Letter from Fran Cowie


Received 2 February 2015

To the “For the Players” Committee:

I am saddened by the conflict over the operation of OMBC over the past few months. In deference to friends on both sides of the issue I have maintained my silence, but I now feel the need to put forward a different point of view.

The conflict seems to me to be between two different models for the running of a bridge club or center. The first, the much touted “player owned “club and the second a Bridge Center where individual club owners rent space from a Center and run separate clubs. This second model is the model that has been used successfully for the past 25 plus years by OMBC. Both models have their advantages and disadvantages but neither is either “good” or “bad”.

I take exception to recent rhetoric which characterizes club owners as money grabbing, greedy people, taking all the spoils with no regard for the players. We live in a society based on capitalism and free enterprise and club owners are nothing but small business owners offering a service. The players are our customers and it is our job to keep our customers happy, satisfied and coming back. If we don’t they can exercise their “vote” to take their custom elsewhere.

In this model the Board is a Landlord charged with renting space and maintaining a building. They neither hire nor fire staff. Each club owner has to apply annually to renew their lease and the board reserves the right for whatever reason not to renew the lease. They are all volunteers who have spent countless hours promoting the game the best way they know how. They do not deserve to be characterized as bad people as in some of the recent emotional outbursts.

In their recent letter of resignation Rick and Millie make statements with which I respectfully disagree. They state that: Perry’s “ability to recruit new members was outstanding and we have nothing planned to take its place.” As the club owner of Beginner Bridge Orlando this is my stated mission and in the 3 years I have been building my small business I have had a very successful recruitment program. As a personal aside I acknowledge and am grateful to Perry for his encouragement and support in this endeavor.

They further state that the formation of the “North Orlando Bridge Club, while now in its infancy will eventually grow to rival OMBC.” I personally believe the formation of the North Orlando Bridge Club is a good thing for both OMBC, Orlando, the players and the game. Competition is one of the basic tenets of a free enterprise system and we can all benefit from it. Club owners have to look to themselves to compete successfully and players have more choices.

I would like to appeal to everyone to take a step back and recognize that there is room for both models of operating a bridge club or bridge center. It does not benefit the game to have this ongoing conflict and attempts to impose one opinion on everyone. Let’s get on with the game and let the players exercise their “vote” by where they choose to play.

I challenge “For the Players” to circulate my letter as they have done others. This will prove if they are truly “For the Players” or “For their own opinion.”

Fran Cowie
Club Owner
Beginner Bridge Orlando