Misinformation and Bad Communication from US Squash
Dec 9, 2009, by Martin Bronstein © 2009 SquashTalk.com , Independent News; SquashTalk LLC. Permission required for reproduction
(updated 10-dec-09 10:01 )
THE STORY OF A REBUTTAL TO A KEVIN KLIPSTEIN COLUMN PUBLISHED IN THE PRINT JOURNAL SQUASH MAGAZINE
By Martin Bronstein
Editor's Note: Dear reader, Just a few brief points in advance about Mr. Bronstein. It is the editor's opinion that Martin Bronstein's ethics and integrity are beyond reproach. Furthermore, his journalistic standards are very high. When I first started SquashTalk in 1999, I had never heard of Martin Bronstein. Very quickly, a reader brought him to my attention. I hired Martin to write for SquashTalk because of his incisive and hard-working reporting on squash competition. His ability to effectively and knowledeably report on the game are immediately evident. What I quickly began to learn, and have valued more and more over time, is his commitment to squash as a sport and his absolute commitment to report on the sport honestly and without favor, both to inform the public as well as for the good of the welfare of the sport. As such, he has frequently called players, administrators and hangers-on out for poor performance, poor behavior, lack of effort or just plain errors in judgement.
Martin has always understood that as a journalist it is his job to tell us what has happened and what we need to know about what is going on behind the scenes, not what a squash promoter, adertiser or adminstrator wishes to convey as a PR spin or sugar coating of the facts.
But, dear reader, be clear. With Martin, it is never personal. That being said, he is one of the few people who has the stature and writing skill to effectively call out what he sees as mis-use of the trust of the squash playing public on the part of the adminstrators of the sport. Martin is often one of the first to pick up on a problem area that later will more broadly impact the sport.
SquashTalk stands behinds Martin's reporting of fact as well as his views on both competition and the sport. We are most pleased to air his opinion pieces as well, as they should be food for thought for all in the squash community. — Ron Beck
Earlier this year – March 2009, to be precise – I wrote my final Global Gallery for SquashTalk, retiring after ten years of working happily with Ron Beck. I wrote about some of the ‘unusual’ chief executives who has occupied the CEO chair of various squash governing bodies. This subject ended with the following passage”
“PLAYING HARDBALL IN THE SOFTWARE GAME
And so to Kevin Klipstein CEO of US Squash, whose salary has gone up $20,000 year for the last three years despite his profligacy regarding his organisation’s software.
After much hit and miss and about $300,000, Railstation software was up and running handling all rankings, leagues and other stuff for all States affiliated with US Squash. And according to most reports, it was working very well. So well in fact that US Badminton, seeing how good it was, decided to adopt Railstation for its sport.
For some reason Klipstein felt he no longer controlled the software which had cost US Squash so much money and dropped it in favour of something called Top Dog, causing a six week shutdown of computer usage. (There are still a lot of glitches in Top Dog, which also did not go down well ). This switch was done without the initial support of the board – Klipstein admits he didn’t even consult with them on such a big issue.
The National Capital SRA (Washington DC) were left high and dry in the middle of their summer season. They continue to run Railstation and offered their members the chance to ditch membership of the Federal body and join as state members only, thereby ensuring state ranking and league results.
Klipstein got real mad at this and disenfranchised the Capital Association - that’s right, he threw them out -and then tried to set up his own US Squash district committee in the state. And this is how it stands now, threats and counter threats.
So, like I said at the beginning, where do these Sport Governing bodies presidents, CEO’and officers come from? The Harvard Failed Business School? What gene do they share that ensures they always make the wrong decision? And finally, how come George W Bush avoided the net and didn’t end up as Executive Secretary of the US Synchronised Swimming Association? He would have been just perfect. (Just try to imagine George W trying to say Synchronised Swimming Association).”
I was then contacted by Kevin Klipstein who very gently inferred that I had got the wrong end of the stick and that as he was coming to London on family business, why don’t we get together for lunch? I emailed him my acceptance and so we duly met for lunch in the Bluebird Café in Chelsea. It was a pleasant, sunny afternoon and we discussed all the usual things. At no point did KK mention mistakes that I had made in my Global Gallery. Indeed his entire attitude was pure PR: everything in the garden was lovely and there was no cloud in the sky.
Imagine my surprise a couple of months later when I was informed that SquashTalk readers were asking what Bronstein had written that had made KK write in Squash Magazine (US Squash’ official magazine for which they pay Jay Prince $100,000 per annum to publish) that my article was full of errors. I immediately wrote a rebuttal to the editor Jay Prince, which follows and is self-explanatory.
To the Editor
Sir, Having just read Kevin Klipstein’s Straight Talk in the latest issue, I would appreciate the courtesy of a rebuttal.
Firstly, he writes that my article on Squashtalk was ‘rife with false and misleading information.’ Your readers surely had a right to know what errors I had made. Sadly Mr. Klipstein fails to supply not even one example of my alleged incompetence. There is a very good reason for his omission: There are none.
Secondly, he writes that I ‘leveled some charges against him and the president of the French Federation.’. This was either sloppy use of the English language or deliberate misinformation. No charges were leveled - I simple recounted events that had occurred as a consequence of their actions. Neither he nor Jacques Fontaine in France has denied the veracity of these events.
Thirdly, and this really got my goat, he accuses me of a ‘knee-jerk reaction” I don’t do knee jerk reactions as anybody who reads my reports and opinion pieces would well know. He wrote “….national ranking, viewable in his or her individual online profile. His (Bronstein’s) first knee jerk reaction, the same that everyone has, was that ‘adults don’t care about their ranking.’ ”
Absolute piffle. My first argument with the then chief exec of the English SRA was about graded tournaments – he refused to institute them in England. I had just returned from living in Canada and had enjoyed D tournaments. So I have always been in favor of any form of national grading/ranking/handicap. I related to Klipstein the way that Real Tennis (Court Tennis in the USA) in the UK had put their superb handicapping on-line for all Real Tennis players – including myself - to consult. And I wished that squash in this country (UK) would go down the same route.
As for the rest of the article where he lists all the subjects we discussed – well, it reads more like a political re-election manifesto written by a PR hack. I can assure you that had he discussed half those programs, I would have fallen asleep in the middle of the main course.
Klipstein ends by hoping I will buy him lunch next time I’m in New York. I will certainly consider that possibility if he apologises for the slurs on my professional reputation.
And I will bring a tape recorder.
Jay Prince took a few days to answer the above email. He was frank in admitting his regret at having US Squash as a master and would prefer independence:
Hmmm, well I seem to now be caught in the middle of something that has little to do with me personally, but I certainly understand where you're coming from. This is probably the first time in 13 years that I'm a bit regretful of my relationship with a squash association of any sort. Independence would quite obviously be much preferred.
I'm going to be away from the office this week - But I'll address this as soon as I return. I hope you understand that the subject matter in Kevin Klipstein's column were his views and not mine.
I do appreciate you addressing this directly with me. I know others who would not.
When Prince writes that it ‘has little to do with me personally”, it shows that he doesn’t quite understand his responsibility as an editor. It is his job to ensure that everything that is published in his journal is fair and correct. He also wrote ‘… the subject matter in Kevin Klipstein’s column were his views and not mine.” Again, he fails to understand the difference between an opinion and an accusation. If KK wrote that Bronstein was a rotten journalist, that’s an opinion and he is entitled to that. When he accuses me of inaccuracies, he has to back this up. I replied thusly:
Of course I understand your position, having KK as your "boss". And I know these comments are his. But he has to be made to understand that when he writes in the public prints he must be as accurate and as sure of his facts as any journalist.
However as the editor you have an obligation to your readers and fair journalism.
I'm sure you will do the right thing.
I sent the above email and copied it to Ron Beck at SquashTalk because that is where my original piece appeared and as publisher he is concerned that the material that appears on his website is correct and fair. What few people seem to appreciate is that a website has to follow exactly the same laws as newspaper and magazines when it comes to copyright, plagiarism etc.
For some reason this perfectly reasonable step infuriated Prince. Back came his smoking reply:
And what exactly have you accomplished by cc'ing Ron Beck on this? If your objective with this reply, by now attacking me in a very public way, is to rake me over the coals on a personal level, then I suspect you have accomplished that by including Ron. I'm quite sure you are fully aware of the less than cordial relationship he and I have as a direct result of his own public attack on me several years ago—while telling me specifically that his correspondence with me at the time was a private matter.
My personal view on your issues with Kevin Klipstein are really irrelevant. In my opinion, Kevin's column did not take a stance of a public attack on you. It is my view that he was attacking the issues you raised, and it seems to me that you have taken it personally. That is not my problem, though you quite clearly believe it is.
Suffice to say, I have nothing more to say on this matter, other than my own view that your journalistic integrity is seriously lacking at the moment.
I must say my first reaction to this petulant outburst was astonishment. He has no qualms about KK attacking me ‘in a very public way’ in his magazine but objects to my copying Ron Beck an email that contained no malice. Prince also says that KK was attacking issues that I raised. But that was the whole point of my rebuttal, KK did not cover any issues that were in my original article, he detailed nothing and did not point out any errors or misinformation. In short he failed to follow logic or honesty after his accusations of ‘rife with false and misleading information'.
My reply was immediate but short:
Your reply is most unsatisfactory. Squash Magazine is the exact venue because you printed Klipstein's slur in the first place. You have a duty as editor to give right of reply and if you had attended any courses on journalism you would know this. Because KK is the boss and the association has so many pages, does not absolve you of your journalistic duties and obligations.
I think you have taken the cowardly way out and did not have the guts to tell Klipstein that he was wrong and it is your duty to print a rebuttal.
You have not only let journalism down, you have done your own reputation a grave mis-service.
I also followed Prince’s advice to take this matter directly with KK. I sent him a copy of my rebuttal letter and demanded that he force Prince to publish it. Naturally there has been no reply from KK. Oh! Where are your manners Kevin?
The fact is that my original article was all about men with important titles who are not very good at their job. Klipstein has the title of Chief Executive Officer and Prince has the title of Publisher and Editor. Both very big titles: it is sad that US Squash has not found people big enough to do those titles justice.