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Thread: What do you think about the future of the men's sabre team?

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    What do you think about the future of the men's sabre team?

    I just heard about how Mr. Gelman basically screwed the men's sabre program. If you don't know about it yet, the summary is:

    - top 4 in the national rankings get some money (1000 or 2000 USD) per month
    - in order to receive the money, they must sign a contract stating, among other things, that they will attend at least 9 world cups (which are fully covered by the USFA)

    I can't believe people let him get away with this. It's surely going to water down the quality of US sabre fencers. Those top 4 guys are going to stay in the top 4, unless a fencer below them can afford to go to ALL the world cups (assuming he won't fail out of school for doing so).

    I mean, you can just be a decent fencer, and out of those 9 world cups, you can make 4 top 64 results and still ensure that you'll stay in the top 4. Mr. Gelman's not pushing for quality here.

    There are a ton of alternatives, one of which is to sponsor the top 8 to go to 4 or 5 world cups each -- you know, expand the field of FIE-experienced fencers and offer some competition within the top 8, some incentive for the guys to step over each other.

    I already know some quality fencers, like Adam Crompton, are a little discouraged. Hell, Tim Hagamen and Alex Krul weren't even at the Nationals -- don't know if it's a coincidence or a sign of things to come.

    Anyway, I hope this is the bleekest possible view on the matter and that things will actually be a lot better. The US was finally picking up steam in sabre; I'd hate to see it fizzle because of one man's poor decisions.

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    Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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    Senior Member Mr Epee's Avatar
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    There is a lot to say in favor of policies that promote continuity in the make-up of an international squad.

    Yeah, it really sucks for those on the outside looking in
    but hey, that's life, bub.

    If fencing is going to become a high level sport, there are currently only 2-4 individuals worth supporting per event.

    If the USFA is really serious about being a world fencing power, then it makes sense to focus as much effort as possible into the 2-4 guys that will be representing the team at World Championships and the Olympics.

    Take a look at a country like Hungary. The Hungarian National Team is consistently in the medal hunt at major international events. Then attend one of their national competitions. There are guys ranked top-16, in Hungary, that would have a hard time consistently making points at an NAC.

    Don't like it?

    Get your own funding.
    Take your time. Read carefully.

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    It sounds like he's imitating the funding model of certain European (particularly Eastern European) nations.
    It creates a fencing elite which is pretty hard to crack into, but it does get the top guys loads of international experience.

    Also in line with the Eastern European model: it secures the position of the national coach's own students on top.

    National coaches who play with money is nothing new, though. Remember when Nazlymov was national coach?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Epee
    Take a look at a country like Hungary. The Hungarian National Team is consistently in the medal hunt at major international events. Then attend one of their national competitions. There are guys ranked top-16, in Hungary, that would have a hard time consistently making points at an NAC.
    This is a hugely important idea that many Americans don't understand. Strong European fencing powers aren't overflowing with god-like fencers. Mostly they're filled with mediocre and scrubby fencers. Only their top guys are fantastic. There is often a pretty severe disparity between the top and the fodder.

    I understand that the USSR was a rare exception to this. And see what happened to them? Their entire government collapsed.

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    Senior Member Mr Epee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason
    I understand that the USSR was a rare exception to this. And see what happened to them? Their entire government collapsed.
    French Men's Epee is also an interesting exception.

    I understand very little about how that works.
    Take your time. Read carefully.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Epee
    French Men's Epee is also an interesting exception.

    I understand very little about how that works.
    And note all the French riots. A field with a lot of depth is a recipe for socio-political ruin.

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    I'm not entirely sure how riots are directly applicable to Men's Epee, unless it comes under "jostling training camps".

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    Senior Member sabreur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason
    This is a hugely important idea that many Americans don't understand. Strong European fencing powers aren't overflowing with god-like fencers. Mostly they're filled with mediocre and scrubby fencers. Only their top guys are fantastic. There is often a pretty severe disparity between the top and the fodder.
    Top 25 in MS from 2004 season to present:

    FRA 4
    UKR 4
    ROM 3
    GER 3
    HUN 2
    RUS 2
    ITA 2
    ESP 2
    POL 1
    KOR 1
    BLR 1

    Top 100 in MS from 2004 season to present:

    FRA 10
    USA 9 (but note that the highest ranking fencer was Ivan Lee, at #28)
    ITA 8
    RUS 8
    ROM 8
    HUN 7
    KOR 6
    POL 5
    UKR 5
    BLR 4
    ESP 4
    GER 4
    CAN 4
    CHN 3
    VEN 3
    JPN 2
    BRA 1
    THA 1
    Last edited by sabreur; 07-19-2006 at 09:14 AM.
    Why sabre? Because you don't take heads with the point.

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    Posting Hound oiuyt's Avatar
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    From Sabreuer's list it appears that Ukraine is the best example of a country with a tip-top tier and minimal secondary depth (4 in the top 25, only 1 in the 26-100).

    Of course using world cup rankings can be biased off of ability if, for example, only the top 4 were allowed to attend the vast majority of international events, in which case there could be a second tier that's minimally behind the first that just doesn't show up in international rankings.

    -B
    "Oh but you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you!"

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    Needs to get Outside Inquartata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hofc
    top 4 in the national rankings get some money (1000 or 2000 USD) per month
    - in order to receive the money, they must sign a contract stating, among other things, that they will attend at least 9 world cups (which are fully covered by the USFA).
    Where is the money coming from?
    Use the Shift key, people! Keyboard manufacturers everywhere are ineffably saddened when you ignore what they made just for you!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inquartata
    Where is the money coming from?


    From your membership dues Inq, where do you think it comes from?



    Heeheeeee
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inquartata
    Where is the money coming from?

    From the hopes and dreams of a small mountain town.

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    Senior Member AndrewH's Avatar
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    Personally, I think it's a good idea. Why?

    As has already been mentioned, if the US wants to be an international power in sabre, they need to focus on the 4 guys who make up that team. If we look at the current top 4 (Lee, Smart, Rogers, Morehouse), you'll note that the lineup hasn't changed a whole lot recently, without them getting stipends. That's because they
    a) are better fencers than everyone else on the points list (read: more consistent with top results)
    b) attend plenty of world cups to get those international points.

    Those on the top of the points list (at least 8, I'm not sure how far down it goes) are already eligible to be reimbursed (partially) for expenses for world cups. So it's not like they have to pay out of pocket for every world cup they want to go to- the USFA wants to develop their international presence.

    So with the current conditions, we have 4 guys consistently in the top of the rankings. How can we make them even better? Give them money so they don't have to work full time to support themselves, that way they can train more. Personally I believe the biggest reason the US has so many more world ranked cadet/juniors compared to seniors is the job factor. Working full time leaves little opportunity for intensive training and travel. I think there's no doubt you would begin to see improvement in both individual and team results within a year or so of implementing this program.

    The other reason I support this is it introduces additional motivation for those who have the potential to break into the top 4. Where previously top fencers would be forced to "retire" upon graduating college and getting a job, getting paid to fence would create a whole new level of motivation, and an even stronger group of fencers in the top 10 or so of the rankings.
    ----------
    Andrew

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    Senior Member Repechage's Avatar
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    I am not comfortable with the idea of giving Yury Gelman so much control over men's sabre. He has a history of being dead certain about things that are contrary to fact, especially in the way things are refereed, and people who lack certainty follow him like the rats followe d the Pied Piper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Repechage
    men's sabre....people...follow him like the rats followed the Pied Piper.
    Are you saying that sabre fencers are like rats?

    Or are you saying that sabre fencers will soon vanish, never to be seen again?

    Either way, it sounds like you deserve some rep.

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    Knowing how much money at least one of the fencers invested on his own to train, travel, and compete to break into the national team, I'm all for any system that will then provide some money back to him to allow him to continue training.

    It's a huge step from where we were with athlete funding 10 years ago.

    Are there things that could work better? I'm sure there are. Will they be figured out over the next 10 years, probably.

    Craig

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    I agree this is the best way to go too. Our guys are at severe disadvantage vs. the pros of East and West Europe. Hopefully they can regain some of the momentum they were building prior to 2004.

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    Senior Member sabreur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oiuyt
    Of course using world cup rankings can be biased off of ability if, for example, only the top 4 were allowed to attend the vast majority of international events, in which case there could be a second tier that's minimally behind the first that just doesn't show up in international rankings.-B
    I think this is an American rule--I seem to remember it being instituted a couple of years ago because not very good fencers were taking on themselves to fly to Europe and fence in world cup qualifiers, and not exactly covering themselves (or the reputation of US fencing) with glory.

    It used to be that most World Cups had an open qualifier the day before the main event that pretty much anyone could enter (unless your NGB said you couldn't ). But that was a while ago and the system may have changed.

    I think I may have skewed the data a bit by looking at the combined results over two years. It would be interesting to see what the numbers were for each of the last five or six seasons, and for all the weapons and both sexes.

    However, someone else (with less to do) would need to grind the numbers.

    I also think it is interesting that the FIE is making minimal progress at best toward its stated goal developing competitive programs in non-traditional fencing countries. The only countries that I would count as "non-traditional" with fencers in the top 100 are Venezuela, Brazil, and maybe Japan. The Thai fencer is Kothny, who hardly counts as a product of the Thai fencing system.
    Last edited by sabreur; 07-19-2006 at 09:14 AM.
    Why sabre? Because you don't take heads with the point.

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    Senior Member Repechage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbryan
    Are you saying that sabre fencers are . . . Or are you saying that sabre fencers will . . .
    No. I was saying people in general tend to follow anybody who seems certain.

    You can do better than that. It's kind of random.

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