I have been reading the 5th edition of the USCF Rulebook so I can be recertified as a Club TD. Typographically, the book is a nightmare. The material is okay, but the design of the book for usefulness is out of control.
Today I got a list of "rule amendments" based on the recent USCF Open and Delegates' thing. Too many cooks are spoiling the broth!! For sure.
If you look at the fee schedule for being a member of the USCF it's a "hash" system, designed by people who know nothing about marketing or how to get members.
FASTEST WAY TO GET OLD MEMBERS BACK (my suggestion)
Two points to consider:
1) Most kids don't have money to spend (throw away), when anyone has it, it's the parents. So don't aim the whole issue of Chess Life to kids and how little Timmy is doing. Get the parents attention too.
2) This one is a killer. Do a study about aging and time away from playing rated games. The rating system ISN'T perfect and so neither is this strategy (or any strategy) but it will be a wake up call and straighten things out one way or the other.
a) Those who are rated must play in at least one tournament every two years! Otherwise, their rating will suffer from "slippage." Can you see the HOWL of protests? I can. Time for a "benevolent dictator."
b) How much slippage? Would be age and time dependent, just like IQ tests are. Can you think as clearly now as you did when you were 20 (okay, I am leaving out stupid Friday nights)? Very doubtful. Are you faster or slower at calculation? My guess? Slower.
c) Depending on such a table, and lack of play, your rating decreases. We have seen ratings go down for people who ARE playing! So... they should go down for those who do not play.
WHY WOULD THIS WORK?
Because there is a whole class of people out there who are scared to death of playing because of their "rust," and this would make their rating fall (if they did play). So, if a message was sent to them saying, PLAY or HAVE YOUR RATING DECLINE by PROXY, it would get their attention. Thus, when they had a 2100 rating and are now the strength of a 1900, their rating would show, 1900. What their real capability is, not their "brainwave" fantasy.
What would happen next is that in all discussions of the USCF, the guy (gal) who hasn't played in years (think of Dan Heisman, Bruce Pandolfini, or, friends of yours) would be saying: "Yeah, that damn USCF dropped my rating. What do they know? Just because I haven't played in 10 years instead of being 2200 I am now 1950. Isn't that a crime? I could kick their ass (whoever that is!)"
We could quit listening to the old stories about how great they were, tell them we have looked up their recent rating and found out that Woody Woodpecker could beat them! Maybe even zombies or vampires too.
It would cause SOME people to get back into chess, and show they haven't lost a step (or not!) But it would swell the number of players, tournaments, as all the "coulda been a contenders" came back to prove themselves. Or suffer the consequences. I HATE fraud.
There are many things in the Membership Plan, and in the Rule book which could be changed (deleted, slimmed down, and so on). But would they have a chance of being passed? My guess is that the old farts and the politicians would be heavily in favor of the word, NO. To them "progress" means discussing these things with Fred Flintstone, or maybe Wilma, definitely Barney.
You want to popularize chess? Get the WOOD out, woodpushing ON the board, not in an armchair.