New map of FPUSA regions

FPUSA has redesigned their website. The new design includes a new map of the regions. Unlike other maps that we’ve seen, this map assigns every state to a region, even if the state currently has no active member clubs. The colors indicate the region. Stripes means a state has at least one FPUSA-affiliated club. A state without any clubs is shown with dots rather than stripes. CLICK to see a larger image.fpusa_regions_2016


How the FPUSA works

I’ve been curious about how FPUSA officers are elected, and about how the FPUSA works in general.  I found answers to my questions in the FPUSA constitution and bylaws.

Basically the organizational structure of the FPUSA has three layers.

FPUSA board of directors
national officers
(elected by club presidents)
regional counselors
(elected by club presidents)
club president (elected by club members)
individual member

The governing body of the FPUSA is the FPUSA board of directors, which in 2015 consists of 17 members— 5 national officers (President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and National Sports Director) and 12 regional counselors.

I don’t know why they are called “regional counselors”… a better term would be “regional representative”. The regional counselors are the elected representatives of the clubs in the seven regions. The number of counselor-representatives is based on the number of individual FPUSA members in the region. Each of the seven regions has at least one counselor; some have two.
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Regional counselors and national officers serve two-year terms.   Elections for half of the regional counselors, and for the FPUSA President and Treasurer, are held in November of odd-numbered years.  Elections for the other regional counselors and the other FPUSA national officers are held in even-numbered years.  So in November 2015 there was an election for FPUSA President.

The Board of Directors holds a regular Annual Meeting once a year, and may meet in special meetings on an as-needed basis.  Unless the President closes the meeting, any FPUSA member may attend any meeting of the Board of Directors.  Minutes of the meetings are taken by the Secretary and distributed to Board Members after the meetings.  The Annual Meeting typically takes place in conjunction with the FPUSA World Championship Qualification Tournament.  In 2015, that took place September 12/13 at the Fresno Petanque Club.


In order to be FPUSA President, a person must have been a member of the Board of Directors (in some other capacity) for at least 3 years, and an FPUSA member for at least 5 years. For Vice-President, the corresponding requirements are 2 years and 4 years, respectively. And so on for the other regional and national offices.

Some of the national officers chair standing committees. The National Sport Director is head of a 5-person National Sport Committee. The responsibilities of this committee are quite broad. They include responsibility for the rules, the umpire corps, running regional and national competitions, handling tournament hosting bids, and “promotion of the game (including youth development and outreach)”.

In addition to the Sport Committee, there is also a Discipline Committee and a Communications Committee. The Communications Committee is chaired by the national Secretary and is responsible for official communication among the Board of Directors, as well as official communications down to the FPUSA member clubs and up to the international federation, the FIPJP. It is also responsible for publishing the annual newsletter, maintaining the FPUSA website, and advertising.


What are the benefits of FPUSA membership?

FPUSA_LOGO_WITH_QUESTION_MARK

In this post we look at the benefits of FPUSA membership— that is, of individual membership and club affiliation. (Clubs are said to be “affiliated with”, not “members of”, the FPUSA.)

At the outset let’s note that FPUSA membership is really cheap— $15 a year for membership through an affiliated club, and $20 a year for an at-large “individual” membership.


Benefits of FPUSA membership

  1. FPUSA membership is required for participation in FPUSA regional and national championships. And of course FPUSA membership is required in order to represent the USA in FIPJP World Championships.
     
  2. FPUSA membership is often required for participation in play and competitions in other countries. As Frank Pipal (current FPUSA president) notes—
     

    An FPUSA license is recognized by other FIPJP member federations including the FFPJP [the French national federation]. The ability to play in FFPJP tournaments depends on the nature of the tournament. A tournament that is part of a league, departmental, regional, or national championship will not be open to foreign players, but many others will be.

    Ernesto Santos points out

    As an FPUSA member you get an international license that allows you to play around the world. In almost all other countries, you will need to show your license before being allowed to play in an affiliated club’s tournament (or even casual play). Many times they will collect that license before the start of a tourney and only give it back when you leave (provided you didn’t misbehave). If you don’t have a license you may be required to buy a day-license on the spot. And this holds true even for non-sanctioned open tournaments like La Marseillaise.


Benefits of FPUSA club affiliation

There are no club-level dues for FPUSA affiliation, but there is a minimum-membership requirement. To be affiliated with the FPUSA, a club must have at least twelve members who are dues-paying FPUSA members. (A new club in its first year of FPUSA affiliation is required only to have eight FPUSA members.) That means that

  • For a club with fewer than twelve dues-paying FPUSA members, FPUSA affiliation is not an option.
  • For a club with twelve or more dues-paying FPUSA members, FPUSA affiliation is basically a freebie.

Liability insurance

For a club, the primary benefit of FPUSA affiliation is the liability insurance that comes with that affiliation. If your club holds an event, and if someone gets injured during that event, then this insurance will protect your club and members from any financial damages for which they might legally be held liable.

  • FPUSA doesn’t provide any information about its liability insurance on its web site. US Lacrosse, however, does, and that information shows that liability insurance is a more complicated affair than you probably imagine. The moral of the story: when your club gets its FPUSA insurance document, read it carefully.

Your local Parks & Recreation Department may require your club to have liability insurance as a precondition for holding an event at one of its facilities. When a club joins FPUSA, it receives a certificate of insurance that should satisfy that requirement. Further certificates are available from FPUSA upon request.

Non-profit status

FPUSA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Affiliated clubs (meeting certain organizational requirements) may receive a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status through the FPUSA without having to file their own separate application with the IRS. This can be useful when setting up club accounts and dealing with state incorporation and taxation authorities.

New club benefits

During its first year of affiliation, a new club may be reimbursed by the FPUSA for up to $100 for purchases of petanque-related equipment— guest boules, playing circles, prize medals and trophies, club banners and signs, etc. During its second year of affiliation, a club is eligible for a 50% reimbursement of up to $100 on $200 in purchases.


Benefits to the sport of petanque

When it is time for an FPUSA national champion team to travel to the FIPJP world championships, the FPUSA assists with the cost of travel. The money comes from entry fees for the national championship (international qualifier) tournament and a percentage (20%) of FPUSA income from membership dues. For any given trip, that amount might be somewhere between $500 and $1000 per person.


The bottom line

Clubs with fewer than 12 FPUSA members do not qualify for FPUSA affiliation. If such a club wants liability insurance, it will need to pay for it out of its own local club dues. Depending on the club’s location, such insurance may or may not be available and affordable.

For clubs with 12+ FPUSA members, FPUSA affiliation is a way to obtain free liability insurance. For a club large enough to consider becoming a corporate entity, support in securing 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status can be helpful.

For the serious individual player, FPUSA membership is required in order to compete in FPUSA-sanctioned tournaments at the regional and national level.

For the casual player, perhaps the most compelling reason for FPUSA membership is that your FPUSA membership helps to keep your club’s total membership level above 12, thus keeping your club eligible for FPUSA affiliation and the liability insurance that goes with it. That’s why FPUSA membership may be included automatically in membership in your local club.

One argument for FPUSA membership is that your annual dues assist Team USA to travel to the world championships.  That’s true, but remember that only about $3 of your annual dues goes to support Team USA.  If you really want to help, donate $20 (or more!) to the team’s Facebook fundraiser.

There is also one intangible benefit to FPUSA membership.  Personally, I like feeling that I belong to the club.  I like carrying my FPUSA membership card in my boule bag, and I like being able to say that I am a card-carrying petanque player.  And as long as I have that card, I can harbor a secret fantasy of traveling to France and playing in La Marseillaise.  Priceless.


Petanque club websites on wordpress

WordPress.com is a great blogging platform. We use it to host this blog, of course, as well as Petanque Portal USA,  All About Petanque, and The Rules of Petanque.

In this post I want to talk about wordpress.com as a place to host a web site for a petanque club.

In our opinion, every petanque club should have a web site. And in our opinion, wordpress.com is the best place to host it. (Learn how to make a web page for your club.)

petanque_club_page_on_wordpress

WordPress is free, well-established, and easy to use. It is powerful and offers many sophisticated features— but it doesn’t force you to use them if you don’t want to.

  • If all you want to do is to put up a single cover page with information about when and where you play, you can do it.
  • If you want to allow people to send you email — but NOT to expose your email address to spammers at the same time — you can do it.
  • If you want to be able to request confirmation of members’ plans to attend the next get-together, you can do it.
  • If you want to be able to post (and automatically send email) with notifications of upcoming events, or notifications of sudden cancellation of events due to bad weather, you can do it.
  • If you want to be able to post pictures of your club’s last tournament or picnic, you can do it.

If you are considering creating a WordPress web site for your petanque club, here is a small collection of links to the WordPress pages of other clubs. Skim through the collection, see what other clubs are doing, and see if this is something that might work for your own club. (Some clubs pay a small annual fee for a web address that omits “wordpress” and ends with .just .org or .com.)


Clubs in the United States


Clubs in other countries


Surfing the American Petanque Directory

Lately we’ve been working on the American Petanque Directory (APD) , adding pictures and navigation links to the pages for the states.

AmericanPetanqueDirectory_NewNavigationLinks

Together, the pictures and the navigation links make it easy to surf through the Directory, viewing petanque terrains in different states. This is pretty entertaining, but it also has a practical use.

We’re interested in techniques that can be used to build a case for constructing a petanque terrain in a public park. (See the post on petanque in public parks.) It is pretty clear that any pitch to, say, a director of a city or county Parks and Recreation (P&R) Department needs to include pictures. Seeing petanque terrains literally gives a P&R director a picture of what he is being asked to build. And showing him that other cities have built petanque terrains assures him that it isn’t a crazy idea — other cities have done it, and done it successfully. This is why documents written to promote petanque in public parks invariably include an album of pictures. See the appendices to

Our hope is that the APD can be used as a virtual, online album when making a case for constructing a petanque terrain in a public space. The APD is easy to access — a P&R director can pull it up instantly on his office PC. And the vivid full-color photos have the immediacy of the 7 o’clock news. The Directory is clearly “live” — it’s obvious that you’re seeing pictures of clubs that are very much alive, active, and thriving right now.

Seeing petanque terrains in other cities might even suggest to a P&R director that his city is missing a trend. “Other cities are building petanque courts. Maybe we should think about building one too.”

Three models for successful public petanque courts

Related posts — What to look for when you’re looking for places to play

Lately I’ve been interested in trying to identify “critical success factors” for public petanque courts. One thing that I’ve noticed is that there seem to be three different models of usage for public petanque courts.

The first is the classical village square model, which is where petanque was developed and became popular in France. In this model, the petanque terrain is located in the center of a busy public place — the village square or perhaps a small park. The area is surrounded by businesses, especially restaurants and cafes. Because of the businesses and cafes the area has a lot of foot traffic. People meet there to chat on lunch breaks and after work. Despite being located in the heart of New York City, Bryant Park fits this model. In a way, this shouldn’t be surprising, because the village square model is an essentially urban model. It works because the petanque court is located right in the middle of an area where people live, work, eat, drink, meet, and socialize.

The second model is the rec center model. Many cities or counties have created recreation centers and large recreation parks. The parks typically contain multiple recreation facilities — a rec center for basketball, badminton, and gymnastics classes, a weight room, a swimming pool, one or more baseball diamonds, football fields and soccer fields, tennis courts, perhaps a volleyball court. There are jungle gyms for the younger kids to play on, and shaded benches where moms can sit and chat and watch the younger kids while their older siblings practice team sports. There are water fountains and restrooms. There may be outdoor grills and small shelters with picnic tables, so that the whole extended family can come for a big family Sunday-afternoon grill and picnic.

Above all, there is lots of parking. Where the village square model is an essentially urban model, depending on foot traffic from people who are already in the area, the rec center model is an essentially suburban model, based on the rec center acting as a magnet for people who want to use the recreation facilities that it provides. People aren’t already there. They come to it, sometimes from serious distances, and they come in cars. That’s why parking is an important component of the rec center model. Another important amenity is lighting that can allow afternoon play to continue on into the evening. This can be essential to the survival of some petanque clubs in winter, with winter’s shorter days.

A good example of this model are the petanque courts in the Virginia Highlands Park (photo, above), a vast recreation facility in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, DC.

There is a third model, which I call the amenity model. park_west_petanque_terrain_in_tucson_arizonaDevelopers of housing developments or vacation trailer parks or camp sites sometimes provide petanque courts — well, in the United States, bocce courts — as amenities. Tucked into a quiet corner of the grounds of a high-rise or a mobile-home park or a retirement community or a large camp ground, you will sometimes find a swimming pool, perhaps a shuffleboard court, and perhaps a bocce court. A good example of this model are the petanque courts at Park West Mobile Homes Estates, a retirement community in Tucson, Arizona.

I’m not sure how successful the amenity model is in the USA. There certainly is a scattering of “amenity” bocce courts in this country, but I’m not sure how heavily the courts are actually used (although I understand that petanque courts are popular as amenities at many nudist resorts). But in France, at least judging from the old photos that I’ve seen on the Petanque America website, petanque is a standard part of the standard family vacation in August. Camp grounds often provide a petanque terrain, and when a dedicated terrain is not available, families play on the open dirt fields of the camp ground.