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.
map_fpusa_new_regions_and_clubs_sept_2013

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. FPUSA requires affiliated clubs to have at least 8 members for the first year of affiliation and at least 12 members during succeeding years. FPUSA will not “dis-affiliate” a club that cannot meet the 12-member requirement (the club can renew its affiliation and remain on the insurance policy), but the club’s voting rights are suspended until the minimum-membership requirement is met.

That means that

  • For a club with fewer than 8 dues-paying FPUSA members, FPUSA affiliation is not an option.
  • For a club with 8 or more members that are also 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. This is an important benefit— having a good supply of guest boules for new players is probably a critical success factor for new clubs.


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 8 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 8+ FPUSA members, FPUSA affiliation is a way to obtain free liability insurance. For a club large enough to consider becoming a corporate entity, FPUSA help in securing 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status can also be important.

For the serious individual player, FPUSA membership is required in order to compete in FPUSA-sanctioned tournaments at the regional and national level. In other countries, it may also be required in order to compete in any kind of competition.

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 8, 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.


Is the FPUSA growing?

The FPUSA annual magazine for 2012-2013 has a chart on page 3 (see below) that shows FPUSA membership data for the 9 years 2003-2013. It shows that—

Regarding total FPUSA individual memberships—

  • In the USA there are fewer than 1800 FPUSA members.
  • Between 2003 and 2012, total FPUSA membership increased by about 650 people.

Regarding FPUSA individual membership retention rates and turnover, in that nine-year period—

  • FPUSA recorded a total of almost 3000 (2915) new members.
  • For every player that joined FPUSA and continued as a member, more than three players joined and then dropped out.
  • More players (2261) joined the FPUSA and then dropped out, than the total current membership of the FPUSA (1751).

The chart shows the change in the number of clubs for each year, but not the number of new clubs each year. As a result, we can’t tell anything about the retention rate or turnover at the club level.

For 2008 the change in the number of clubs should be -2, not -1.FPUSA_membership_chart

How to become an FPUSA umpire

I’ve been trying for some time to obtain information on how to become an FPUSA umpire. That information should be easily available on the FPUSA web site, of course, but it is not.

Finally I managed to reach Gilles Karpowics, the FPUSA Sport Director, and he emailed me a copy of a pdf file containing the regulations for becoming an FPUSA umpire. Since this information is not available on the FPUSA web site, I thought I’d make it available HERE.