IISA To Be "Right-sized" in 2005!

Press Release Euphemizes, But Does Not Eulogize

[Editor's note: As a journalist, I have read hundreds of press releases, but few as rich in euphemism as the one I got today from the International Inline Skating Association. In case you haven't been keeping up with the news, the trade organization is being restructured. It will no longer have an executive director and will no longer run the inline instructors certification program. Here's the press release:]

"Inline Skating Association Restructures: Mission Accomplished; Will Respond to Future Challenges

The board of directors of the International Inline Skating Association (IISA) agreed today that the group has accomplished its original mission and will subsequently right-size the association in 2005."

[Oh, really? Mission accomplished? ... As I understand it, skate sales are in the toilet, and participation in the sport is falling!

In an email, Keith D'Entremont of Roces USA expained what the board (he is the chairman) means by "mission accomplished":

"In simple terms," Keith said, "the IISA was established with a three main goals:
• promoting safety education
• protecting access
• promoting skater education.

"Through the certified instructor program, national skate patrols, and government relations activities, the IISA addressed these issues effectively."

But don't we need to continue to address these issues? ... I would thnk so. But I was so delighted and amazed by what came next in the press release that I fogot all about it. A brand new word: "right-size," a new verb! ... Has anyone ever heard this word before? It's a wonder. We all know -- and they must know we know -- that it means "downsize. But apparently, by replacing "down" with "right" they are attempting to remove the whiff of defeat from the situation. ... Anyhow, you've got to hand it to these guys: They are brilliant! Now if they could only come up with a good inline skating ad campaign.]

The not-for-profit trade association, whose members include Rollerblade, K2, Salomon, Bauer Nike, Roller Derby, Roces, Verducci, Hyper Wheels, and Concept Sports, provided a central foundation for the industry segment during both phenomenal growth and difficult challenges in its 13 year history.

Established in 1991, the IISA was the by-product of a consumer membership organization begun by Rollerblade with an agenda promoting safety, education and access for inline skaters and the emerging sport. In the early years, the group represented all aspects of the quickly growing community of manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, athletes and enthusiasts. As participation grew 30 percent annually and skaters began skating in different environments, several sport-specific functions of the IISA developed into independent organizations such as the National Inline Hockey Association (which later was folded into USA Hockey Inline), USA Inline Racing and later, the Aggressive Skaters Association.

"The IISA, through the leadership of Kalinda Mathis, has done an amazing job supporting and strengthening an entire industry throughout the past decade," commented Jeremy Stonier, President of the IISA. "The instructor programs, government lobbying, and public relations activity of the association accelerated the worldwide acceptance of the sport and contributed to its incredible rise in popularity -- and that is something we can all be very proud of."

Robert O. Naegele Jr., IISA President Emeritus remarked, "The IISA was a 'circle-the-wagon' response from all of us who love the sport. From the grassroots leadership of skaters like David Cooper to the dedication and expertise of IISA Legal Counsel Kent Correll together as athletes, novices, professional racers, extreme skaters, hockey players, race promoters and manufacturers, we developed a great team to protect and promote our passion."

In 1994, the group stepped up its efforts in education. The Instructor Certification Program (ICP) seeded inline education programs all over the world including Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Over 3000 skaters have been certified to teach, resulting in millions of people learning to inline skate. In addition, the Association's National Skate Patrol program provided free braking lessons to skaters in urban parks throughout the U.S. NSP initiated monitored group social skates through city streets -- early iterations of the famous 20,000 participant Night Skate that today occurs each week in Paris and other international cities. The IISA's Gear-up! Safety program was awarded by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, the first time the award had ever been given to a manufacturer's organization.

"The IISA is a model for the value of an industry taking off their completive hats and working together to accomplish common goals to everyone's benefit. Dedicated industry leaders who actively participated in the Association along with the creative talents and efforts of its volunteers, instructors and staff resulted in a fluid, successful organization that grew a new sport and established an industry in a relatively short period of time," stated IISA Executive Director, Kalinda Mathis.

The Association's government relations efforts challenged the "No Rollerblading" signs that popped up across the United States as inline continued to be America's fastest growing sport. The IISA developed grassroots forces to fight skate bans and establish pro-skater legislation at the local level. Additionally, several states gave skaters the same rights to the road as cyclists.

More recently, the Association helped grow the inline marathon movement, advancing awareness that long-distance skating is fun, and a great fitness alternative. The IISA established a partnership for the first ever Walt Disney World Inline Marathon and more inline marathons are being added around the country. Finally, the IISA served as a credible resource to the media spearheading its acceptance of the sport which peaked at 32 million in 1995 and leveled to 19 million today, cementing its place as one of the top fitness activities in America along the way.

Chairman Keith D'Entremont notes that "these accomplishments have been achieved by individuals such as Kris Simeone leading the instructor program and Rick Short leading the patrols. Many individuals can be deservedly proud of their contributions, and the skating public is better-off as a result."

The restructure will result in the departure of Kalinda Mathis, who served as Executive Director seven of her eleven years with the IISA. Ms. Mathis will join the SGMA International as Director of Marketing and will serve on its leadership team, led by incoming CEO Tom Cove, that will transition and renew the organization in 2005.

The participating inline companies will continue to meet together to react to future challenges as they occur. The IISA's Instructor Certification program will be managed by USA Fit of Houston, Texas, and the National Skate Patrol Program will operate as an independent organization.



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Copyright 2006 by Robert Burnson

Related Reading:

IISA downsized; director leaves as part of restructuring (Planet story)

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