North American Flyball Association

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Edited transcript for the NAFA Candidate Chat October 24th, 2007

moderatorOK, we'll go ahead and get started. Candidates can open with a statement/greeting.
Alisa_-_Heat_WaveHello to everyone. I look forward to chatting with you all again tonight and finding out more about what concerns you have, your regional issues, and what you enjoy about this great sport of ours. Having such an extended "family" is one of the things I enjoy most about flyball. Let the games begin...
Chris.VWHello everyone. My name is Christine VanWert. Thank you for joining us in chat tonight. I hope you all are as happy to be here as I am. I'm glad to have another opportunity to participate in NAFA candidate chat. NAFA has a bright future ahead and I look forward to your questions. Good luck to my fellow candidates as well as to our competitors in attendance tonight.
Scott_SI would like to thank everyone for coming. The best part of the election process is that you get the opportunity to ask questions and voice your opinions. During the election, people are more willing to speak up and your input is essential to the sport evolving in a positive way. Regardless of how I answer your questions and whether you decide to vote for me, this chat and the input it provides is hugely important for our sport. So, don't hold back, let us know what you think. Ask away
DaleSmithI'd like to thank everyone for coming out this evening. I enjoy this chat format as a way to discuss issues and get other people's points of view. I think it has served us well as a Board communication vehicle and fits the election time as well. Looking forward to your questions and thoughts.
Zachary_ChernikGood Evening everyone. Thanks for being here tonight and helping discuss topics that are important to the future of NAFA. I believe this is just one of many ways we can use technology to help communication from everyone that enjoys this sport.
moderatorAs we've mentioned at previous chats, not all candidates may be able to make any given chat due to schedules, etc. We don't clear these dates in advance with the candidates.
moderatorOur first question: Kim: I would like to know how the candidates plan to promote flyball to the general public - some strides have been made but what other things can be done
Chris.VWOne of the things I'd like NAFA to take full advantage of is print media. There are some very good dog sport magazines out there. People tend to hang on to them and pass them around. Advertising is relatively inexpensive when compared to other media. Also, we are not limited to dog mags. A good general interest magazine might serve us well, too. It would have to be researched. Cost/circulation, etc.
DaleSmithAs a Club we try to promote flyball in neighboring areas where its not yet developed. We're co-hosting a tourney this spring in Kansas City for example to try to get it restarted there. We worked hard to help Colorado start as well. As a Board member I try to look for opportunities to make people with dogs aware of how accessible our sport is. That usually comes from demo opportunities or media plays (articles, TV shows, etc). I think we need to continue to make NAFA flyball known to as many dog owners as possible. I also think we need to encourage Clubs all over our territory to show it off to others. I think these local efforts can often be more effective.
Scott_SNAFA saw a huge increase in participation following the large exhibitions that were done during half time at the Harlem Globetrotter shows. I believe we need to let the general public See the sport. Exhibitions and holding tournaments in conjunction with large dog events are huge
KimWould you go about helping get those things done?
Zachary_ChernikI think that we (NAFA) still need to know who makes up flyball. Marketing to the general public is great but we need to spend our time finding the correct target markets to go after first. With this in mind, NAFA needs to understand who the current people are running in NAFA. Are we more rural, suburbs or city? Demographics would help us get started in the right direction. Also, NAFA needs a way to track growth of all the new people that join.
Alisa_-_Heat_WaveMy team and I have participated in demos for the Rattlers Arena football and we do several annual demos in conjunction with public awareness for dog and human health. We also teach classes and co-host tournaments in other parts of the region to help promote flyball. Personally, I have taken out ads for my flyball dogs in their parent breed magazines to help bring flyball awareness to people who usually only do conformation or obedience type events.
DaleSmithIf others have ideas, I know the Marketing committee is willing to listen. Cost is always a concern, but sometimes we can find creative ways around cost with reciprocal arrangements.
KimMy area usually invites the news and local newspapers. But how as a board will you promote not just your local area
Chris.VWI think it would be good to develop a PR package for hosting clubs and make it accessible online. A lot of them might not know how to get media attention or what to say. A guideline for them would help.
Alisa_-_Heat_WaveI think a "board" is a collection of individuals. So, if all individuals can push flyball in their areas as well as brainstorming for a more global approach, that would be the best way to move flyball awareness along. Personally, I have found that one on one contact with people who attend the large dog events and general public events is the best way to get word out. Seeing it in person is much more interesting to them than getting flyers or other print media. That's just been my experience though.
Chris.VWLocal promotion is important. Flyball is is played at the local level. The closest thing to "national" attention is Cynosports.
Scott_SOne of the most important items in promoting the sport is ensuring that when people are interested, there are appropriate places for them to go and explore that interest. NAFA gets numerous inquiries where the closest place for them to see flyball or train is hours away. One thing we really need to do is promote this at events for dog trainers. These are the people who know the dogs locally. These are also the people who teach and get people interested in doing things with their dogs. We need to reach these people and get them interested in starting teams
Zachary_ChernikLet's look at profiling an event per region. Looking into how NAFA as an organization can help each region since each area is unique in nature. It would be a challenge but we can succeed if we all work together.
moderatorNext question: barbaraflorida: Do any of the candidates feel NAFA flyballers would be better served by having all dogs issued a height card by a single measurement or a three measurement effort ? I know where the *one year* rule came from, but pitch it out and start fresh -- get them measured and leave them alone. Whatever *system* you decide to measure with, whatever inch break you decide to give. Dragging the process out over Years is part of the controversy of measuring, Imo.
Chris.VWFirst, I support keeping measuring "optional". Optional or going to a "mandatory" system is a question I would like to see the delegates answer. Second, I think the three matching measurements is fair. Not everyone agrees with this so, again....this needs delegate input.
DaleSmithAs a Board we've discussed having measuring judges similar to VMO's or other roles that some agility organizations and others use. I think if we go by one measurement with a single challenge, we need finer control over the measuring process and who's doing the measuring. I'm not convinced we'd see less non-conforming stands under a one measurement system than we see now.
Alisa_-_Heat_WaveI see where you are coming from and, since I started racing before height cards, I can say that I don't honestly know if height cards were a good idea or not. It was meant to save time but handlers still do not have to measure. I have 7 height dogs and only one has a height card - the one I got on my first height dog right after the height card rule came out. I do think that having to have signatures from different judges is a good attempt at trying to keep it fair and not have people cheat. I do not feel that getting a height card by one judge measuring would have the same effect.
Scott_SI'm not sure that I'm in favor of a single measurement system. In agility, there is a 4 inch range in regards to jump heights. Only a small portion of those dogs fall on the cusp (within a 1/2 inch of the cut off). Given that we measure by the inch, almost every dog is on the cusp. So, one measurement may be inaccurate. Should all dogs get height card? I'm not sure. There are arguments for and against this.
DaleSmithI would agree that requiring a height card under a one measure system or the current system could go to delegate vote. I believe there are some dogs out there running at a height and hoping they don't get challenged. In the lower divisions, challenges are pretty rare - at least in my experience. Really in all divisions they're pretty rare. Again, I think this should be a delegate decision. The key to delegate decisions is putting out a concise question that can be clearly answered by the delegates whenever possible.
Zachary_ChernikMeasuring is a hot topic and stressful for judges. I think that NAFA should ask the delegates to vote yes or no to look at changing how measuring is done. If the majority think that we should look into other options, then we can start to focus in that direction. I would also poll the judges to get their take on measuring.
barbaraFloridaI know we do not Have to measure. But, I am not willing to enter my height dog, get a challenge, get a higher measure from *this* judge and have our efforts thrown out. and there are people willing to try to hurt a team this way. I would rather have a card that is not going to be challenged -- even at $100 <G>. Measuring should not be a racing strategy. It should be used to determine the team's break -- the height of one dog and that is It.
Alisa_-_Heat_WaveI know that others feel the same way as you do and, if NAFA is going to have height cards, they need to mean something. Finding a way to ensure they are done correctly may take looking at how the judges are trained rather than changing more rules about measuring. It is definitely not an easy subject in anyone's mind.
Scott_SRegardless of whether everyone gets height cards, a system of check and balances is needed. No height card should be forever without a system to challenge it. Checks and balances ensure the credibility of the system
Chris.VWWe could make that "challenge system" simpler than it is now. The BFA Board retained the right to remeasure any dog that was issued a height card. They use the same wicket method of measuring that we do and they do not have the heated controversies over measuring that we do. They do not require that competitors "challenge" other competitors. Rather, the BFA Board says height cards can be checked on a random basis.
Zachary_ChernikMaybe an idea which comes from my years playing golf is the honor system. Each team writes down their dogs jump height for the event that morning. If the height dog is challenged at the end of the day and there is a difference of 2 inches not 1 inch in jump height the club receives a warning. After 2 warnings that dog is put on probation for being used as a height dog for 1 year. The 2 inch difference would have to be used since a dog can be border line for a jump height, being off by more than 1+ inches in measurement should be a penalty of some sort. This would allow the talked about 5 inch difference for jumping to be incorporated with the current 4 inch reduction.
moderatorNext question - actually two related questions - stuart.van: With the advent of maximum heats per team, would any of the current candidates support a maximum heat per dog if such a proposal came to the board during your tenure? ----john_hendriks: with the max # of heats now being 35 per day per team does that still seem to many or just enough
DaleSmithThe current limit of 35 heats was reached by thinking about what's generally safe for a dog and also considering various tournament formats. I think in our current system, that 35 is a good limit per team.
Alisa_-_Heat_WaveI don't see how I could support a maximum heat per dog unless I had information on that particular dog - i.e. how fit is it, how old, etc. I know that some dogs can handle a whole lot more racing than other dogs. Personally, I do not like to push any of my dogs past 30 heats a day. I can see the toll it takes on them...and I am doing this for their fun too.
Chris.VWI think the 35 # of heats per day was adopted to limit the number of heats any individual dog might be asked to run. Its more difficult to enforce a heat limit on individual dogs since teams can double enter in some circumstances.
Alisa_-_Heat_WaveAnd when you have 6 dogs on a team, 35 heats is very doable and gives every dog a chance at a rest.
Scott_SI would have to think about the maximum number of heats per dog. One of the issues is that the only ability to track that would be via the database. If a dog ran too many heats, would there be a penalty in regards to the tournament, or only for the team/dog? I would be interested in knowing how this would be run prior to saying how i would vote
DaleSmithI understand that dogs can still be run more by double running them in two classes. I think we now reach a point were there are a large number of dogs out there in widely varying states of fitness. I would not presently support a maximum heats per dog for mainly one reason - we have no way to automatically track heats per dog.
Alisa_-_Heat_WaveI'm also wondering if we need to see a lot more enforcement of common sense on the teams from the people in charge, usually the captain. I know that some people will run dogs into the ground for glory and points, but at some point people need to be responsible without a rule forcing them to be. a perfect world that might happen...
Zachary_ChernikI think we need to start looking into the safety of our dogs and also a fairness across all regions for which everyone pays a fee to NAFA. Is it fair if one area pays $20 for 50 heats and another pays the same for 12. As for the safety....we need to involve the DVM's and get their take as a dog's ability can vary greatly. By putting a limit, this might help get more dogs that sit on the sideline more running time.
Scott_SOne issue that becomes really important here is regional differences. There are regions where 7 races over the weekend is the norm. Other regions race 7 a day. When the BoD discussed the max # of heats, we spent quite a bit of time trying to find a solution that dealt equally with all regions.
stuart.vanThanks for the comments. I hope that common sense can be left individuals and that hopefully fellow competitors and the RD may make kind suggestions to people if they see anything that doesn't seem to set right with them. I understand the team maximum instituted to prevent too strenuous of days to be placed on teams. The differences across regions is certainly an interesting dynamic when it comes to racing formats.
DaleSmithThere are also a wide range of dogs out there. For some, 35 heats is nothing, for others, 20 over a day may be too much. At some point we have to trust/hope that the owner of the dog has their companion's best interests at heart. We don't win a fortune by winning a flyball tournament or getting a title.
Alisa_-_Heat_WaveI see a problem with trying to get DVMs involved. Finding one who has a grasp of a sport dog is tough. I get all sorts of dogs not in decent shape to compete but who's owners swear their vet said it was okay. And, some dogs can only handle a couple races a day, while another dog may be in good enough shape to double run in multi/regular without much problem.
MargePowerPackAre age limits a possibility?
Chris.VWI agree, Alisa. And, one more difficulty I see is "how" does NAFA police this?
Alisa_-_Heat_WaveExactly, Chris. Do we ask for Vet letters before each tournament? LOL
DaleSmithHere too (by age) I think it varies by dog and circumstance. I let my old guy run a couple heats now and again. I would never make him a primary dog on a team.
Scott_SI agree that common sense needs to happen here. One thing I really want to stress is that I'm not sure any of us want the BoD to make playing flyball really difficult. While vet clearances would be nice, the more obstacles we place in the way of the common person playing, the less likely they are to play
stuart.vanAs a veterinarian myself I know that it is very difficult to gauge a dogs ability simply by looking at them, and in some cases that obese dog that looks like it can't handle flyball, it's flyball that's going to really help them. Thanks again for your thoughts on this.
Zachary_ChernikDVMs that run flyball, which there are a few that I know of in NAFA. To ask a DVM that has never been to the sport is not the idea to get their permission.....a&c
MargePowerPackWe have a vets class that has an age limit of 7. We limit their races so why can't we limit all dogs in that age bracket?
Scott_SSome dogs at 7 are fully capable of many more heats than 16, other 7 year olds are not. Is it fair to restrict a dog based on age even though they are fully capable of running on a regular class team?
DaleSmithBased on what I know, I would not favor restricting a dog based solely on age. And again, we have no way to track the number of heats run by an individual dog presently.
Scott_SThat actually comes into a judging issue. If the dog is struggling and can no longer compete safely, the judge should excuse the dog
Alisa_-_Heat_WaveBut some dogs can handle that. Jazz is 10 1/2 but I can still put her on a regular team as a height dog if in a pinch. Her just 8 year old daughter can't even handle running full time on a vets team. It's going to be a very individual thing with the dogs. Again, we need the owners to have their dog's best interests at heart and, unfortunately, not all of them will.
bcsamI don't think NAFA should be anymore restrictive than it has to be. Limits and rules are the last resort. Good common sense of owners is the first line of defense
moderatorNext question: bcsam: I have a question for BoD candidates. Is a candidate for the BoD representing their region or all regions?
Zachary_ChernikAll Regions and beyond!
Alisa_-_Heat_WaveA candidate for the Board should come with their regional issues but be ready to work for every region. Each region has individual concerns and ways of doing things but we need to work for the good of all or we'll shatter into individual regions with no cohesion.
DaleSmithWhile each Board member has more experience in their own region, we all have to remember that we represent all of NAFA. We bring a diverse set of experiences with us - that makes for great discussions and debates - but when all is said and done, we make a decision about what we feel is best for our sport and our organization as a whole.
Chris.VWA Board member represents All regions. That includes regions that might not even be formed or thought of yet.
Scott_SI believe that we bring what we know to the BoD. What we know is a combination of our region and the places we've competed. The broader the experience the better. However, when it comes to voting, a candidate needs to put aside their 'personal' feelings and look at how the decision effects every region.
Zachary_ChernikI agree with Scott that when it is time to vote on an issue, the decision on the vote has to be based on each and every region and the future well being of NAFA.
Chris.VWI think we also need to bring "curiosity" to our thinking and problem-solving. We should be willing to ask questions and seek out expert advice when our experience limits us.
moderatorNext question: bcsam: At times the BoD discusses issues that are not to be made public. Are you willing to commit to keeping these private discussions totally private and not divulging information even when you disagree with the majority?
Zachary_ChernikIt's part of Roberts Rules of governing and also for the well being of the business which has competition in the market place.
Alisa_-_Heat_WaveBeing on the Board is a great responsibility. By gossiping about things that need to remain confidential a person is not living up to the delegates' expectations of them. Some matters are not for public consumption and that is just how it has to be. Whether I agree or don't agree with the majority would have no bearing on whether I would keep private issues private. That would be a no brainer for me.
Scott_SThat goes without question. Information that is supposed to be private and leaked only hurts the organization. It was deemed confidential for a reason
Chris.VWA Board member needs to be aware of their responsibility to the Board And to the organization. The Board has nine members on it that work together for the best interests of flyball. The organization belongs to all of us who participate in it and are elected by them. We have a duty to both.
DaleSmithThis is an absolute requirement. Some of these issues can be disciplinary in nature, others can span a wide range of issues. Being on the Board cannot be a source of gossip for your friends. It can be a serious responsibility. It can also be hard to accept the decision of the Board when you were against the decision made - but as a Board member - you support the final decision made by the Board as a whole - regardless of your personal stand on the issue. We have a number of "spirited" discussions on various topics. But in the end, we all remain friends and work for a set of common goals. One person can't do anything all by themselves.
Chris.VWTo be clear, issues that need to be discussed in private absolutely must remain private for the integrity of the Board.
bcsamThe reason to ask the above two questions is that they are key to the running of this organization. Commitment by everyone to the organization is basic. And the ability to discuss sensitive issues and keep them private are bedrock foundations for the organization. Committing to these before the election is a promise that we all should make to this organization. Thanks everyone for attending and listening and supporting NAFA flyball.
moderatorOK, with no other questions, we'll go ahead and wrap up tonight. We had a long chat last time so a bit shorter this time will be a nice change. We have one more opportunity coming up after Cynosports for a candidate chat. Closing statements from candidates are welcome now.
DaleSmithI'd like to thank everyone for coming out tonight. I appreciate the time you take to be involved in NAFA and to make your opinions on topics known. I appreciate your efforts to be informed voters as well. As always, I can be reached by email - - with any thoughts or comments you might have. I enjoy working for NAFA - and my family and I really enjoy NAFA flyball (humans and canines included). Thanks everyone.
Alisa_-_Heat_WaveThank you every one who joined us tonight. I do enjoy your questions and points of view. It is always so refreshing to talk with flyball family on various issues. You all keep me humble and well stocked with new ideas and different ways of looking at things. I hope that by my answers in these chats, you will feel comfortable voting for me in the upcoming election. I feel honored to have been a part of the process thus far and will continue to do my best for you as we travel along together in our chosen sport. Good racing over the coming weekends and I hope to see some of you at Cynosports next week! Until then,
Scott_SI would like to thank everyone for coming. The questions were extremely informative for me. Hopefully the answers we provided you were enlightening. Looking forward to seeing everyone at the next chat and if you have questions in the meantime, email me at
Chris.VWThank you, everyone for attending chat tonight. Your questions have shown just how much you care about our sport and about NAFA. I have learned a great deal from these discussions. I am available always at or through my blog, "it's Just an Opinion" at Have a Great evening!
Zachary_ChernikThanks everyone for attending this chat tonight. I look forward to the next chat and future leadership chats to discuss issues and ideas from all regions.
moderatorIf you have questions you would like asked on the final chat but may not be able to attend, send your questions to - try to include "chat question" in the subject of your email. We'll compile them (combining any similar questions) and ask them during the next chat so you can read them in the transcript. Thanks again to everyone for their participation this evening.

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