The croquet logo and the croquet image
We depart from our usual format and devote most of this space to an extended
sampling of recent opinion from the Nottingham Board on some current issues
in the croquet world. At any given time, any of the croquet associations
(or any croquet personality, for that matter) may be subjected to this kind
of scrutiny. In this case, the target happens to be the English Croquet
Association. But there is no doubt that the issues being debated are
relevant to all the croquet associations - which makes them fair game for
coverage in Croquet World Online Magazine. We hope that in abbreviating many
of these messages we have still managed to represent the writers fairly. Not
everyone is included, and at the time of this posting, both these
conversations are still in progress on the Nottingham Board.
"Fifty-seven old farts"?
Some of you may have noticed that earlier this year, the Croquet Association
produced a new logo. It was clearly similar to the one used in the past but
updated, using a square mallet and looking modern - projecting the image that
the [English] Croquet Association would wish to project - or so you would
This new logo, which was moving with the times, and, in my professional
opinion, is a move in the right direction, was designed at no charge by Paul
Castell. The going rate for designing a logo is 550 GBP plus VAT. THE
CROQUET ASSOCIATION COUNCIL, UNBELIEVABLY, REJECTED THE NEW LOGO AND WANTED
TO STAY WITH THE OLD ONE.
The main reason was, I understand (and like a journalist I won't reveal
my sources) that the Council should have been asked in the first place
if they approved the new logo and because they were not asked, decided
on a pathetic vote of five to four (with three absentions) to reject the
If croquet is to really shrug off its old fashioned image, it has to have a
strong, modern, corporate image, and the more up to date the better. A
corporate image reflects the organisation; and while a modern image
ultimately won't disguise an old fashioned outlook, it can go some way to
mitigate this. (Of course, many may argue that the old logo perfectly
reflects the Croquet Association's outlook.)
The publicity committee were shown the new logo earlier in the year, and
unanimously accepted it. It appears that the Council of the CA don't listen
the specialist committees' advice. In which case, one asks, why bother?
PS: How many people play with a round mallet these days?
PPS:For those of you who do not know, Will Carling, Captain of the
England Rugby Team, called the committee Rugby Football Union "57 old
farts." He was stripped of his captaincy. (His troubles over Princess Di
[PR advisor to the CA Publicity Committee]
The old logo.
The new logo rejected by the Council.
The organizational fix
Liz may be encouraged to know that earlier this year the CA Council's
Constitution Working Party made recommendations to improve the efficiency of
Council and its committees. Council accepted the proposals regarding a new
committee structure, and these will come into effect later this month. The
up-to-25 member Council has recognized it should not try to manage the CA's
affairs in any detail, and it intends in future to concentrate on the big
picture: deciding on the broad policies its committees should follow. A new
9-member Management Committee is charged with ensuring that Council's
policies and plans are carried out by all its committees - including a new
one dealing with Marketing, Publicity and Membership....
[member of Council]
"Backwards and upside down"
Council's decision to stay with its existing logo had nothing to do with
round mallets or square mallets. Nor did Council question Paul's competence
as a designer: it just did not like the design. The principal reason was
that in starting to wrap THE CROQUET ASSOCIATION around the logo from a
different position it appeared by normal convention that ASSOCIATION was
backwards and upside down. I don't know whether the publicity committee
realized this and disregarded it. Reportedly, Paul also declared that he
would retain copyright over his new logo.
It was a Council decision to have the logo about 10 years ago and, as in any
organisation, Council has the right to accept changes or not. The matter
came before Council on two occasions and was fully discussed at both. The
voting figures quoted by Liz...were those on the second occasion at a poorly
attended meeting, which confirmed the decision at the previous meeting (by 10
votes to 8, I think). The decision was
close, but that is democracy....Whether some of us are regarded as old farts
and others as sweet smelling roses is irrelevant. We all work for the
benefit of the CA but
we accept that we cannot please everybody all the time.
[Former Chairman of Council]
"The new logo is a model of clarity"
Bill Lamb's comment on the new logo is as laughable as it is risible. In the
new logo, the word association is NOT upside down. It is the right way up.
The words 'The Croquet Association' read from left to right, with 'The
Croquet' at the top of the logo and 'Association' at the bottom. How else do
you read, Bill? (right to left? roundabout?).
Not only was the new logo a more modern image, it was also a model of clarity.
The whole point of getting a designer to design a logo is that they know what
it should achieve - as opposed to the amateur. I find it appalling that the
Council, none of them designers, should take exception to the fact that they
could read the logo.
I take grave offense at the comment about the publicity committee....We saw a
first class new logo which was step in the right direction. Why did the
Council not accept our advice? We are the specialists, after all.
You say it has nothing to do with square mallets and round mallets;
well, it does - the whole point of the new logo was that it has been
updated, in toto.
Of course Paul should retain the copyright. You haven't paid for it, have
you? Which brings me back to one of my original points, it appears the CA
Council does not value what it hasn't paid for. Perhaps you should start
paying for these services: you would not glibly reject such a recommendation
from a committee then.
"A rather more punchy image"
It's a sad reflection on my powers of observation, but until I read the
e-mails in this thread I had no idea that the logo had changed! I now
realise that the 1999 Fixture Book and all the 1999 Gazettes carry a
different logo. I agree that the square mallet, "professional" hoop and one
ball convey a rather more punchy message than the previous logo. The
lettering arrangement makes you think for a moment - which I suppose is part
of the purpose.
All in all it does seem a somewhat odd decision by the Council to scrap the
new logo and all the more so for being in relation to a specialist subject
such as design. After all, is the primary purpose of a logo to attract
nonmembers or to amuse existing members? I have always assumed that the
former is correct. Unless the Council has received significant complaints
about the new logo being positively offensive, it is hard to fathom why they
would want to change it.
...There are some decisions, such as those with a significant impact on
croquet's public image or standing, which should be made by the entire
Council and not just by the few who happen to turn up to a particular Council
meeting. In this electronic age, what is to prevent Council members being
asked for their views by e-mail? This is not to suggest that meetings are
redundant, but that some decisions must require the votes of
all Council members.
[former member of Council and former chairman]
"Frustrated by the pedestrian nature of proceedings"
As a member of Council, I would like to sympathise with Liz Williams'
concerns. Regrettably, due to pressure of work, my attendance at Council
last year has not been as regular as I had hoped, but the many meetings I
have attended during the last five years have left me frustrated by the
pedestrian nature of proceedings. Individual committee meetings are often
productive and contain lively debate, but full Council meetings seem to me to
do as much harm as good. Liz quite rightly says that we do not appreciate
expertise in certain areas unless we are paying for it. Council's decision to
revert to the old logo leaves us wide open to justifiable allegations of
failure to move with the times.
However, there is change, as Quiller points out, and it is to be hoped that
this will result in many improvements. Associates must remember that Council
members give their time freely and should look at their successes as well as
[member of Council]
Minutes and a summary of voting are requested
...As someone who sat in the meetings that led to the revised logo it is nice
to know that the time of myself and many others was wasted. Perhaps the CA
office would provide minutes of the meetings that led to this decision and a
summary of who voted and which way they voted. My guess is the "old farts"
will doubtless stand for reelection. Strange also that the subject was not
covered in the Gazette!
The editor speaks, sans crystal ball
Why is it strange that this matter has not been covered in the Gazette? You
were at all the meetings, and you didn't pass on the information, so why
should anyone else? I was supplied with a laptop to perform the task of
editor, not a crystal ball.
Gail Curry, Editor
[The Croquet Gazette]
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On team selections: Shall they be open or closed?
Banned and barred - another retrograde step
When I announced the GB Mac team ten days ago, I said that the minutes would
be available from the C.A. Office. I regret to inform you that the Chairman
of Council has barred this from happening. He has also barred me from
distributing them personally.
It has been policy that minutes of selection meetings be available for around
18 months now. I do not believe that the Chairman has the right to request
that the minutes are withheld, but will abide by his decision nonetheless.
I would like to thank the many C.A. members who have supported the
publication of selection minutes during the last 18 months and who have
commented very positively on their format and content. I would also like to
thank the many members of overseas associations who have applauded our
attempts to become more open and accountable.
I can assure you that I will do my best to overturn what I believe to be
another retrograde step by the C.A.
Selection Committee Chairman
"A democratic attitude which is totally misguided"
I had not realised that minutes of Selection Committee meetings had been
published recently. I believe it is a very retrograde step to do this. It
has long been held that Selectors are not accountable for their decisions,
and rightly so. There will always be some who disagree and will argue the cause of
candidates whom the committee have already considered, but discarded. It
achieves nothing to publish minutes, except an attempt to establish a
democratic attitude, which, in this case, is totally misguided.
(President, Croquet Association)
Ensuring against risk of defamation
In the case of Selection Committee minutes, when there is an intent to
publish widely, it is particularly important that Council should scrutinise
the minutes before general release to ensure that there is no risk of
defamation. Whether you call this process "reporting" or "approval" is a
matter of taste.
Dirty laundry in the dressing rooms
What a good idea to publish the selection committee minutes! I am all for
'glasnost' and look forward to reading remarks such as "XYZ is an excellent
player but his/her abrasive personality will wreck the tour," or better, "ABC is strong and would make a good team member - pity about his/her habit of pilfering from dressing
rooms." I also look forward to the consequent actions and reactions.
P.S. Do any other sporting bodies publish selection committee
"Open selection can and does work in other sports"
According to our newspapers [in Australia] the English cricket selectors gave
an official explanation for the omission of Phil Tuffnell from the test team, saying that
he did not get on with other players or comply with the requirements of team
discipline. In recent years our cricket selectors have also given reasons
for the selection or omission of particular players. Some time ago I copied
some articles of this type and sent them to our croquet administrators in an
effort to convince them that open selection
can and does work in other sports.
It is important that such things be known so that the player can do something
about it. In the case of the pilfering people also need to know, for obvious
reasons. The publishing of such information guarantees, at least to some
extent, that it has been checked out and is reliable. Otherwise a player can
be omitted because one of the selectors believes that he has been guilty of
something which he did not do and which cannot be sustantiated; and neither
the player nor anyone else will know that the
unfair discrimination has taken place.
Of course, that is the reason people want to keep such things secret: they
WANT to be able to discriminate against particular players and treat them
unfairly without them being able to find out that it has been done.
P.S. - I hope no-one imagines that my remarks on this subject are intended
as criticism of the CA's selection procedure. Ours [in Australia] is even
more secretive, and I have been campaigning for years for more openness in
all aspects of croquet administration....
The oral tradition and constructive feedback
The way people are selected should be kept confidential; perhaps adopt a
similar stance to that of a job interview. If a person wishes to enquire as
to why they were/were not selected then they should be entitled to
constructive feedback. If a person wishes to find out why a third party was
not selected then they can ask that person themselves.
If your country's MAC team gets slaughtered, then have a go at the committee
for their selection procedure, but if they win or put up a good show, then as
far as I am concerned the selectors are doing things the right way.
Transparent, but anonymous
I pay my subscription and I want details of what my elected representatives
are doing. The CA, unlike freemasons, have an elected committee and I can see
no reason why their decisions cannot be transparent. By all means write the
minutes in an anonymous form: rather than AB said BC was a rotter, report the
committee felt that BC would not be compatible with the other members of the team, but to
totally obfuscate matters and hide behind total secrecy is not acceptable.
The CA needs to demonstrate that it is not a collection of old fuddy duddies.
[Webmaster, Oxford University Croquet Website]
What you have to do is obvious: you have to win
I was on the CA Selection Committee for some 20 years and was Chairman for
about half that time. We never even wrote any Minutes, let alone publish
them. We merely made an announcement that the following had been selected
for the Presidents Cup (in alphabetical order) and the other eights in
ranking order. The MacRobertson Trophy was a separate consideration but
What is the fuss about knowing what you have to do to be considered for
selection? I should have thought it was obvious that you have to win, or be
a finalist / semi-finalist in as many major events as possible. How will the
publication of minutes alter that?
I see nothing wrong with the Chairman of the Selection Committee announcing
at the beginning of the season that "the following events will be taken into
account..." so that likely contenders know what their targets are.
>From Mulliner to Solomon
The answers are:
(1) Times have changed and openness and accountability are more generally
accepted concepts than may have been the case when you were involved. As
soon as people ask for Selection Committee reasoning to be made public it is
difficult to justify a refusal without seeming high-handed and secretive.
(2) It is not always possible to decide the issue simply on the basis of
semi-final or final appearances because the same top players may hog these
places or a fluke result may unbalance the analysis. Having been a selector
for some years, I would say that we take a more rounded view and try an
assess each candidate's current playing strength and general form over the
past season. This is a process with a significant degree of subjectivity. As
a result, sometimes the selection decisions are close, as on this occasion,
and the individuals who were not selected are certainly entitled to know why.
Once that is accepted, it is hard to see why any other aspirants should not
also know what factors were taken into consideration.
Here's how to join the debate
The existence and growing popularity of the Internet is inevitably affecting
the nature and processes of organizational democracy in the croquet world.
The two series of excerpts from the Nottingham Board above illustrate exactly
how croquet's newsgroups - or e-mail conversation boards - facilitate active
and spirited debate on any and all issues. No more than several hundred
people currently subscribe to these boards. If you'd like to receive e-mails
from the Nottingham Board (England) or the Wyoming Board (America), click
here for instructions on how to subscribe and/or unsubscribe.
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Patience rewarded at 1999 USCA Nationals
Here's a picture of Johnny Osborn at the Meadow Club patiently waiting for
his opportunity to snatch victory from the hands of Bill Berne with a last
turn, last ball break for five wickets to win the 1999 US Croquet Nationals.
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To USCA management: Scrap the new Grand Prix
The new Grand Prix has proven to be one of those projects that sound great
on paper, but turn out to be more than the USCA can handle.
Since the original announcement of a new Grand Prix ranking system, the
posted results have faded from relevance, with the current rankings
reflecting results from no later than early May.
On the other hand, the USCA handicap system has been kept current and the
numbers posted on the USCA website throughout this year. As a system that
incrementally adjusts player ratings based on each win or loss, the handicap
system does a good job of ranking active players. Using handicap tracking
points to rank active players of the same nominal handicap, it is possible
to create a fairly accurate ranking index of the competition at a given
level of play.
The Grand Prix was never advertised as a replacement for the handicap rating
system, and no tournament director would use its results for seeding a
tournament draw. The only reason it was created was to encourage
participation in USCA-sanctioned tournaments by giving players another
"reward" for success. To serve this function and meet players'
expectations, the rankings can't just be a year-end summary -- they need to
be kept current and publicized throughout the year. If this is beyond the
capabilities of the USCA's limited resources, the effort involved in keeping
this program going would be better placed elsewhere.
One place where this effort could be well spent would be in making it easier
to get tournament formats and results prepared quickly and accurately. This
has long been a problem affecting the USCA's mission of serving its members.
One way this could be done would be to sponsor a standardized computer
program for tournament scheduling and reporting. The headquarters staff,
USCA clubs, and tournament directors would all benefit from a well-designed
system that automated many of the steps in formatting and reporting croquet
While the goals of the new Grand Prix are worthy, the burden of making this
admittedly redundant system work on an ongoing basis seems likely to divert
attention from what may be more pressing needs in the USCA. It is time for
the USCA management to scrap the project and move on.
The new USCA Grand Prix has not functioned as it was designed to function,
largely because the USCA headquarters database still has kinks which prevent
the extraction and reporting of accurate numbers - and consequent frequent
updates on the USCA Website. A project to remedy these errors has been
funded and planned for early next year. Creators of both the handicap system
and Grand Prix are careful to point out that neither system is designed as a
true national ranking. Rather, they are "performance indicators" which,
although reflecting relative prowess on the playing field, also reward
players for entering sanctioned tournaments. The USCA has no legitimate
national ranking system in place. - editor
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More reflections on "the other game"
Our recent story about the emergence of Golf Croquet as the focus of
"serious" tournament play was prompted by the Beverly Hills Invitational in
late August, 1999. It was the first major tournament to be played in the
United States under the World Croquet Federation Rules. One of its
organizers is still reflecting, as follows....
As the (albeit unacknowledged) co-founder of the Beverly Hills International
and one of the very few who watched every day, I have some thoughts on golf
croquet in general and the BHI in particular.
JUMP SHOTS: Shortly after the WCF golf croquet rules were announced, we had a
club tournament. Lawn damage was difficult to judge and faults that were or
were not called caused a few hard feelings. Some members who had played
quite a bit of Egyptian golf croquet were dismayed at losing the finesse of
'jawsing' their ball. On the plus side was the possible added excitement (for
spectators, TV etc) of seeing these shots played.
Talking to some of the Egyptian players at the BHI, I got the impression that
jump shots had not yet been accepted in Egypt. (So much for universal rules).
Referees who were called out on the lawn to watch jump shots didn't really
know what they were watching for and were very hesitant to call a fault even
when it was clear by their expressions that they felt one was probably
While there was one ESPN-worthy shot by one of the Abdelwahabs (a "hammer"
shot from corner 1 that hit the top of the hoop!), I say the jump shot is a
HALFWAY POINTS: The simplification of the halfway points is a great
improvement and, with slight modification, should work out fine.
Current WCF rules say that "A ball beyond the halfway line is returned to
a halfway point after the hoop in order is scored and all balls have stopped."
This works fine and is easy to follow but, in my opinion, there is no risk
if, in lagging to midcourt you go a little too far, you don't really lose
much. I suggest that such a ball should be returned to the previous corner
opponent's option). Only then will players think twice about lagging.
THE TOURNAMENT FORMAT: While the better tournament directors (in all croquet
tournaments) try to minimize it, the truth is that players in anything less
than Championship flight are frequently treated as second-class citizens. In
the Beverly Hills International, there was much grumbling from the "others."
While championship flight featured 19-point games in block play, "amateurs"
played only to 13 points. Where the championship ladder featured 2-out-of-3
game matches, first flighters played single games. While the finals of the
amateur flight played ONE 19 point game for the championship, the Pros played
best 3-of-5. (Near the end of the match, many on the sidelines agreed that
2-of-3 would have been plenty.)
These people all paid the same entry fee and should have been treated a
There was a young lady on the sidelines all week who should have gotten a
trophy. Huguette (hope I spelled it right) - actually joined the Beverly
Hills Croquet Club during tournament week - deserves to be recognized as
"Spectator of the Week," "Volunteer of the Week" and everything else in
between. Her great attitude proved infectious on the sidelines. She would do
any croquet club proud.
Hoping to get my knees well enough to play some more croquet,
President, Southern California Section, USCA
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