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Employees revolt over AMA firings

December 17th, 2007 · No Comments · Industry, Politics of Riding, Racing

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no_amaBoy, things got pretty heated over the AMA firings last week. Cycle News reports on two separate, strongly-worded letters from interested parties. The first, from former AMA president Ed Youngblood (read the entire letter here) indicates Ed is really pissed:

[…]

In my opinion, the current regime is monstrous, and I am simply dumbfounded that the AMA Board of Directors seems tolerant of this style of management, if not complicit. It has caused me great pain to watch the deterioration of the AMA, but I expect my unhappiness is nothing compared to that of the employees, volunteers, and supporters who have been directly affected by it. There is very little I can do about this situation except cease to be a party to it in any direct or indirect way.

[…]

The second letter, from AMA Superbike Media Manager Larry Lawrence, says AMA personnel are in “open revolt” (read the entire letter here):

[…]

I, along with many others inside the AMA, are not pleased at all with the atmosphere of fear Dingman has created among the loyal and hard-working AMA staff. My friends at the AMA, who’ve I’ve known and worked with for years, are afraid to talk to anyone about what’s going on. The threat of being fired is apparently being held over everyone’s head. There seems to be no dissenting opinion allowed from Dingmans’ company line. Some even fear their email and voice mails are being monitored and the leadership has done nothing to fight that impression.

My dealings with Dingman have been few. We met for the first time at Laguna Seca during the MotoGP weekend. He sent me an email asking what I thought of the new vision for the AMA. I thought it a little strange that he would ask my opinion after the new vision had already been announced. Perhaps he could have asked me beforehand so he might have been able to take differing points of view into account.

Instead of truly wanting my opinion, I took it to be an effort to find if I was loyal or not to his vision.

You may be thinking this sounds like open revolt of AMA personnel against its own leadership. You would be correct in that assumption.

[…]

This is some serious pisstivity.I have no idea where Dingman is going with the new vision. The AMA is badly broken and needs fixing. Whether Dingman’s vision of what’s broke, and how to fix it, align with my own is far from clear. But here’s the three things I do know from having been party to this kind of thing many, many times:

  • the AMA is a business and it’s broken. When someone new is brought in to fix a broken business the first thing that happens is a house cleaning.
  • People who have done a good job in the past often get cut in the house cleaning because they don’t fit. In fact, it’s often because they have been so good at the past they can’t let go of it. The new regime needs to reduce friction going forward. You can’t be constantly justifying yourself against the past, with old-timers continually arguing every move. You can’t drag people along. It just sucks too much energy.
  • The process of cutting people is ugly – especially if they have been good and loyal employees – and no one ever gets it right. It’s the worst job in the world. But it happens every day.

The big question for me is quite simple — Who is Rob Dingman’s AMA going to represent, the riders or the industry? Because we are not the same, and the AMA of the past has not done the riders many favors. Many of the staff and Directors have been there for years, some for decades. Former AMA Chairman Dal Smilie left last month, after more than 25 years. These people need to go, and more need to follow. If they had the answers we would already be enjoying them. The organization, or institution or whatever you want to call it, has not served us the way it should have and the people who have been running the AMA are responsible.

Having said that, I don’t mean to be disrespectful of those who have worked hard and it sounds as if these firings were handled very, very badly. That’s not a good sign. But the AMA has not done much of anything for me personally, or the broader dirt bike community in the South, Southeast, or Southwest ever. And I want that changed. I want the focus to be entirely different than what it was. I want the organization to do things that support us more effectively. Will the replacements serve us any better? I have no idea. We need to watch carefully for signs of what Dingman is really up to. If it’s not to fully and completely serve the riders in both legislative and commercial domains we need to pull our support and go elsewhere.

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