Ski Area Management (SAM) magazine has published the first article in a two part series, “Rescue Me: The National Ski Patrol has been through years of turmoil. Can it be saved?”, which proposes to explore the acrimonious multi-year battle between various factions of the US National Ski Patrol System, Inc.’s (NSP) membership. The battle has resulted in NSP vs. NSP civil litigation on two occasions over the past 8 years.
At first glance the SAM series appears to be an attempt to explore solutions to problems that have been plaguing the organization since 2005. The two warring factions are largely comprised of a majority of NSP’s senior leadership on the one hand that propose that a small group of vocal and well organized members are wasting the time of senior leaders on issues that are of little strategic importance to the organization or the majority of its members.
On the other side there is a loosely-coordinated group that fashions itself as “members’ rights” advocates attempting to force NSP senior leaders to re-focus on the strategic interests of the organization. They say the NSP has strayed in recent years toward a primary focus on the financial interests of resorts and other for-profit entities, and they would like to put the strategic focus back on skier and rider safety and care, and conservative actions to protect members’ rights in support of that strategy and protecting the NSP’s non-profit status.
There is certainly truth to many of the points noted in the article, and to other aspects of the acrimonious debate not discussed in the article. It would appear that NSP’s senior leaders have spent more time over the last several years dealing with questions regarding alleged leadership improprieties, and on re-writing the NSP’s Bylaws and Policies and Procedures to make it more difficult for members that may have concerns to have them heard by NSP leaders and to give NSP leaders broad latitude to sanction members that submit complaints that senior leaders claim are without merit.
Some of the key matters that the folks branding themselves as member rights advocates have been attempting to have addressed include:
An article published by Ski-Patrol.net in February 2013, Happy 75th Birthday NSP: Mission Accomplished?, highlighted many of the issues noted in the SAM article, and the level of acrimony seems to have only elevated.
The author of the SAM series is Skip King. Mr. King is a former non-volunteer patroller that, according to his bio at company Web site Reputation Strategies, now manages a small public relations consultancy that advises executives and companies on crisis management, brand promotion and restoration of reputations post-crisis.
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