“Membership Growth” via Hostile Takeovers – OSOA

OFSAA was just the start of Swim Ontario’s foray into hostile takeover attempts.  Unsuccessful in commandeering OFSAA, Swim Ontario set its sights on an easier target… a target that could not stand on its own:

OSOA – The Ontario Swimming Officials Association

All swimmers and all parents of swimmers know OSOA. OSOA was responsible (pre-SO take over) for officiating all swim meets in Ontario and almost all parents at one point or another have been an OSOA official at some point in time.  Perhaps you were recruited from the stands in the last moment at a swim meet to help out as a timekeeper and with that willingness to help you made were an OSOA official making the operation of the meet possible.

What most swimmers and most parents may not be aware of is that the leadership of OSOA over years and years invested heavily – both in time and in money – to develop the curriculum, the website which housed both the database of all OSOA members including histories of their courses and their certifications and in recent years offered online education so that becoming an official was made as easy as possible.

At its peak OSOA was able to claim thousands upon thousands of parents and volunteers as officials. And for that very reason, OSOA became Swim Ontario’s next target. The opportunity that taking over OSOA presented meant that Swim Ontario had the potential to claim as many as 10,000 volunteer officials as “members”. The boost to the illusion of growth in the sport of swimming would be dramatic, and the opportunity to apply for additional grants from the government using these “fake” growth stats simply to tempting to pass on.

This is the leadership mindset at Swimming Natation Canada and Swim Ontario… instead of actually working to create an environment that builds the sport, instead of developing cooperative partnerships to develop greater opportunities in the sport for all Canadians, the leadership of these organizations took to taking over any organization related to swimming, by any means necessary. In the case of OSOA, even if it meant destroying years of labour, years of effort, years of experience, it meant nothing to SNC and SO.  All that mattered was obtaining power, and then using that power to further enforce their dictatorial powers.

It must be noted that taking over a volunteer organzation was not enough for Swim Ontario. Not only would SO use the new head count of officials as “members” to bolster its data sets, but SO implemented fees for officials. No longer was volunteering sufficient, Swim Ontario added to its registration process that all volunteers must pay a fee to volunteer. Think about that.

Jeff Holmes – a swim meet official I guarantee every swimmer and every parent will recognize by face if not by name – addressed a letter to Swim Ontario on the topic of OSOA’s take over; here is the letter in its entirety:

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To download the letter from OSOA to all its volunteer officials regarding the takeover by Swim Ontario, CLICK HERE.