In US Fencing, there has been a trend to standardize operations. Many of these moves are good for our sport. Some examples with historical context to our audience, are the referee rating system, originally conceived by George Kolombatovich and Ralph Zimmermann, and the referee seminar, conceived by Jon Moss, which has proven so successful the FIE has adopted many portions of it. Yet another is that Referees now must submit to a background check before they can be hired to work any sanctioned tournament and they must be cleared by SafeSport, this is for tournaments at every level.
In other aspects of domestic fencing there has also been this trend toward standardization. The national office has handled the NAC operations and taken it away from local organizers (There have been comments that the locals could do a better job but no matter your side on that argument, but US Fencing’s constituency must admit that it knows exactly what to expect attending a NAC). Recently the national office centralized the registration process for SYCs, RYCs and ROCs. The jury is still out of the effectiveness of that process, but it is clear that the trend standardization and nationalization is here to stay.
To this end, the Ombudsman Committee is requesting for the next natural step in the standardization process and that is a national black card sanctions database. We believe there should be a record of every person who has received a black card at any sanctioned event throughout the season. Our rationale is simple, coaches and spectators travel from event to event and the bad behavior is usually not an isolated event. There are many repeat offenders who make it an unpleasant work environment for our volunteers.
Should we have sanctions against people who constantly get kicked out of tournaments for poor sportsmanship? We cannot answer yet that without the data we need to track offenders. We do know, anecdotally, that there is a small number of people who run afoul of our standards regularly and there is no way to track this behavior. If we can track the referees of every sanctioned tournament, then we should be able to compile and measure the number of black cards given at these events and make our events a better experience for all involved.