President's Message


October 11, 2016

Once again I come to bring you the state of the ABA and to again solicit your continued support.  I take pride in attempting to keep you informed as to the state and wellbeing of our organization.  I believe that as an informed member you are better able to assist in the decisions that are made on your behalf.  I maintain an open line of communication and many of you take me aside to talk when you see me or you send me an email to offer your suggestions and thoughts.  I welcome your comments and suggestions and I do forward them to the appropriate staffers for evaluation.  This administration believes that the ABA needs a facelift and you are the best source to make suggestions for a better organization.  Many of you have experienced the ABA past and know what you would like to see in our future.  If there are things that we can change for the betterment of you, our members, and the organization as a whole, we will.  I only ask that you think through your desires and identify the problems, evaluate possible solutions and make your recommendations accordingly.  The future of the American Bridge Association is in your hands.  Our goal is simple, “Make the ABA the best that it can be”.

          You may ask yourselves, Hank how can you say that the future of the American Bridge Association in in our hands?  Well, from my vantage point it is easy to say.  Membership is still on the decline and our project for the year, “Everyone Bring One” isn’t working.  We had an excellent turnout for the Teacher Certification Program Seminar that was held in Arlington.  It is hoped that these new teachers will teach classes and generate new members for us.  I have offered to visit any area of the association as a speaker, teacher or to assist any effort to recruit.  I can only participate if you take action.  We have teacher incentive programs that are being abused and misused.  We are going to have to reevaluate this program because it is not generating the returns that were expected.  The program is proving to be “COST INEFFECTIVE” and needs to become a part of our cost reduction efforts until teachers can prove the program’s effectiveness.

          The financial state of the ABA is sound but we aren’t out of the woods.  Our second largest source of income is our sanctioned games.  Due to declining participation, these games are getting smaller thus reducing income.  We understand that directors have to be paid and that you usually provide refreshments which add to the expense of hosting a game.  This cost plus the sanction fee usually exceeds the total entry fees received and causes the host club to go in the hole.  If you give this same rationale to our national tournaments, the same would be true.  But rather than not have the tournaments, we are employing cost reduction measures to help keep us from going in the hole.  We are doing all that we can to encourage your participation and I must admit, you have been doing a stellar job supporting this administration and we applaud and thank you for that support.  But again, we can’t stop there.  You must continue to host your Regional C, B and A games if we are going to survive while trying to increase membership.  An increase in membership is the only other source of income for us.  This is the reason that dues had to be increased for next year.  That will reduce some of the stress with the cost reduction measures that have been enacted, but we still need your help.  It was suggested that the ABA allow members to pay dues on an installment plan.  This suggestion was evaluated and it was determined that this would not work because our year is planned on the budget projection and to split dues payment would severely impede the certainty of our operations.  We want to maintain the members that we have, reclaim any that we may have lost and continue to recruit new ones.  I suggest that clubs offer to reduce any hardship to members in your club.  If a member is having a hardship paying next year’s dues, pay them and allow your members to pay you back.  This eases their burden and allows the ABA to continue operating to serve in your best interest.  Three areas for you to maximize your supporting efforts to the ABA: 1. MEMBERSHIP—Recruit, Reclaim and Retain; 2. Have your sanctioned games; and 3. Assist your members if needed to pay their 2017 dues—allow an installment plan for your club members needing it. 

          We are diligently working overtime to settle tournament locations for 2018.  Prices that are coming in are not less than $100 so we are trying to keep them as low as we can below $125.  We realize this is something that we have to get used to, but we are doing our best to find venues that you would enjoy.  Our tournaments for 2017 finds the spring in Reno, NV and the summer in Lombard, IL which is just out of Chicago.  Start planning now to attend your national tournaments.  Don’t wait until the last minute to make plans or wait until the last minute to make reservations.  Our convention manager had to work triple time to accommodate late reservations for Arlington.  She did an outstanding job, with all that she was able to do at the last minute.  Don’t force her into that position again.  At least give her more time to be able to work for you.  Don’t wait until the last minute, plan early, avoid the rush and ensure your spot as we try to provide more excitement and opportunities for you to earn points.