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 Post subject: Tap?
Post #1 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:18 am 
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One of the issues discussed at the AGA board meeting (and again at the general assembly) at congress was: Should the AGA "tap" prize money won by players representing the AGA in international events? That is, if you represent the AGA and win some money, should you have to give a portion of that money back to the AGA? The particular number thrown around was 20%, with a cut off of $2000-- if you win less than that, you wouldn't have to give any of it back to the AGA.

It seems like there may be more international events with larger prize funds in the future, so it is a good time to decide this. So, what do you guys think?

Try to form an opinion before reading this, as it will probably bias you:
The EGF apparently taps its representatives to the tune of 50%. Asian associations also tap their representatives, but they provide much higher levels of service than the AGA does and thus aren't directly comparable.

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Post #2 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:44 am 
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I'm curious if the AGA provides (or plans to provide) plane tickets, room and board for these international competitions?

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Post #3 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:12 am 
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Didn't Lee Sedol quit playing for 1.5 years over a dispute surrounding the KBA tap? (I think his situation was a little different as he was going to China on his own, etc.)

It's probably okay to have a prize tap, but strong players should be surveyed to make sure it isn't so large that they find it a deterrent to competing.

The other (admittedly more rude) question would be: are the U.S. reps winning enough that it would be a significant source of revenue in the first place?

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Post #4 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:18 am 
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mw42 wrote:
I'm curious if the AGA provides (or plans to provide) plane tickets, room and board for these international competitions?


That was along the lines of my thoughts when I first heard the proposal. For the upcoming mind game olympics, yes. But that will not be true for all international events (another upcoming event--the name of which I forgot--is paying for the player's flights and room/board), so the question is independent of whether the AGA is footing some sort of cost for the particular event.

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Post #5 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:25 am 
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snorri wrote:
The other (admittedly more rude) question would be: are the U.S. reps winning enough that it would be a significant source of revenue in the first place?


At the moment, no. But it would be best, if it is decided that it is a good policy, to have the policy in place long before it's actually needed.

I did not attend, but apparently this was indeed discussed with strong players in the strong player's meeting at congress.

Also, since the US will soon (it appears) be starting a professional certification program with assistance from the Korean Baduk Association, hopefully we will have players capable of winning internationally within the next 10-20 years, if not sooner.

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Post #6 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:57 am 
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daniel_the_smith wrote:
snorri wrote:
The other (admittedly more rude) question would be: are the U.S. reps winning enough that it would be a significant source of revenue in the first place?


At the moment, no. But it would be best, if it is decided that it is a good policy, to have the policy in place long before it's actually needed.


I agree on that point. It would be harder to introduce later.

It's a very interesting question if you look further down the road. One potential upside of having no tap (or a competitively low one) would be to encourage players to pursue the professional path in the U.S. once we have a professional program in place. What would happen then? Maybe players who can't make pro in Asian countries will try the U.S. (Even if our standards aren't lower there will be players who will assume they are.) Will we then be flooded with washed-out Asian insei? Or will even more well established pros defect in favor of the lower perceived tax? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? What is to be learned from the EGF experiences?

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Post #7 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:01 pm 
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I don't agree with tapping into the players' prize money. Players can, of course, donate some portion of the prize money, but when it is made a requirement, it seems like a punishment for doing well, especially if it is a percentage of the prize money.

Instead of tapping prize money, I would propose having an entry fee for anyone that wants to compete to become a representative. That way, everyone pays a fee to support the AGA, and prize winners still have the choice of whether or not to donate money.

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Post #8 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:06 pm 
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snorri wrote:
...Maybe players who can't make pro in Asian countries will try the U.S. ... Will we then be flooded with washed-out Asian insei? ...


From what I heard, it seems likely that the upcoming American pro system will probably require citizenship, not just green cards, precisely to prevent this.

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Post #9 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:11 pm 
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daniel_the_smith wrote:
...
From what I heard, it seems likely that the upcoming American pro system will probably require citizenship, not just green cards, precisely to prevent this.


It certainly is a good thing to keep those green card holders out, as they aren't Americans, right? :-)

Anyway, is there really an upcoming "American pro system"? I must have missed the memo. I know people have fiddled with the idea in the past, but I never knew that any discussion ever amounted to any realistic possibility.

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Post #10 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:12 pm 
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Difficult question. As a baseline, I think it is fair to "tap" prize money for reimbursement of travel and other costs (e.g., if the AGA paid $1000 for the winner to attend an event, the AGA could tap a certain percentage up to $1000).

Beyond that, I don't think any tap should exceed the value of the support given to the player. But I think a tap is better than an up-front fee.

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Post #11 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:20 pm 
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Kirby wrote:
Anyway, is there really an upcoming "American pro system"? I must have missed the memo. I know people have fiddled with the idea in the past, but I never knew that any discussion ever amounted to any realistic possibility.


Maybe I should start a new thread to discuss this. As I understand it: the Korean Baduk Association has offered to give us money to start a pro certification tournament. Pros certified by us would be recognized by the Korean pro system and allowed to play in Korean pro tournaments. We would likewise allow Korean pros to play in any American pro events. The board enthusiastically instructed the president to look into implementing this. At the general assembly, it was suggested that the tournament might be held in the week preceding the next US go congress at the same location. I would say it's extremely likely that this will happen, and that there will be an american-certified pro before the end of 2012.

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Post #12 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:21 pm 
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I think 20% is not an unreasonable amount for that sort of thing. And it IS the AGA that would have picked them to go, generally, right? This will never affect me directly, but it seems like a small tap isn't outlandish. It's kind of like big players are race horses/sports stars for the various associations. The association picks who to field or supports the entry, in return for a small cut. The money given will likely go either to helping further tournaments or spreading the game in their own country, right?

But again, the current strong players themselves probably have more relevant thoughts than me.

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Post #13 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:24 pm 
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Chew Terr wrote:
... And it IS the AGA that would have picked them to go, generally, right? ... It's kind of like big players are race horses/sports stars for the various associations. The association picks who to field or supports the entry, in return for a small cut. The money given will likely go either to helping further tournaments or spreading the game in their own country, right? ...


This (it seems to me) is basically how the supporters of the tap see it, yes.

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Post #14 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:28 pm 
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snorri wrote:
daniel_the_smith wrote:
snorri wrote:
The other (admittedly more rude) question would be: are the U.S. reps winning enough that it would be a significant source of revenue in the first place?


At the moment, no. But it would be best, if it is decided that it is a good policy, to have the policy in place long before it's actually needed.


I agree on that point. It would be harder to introduce later.

It's a very interesting question if you look further down the road. One potential upside of having no tap (or a competitively low one) would be to encourage players to pursue the professional path in the U.S. once we have a professional program in place. What would happen then? Maybe players who can't make pro in Asian countries will try the U.S. (Even if our standards aren't lower there will be players who will assume they are.) Will we then be flooded with washed-out Asian insei? Or will even more well established pros defect in favor of the lower perceived tax? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? What is to be learned from the EGF experiences?


We have already had some "washed out" student professionals come to the USA and play in tournaments like the Cotsen (and win sizable prizes). And only two out of the eight or so professionals residing in the USA are American born and raised. If the USA does establish a set of pro tournaments which are "open" I think we will likely see Oriental pros coming to play since it is so hard to make a living for pros outside the top levels. If a lot of Oriental pros come to play in USA tournaments it might be harder for the "American" pros to win much prize money.

P.S. Pro tournaments in the Orient are mostly not "open". Most pro tournaments in China, Japan, and Korea are not "open". I think a player from outside has to get special approval to play. So there is some precedent for requiring citizenship or something equivalent. However, any pro tournament circuit in the USA will be rather weak for some time after it is established and the opportunity to play stronger pros from outside will help the American program to develop.

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Post #15 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 1:33 pm 
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If I were a strong player who had benefited from lessons / tournaments at my local Chapter, and perhaps at Go Camp and Go Congress, I think I would accept a "tap" up to 10%, maybe 12.5%. Anything more than that seems excessive to me. I've heard other countries tap to the tune of 25% and even more, but I think it likely that those countries have different socio-economic structures generally, and are accustomed to levels of income tax that, in the US, would cause rioting and insurrection.

Of course, one can argue that, in such countries, taxpayers get more services in exchange for more tax, and maybe that's true. But unless the AGA is going to cover more than airfare and room and board, I think more than a 10% tap (tax) is going to seem excessive and unjust. (Now off to read the hidden text above!)

EDIT -- If I were a strong player who had gotten strong with little or no help from the AGA, someone would have to do a lot of fast talking to persuade me that a tap is fair.

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Post #16 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 1:58 pm 
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Quote:
If I were a strong player who had gotten strong with little or no help from the AGA, someone would have to do a lot of fast talking to persuade me that a tap is fair.


He may have got strong with little help from the AGA, but he probably wouldn't have got the invitation without the infrastructure of the AGA or the selfless work of AGA officials, so such a levy seems eminently fair. The only question is the size of the levy. In China it would be 25% (and I think income tax levels are even lower than in the USA), but it's possibly a case of gaol if you don't pay the levy there, and I think a recalcitrant US player could usefully be offered the same alternative. Or send him to Coventry, as happened with Yi Se-tol.

(Partial explanation: our UK newspapers have been full of articles on the US supercop who wants to head London's police force. He was famous for claiming zero tolerance works - maybe it does.)

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Post #17 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 3:43 pm 
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hilltopgo wrote:
If I were a strong player who had gotten strong with little or no help from the AGA, someone would have to do a lot of fast talking to persuade me that a tap is fair.


I'm curious which strong player out there doesn't benefit from the activities of the AGA? Anyone born in the US learned go here, and has benefited from the tournaments and go congresses that are organized. Immigrant professionals benefit from having the E-Journal provide free publicity for their paid teaching services, and from the AGA bringing beginners into the fold that will be the customers for said teaching. The AGA now funds the Ing Cup directly out of membership dues, and all strong players enjoy that event.

Strong players benefit from the AGA's activities and its existence, and it's long past time that they contributed something back in return.

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Post #18 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 4:06 pm 
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I'm not saying I disagree with Messrs. Fairbairn and Waldron (both of whom have my deep respect). In fact, I'm still sorting out my feelings on this proposal. But I am saying that, if I had the perspective of (for example) a foreign-born, foreign-trained 9p who had built my own successful Go school here, then probably I would disagree.

[edit -- typo in name :oops: ]

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Post #19 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 4:15 pm 
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pwaldron wrote:
...
Anyone born in the US learned go here, and has benefited from the tournaments and go congresses that are organized. ...


I agree that the AGA has probably helped a lot of people, but I know for a fact that this is not a true statement.

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Post #20 Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 4:27 pm 
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It's worth noting that prizes are taxable in the U.S. and (I believe) not taxable in many European countries, so even with an EGF tap a European could conceivably see more prize money than he would have seen from comparable employment income, whereas an American would be paying an AGA tap on top of the applicable marginal tax rate.

I don't have any particularly smart thoughts on whether this is a good idea or not, but my intuitions are something like this: if the AGA is taking responsibility for all travel expenses, then an arbitrarily high tap is justified (after all, it's unlikely that the AGA cut of a hypothetical prize will ever recoup years and years of travel expenses). If the funds are being used to fund go education and other worthy goals, we could argue about the value of a tap relative to other ways of raising money. If the AGA needs the money to pay board member's spouses to do clerical tasks, maybe we should avoid the tap.


pwaldron wrote:
Anyone born in the US learned go here, and has benefited from the tournaments and go congresses that are organized...


The sense in which this is true strikes me as similar to the sense in which the NCAA deserves to profit from the abilities of young athletes.

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