Saturday, June 26, 2004
11:38:00 AM EDT
Originally the scholastic membership was intended as a two-year bridge membership, making transition to Youth automatic. However, scholastic chess became very lucrative for organizers and therefore has become the primary corporate focus. Scholastic amateur chess competition is now an important part of the USCF. One point that needs to be made about scholastic chess is that participating in chess competition should be part of one's culture, just as our children would participate in music, soccer, or judo, for example. Chess is fun and should remain an elective. In my view scholastic chess is not just for our scholastic members (which are 14 and under) but an activity that should be available from start of school right through college (K-20).
Scholastic Chess as a separate organization
I am not the first person (or even second) to consider splitting off scholastic chess from the USCF. There are many possible advantages to creating a new 501(c)(3) organization to handle the scholastic chess players. The focus of the new organization would be K-20 scholastic amateur chess competition. The relationship could be a coalition similar to that of the USCF and the U.S. Chess Trust, or even a USCF subsidiary organization could be explored.
Each of the two organizations will benefit by having clear organizational focus that each can pursue, because each organization will now be composed of members who are more similar to each other. The missions will be focused differently, reflecting the different memberships and their needs and interests, but complementary: fitting together into a unified whole to help forward the USCF purpose. The new organization would be self supporting and could pay for ratings, publications, and title rights from the USCF.
With school children in one organization and the rest in another organization, both organizations will be more homogeneous. It will finally be possible to adjust the levels of dues and services provided to each group, to reflect what each group wants, and what each group is willing to pay. It will finally be possible to determine the costs of servicing these two different groups. The goal of a separate scholastic chess organization would be to attract school age children into chess competition, and nurture their growth as chess players. The USCF would help manage the interests of all chess players in the U.S. and may attract a few of the ex-scholastic members in the future.
I think it would be worthwhile to explore how the AF4C can help the USCF move in this direction. The USCF brand and the profit potential of scholastic chess events would be of considerable interest to such an organization. If structured properly there may even be potential ties into associated K-20 international as well as Olympic competitions.