FAIR FENCING ORGANIZAITON (FFO)
To provide a platform for open communication and mutual understanding among all stakeholders, encourage civilized participation by improving professionalism, fairness, transparency, and courteous conduct in the fencing community, and promote the fencing sport through education, scholarship, and self-disciplined sportsmanship.
Introduction of Fair Fencing Organization
What is FFO : Fair Fencing Organization (“FFO”) is a nonprofit organization formed by fencers, coaches, referees, parents, and other stakeholders of the fencing sport who are passionate about fencing and whole-heartedly support USA Fencing’s Mission Statement “to grow and promote the sport of fencing in the United States, honor its rich traditions and achieve sustained competitive international excellence;” share USA Fencing’s vision “to inspire a lifetime enriched by fencing;” and adhere to USA Fencing’s core value of “Excellence, Respect, Teamwork, Inclusion, and Passion.”
Why is FFO established: There are several players that are instrumental to the success of this great sport in the United States. USA Fencing is undoubtedly the most important organization that has been leading and promoting the fencing sport in the U.S. Fencers are determinative of the dynamics and United States’ international success of the sport. Clubs and Coaches not only train our fencers with skills and sportsmanship, but also inspire fencers for a lifelong passion, as well as providing local and regional competitions. Referees are critically important to all competitions by determining the outcome of competitions, educating fencers of fencing rules, and, like coaches, instilling sportsmanship among all fencers. Last, but not the least, fencers’ parents are the financial backbones of this sport as they are the only ones who contribute the much needed financial support directly or indirectly to all other players. Even for adult fencers who are financially independent, their parents at some point of time must have shouldered the financial responsibilities for them.
Thanks to USA Fencing and many excellent athletes such as Lee Kiefer and Gerek Meinhardt, we have been seeing a surge of fencers in the recent years. While this development is very encouraging and welcomed, it has also brought “growing pain” to the fencing community.
Along with the increased popularity of the fencing sport in the recent years, the number of fencers, especially young fencers, has been growing exponentially. This increase in popularity demands more competitions at the local and regional levels and generates larger pools at national competitions, resulting more challenges to competition organizers in terms of finance, venue, organization, accommodations, referees, safety, and smooth administration of the tournaments, etc.
One of the unintended tensions caused by the increased popularity of the fencing sport is between fencers’ parents (sometimes, coaches) and referees, especially in the youth fencing competitions.
We fully understand and support that tournaments should not interrupted because coaches or parents have different views on a referee’s call. We also observed that in many occasions parents’ views were due to misunderstandings of the rules. With the above understanding, we form this organization as a self-disciplinary platform to require all members to refrain from arguing with referees in any tournament. To assist USA Fencing and all local and regional competition organizers to conduct orderly and civilized tournaments, under no circumstances, coaches, fencers, or parents should be allowed to yell, shout, and bully a referee in any tournament.
We also understand that referees have different professional proficiencies and experiences. The rapidly increased demand of referees has resulted in new referees with limited experience. We have observed that when a referee makes an inaccurate call, young fencers will often get confused for an extended period time, which will have unintended effect on the young fencers’ development of fencing skills. In certain cases, when a referee is perceived by a fencer as being unfair, irrespective of the correctness of such perception, the fencer and his or her parents tend to become less enthusiastic about the sport. Some would even choose another sport instead.
For the above reasons, we form this organization to provide concerned parents and fencers a professional and educational platform by asking experienced referees to conduct video review of disputed calls after the fact. Our reviewing will be educational only, not intended to be a basis to challenge a referee’s call. As we understand, even for the most experienced referees, there are always certain margin of error, which, in the long run, should not and would not determine a fencer’s future in the sport. We also understand that young referees need time and opportunity to grow and this organization will provide them such an education platform as well.
What does FFO offer: Free Membership to all fencers, coaches, referees whose USA Fencing memberships are current. FFO will provide the following services to our members who conduct themselves in civilized and cordial manner in tournaments:
provide a platform to connect parents and fencers with experienced referees to conduct video review of debatable referee calls after the fact and explain the rules at a pay-per-review basis; and
host online seminars and invite experienced referees to lectured on the most common misunderstandings of the rules.
FFO’s Million Dollar Educational Campaign
In addition to support received from fencers, coaches, and referees, FFO is fortunate to attract a group of dedicated parents who are professors, engineers, doctors, judges, lawyers, investment bankers, perform artists, entrepreneurs, business executives, government officials, and professionals from almost all walks of life. To promote better and professional understanding of the fencing rules and to promote mutual respect among referees, fencers, coaches, and parents, FFO will work to raise a one-million-dollar educational fund to provide fencing rule education through seminars by experienced referees, award scholarship to current referees to attend USA Fencing’s educational programs, and provide financial aid to fencers, parents, and students who are willing to become professional referees.