keep tournaments going. How many top-rated players ever assist with anything?”
[A strikingly different point of view can be seen in Power Poon’s article “How Do We Do It?” (TTT, Feb., 1983, 24). Power says, “Many people have asked me how we can afford to sponsor big prize-money tournaments year after year. My answer to them was that it took money and a lot of hard-working people.’
“It all started in 1976, the bicentennial year when Tom Baudry, our club’s president then, decided that it was time for the Baton Rouge TTC to do something for table tennis professionals. The $2,000 bicentennial invitational tournament, with all prize money going to the Open Singles event, was held in Baton Rouge in April, 1976. We knew that it would be a losing cause, because for a $2,000 prize-money tourney it would take more than $3,000 to cover all the costs. The entry fees that we collected from 120 players were merely half the cost. The rest of the expenses had to be drawn from the club’s fund. Well, where were the club’s funds coming from? The major source of the club’s funds was the membership dues, which were $15 a year, and the money we made from other tournaments. But the real reason we were able to put on this pro-professional event was the fact that we have a bunch of members who not only donated money but also gave their valuable time.
Tom retired as president in mid-1976 and he appointed me as his successor. When tournament time came up in 1977, I was unsure as to how much money we should give. A few friends suggested that we should not sponsor any more money-losing tournaments. But I finally decided to carry on Tom’s philosophy and we hosted another $2,000 prize-money event. The result was the same; we saw most of the top players coming from everywhere but we still lost money. The next year I decided to raise the prize money to $2,600. After that, I was able to increase the prize money gradually every year. As a matter of fact, our total prize money for the past seven years, including this year’s $6,000 is a whopping $30,000. One thing I found out was that there wasn’t much difference in the amount of money that we lost in 1976 for $2,000 prize money and that we lost in 1982 for $5,100 in prize money. Because as the prize money went up, we attracted more players, despite the fact that we increased our entry fee.
Our goal is to continue increasing prize money because I think that is the only way to promote our beloved sport in this country.”]
Walsh emphasizes a five–point proposal. First, “I want the USTTA to start sending good coaches and players around the country to the clubs to provide instructions and inspiration for all players.” [As we saw in Vol. XI (214), Ohio’s Rick Hardy did not agree with this viewpoint—he says, one should pay, as he does, for such professional coaching.] World Team players ought to “give something back to the sport that promotes them.” [The sport “promotes” these professional players who’ve given so much of self, who’ve worked years to try to make a living at table tennis? How so?] And wherever they went, “they could sell equipment, charge something for coaching a bit, and they might even pick up some income beyond expenses.”
Second, “my impression is that there is too much self-serving by selfish individuals on the E.C.’s of the past. The big decisions seem to have been to censure immature players for their behavior at tournaments….I have read the minutes of E.C. meetings and thought that most of what went on was trivial. I’m recommending a more professional approach to management.”
Third, “I believe we should seek the support of those who can do us the most good financially.” Fourth, “I would like to see those who do table tennis the most good rewarded. I am aware of the work of such people as Richard Feuerstein, Sol Schiff, and Jack Carr. The loss of anyone like them would be disastrous to the sport, but I doubt that many people recognize this. I’m thinking of the many people who help me to accomplish something on my small level; they receive little thanks for their effort—certainly not the kind of accolades that are so generously provided by Topics to good players who win tournaments or who stamp their feet or curse the umpire.” And, fifth, “I want something to be done by the USTTA to make table tennis the good sport it once was…. ‘Junk’ sponges ruin the game for players and spectators”—equipment should be standardized.
Eugene Wilson in his Statement gives us his table tennis background, which I’ve noted over the years. He stresses that his job at Lockheed Aircraft Aviation “had required tact and ability to get along with people. It also necessitated attendance at many meetings and coming up with solutions to very delicate and difficult problems….[Were he elected] there would be no learning period because he has attended and participated in meetings in everything from Boy Scouts to the Elks.”
Though Lyle Thiem is running unopposed for Treasurer, he offers a long Statement. “I have a full time job as a pharmaceutical salesman and also run a large table tennis facility,” he says, but though “I don’t have a lot of time to devote to the [time-consuming] job of Treasurer, I feel I can continue to do the job well.” Especially because he gets much help from Bill and Sarah Haid and Bill’s Secretary, Emily Hix. [Not incidentally, says Bill, “Headquarters received our third letter in 12 months in which the writer felt that writing a lot of filthy, dirty, profane sentences would make our staff jump to his eager demands….Headquarters is staffed with two nice women and a couple of volunteer women, all ‘Christian in faith.’…Anyone who expresses his anger in profanity and slutty words should stop and rewrite, as this type of correspondence will not be received with respect and fast action.”] Lyle thinks “the Budget we came up with for this fiscal year is not too far off. We will, however, have some rather large expenses due to televising the U.S. Closed which were not in the Budget.” [As I said before, the TV didn’t happen.]
After mentioning some of the problems connected with his work, Lyle urges us to vote for Pat O’Neill who “has very good business judgment and has done considerable work since filling Fred Danner’s unexpired term.” He adds that “Bill Hodge deserves your consideration because he’s a doer.” And he has a good word to say about Bill Hornyak and Eugene Wilson. He also puts in a plug for two Committee Chairs who report to him—Richard Feuerstein (Clubs and Affiliates) and Don Story (Film).
So who’ll get elected? (See TTT, May-June, 1983, 14.)
Votes for Vice-President:
Elected: Pat O’Neill (279), Mel Eisner (269), Bill Hornyak (197).
Not Elected: Bill Hodge (174), Eugene Wilson (124), Tom Walsh (118).
Votes for Treasurer:
Elected: Lyle Thiem: 368.
Though there were 4100 eligible voters, perhaps only 10% of them voted. Nominating Chair Jack Carr said, “Some [through an irregularity] received their ballots too late to meet the April 15 return deadline (and were given an extension?). Some saw the fund-raising request and threw away the packet without realizing that the ballot was enclosed. Others saw the questionnaire and did not know the ballot was on the other side. [This questionnaire, composed by Schiff and O’Neill, asked…what?] A few did not like the space to include your name on the back of the ballot, which is to be secret per a Bylaw.”
Jack says, “There can be no question that this election was improper and possibly illegal.” But after detailing irregularities that had occurred in balloting during the last ten years, Carr concluded, “I consider the results of this election valid.”
Another kind of balloting took place (TTT, Mar., 1983, 26) when Scott Butler of Iowa City, Iowa was entered in the Wheaties’ “Search for Champions” Contest by his sponsors, the Lee Global Athletic Club and Scott’s Hawkeye T.T. Club. Six amateur athletes from the 50 finalists, one of which is Scott, will be selected to appear on Wheaties cereal packages. Ballots can be obtained in specially marked packages of Wheaties cereal in stores through approximately May, 1983.
“Criteria for selection of the six winners include athletic ability, memorable achievement, and personal character. Scott is a ninth-grade honor student at Southeast Junior High. He is an active community member. He volunteered to participate in a Table Tennis exhibition at the Oakdale Mental Health Facility and an exhibition at the Independence Mental Health Facility. He was a volunteer at the Iowa City Special Olympics in Table Tennis. He is an accomplished French horn player with the Southeast Iowa Honor Band.
Mail any votes for Scott Butler to: Andy Diaz, Lee Global Enterprises, 185 Park Row, Suite 8, N.Y., N.Y. 10038. Or mail directly to Wheaties according to instructions on the Wheaties box. We need your support! Help us put Table Tennis on the Wheaties box! [Scott was not voted in.]”
Young Butler and the Wheaties box of course reminds me and readers of my Vol. I wherein 1936 Western Open Champ, young George Hendry, has his picture on a Wheaties box. Decades later, George’s friend Joe Windham (TTT, May-June, 1983, 19) calls the now 62-year-old Hendry one of the two current “Cornerstones of St. Louis Table Tennis.” Hendry’s t.t. career, which was interrupted by a lengthy sabbatical, will go on now for a quarter of a century. But since I’ve traced George’s progress through the years in previous volumes, I want to let Windham describe that other cornerstone—the St. Louis Gateway Club, run for the last 10 years by Rich Doza. Call it, if you like, the “Club of the Month.”
“The aged, wooden floor upon which the eight side-by-side tables sit has been softly worn from ten years of table tennis activity. A row of lights hangs directly over each table….The largeness of the playing room—the 20-foot ceiling combined with the 7,000 square feet below—seems to swallow the little white ball as it flutters so effortlessly through the air….
This Club physically is suited for any type of table tennis game. The chopper has room to move both back and forth and side to side. There is plenty of space between the floor and the lights, so that even the most ambitious lobber has more than enough room. The wooden floor provides traction for the player who needs either to start or stop on a dime. The overhead lighting makes it easy to follow the ball. The permanent wooden walls surrounding the entire playing area prevent the ever elusive, ever bouncing celluloid sphere from going astray. In short, this Gateway Club offers classic playing conditions. It’s no wonder then that George Hendry, practicing regularly here, is the current U.S. Closed Over 50/60 Champion.
George has a reputation as being quite the “gentleman” on and off court. Unnamed others, however (U.S. Team members?), sometimes not so gentlemanly, have, as Robert J. Sellers, Jr. says (TTT, Feb., 1983, 12), “no place in American sports.” Sellers had gone to Vegas with a Thai friend, apparently having had little experience with table tennis, though after spending a short but pleasant time at his Thai friend’s club in Colorado, he did recognize it as “one of the few true family sports.” Prepared, he said, to enjoy himself “with all my patriotic fervor,” he watched a few days of the tournament [the Team Trials?] and “became very embarrassed by the participating players. There was screaming, cussing, paddle-breaking, and boisterous behavior.”
Sellers’ Thai friend took all this in stride, said this was “how we handled our anger in American Sports—in other words, our culture. One Korean woman said, ‘I wasn’t raised that way,’ after I asked how she felt about it. She was and is one of the best women players in our country, if not the best. I watched her as she played and admired her professional courtesy, even while she was losing” [This woman, losing, can only be 1982 U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion Jin Na whom Insook beat in the semi’s of the Closed, 14, 12, 4, and who finished 5th in the Women’s Team Trials.]. I understand that it hurts to lose, but these self-centered temper tantrums have no place in American sports.”
“I told the young Korean woman that I was not raised that way either; neither were the 200 million Americans that the Table Tennis Team will represent. This is not our culture, and I feel that it is your [USTTA] organization that is responsible for the irresponsible behavior. If you must, take the offenders off the Team or fine them for their embarrassing behavior before it is too late.”
Sellers represents America, does he? He throws an all-alike blanket over the players—many would want more breathing room. He was watching the Women’s Team Matches. Watching the Men’s Team Matches too? What specific players hating to lose but crazily losing self-control, flying into tantrums, does he want patriotically to keep off the U.S. Team? Eric Boggan, who can be volatile, wasn’t playing. Danny Seemiller and Scott Boggan, both of whom can be boisterous, weren’t too upset to finish 10-1 (though Scott was reportedly “loud”). Rounding out the Top Eight were Attila Malek, Ricky Seemiller (who threw a barrier after a bad start in the Team’s), Brian Masters, Quang Bui, Jim Lane, and Sean O’Neill. You want to kick them off U.S. Teams? I’ve the strong feeling that with Sellers’ inexperience he didn’t know the players’ names who offended him or the quality of their play—he could have thought anybody playing in the Team Trials was U.S. Team worthy. But whether he thought that or not, the assumption that all sports figures who are passionately involved in combat shouldn’t show flashes of passion because they’d embarrass 200,000,000 sports-minded spectators is just too goody-goody for me, and I think totally unrealistic. Trials are—just that—Trials—tensions are high.
Former U.S. World Team member Mike Bush, who’d been playing in a German league before coming to the Dec. 16-22 U.S. Closed and Team Trials, writes a long article, more a dramatic sketch of a disillusioned competitor, “What the Mirrors Don’t Like (TTT, Mar., 1983, 8). It starts with a suggestion of his psychic state, “At 6 a.m. December 23 [the day after the Trials], all lies dead and still in the heart of the lifeless desert.” The hour’s little-used gaming tables—bad-for-business—are reflected in the Tropicana casino’s mirrors. Also reflected is Mike Bush’s feelin’ bad, lookin’ bad nameless alter-ego whom I’ll refer to as “Mike.” At sketch’s end, “Mike,” unable to sleep for troubled thinking, is playing Blackjack, sees hand after hand repeatedly go “Bust” for him until, as the very last words of the sketch reverberate, “it’s time for him to leave” (I hope not “leave the Sport”).
Two excerpts from Mike’s sketch will show you why he’s so down:
“…Some of the athletes on the very top have forced themselves to make the sacrifice of moving out of the comforts of their homes into the very different culture and language of a foreign country in Europe so that they could learn how the best players in the world play and train. And also so they could practice with them and meet them in fierce competition in class tournaments which cost at the most $4 to enter—all this while supporting themselves. Such a pleasure it is to be able to train twice a day in clean beautiful gyms and, after, to let out a sigh as the penetrating rush of steaming hot water heavenly pounds into aching back, leg, shoulder, and arm muscles. Such a pleasure to have an intense 2 and ½-hour session of high level TT on a good table with an even, precise bounce, where every ball is seen because the lighting is perfect. Such a pleasure to play on beautiful wood or vinylized floors that slow down the pace and soften the hardness of shots so that control of power and spin, placement, rhythm, anticipation and touch become determining factors and one can feel his racket instinctively move to the right spot, to where the ball should and does hit. Such a pleasure to play in a well-organized league where matches are played practically every weekend during an eight-month season in small gyms with only two arenaed-in tables surrounded by excited crowds sitting on the edge of their seats anxiously awaiting the outcome of a match so that they can stand up and show their appreciation and respect for the three-to-four hours of beautiful TT they had just enjoyed.
After playing in a place where the sport of TT is well-organized and treated with respect, this “Mike” could tell from a pre-match analysis of the playing conditions here at the Tropicana that this National’s was going to be depressing to him. His bones and joints will take a dangerously unhealthy beating during the course of the seven days of play as he flies and flails at balls he finds hard to find in the poor lighting. The floor will also speed up the playing conditions considerably and, in conjunction with the high altitude, fast tables and hard, heavy balls will make the conditions too fast. The sandy-grit substance of the floor will continually build up on the table in the form of a grimy dust that will abrasively ruin the ball and table surface. This will make the only two pieces of craftsmanship in the hall, the Butterfly table and the Nittaku ball, inappropriate for championship play. Balls will be bouncing into faces, over heads, sideways and sometimes not at all as they hit grains of sand so small that simply washing down the table will not be enough to keep the ball from doing unnatural, unanticipated and, often enough, unreturnable things. The building that encases the playing hall is so constructed that it will trap sounds and echo them off walls and throughout the playing area in the form of a continual vibrating loudness that will disrupt peace of mind. When all tables are going at once it will be almost impossible to hear the sound of your opponent’s racket contacting the ball. If a player is using the latest product of scientific warfare, a racket with totally different rubber surfaces on each side, and is flipping it constantly during a point, he will have an unfair advantage. The advantage is that, first, you can’t see the difference between the different rubbers; second, you can’t hear the difference; and, third, the only possibility left, you can’t read the difference after watching the flight and bounce of the ball due to the Tropicana playing conditions. So that the end result is that a player playing against such a product of technology will not be able to read what spin is coming at him and therefore make an error. Since tables are not separated from each other by barriers, balls will be able to roll uninhibitedly from court to court causing the disruption of lets and lets that weren’t lets but just bad calls. After such an analysis, could the player really be blamed for letting an eruption of bad language escape his lips, or from turning away from it all and dejectedly head back to his room before the nightmare of play becomes a reality.”
[An understandable disappointment over the conditions, but hardly an unexpected one—not after all the years this “Mike,” Mike Bush himself, has been playing in U.S. tournaments. While I sympathize, I can’t help but feel the five favorites, all familiar with overseas play, who made the Team—the Seemiller brothers, the Boggan brothers, and former U.S. Champion Atilla Malek—did not share this pessimistic attitude, and instead adapted as best they could. Of course they repeatedly won matches, which gave them psychic strength, and Mike Bush didn’t. In the Singles, he went down to Malek in the eighth’s, after losing a swing second game (17, -20, -16, -14); was beaten by Scott Butler in the eighth’s of the Men’s Amateur, again in a swing second game, -17, -22; and, paired with D-J Lee, he lost in the semi’s of the Men’s Doubles to Eric Boggan/Sean O’Neill, 16, -23, -14 in another heartbreaker when freakishly up match point he and his partner collided, lost that point, and later the match. Then in the Team Trials, Mike didn’t advance to the final 12. A bummer tournament for one who cared so much but couldn’t come through.]
Altered states, differing viewpoints—we all have them. Care passionately about one thing, don’t care at all about something else. Case in point: my insistence on defending foot-stamping. As readers of my Vol. XI know (see 474-476), Referee Bob Barns precipitated an extended controversy when he abruptly defaulted a startled Alan Fendrick at the Nov. 13th Westfield Open. Then, faced with Barns’s position paper on foot-stamping at the Dec.11-12 Westfield Open that would so affect my son Eric, whose foot-stamping he insists is a natural part of his game as a modern-day professional, I countered with a position paper of my own that balanced Bob’s. Thus for that Dec. tournament only, as I explained in Vol. XI, an acceptable compromise as to Eric’s foot-stamping was reached, and there was no incident.
What followed involved pertinent comments in Topics on foot-stamping by Fendrick (Dec., 1982, 12). Then by Bob Barns and Mal Anderson, agreeing on an anti-foot-stamp position, and Tim Boggan, taking a pro-foot-stamp position in explicitly disagreeing with Bob and Mal (Jan., 1983, 16; 18). Then by Jack Carr and Manny Moskowitz disagreeing among themselves on the rightness of Barns’s actions (Mar., 1983, 14), and again by Barns and Boggan, taking up opposite positions as to whether foot-stamping is cheating, and by Chris Faye who tries to add comic relief to the serious debate (Mar., ’83, 16). Then by readers Buddy Melamed and Tom Williams objecting to Boggan’s too strident voice (Apr., 1983, 14). Then by Barns and Boggan again (May-June, 1983, 17).
Fendrick says at that Nov. 13th Westfield tournament after he’d concluded an early afternoon match, “Mr. Barns walked into the court and said, ‘Foot-stamping is illegal and will not be tolerated. If I see you foot-stamp again I’ll default you.’ …Approximately four hours later, in another event, I high-tossed my serve (the motion I often stamp on) and the point was played. Immediately then, Mr. Barns walked into the court and informed me I was defaulted for foot-stamping. I was utterly amazed. For starters I did not even recall foot-stamping. My opponent, who had not even heard the stamp, argued with Mr. Barns while I went for a brief walk. When I came back, several people were arguing over the incident and Mr. Barns’s defense was that, since he felt that foot-stamping was a detriment to the sport, he had the right to disqualify me….
Did Bob Barns have the right to judge for himself what is detrimental to the sport, and then act as he sees fit? At this rate what judgments could he create?...I still would like to know what rule I was disqualified under. I think that Bob Barns, though legally qualified, is not a competent umpire….My opinion is that his umpire certification should be revoked. I would also like to request that the NJTTC please refund me the $5 entry fee that I paid for the event I was defaulted from [it’s not refundable after play starts]. I do not feel that justice has been served.”
Barns says, “I believe that foot-stamping must be discouraged. I define foot-stamping as the making of an objectionable amount of noise, with a foot or feet, which is unnecessary for the shot being attempted. [“Objectionable” is a key word here. Bob says that Alan “often foot-stamps on a high-toss serve. Usually his stamp is rather soft and unobjectionable and hence not penalized by me.” But when Barns defaulted Fendrick, Alan’s opponent said he hadn’t even heard a foot-stamp! If that’s true, the motivation for Barns’s action is surely suspect, and suggests an abuse of power.] Noises made by the feet as a natural consequence of moving to make a shot are perfectly acceptable as a natural part of the game. [Barns denies a foot-stamp on serve could be a “natural” part of one’s game. But Eric Boggan, for example, feels he’s done it so often it’s second nature to his play.]"
Bob points out that "the problem appears to be growing as a consequence of the expanding use of different rubber surfaces on opposite sides of the bat. The usual reason given for the foot-stamping is to disguise the sound of the bat striking the ball and thus to obscure the audible clues as to which kind of rubber struck the ball [including anti-spin with its distinctive sound]." I pointed out at the time in Topics and later in my Vol. V, that when I attended my first World’s in 1971 I saw China’s Liang Geliang using foot-stamps strategically against Sweden’s Kjell Johansson. Naturally, now, 12 years later, most tournament players are well aware of the foot-stamp strategy. As it happens, though, perhaps reinforcing the thought that, whatever the reason, foot-stamping is being incorporated into one’s game more and more, Fendrick does not use anti on either side of his racket.
Barns says his objections to foot-stamping are: “1: The noise produced disturbs other matches. Tournaments at the NJTTC are played on eight tables in a single room, the ceiling of which is of barely adequate height. The noise level from the matches being played, plus the noise of non-players talking, plus occasional applause, plus the PA system already is louder than desirable—there are frequent requests from the desk for ‘Quiet, please!’ Any additional noise sources make the game less enjoyable for all players because skillful play depends to a considerable extent on subtle and instantaneous interpretation of the audible signals of the bat striking the ball and table.
I think it entirely possible that if foot-stamping is allowed to increase, some enterprising shoe manufacturers would soon market shoes capable of making sounds approximating pistol shots. Even without this development, several foot-stampers playing simultaneously spoil the game for all the other players. And 2: The use of foot-stamping can distract or confuse an opponent. This is clearly unacceptable.” [Also, there’s another deterrent Bob’s aware of. As I mentioned in my previous volume, my son Eric’s foot-stamping at the Tropicana venue, bruised his heel so much he couldn’t play in the ‘82 Team Trials.]
“…Custom [though no rule] forbids a deliberate yell when striking the ball in service or at any other time during a rally. Except that foot-stamping is rather new, I see no difference between foot-stamping and yelling!” [Rather new? To Barns, pretty much anchored at Westfield, maybe.] “In my experience,” says Bob, “spectators generally equate foot-stamping with poor sportsmanship.” [Whether that’s true or not, what is Bob’s experience? Or almost any other U.S. referee or umpire’s?]
USTTA Rules Chairman Mal Anderson says, “The foot-stamp situation has been widely publicized. Within the last two years there have been several articles in Topics.....Thus Barns, well qualified as a Regional Umpire who has the guts to enforce the unpopular rules, took the prescribed action against a well-known problem." [The “prescribed action”? Prescribed by who? By what authority? And why are the rules unpopular?] “The main problem,” says Mal, “is there isn’t a specific rule stating that foot-stamping will be penalized by the loss of a point” [let alone by disqualification].
The suggestion of calling, or not calling, repeated “lets” on the foot-stamper was rejected by both Mal and Bob as not only possibly confusing but begging the question. So, says Barns, how stop foot-stamping except by unilaterally promptly penalizing the offender? But punitive action, which, granted, the Referee has the power to enforce, depends on what is “conduct detrimental to the sport,” what constitutes a “disruptive tactic,” and what is meant by “loud” objectionable noises. The pro and con arguments regarding foot-stamping, and specifically Barns’s punitive actions, are centered on interpretations of these specific lines.
I’ll close this first of several salvos between Bob and me with the following arguments. Take the question of foot-stamping as “the making of an objectionable amount of noise…which is unnecessary for the shot being attempted.” Obviously what has to be determined is to whom is the degree of noise objectionable—it sure wasn’t to Fendrick’s opponent. And who decides whether the degree of noise is necessary or unnecessary for the shot? Player after player, or just Bob Barns?
If the playing conditions are chaotic, as they usually are in the U.S., especially in the early rounds of a tournament—if, for example, the tables are so close together that the players are constantly being distracted by balls from other “courts,” and if the player-spectators, despite repeated requests for ‘Quiet, please,’ are talking as, unconcerned with showing sportsmanship to the players, they often are, and if the loudspeaker is continuously blaring out matches as it usually does, any argument about additional distracting noise from foot-stamping to the precisely proper or improper degree is ridiculous.
To think that in the N,J. Westfield Club or in many other tournament sites in the U.S. a foot-stamper in this era of “Junk” rubber is going to “spoil” what is already so far from a purist’s game is likewise absurd.
Also, just as even beginning tournament players have to quickly learn to be self-reliant, have to learn to concentrate come what may, so is it necessary that these players individually learn to develop their own games with their own rackets, own strokes, own strategies, own acrobatics. Obviously some players are naturally going to make more noise than other players and, like it or not, their opponents soon learn to accept the fact that this is just one more thing they have to get used to.
To argue, as Bob does, that even a novice tournament player is going to be confused or distracted for long by a foot-stamper is unconvincing—though of course there are always some exceptions, for table tennis is very much a “head” game. What, after all, is 1983 everyday table tennis with its proliferation of combination bats all about but adaptability? What the hell today can’t confuse or distract a player if he hasn’t the necessary discipline, the necessary concentration to play the game? A foot-stamp that’s an integral part of one’s game—Bob thinks that could be considered a “mannerism” that’s “liable to distract”? If so, by ITTF rule (4.8.1) it can’t be allowed. But how many players have mannerisms of another kind that are allowed—for example, unusual serve motions that are peculiar to the individual that certainly can distract an opponent. Worse, according to that ITTF rule “mannerisms need not distract or upset, they need only to be liable to distract or upset.” So who decides whether they’re “liable” to? One’s opponent or …?
As for Bob’s argument that there’s no difference between foot-stamping and yelling, that seems as exaggerated to me as shoes on sale that make sounds like pistol shots. A comparison of foot-stamping and quite audible grunting on shot after shot would be more to the point. We’re talking about degrees of what’s acceptable. We all understand that moving feet, landing bodies make noise—and what’s at issue here is the degree of noise needed for the completion of a natural shot. Is someone arguing that a yell is necessary for the completion of a shot? The degree of a possibly distracting grunt (is that noise necessary?) is arguable, yes—but a yell?
Bob says non-playing spectators might think foot-stamping is unsporting, for they won’t see the two-sided point of it. But non-playing spectators, bless them wherever they are, don’t understand anything about the modern game. It’s no more or less confusing for them to learn about foot-stamping than it is anything else.
With regard to foot-stamping, says Barns, “the only legal course” open to him is the one he used on Alan and would have used on Eric if wiser heads had not prevailed—one warning, then disqualification.
Jack Carr says, “Alan Fendrick improperly criticizes the proper officiating of Bob Barns. Alan, in truth, weren’t you just trying to test Bob to see if he’d do what he said? [What makes Jack think that? You might just as easily say Bob, in order to establish his Authority, was setting up Alan. ] It is regrettable that young inexperienced players like Alan, and a few experienced players, either don’t read the rules or feel that they don’t apply to them….In my opinion Bob Barns is one of the best, if not the best, USTTA umpire, with the intestinal fortitude (guts that is) to make the players comply with the rules as written and intended. Recently in a mini-survey, five of six USTTA officials felt that the rules should be strictly complied with. So, Alan and others, until you’ve had as much experience, umpired as many matches, helped at as many tournaments, and learned the rules as well as Bob Barns, I suggest you respect and comply with his decisions without complaint.” [I remind readers that at the 1976 U.S. Open when the world-class players Dragutin Surbek of Yugoslavia and Desmond Douglas of England began to play their Men’s semi’s, they soon found fault with Barns’s fault-finding umpiring. Yugoslav Coach “Dule” Osmanagic, on insisting that Barns be replaced, said, “He wanted to be the most important person on the court, and Surbek and Douglas couldn’t have that.” I think therefore that Carr’s advice of respect and compliance without complaint has in the past not been shared by some with more weighty on-court experience than Barns. I think there’s the ever-present amateur-professional conflict in these foot-stamping arguments.]
Jack thinks, though, that “the one-warning-then-default penalty proviso should be listed on the tournament entry form.” Perhaps the “Point Penalty (Boggan) Rule” should have been employed. [Readers of my Vol. X (Chapter Thirty-Two) will remember how controversial that was when so erratically used at the 1980 U.S. Closed.] He wonders “if there would be foot-stamping if both sides of the racket were required to be the same, or if both sides of the racket were of a different color.” He asks if “foot-stamping, emphasizing deception, isn’t close to cheating? What would the table tennis arena be like if everyone foot-stamped hard on every serve? Don’t the ITTF rules require clarification of the foot-stamp law as the E.C. proposed?” [If clarification is needed, why would one think the law couldn’t be argued? Actually, according to a rule that will be passed at the upcoming Tokyo World’s, as of July 1, 1983, a server who foot-stamps will be faulted. The ITTF will make it clear, however, that no such legislation applies to foot-stamping at other times during play.]
USTTA Referee/Umpire Chair Manny Moskowitz, from Apr. 23- May 10 will be the first ever U.S. umpire at a World Championships. Regarding the foot-stamp controversy, Manny said that he and the other four members of his Committee (all International or National Umpires) “unanimously agreed that, as Referee, Bob Barns did have the choice of issuing a default. However, our opinion was divided on the manner in which the Fendrick default was made, and that it was not in the best interests of fair play, or of table tennis in general….”
Manny points out relative to the default that "in all instances there was no match umpire involved. Barns’s first interruption of a match was to threaten Fendrick with a default upon repeating the foot-stamp. The next action by the Referee came four hours later in another event with the default result. We do not think Fendrick’s foot-stamping was of a persistent or offensive nature.” “Alan,” says Bob, “had the unusual good sense to discuss the matter rather fully…and especially to ask whether the warning applied to subsequent matches in the tournament….I say ‘unusual good sense’ because most players are not willing to find out what an official really means.” [To me this statement is quite amazing. Bob “warns” Alan (or anybody) but in such a way that unless Alan (or anybody) pursues the matter, he probably won’t fully understand what the official “really” means. Is that proper procedure?]
Manny asks, “Why weren’t the participants given the benefit of an umpire for the match in question?...To support our contention that the manner in which the default was made was unjustified, the following month at another tournament at the same club, foot-stamping incidents drew nothing more than calls of ‘Let.’ Where is the rationale?” [That December tournament of course is where NJTTC officials including Barns—“our tournament committee,” says Bob, “does support a ban on foot-stamping though enthusiasm varies”—worked out a sensible compromise with Eric Boggan for this one tournament that allowed play to proceed smoothly. Bob approves of “Mal Anderson’s suggestion that persuasion be tried [by both pro and con sides?] before an official warning, and subsequent disqualification.” ]
“Further,” says Manny, “in response to Rules Chairman Anderson’s ardent support of Bob Barns, I am glad that we do not have 500 umpires like Bob Barns. It is not a question of having ‘guts’ to reinforce the rules, as there are many conscientious umpires who not only control an individual match, but still exercise good judgment in upholding the integrity of our sport.”
Neither Bob nor Tim are willing to have their arguments quickly stamped out. During two more exchanges. Bob says, “Eric Boggan argues that his foot-stamping is not only strategic, to hide the sound of his different rubber, but for a long time now the natural extension of his stroke, even on the serve. This is a clear admission that foot-stamping on the serve is a deliberate act to gain advantage over an opponent.”
Tim responds, “Obviously Eric’s foot-stamping is a deliberate act. Obviously he, like many others, feels it’s to his advantage to foot-stamp. Who could doubt it? Who could argue against that? What I say is that Bob’s arguments against foot-stamping are not convincing—certainly not to me. When two sophisticated players—like Eric Boggan and B.K. Arunkumar in their upcoming Lehigh Valley final—agree it’s alright to foot-stamp at any time, why shouldn’t the umpire agree?“ ITTF Rule 17.3 says, “…dogmatic insistence on maintaining unreasonable decisions…can lead to resentment and animosity which will undermine the authority of the umpire.” Why in the world, when two players are playing on a single table in the final, when noise from the forbidden serve-stamp is no louder than allowable stamps during the play (and the noise can’t disturb others anyway), and there’s not “the slightest suspicion that the experienced opponent may have been affected in any way,” isn’t it unreasonable to prevent them from naturally foot-stamping when they want to?”
The most important duty of umpires and referees,” says Bob, “is to prevent a player from taking unfair advantage of an opponent—that is, to prevent cheating. Mal Anderson sums up the matter by saying that ‘Foot-stamp serves are disruptive by design.’ Another way of saying this is that foot-stamping on the serve is a deliberate attempt to deprive an opponent of the information produced by one of his senses. I believe that he is entitled to this information and, hence, actions attempting to obscure this information is cheating. If this is cheating, then it is the clear duty of umpires and referees to stop the practice.”
With absolutely no world-class experience to recommend him, says Tim, Referee Bob Barns is still as presumptuous, as insular, as illogical, as dangerous as ever. A number of the best players in the world, he now says, are cheating—the Chinese, the Japanese, the Koreans,,,men, women, and children…the French, the English…the list goes on and on.
Manny, Manny, what are you gonna do at the World’s? You, the only U.S. umpire of the 1175 now internationally qualified who has ever been invited. What are you gonna do when you hear a foot-stamp on the serve? Are you gonna warn one of the world’s best players, his captain, coach, and entourage that he’s about to be defaulted? Would that earn you and the U.S. the respect of those players who’ve given their lives to the sport?
Bob Barns says my point-by-point discussion of his anti-foot-stamping argument
in the Jan., ’83 Topics was “staggeringly verbose” and that (Barns really does like presumptuously to speak for others) few readers would “plough through” such a lengthy, presumably poorly organized and hard to follow article as mine….But I’d have each reader speak for himself.
Foot-stamp serves are “disruptive” says Bob. And what of foot-stamps any other time? What’s the difference? For behind them, says Bob, “is a deliberate attempt to deprive an opponent of the information produced by one of his senses.”
Marvelous. Even Bob in his Westfield corner has finally come to realize such deprivation. Here we are thirty years after Satoh introduced his strange sponge deception, and after the Swedish coaches in 1971 were frantically trying to get behind the bat-twirling, foot-stamping Liang Geliang as he went into his serve against Johansson so as to try to signal their ‘Hammer’ information his senses couldn’t ‘read,’ and after the whole table tennis industry for at least a dozen years has been unrelentingly churning out an ever increasing Technology of Subterfuge (prompting dozens of pro and con argumentative articles in Topics and reprinted in my History volumes), Barns understands that there’s some deliberate deception going on in table tennis as in other strategic board games, Poker, Bridge, Chess—and that’s cheating.
Bob says, “I greatly resent Tim’s instant psychoanalysis to the effect that I had Eric’s appearance at the December Westfield tournament in mind when I defaulted Alan. This I deny. There is clearly no way I could have known in November that Eric would enter the December tournament. Tim will probably find it impossible to believe, but not everyone follows Eric’s peregrinations. As far as I knew, Eric would be overseas for months or years.
Tim says, “Call it ‘instant psychoanalysis,’ if you like. I’d said that Bob “just might unconsciously be aware that Eric would be playing in the most important tournament of the year for him, the U.S. Closed, and that two days before he’d leave to go to Vegas, he just might, since he lives on Long Island, want to warm-up this year as he did last year by again playing in the Westfield tournament.” I agree, though, that I’d loaded the dice against Bob when I said that “some observers might think Barns had Eric in mind” when he defaulted Fendrick—I was thinking more of observers reacting in hindsight at the December rather than the November tournament. And I was especially out of line when I continued with the assumption “how could one deduce otherwise” than that Bob might have unconsciously had Eric in mind. However, when I arrived at the December Westfield tournament I was handed a foot-stamp position paper written by Barns—the like of which I’d never seen circulated before. As Eric, a well-known foot-stamper, was entered in the tournament as the #1 seed, it sure was reasonable of me to think then that Barns had to have Eric in mind in putting out this “warning.” Which was why I immediately put out a position paper of my own for Eric.
I still believe what I said at the end of my second article—and remember I’m in a debate with Barns, not in a fight with him. Bob and I aren’t coming to blows. We talk socially when we see one another at Westfield and Eric and I continue to enjoy playing there. Here’s the ending I referred to:
“Bob, I don’t think it really interests you whether a very good player comes to your Club or not, for, since you seldom go elsewhere, your limited point of view centers around the average player that season after season you’re familiar with in Westfield. It’s him—that mirror image of yourself—that you wish to protect against the new and strange that almost certainly will put him and you at a disadvantage. I sympathize. But for you to try to impose your parochial image of the world of table tennis on others who don’t religiously share your point of view is wrong.
I don’t recognize or respect your authority to rule that Eric is cheating when he foot-stamps on the serve or at any other time. It’s you, who in trying to enforce that ruling is committing an inconsistent and unfair practice. To default a player for foot-stamping, for adopting a technique that’s a product of, that’s been born, nurtured, and developed in an Age of Technological Deception is—when you do not also roam round the Westfield Club interrupting matches to outlaw the two-sided rackets made for the express purpose of sense-deprivation—not only illogical but morally wrong.”
Bob says, “Tim, I assure you that I am not “out to get” Eric as the general tenor of your article implies—I am only trying to insure fair competition for all who enter our tournaments. [Yes, I, Tim, believe that, but still argue in protest.] "In closing," says Bob, "I would suggest that tournament players complain to umpires and referees about foot-stamping. Since only a few players use this tactic, there are far more victims than those who benefit. Stand up for your rights—you are entitled to protection against unfair practices by your opponent.”
Houston’s Buddy Melamed in a Letter to the Topics Editor, Tim, says, “If someone does not agree with another player on junk rubber or foot-stamping they have the opportunity to present their opinion in Topics. Certainly no player deserves vicious personal criticism simply because another player does not agree with his opinions. A reaction based on logic is much more persuasive than one that stems from emotion. [Tim says, “To quote Scottish philosopher David Hume, ‘Reason alone can never be a motive to any action of the will.’ I’m all for a reaction that combines reason and emotion. Each is equally valuable.”]
Don Gunn says, “As for foot-stamping, no one I ever respected as a man would continue it if told that it annoyed his opponent.”
The foot-stamping issue seems to be too seriously discussed here for any insertion of comedy. But you can’t blame a guy for trying. Chris Faye says, “We should have separate tournaments: one for the foot-stampers, one for the non-percussive. The foot-stampers will not need rackets, balls, tables, etc. Winning or losing will be based solely upon purity of foot or possibly toe movement. Entries will be accepted in the following categories: a) Spanish dancers; b) Mexican Hat Dancers; c) Grape Pressers….”
Arizona’s Tom Williams also writes a Letter to the Editor:
“As a member of the USTTA I feel it is my duty to protest the way you are using, or abusing, your position as Editor of Topics. Your long, redundant, almost hysterical tirades against authority in local tournaments are, I feel, beneath the behavior expected of the Editor of the national news organ for table tennis.
Your editorializing randomly throughout Topics lends an authenticity to what is at times an illogical and very subjective private opinion. If you must express these rather strong opinions against authority and direction on the local tournament scene why not do it on some clearly identified and located editorial page.
Perhaps a proper strategy for advising us, on the local scene, with the latest interpretation of the foot-stamping controversy would be to find out what other countries are doing about it and print some objectively obtained results. Certainly personal attacks and put downs won’t do any more than bring responses such as this one.
Your latest tirade on foot-stamping has almost gotten out of hand. Will you agree that until current international/national rules on distractions—i.e., foot-stamp serving—are clarified or changed they will be subject to interpretation? [Yes.] Will you also agree that interim and even final interpretations might differ from yours? [Yes.] Further, will you agree that, until some final authoritative rule change on interpretation is issued and received, local tournament directors should enforce the rules as they, not necessarily you, interpret them? [Yes, but I’d reserve the right to protest.]
It would seem logical that if a player is told of the rule and its local interpretation, then warned, and still defies authority, the player should be sanctioned. [I’d protest…but wouldn’t try to bust up the place.] How else can we expect proper conduct and sportsmanship at our tournaments?
Yes, Tim, table tennis is a dynamic sport which changes, albeit too slowly at times. I’m sure a clarification to the rules in question will come. Anyway, I hope it’s soon because I hate to see one get so apoplectic as you seem to be over opinions that differ from yours.”
“Hello, Tom Williams.
I can see you don’t like what you call my ‘random editorializing.’ But of course from my point of view my articles aren’t ‘random’ at all, seem to me to be important, and, like the subjective letters or articles of others, like yours above, are placed where I, as Editor, very carefully think they ought to be placed.
My position as both Writer and Editor is that what one wants in a teacher one also wants in a writer—an experienced eye/I—someone with a point of view who argues (as I believe I do) rationally and with spirit. Naturally when I argue, about foot-stamping or anything else, surely it must be obvious that I don’t agree that my opponent’s position should be held to, don’t agree it’s logical and/or morally correct (else why am I arguing?). In other words, I subjectively protest his position and objectively hope I’m convincing. Your questions I answered “Yes” to above beg the question of whether my arguments should be strongly voiced, even if not accepted by others.
As for how much control I have of myself, my material, as Writer, as Editor, 90 issues of Topics have so far historically allowed member after member to decide. Of course my reflective assessment (it’s true—I do associate the name Boggan with control) may be wrong. But even if I am, the whole idea of a person being able to upfront speak his mind, as I do, as you do here, does serve a very important purpose. It demonstrably offers to the membership a system of checks and balances on me or anyone in the USTTA who consciously or unconsciously abuses his or her Authority—and in so doing reflects (1) a sport that people controversially care about, and (2) an Editor and his organ that, after so many up and down years, still hopes the sport is and ever will be on the rise.”
Stamp out foot-stamping? Rule or no Rule, it isn’t going to happen.* As for controversy/conflict, like it or not, it’s what’s been happening, and what will continue to happen, in our sport. Probably happens in most, if not all, sports. Except, since I’m often on the inside of ours, it’s not covered up, you’re gonna know about it.
*Almost 30 years later, having seen instances of foot-stamping (including on the serve) at major tournaments for some time, I finally got around to asking Mal Anderson if the ITTF/USATT Foot-stamp Rule was ever rescinded and, if so, when? He replied (Dec. 29, 2011), “The Foot-stamp Rule was removed after the Two-Color Rule was passed [Jan. 1, 1984]—figuring it was no longer needed.”
No longer needed! Talk about begging the question (questions raised). So all pro and con arguments about foot-stamping in this chapter turn out to be irrelevant? Except to those who argued and those who, taking sides or not, wanted to follow the arguments through.