We, the undersigned, respectfully submit these comments on the AGA policy that requires a continuous membership in order to participate in major tournaments where the winner will be an international representative of the AGA. (1).
We understand and recognize the need to ensure that the winners of these tournaments (who receive airfare, lodging, countless volunteer hours, and much more at the AGA's expense) are dedicated members of the AGA who wish to participate in the organization year-round—not just people who make an appearance only when there are attractive trips or prizes to be won.
However, we feel that the current policy harms those who are dedicated members of the AGA, who participate regularly in AGA events and in Go evangelism, but whose membership occasionally lapses for short periods of time primarily due to mundane reasons. These occasional lapses affect not only those who would win these tournaments and receive the immense benefits that such a position representative of the AGA affords, but also all those who do not stand a significant chance of winning but who find that simple participation in these AGA tournaments is a fulfilling and rewarding experience. Despite the good intentions of this policy, we feel that overall, it does more harm than good, and should be revised in order to better promote the AGA's goals.
Much discussion has taken place regarding grace periods or improved notification for soon-to-lapse memberships. While these are both laudable goals, we believe that these would still fall short of a true solution, and likely require significantly more time and resources from AGA volunteers.
We suggest that membership with the AGA should be able to be retroactively renewed, allowing for full coverage with no lapses and no resulting penalty to the member's ability to play in any AGA tournaments. We assert that a member's willingness to retroactively pay their appropriate dues shows just as strong a commitment to the organization as those who pay identical dues in advance. We believe that this policy change would further the aims of the AGA by increasing participation in major events, better promoting the game in the US, with a minimal cost in terms of occasionally allowing those who are not as dedicated to the AGA to participate.
Finally, we recognize that the AGA is a volunteer organization, and that each of you have put in countless hours to this organization. We wish to make explicit that our criticism of this policy is not a criticism of the AGA, of you, or of your considerable contributions to the organization. We thank each of you for all that you have done and continue to do in the service of us, the organization, and the great game of Go.
(Feel free to add your name and AGA number to this page, or email your name and AGA number to rosswerner at users dot sourceforge dot net, and I will add your information only to the email that I send to the AGA Board of Directors.)