Posted Date: December 21, 2010
A look at USDAA's accomplishments in 2010 and some of what lies ahead for 2011.
2010 proved to be an exciting yet challenging year as we continued to pull together projects carried over from 2009. We began the year determined to make significant headway in web development for Group Services and electronic scorekeeping, and have made great progress. It was a slower process than anticipated, in part due to the fact that most groups only work with the system twice a year. As we entered the autumn months, we rolled out the first major refinements and put the developers back to work on other modifications that had been suggested by users during the year. These refinements will roll out through the first quarter of 2011.
Cynosport Games Venue
We entered 2010 searching for alternative venues for the Cynosport World Games and were able to sign with the Kentucky Exposition Center for the 2010 event. The year was intense as we began retooling the Games to fit the indoor venue. It was quite the endeavor, as we sought to move the event from two polo fields with open space to three buildings with constricted space. More than 1,000 hours of planning and research went into planning the 2010 event. Though far from perfect, Cynosport 2010 came off quite well for a first event in a new location.
On behalf of our staff and volunteer coordinators I extend a special thank you to all of those who expressed their appreciation for the hard effort that went into this year's event, in spite of the few glitches that popped up along the way. We also thank those of you who supported the event and those that took the effort to offer constructive suggestions along the way.
Since the conclusion of the 2010 event, we have been engaged in discussions with the Kentucky Exposition Center regarding issues encountered in 2010. Our biggest concern was the dirt surface, for which they have pledged to find a solution to be sure we don't encounter that problem again. We are exploring options to reduce the event back to its previous five day format (actually four and one-half). More discussions and planning will be required to determine if that can in fact be done. But we recognize the hardship on everyone to have the event span the extra day.
Upon representations of the facility management, we believe that we will have a markedly improved situation with the surface in Kentucky on a repeat visit, so we will return to Louisville in 2011 with tentative dates of October 11-16. We have begun exploring some of the other issues and feel that we can build on what we learned in 2010 to make the event even better. We ask, however, that competitors do not race out and book hotels just yet. We have been studying the hotel situation and found that rates are extremely high at the moment. If rooms get booked now, it will remove any chance of us negotiating lower contract rates for you. We started working on this process back in November, but it is difficult to get things done during the holiday season. It is a top priority for January. So please be patient and wait for us to post the information by the end of January.
Final regulations for a new Veterans Program are being prepared for release by year-end, and the web developers are working diligently to make necessary changes to the Group Services portion of the web site to facilitate registering Veterans classes and including them in the test schedule and entry form. The Veterans Program is scheduled to go into effect for shows beginning in March 2011.
USDAA Store Temporarily Closed
A setback late this year was our USDAA Store, which was having operational issues and needed to be updated. We have closed it temporarily, but it will be back in 2011 with a more robust storefront. In the meantime, the new DVD on the 2010 Cynosport Games is being sold through www.lightfootlivery.com, one of our vendors at the Cynosport Games. We are offering discounts for subscribers as well as those who purchased the live stream package. Discounts can be combined for 25% off the suggested retail price of the three disc set.
Launch of Cynosport.TV and Video Services
With issues surrounding our video services on usdaa.com in 2009, we moved the video services to a new web site at www.cynosport.tv for 2010. The site is backed by a global distribution network and is being tied to expandable resources to reduce the likelihood of disruptions on the server. Further enhancements have been made to the site since October, and the site now offers an enjoyable experience for those with high-speed broadband access. For those of you yet to explore it, the site provides a simple approach to accessing video. Anyone with active video accounts on usdaa.com have had their accounts moved to Cynosport.tv. To access, simply go to www.cynosport.tv and log in. Links to video on usdaa.com will soon be redirected to Cynosport.tv.
Please note that the Cynosport.tv service is being developed for public interests as well as that of dog sport enthusiasts. As a result it has been disconnected from the usdaa.com web site. A separate log-in is presently required to access the video player, but as we further develop the site, we will be seeking to integrate the log in from usdaa.com and make some features available to USDAA.com subscribers.
We will begin building video inventory in 2011 on Cynosport.tv and will be offering free streaming services to groups for local USDAA events. Interested groups should contact the USDAA office after the first of the year to learn what is involved. The first live streamed event for the new year is the Carolina Piedmont Agility event in late January. The event is an IFCS four-star qualification event and should be of interest to everyone with the new International Handlers Challenge classes, in addition to tournament qualifying classes. We will keep everyone updated on our developments at Cynosport.tv through the usdaa.com news page. In the meantime, be sure to take a look and read the About Us section on cynosport.tv for more details.
Changing Climate at Local Events
During the past year, we have seen more competitors opt to organize more local events rather than travel to out-of-town events, which has created a challenge for some groups. Groups have worked to adapt to the changing environment, and we feel as the economy recovers that everyone will benefit as the footprint of USDAA will be larger and be able to handle the growing number of entries that should result on a local level. A negative impact has created some issues relative to distance and timing of events in some areas of the country. These will be addressed in coming weeks as part of a review and assessment of regional needs. We are seeking feedback from the affected parties and will update the appropriate policy statements for scheduling events.
Rules & Regulations and Policy Statements
One disappointment of the year was the lack of progress in publishing a new rule book. As mentioned in last year's note, we were going to broaden our base of input through the formation of a committee to work jointly with the Board in tendering possible refinements to the rules, policies and procedures. Throughout 2010, I visited with a number of individuals from different parts of the country and collaborated on ideas, identifying certain needs, prioritizing others, and identifying several prospects to serve on an ongoing basis. While the committee was not formalized, much progress was made in 2010, which is yet to be evident on the outside. We will be increasing the Board size by two and establishing one or more committees to support the Board in order to provide more feedback on key issues - a key goal for 2011.
Office Restructuring and Staffing
We began the year reorganizing the office positions and it took a while to acclimate to the new structure, as the staff learned more of the nuances of operating under our new computer systems. We continue to monitor and assess workload and will be further balancing that load in coming months. In fact, we will be increasing the executive staff in the coming year to improve communications and to stay on top of various ongoing processes and projects that just have not been able to get the attention they require. Our goal is to be more responsive on more fronts and in addressing the needs of a still growing sport.
Finally, I want to thank our many supporters and all of you who have taken time to share with me your ideas and views to make USDAA a better venue this past year.
On behalf of myself and the USDAA Board and office staff, I wish all much success and happiness in 2011.