December 20, 2004

Most of you won't care, but. . .

Okay, so, this just pisses me right off. It probably won't mean anything to any of you readers, but for me it's just plain aggravating.

For those of you who are interested enough to keep reading, DODDS stands for Department of Defense Dependents Schools:

In September, the DODDS-Pacific’s Far East Activities Council decided to limit Far East tennis, cross country and wrestling tournaments to DODDS-Pacific teams only.

DODDS-Pacific’s decision means that, for the first time since the Far East wrestling tournament’s 1976 debut, the event will be without Tokyo powers St. Mary’s International and American School In Japan, teams that have 10 Far East titles between them. And individual stars, such as two-time outstanding wrestler Zolboo Enkhbayar of Brent International in the Philippines, won’t compete.

For me, this is downright personal. A of all, and perhaps most important, my father is the wrestling coach at St. Mary's International, and he has been for about 12 years now. B of all, I won that tournament in 1993, so the thought of other St. Mary's students being unable to compete in it just frosts my balls.

It's the reasoning given for the sudden change in policy that's the most galling. What does DODDS-Pacific’s Far East Activities Council chair Don Hobbs give as the reason for excluding international schools (and a hell of a lot more competition) from Far East Tournament competition?

In a written statement to Stars and Stripes, DODDS-Pacific’s Far East Activities Council chair Don Hobbs said the decision was made at the DODDS-Pacific regional office at Okinawa’s Torii Station, “after receiving input from adminstrators, event directors and a lengthy discussion with district superintendents.”

“The decision was based on a number of factors, including the availability of billeting, facilities, logistics and resources,” Hobbs said in the statement.

Uh huh. Because a tournament that has been run effectively and efficiently since 1976 all of a sudden has these crazy availability concerns. Forgetting, of course, that international schools, like St. Mary's, have said they'd be more than willing to pay for housing off-base.

Teams participating in Far East tournaments are billeted in on-base quarters and play is conducted in DODDS school gyms or other military fitness centers on base.

Lack of billeting due to military exercises forced last year’s Far East wrestling tournament at Yokota Air Base, Japan, to be pushed forward a week and the boys Class A basketball tournament at Osan Air Base, South Korea, to be pushed back a week.

Oh, the inconvenient HORROR!

And, again, this glosses over attempts by international schools, like St. Mary's, to host the Far East Tournament themselves in an attempt to keep the tournament open to all. But, nope, the Council just won't budge.

In an e-mail dated Sunday and sent to St. Mary’s athletics director David Ducharme, DODDS-Pacific’s Far East Activities Council chair Don Hobbs cited the distance between the host venue and the base where DODDS wrestlers would be billeted as the major reason.

“Having participants billeted a considerable distance from the tournament site is asking too much of the wrestlers,” Hobbs said in the e-mail.

It's good to know that Hobbs is such an expert at deciding what is and is not "asking too much of the wrestlers."

But, what if there's another reason for DODDS schools to want to exclude international schools. What other possible reason could there be?

The international schools, mainly from Tokyo, Seoul and Manila have dominated Far East tennis and cross country since the tournaments began in the late 1970s. Only one DODDS-Pacific school, Kadena High on Okinawa, has won an overall team title in either sport, cross country in 1984 and 2002 and tennis in 1989.

And wrestling hasn't done too shabby, either, I might add.

That was not a factor in the decision, according to the Hobbs’ statement, which added that DODDS-Pacific values the long-standing relationship it has had with international schools, who play against DODDS schools in regular-season leagues in Japan and Korea.

Hm hmm. But, the last tournament of the year, the tournament generally understood to be the best showcase for teams and individuals to compete in the region? Well, that's DODDS-only now, because of. . . because of. . . billeting concerns. What a crock.

Now, my father has gone around in circles trying to get this crazy decision reversed, utilizing the very few diplomatic and political avenues available to him. So far, nothing has changed, and nothing probably will, but I think more people should know that the DODDS-Pacific’s Far East Activities Council is being so conveniently exclusionary when it comes to international competition.

Posted by Ryan at December 20, 2004 10:07 AM

I echo your sentiment. What steamed me the most was the very unprofessional manner in which the Council rendered a decision at the beginning of the school year. These decision are made during the winter and spring. What kind Council is he running. They had no regard with respect to the International school's ability to arrange a new tournament at such a late date. And many of the athletes effected by this decision are the dependents of DOD members working at a U.S. Embassy. From my contact with the many coaches, they had no idea this decision was to be issued.
Return the tournaments to their former state and dismiss Mr. Hobbs. He is a politician and not an athletic director.

I will be watching with great satisfaction as the international schools dismantle DODDS at the Beast Wrestling tournament this weekend. Take it to them boys and show the real reason why you are being excluded.

Posted by: Count at February 3, 2005 11:19 PM
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