Hi, Cristina - that's a valuable role to play, as I think your question reflects the thinking of some. In response, consider the following:
1. It is part of the mission statement
of OUSA that (item 4) OUSA's mission is to "Establish world-class competitive excellence within our national team programs." Assume OUSA gives $0 unrestricted to the teams; what exactly is OUSA doing to "establish excellence?" The ESCs are volunteers who beyond being part of the committee umbrella of OUSA are totally unaffiliated. In other words, at present, there is no difference between the current state of things and if the exact same people were completely independent of OUSA.
2. There isn't really that much restricted money going to the teams. For example, according to my numbers, over 2013-2015, the Senior Team received $10,678 in restricted contributions per year. Per my previous analysis, this is approximately enough to cover WOC entry and accommodation - not travel, other competitions, and so on. Getting into WOC seems to me the barest minimum of support we can afford our athletes, but that doesn't affect GSwede's quality of life (for example). It's certainly not enough to move the program forward. Even the Junior Team, which is much larger in scale and more development focused, has received in the neighborhood of $25,000 in restricted contributions over the past five years. Consider the extra expense of a Euro development trip. It still costs a ton of money for the athletes to participate at all.
3. On principle, the teams are the pinnacle of orienteering competition in the US. For me, the goal of being on the national team was a big motivator to participate in the sport when I started. What does the federation do if not support our teams? The teams do not exist without money; that money comes from a combination of donations and sponsorships, the federation and clubs, and the athletes themselves. If we want a good elite program, we need to input money, and if a good elite program is a priority for the federation, then some should come from the federation.
4. Over the past 5 years, OUSA's unrestricted income has averaged $220k. I'm not suggesting we throw all of that to the teams, but a goal in the neighborhood of 10% to the teams is achievable and reflects our national priorities. Clubs and the community receive a benefit from national team members. About seven of the OUSA Board members were once or currently are on the national teams. Some of the most committed and involved volunteers around the country were national team members. Encouraging their development and facilitating their participation will reap dividends for the entire community. Not to mention all the ancillary benefits to recreational and enthusiast orienteers of encountering national team members at their local races and in their clubs. The value gained by the community for a modest investment in the teams justifies the expense.
5. There are many donors and supporters - individuals and clubs - who have chosen to make the teams a priority. The argument that the existence of donors means OUSA has no obligation to support programs disincentivizes donation. Imagine if those donors stopped giving, and OUSA was given a choice between funding the teams from unrestricted funds and not having teams at all. Why should I give a dollar to a program if that means the Board is just going to reduce the unrestricted funding by the same dollar?
6. It is ridiculously hypocritical of OUSA to spend $700k on a paid position over seven years failing to meet its objectives with minimal oversight and then claim that giving support to athletes to the tune of a few thousand dollars per year is not practical or realistic or important.