Access is such a simple word. Access is a word that appears to be used incorrectly or misunderstood by many of us. Let’s take a look at the dictionary definition of the word:
- A means of approaching, entering, exiting, communicating with, or making use of: a store with easy access.
- The act of approaching.
- The ability or right to approach, enter, exit, communicate with, or make use of: has access to the restricted area; has access to classified material.
- Public access.
- An increase by addition.
- An outburst or onset: an access of rage.
The simple word “access” brings to mind “Public Access” of course – meaning that an area is open or accessible to the public. It also bring to mind “loss of Access” which would be defined as the act of closing Access or limiting Access to an area that at one time was “Public” or open for Access.
However, it seems to me that many of us, our clubs and Associations also limit Access. Perhaps not to a piece of property but perhaps using a different definition which is what I want to talk about today.
Access is also the ability or right to approach, communicate with. There are a lot of people that believe joining clubs provide access to communicate with like minded individuals; but what about cyber-clubs, forum based clubs or free clubs (or Associations)? Why is it that there is so much animosity between what we call “pay clubs’ and “free clubs” – in fact don’t they provide the same or similar access to their members?
Among other arguments the die hard, wool dipped club member is going to state that there is nothing wrong with a “free club” except that they don’t spend any money to “enable or enhance or create longevity” in our sport. The “free club” member is going to state that they “don’t need a club, its politics and its rules in order to wheel and have fun”. So let’s examine both sides of that coin as see where we end up.
“Free Clubs” don’t provide funds for protecting and expanding our sport… My first question is "How do you know that?" – I personally have a number of friends who “belong” to Cyber Clubs and are very active in their local traditional club. I also know of a number of traditional clubs (and Associations) that allow their members to “choose” to pay upstream dues (to the State, Regional or National Association) so are those clubs in the same category of not doing anything to help the future of the sport? And what of those people who choose not to join a traditional club but pay for individual memberships in their State Associations? Usually they pay for these “Individual” memberships by paying more money then someone who joins thru a club and have fewer rights (i.e. voting etc) then those who join through the clubs.
Okay, okay so now your saying “well that may be true for some of us, some of the more experienced, mature people who have their reason but we know the kids are not paying and they like “those” clubs because their free.
To that I answer – so what. If the older members of the community – the entire community which anyone reading this newsletter is part of – should still take the time to allow “Access” so that the new/ younger members of our community can gain their knowledge. And I also answer that the stereotype is typical of many I meet on the trail… it goes right to the same stereotype that says ‘new wheelers only want obstacles and I just want to cover miles of trail”. Again this can be beneficial to both groups/camps – the more people looking to “attack” obstacles, the faster the aftermarket creates and generates parts and by passing on the knowledge of how to care for ones vehicle and where to find long trails that contain spectacular views and obstacles knowledge can once again be shared.
Now let’s put the shoe on the other foot.. for those that don’t need a club – you’re already in one. For those that don’t need the politics or rules – I agree, but it’s what type of politics and rules you don’t need that worries me. Our sport is ripe with politics and rules as a member of a club (free or traditional) you should fight the politics trying to close down our sport by following the general rules – but hey you know that and the majority of the people follow this whether they realize it or not.
So back to the word “Access” – we all need to realize that we are in this together. The cyber clubs, the web wheelers, the traditionalists, the rock hounds, the mud dawgs, the rockcrawlers, the grey hairs, the newbies; whatever one groups wants to call the other – when our sport is taken from us, the manufactures won’t build anymore parts, the scenic views and long trails will be a distant memory, the rock ledge you spent $10,000 trying to get over will be dust, the sand dune once alive with rooster tails will be quiet and lonely and the only true thing we will have to blame on our loss of “Access” is that we made ourselves un-Accessible by blaming those in our community because we didn’t agree or understand.
It’s time we as a community made ourselves Accessible, it’s time we Access the rights we have as Citizens and demonstrate our that we have rights, that we stand together in opposition or acceptance of new policies and rules – and if we are ignored and we are not granted our Access then we need to turn to definition number 6 and stand up in an Access of Rage united against those that deny us our ACCESS!