Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Pickleball Talk

On July 1, the USAPA community forum that began in 2005 will be deleted. To fill the void, The Pickleball Show created Pickleball Talk

A thread from the USAPA Forum: The REAL TRUTH about the Apex SAGA

All I can say is SO MUCH MISINFORMATION about the APEX BAN. Don't believe everything you read as much is biased and outright falsehoods. The truth is that Prolite submitted their version one and it passed. Then inconsistency in their manufacturing process lead to paddles outside the legal limit and their ban.  The same thing happened several years ago with the Pop paddle and the deflection test.

. Prolite was given a second chance by usapa and even allowed to keep the Apex name ?!?!?!?

Also just so you know, the statement that Encore paddles were found non compliant and recalled by usapa  is an outright falsehood.  It is a shame that people/business owners try and sway opinions this way.

I don't blame players for jumping on the bandwagon here, bashing usapa, since you were being feed a bunch of hooey.  Just trying to get the real story out there. There are a lot of other things that I could bring up about this story, but I choose not to.

Jeff shank
« Last Edit: June 19, 2016

Jeff is right that there is a lot of misinformation in the blog on the ProLite site. There is also innuendo and accusations that appear to be unwarranted.

First, I will give some of my background for those that don't know me. I was on the board of the USAPA for 6 1/2 years and president of USAPA for 3 1/2 years through 2012. I developed the deflection test and personally tested all of the new paddles at that time. Dennis and I tested many of those paddles together. I was not aware of the APEX controversy until I read the blog. I have not had any conversations with anyone in the USAPA about that and have no dog in the fight. But I do know a lot about the process of rules changes and paddle testing.

Quote from the blog: "What many people don’t know is that this is a board comprised of a variety of part-timers -"
That seems to imply that is a bad thing. It is the nature of almost every board that it is composed of mostly part-timers. You don't want the board to be mostly full-time employees that report to the boss. Board members in many organizations are paid for their time. USAPA board members are unpaid and do it solely for the love of the sport.

Quote from the blog: "They live in many different states, meet infrequently and communicate rarely with one another."
That is a good thing that there is geographic diversification. You certainly don't one region of the country dictating all of the terms. The original board in 2005 was made up solely of players from the Seattle area. I was highly critical of that before I joined the board. When I joined the board while living in Surprise Arizona, that broke the Seattle monopoly. Along with other board members, we actively tried to recruit board members from other parts of the country and succeeded in the diversification that you appear to be criticizing.

Many of the remaining comments are prefaced by the way that things worked when I was on the board. There is little reason to think that it has changed much since then. There are regular meeting that are scheduled for almost every month. Between meetings, there are numerous emails on a board forum. Items of policy are discussed by email prior to the monthly teleconference. It is not uncommon for a teleconference to last for hours where items are discussed thoroughly (sometimes too thoroughly).

Quote from the blog: "Yet they yield significant power that shapes our sport while we, the players and equipment manufacturers, have no voice."
Nonsense. Of course everyone has a voice. The About/Contact page of the USAPA website has an email link to every board member and staff member. You would be hard-pressed to find any other organization that provides that kind of access. If you find one, it would be the exception rather than the rule. The rules chair and I were in constant contact with equipment manufacturers. In addition, there is a yearly ambassador retreat where ambassadors can meet with board members and discuss items both formally and informally. Board members are usually active players that are highly visible at many venues and tournaments. Informal input is usually available to the players if they desire.

Quote from the blog: "The USAPA board members make decisions based on their opinions and/or the opinion of their tight-knit circle of friends. There is little to no input from their – constituency – those of us who play the game and play by their governing rules."
More nonsense. In addition to the facts given above, I can assure you that I heard plenty from the players and equipment providers from all over the country. We also heard from many players in Canada that did not want the game to be controlled solely by USAPA. That lead to the formation of the International Federation of Pickleball.

Quote from the blog: "There are rules in place for tournament sanctioning, refereeing and all aspects of play and equipment. All of these rules are overseen, interpreted and enforced by one man,Dennis Dacey, the USAPA rules chairman - a man who has held this same powerful position and shaped our sport for many years."
More misinformation. Rules regarding tournament sanctioning and refereeing are handled by separate committees for those purposes. One man cannot control all of the rules. The committee chair can lead his committee. That is what leaders do. They lead. The rules chair can make recommendations to the board. Rules cannot be changed without board approval. Here is the way that it works. Any committee chair can submit a proposed rule or policy change to the board for consideration. That is usually done in writing with ample time for email discussion before the monthly board meeting. It is not uncommon for proposed rules changes or policy changes to be sent back to the responsible committee to be reworked and presented again. They might also be rejected or changed by discussion at the meeting. That is how it works and claims that things are dictated by one person are just not true.

Quote from the blog: "None of the tested paddles are ever returned to the manufacturer."
The writer seems to imply that is a bad thing. There is a good reason that paddles are not returned. There have been many instances where paddles that were submitted for testing have different characteristics than current production models. The paddle manufacturer claims that nothing was changed and there is a flaw in the testing process. Without the retention of the paddle submitted for testing, there is no way to prove that the tested paddle is indeed different than some or all of the production models.

Quote from the blog: "This time – the Version 1 paddle failed the roughness test. This was due to an enhancement we made to our finishing process without realizing the slight change would push them just over the limits for approval."
The manufacturer admits that there was a change to the finishing process and proceeds to blame the USAPA. A change to the paddle makes it a different paddle and should be resubmitted for testing. All manufacturers should do there own testing to ensure that they are still in compliance with the rules. All good manufacturers have a quality control program. ProLite seems to be blaming the USAPA for their own failure.

Quote from the blog: "Fast forward several weeks, after much back and forth between ProLite and Dennis Dacey"...
Didn't the writer claim that equipment manufacturers have no input? "Much back and forth" sounds like input to me. He can't have it both ways.

Quote from the blog: "We immediately contacted not only Dennis Dacey, but other USAPA board members in an effort to plead our case and find resolution. Many weeks went by – many calls were made and even more emails were exchanged between ProLite owner Neil Friedenberg, his staff, several USAPA board members and legal counsel"
And he still he claims that he had no input. Go figure. ProLIte could solve their own problems by making sure that their paddles conform to the specs.

Quote from the blog: "By the way, last we heard, this is the paddle Dennis Dacey uses personally. Should the person responsible for making and enforcing these rules even be allowed to play with a branded paddle? Is there any conflict of interest in your opinion?"
That is a ridiculous argument. Everyone has to use a branded paddle in a sanctioned tournament. That is what the rules require. Does he really want someone with zero experience with branded paddles to be involved in decisions about those paddles? The writer seems to have lost perspective.

Quote from the blog: "We have to ask, are payoffs involved?"
Wow! That is beyond nasty and totally without foundation. Someone that is threatening legal action might be advised to consider their own exposure to a charge of libel.

Quote from the blog: "No one we’ve spoken with recalls this level of animosity toward one company. Isn’t the USAPA board required to be unbiased?"
Yes, the board should be unbiased. Perhaps that is why the biased manufacturer that was on the board is no longer on the board. Perhaps it is biased and inaccurate statements like those in this blog that are leading to the company being viewed less than favorably. I worked with Dennis on the rules and paddle certification for several years. There was never a trace of bias regarding any manufacturer. The only bias is toward preserving the character and integrity of the game.

I don't know the full story of the Apex and Encore paddles because I have not been in contact with any person about that subject. But I do know bs when I see it.

By the way, I am currently using a ProLite paddle (not Apex) and have been for years. I have no negative bias about ProLite paddles in general.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2016, 10:30:44 AM by Bill Booth »


I guess that is your opinion. Although I ran Pro-Lite Sports, I created the USAPA and had run the organization without any bias. My philosophy was that if I grow pickleball the ALL the product manufacturers would prosper.

Again, I beg to differ with you on what made pickleball explode. Under my term we created the ambassador system (now 4000?) under Earl Hill. That was extremely instrumental in the growth of pickleball. The other item was the Grants program under Norm Davis. That provide thousands each year and now around $25,000/yr. These resulted in the huge growth! The net sales was your baby and a great idea too! It provide many players and ambassadors to conduct clinics and spread the game as well. Again there was no Pro-Lite bias here. Just a bias for the USAPA!

I am proud at what I accomplished and continue to work on the USAPA Board to make it a better organization and to grow pickle-ball.

June 20, 2016

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