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Americanism Committee Announces Changes to the Contests
Before reading this article, it is advised that the reader go the NSSAR website and pull up the new score sheet for reference while reading this article. The link to the score sheet can be found at www.sar.org/Commmittees/Americanism.
Over the past two years the National Americanism Committee has spent a large amount of time discussing and reformatting the document used to record points for the Americanism and President General’s Streamer contests. This process has led to multiple formats of the score sheet using different computer programs.
During this same time frame, a number of new categories were added and a number of loopholes were unintentionally created. Due to the growing size and complexity of the score sheet, the National Medals & Awards Committee and many individual members expressed concern over this complexity and illogical layout of the form.
To that end, a special subcommittee was appointed to review the score sheet to close as many loopholes as possible. During this process, the subcommittee determined it would also be beneficial to address the size of the score sheet and to determine a single format for the score sheet.
The resulting score sheet was published on the National website during the second quarter of 2010. The score sheet is in Microsoft EXCEL format so that the simple act of data entry will result in the posting and calculation of points that are earned. These points are then totaled and reported on a single cover sheet.
For ease of use, a single score sheet format has been retained to record and calculate the points for the three different contests that the National Americanism Committee administers:
- The Liberty Bell (chapter level) and Allene Wilson Groves (state level) Americanism Contest which measures how the chapter or state society meets the stated SAR goals in programming for the general public.
- The President General’s Streamer Contest which measures how the chapter or state society meets the stated SAR goals in terms of administrative functions or support of collateral organizations.
- The President General’s Cup which is awarded to the chapter that demonstrates the best overall program with respect to the Americanism and President General’s Streamer contests as measured on a per capita basis.
Expectations of the New Score Sheet
To that end, the new score sheet seeks to meet the following goals:
- Provide space for specific data entry that documents activities that generate the reported points
- Reduce the number of pages/tabs on which data entry is required
- Group certain categories together in a logical format so that a single event can be recorded on a single page/tab
- Increase the number of chapters that are eligible for consideration in the President General’s Cup Contest by reducing the number of categories
- Close all loopholes by providing specific directions as well as clarify verbiage defining what it takes to generate points so as to remove an unintended emphasis on “just generating points”
- Standardize the way points are calculated across all tabs (specifically, color guard participation)
So What has Changed
The primary changes to the score sheet are of three types.
- Standardization of language across all tabs, specifically using the same word to describe the same thing on multiple tabs.
- Standardization of reporting across all tabs, specifically if the same type of activity (i.e. color guard participation) can be reported on multiple tabs, then the same format is used on each tab.
- Clarification of rules and guidelines so that loopholes are closed, specifically the inclusion of language that prohibits the consideration of the same event within multiple categories (i.e. a grave marking that could be construed as a special observance)
In addition to these types of changes, a Summary Page has been included which provides an expanded listing of the rules and guidelines as they relate to the completion of an entry and the various contests. Also included on this page are specific criteria regarding what is considered a valid entry and the deadline for submission.
With respect to the valid entry definition, it should be noted that the entire score sheet will now need to be submitted which includes all the tabs. This is a major change from the past where this was never truly defined.
A final, major change is that no entries are to be submitted to the National Executive Director or the National Office. Entries that are submitted in 2011 will have to be sent via certified mail with return receipt to the National Americanism Committee Chairman. Entries can still be sent via email, but for purposes of establishing receipt records, the postal entry will be considered the official one.
What Has Not Changed
With all these changes, it is important to note what has not changed.
First, the intent of these contests has not changed. It is desired that every chapter and state society enter the contest. Over the past few years, participation has decreased to the point that barely 15% of chapters and state societies submit an entry. There may be many reasons for this. With the more logical layout and the fewer number of tabs, it is expected that the issues of complexity and time for data entry are eliminated as reasons.
Second, chapter entries can still be submitted directly to the National Americanism Committee. However, these same chapter entries still need to be submitted to the respective State Americanism Committee so that it can be included in the State Society’s entry.
Third, the ability of the score sheet to be used for more than just a contest entry remains. As it is formatted, the score sheet provides the chapter or state society a very valuable tool.
Each contest measures and reports points earned for (1) outreach to the public (meeting the Historical and Patriotic goals of the SAR), and (2) administrative functions. Why is this valuable? The simple answer is that the various activities for which points can be earned in effect provide a guide for chapter operations. By observing where points are earned, a chapter or state society can see if they focus too much on one or a select number of areas. If so, then other areas of focus can be identified.
Maybe you are a new chapter or state officer of a group that really is not all that active. Using the score sheet as a guide, you can identify areas where a number of points can be earned quickly with minimal member participation (for example, awarding a Flag Certificate to a local business – 15 points earned – while taking a picture and writing a paragraph that the local paper publishes – 50 points earned – for a total of 65 points in 2 categories). The publicity in the local paper may then generate interest in the inactive members as well as potential members.
Fourth, the score sheet provides a simple format to record and archive chapter or state society activity over a single year. This can be used in addition to a formal scrapbook or could be included in a scrapbook.
Finally, the need for communication of chapter activities to the state and thus to the national level has not changed. It is the expectation of the National Americanism Committee that by providing a single format for reporting activities within a more logical layout over fewer pages, that the issue of communication is improved by the changes that have been made.
What are the Rules
The major rules for each of the contests are as follows:
- The contest year runs from January 1st to December 31st
- Deadline for entry is March 1st
- Chapter entries are to be mailed via certified mail with return receipt and/or emailed to the National Americanism Committee Chairman and the State Society Americanism Chairman.
- State Society entries are to be mailed via certified mail and/or emailed to the National Americanism Committee Chairman.
- A valid entry will consist of the entire EXCEL workbook with all tabs completed. An incomplete entry or the cover page only will not be accepted.
Important Final Points
Even with the change to a shorter and more logical score sheet, there are a number of items that still need to be stressed.
- The rules and regulations for the score sheet are published on the score sheet.
- Data entry should be a continuous process throughout the year. It is strongly advised by the National Americanism Committee that data entry be done as soon after an event as possible. Waiting to the end of the contest year and trying to remember what happened or compiling data from multiple individuals will only cause unnecessary stress.
- The spirit of these contests is to both motivate the SAR membership to become more active in promoting the SAR ideals as well as increasing participation through friendly competition. The moment the contest becomes just about winning, then the contest needs to be scrapped.
The National Americanism Committee wishes each chapter and state society good luck in competing in 2010 using the new score sheet. The committee looks forward to an increase in contest entries.
Any questions or comments about the score sheet and/or the contests should be directed to the National Americanism Committee. The committee is actively concerned with making this score sheet the best it can be as a tool for reporting the participation of the Chapters and State Societies in the principle activities suggested in the NSSAR Handbook as well as a tool for feedback to the Chapters and State Societies to improve operations and the use of their members talents.
Mark C Anthony
Vice Chairman, NSSAR Americanism Committee