Earl Asks What Are We Gonna Do??? (2020 05 02)

EARL ASKS WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO???

Back in April 2018 I wrote an article titled “An article I really didn’t want to write”. The article was a follow up to an article I had written at some time previously titled “Tournament Players Needed” looking for ideas from our readers as concerns what we could do to increase participation in our tournaments. Maybe Stan will put in a link for those of you that might want to refer back.
The article I really didn’t want to write refers to the accelerated decline of participation in tournaments by our players and is a bit critical. Our FSA board tried to take a first step by adding tournaments so players wouldn’t have to travel so far but never had a chance to address any other changes. The main change mechanism is the “10-day notice” and the meeting that addresses the 10-day notice was the end of the season meeting in March and that meeting had to be canceled.

Our readers came up with a number of ideas and under the current situation maybe they can help come up with some ideas as to what changes we could make that will get us back on track for the coming season. No doubt we will lose more players who don’t want to take a chance of getting Covid-19; can’t blame them.
Do you have an idea or a comment as to what you think we should or could do?  If Yes, please leave it in the Comments Section Below.

Earl Ball.  2020 05 02

 

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6 Responses to Earl Asks What Are We Gonna Do??? (2020 05 02)

  1. mike marquis says:

    unless Covid-19 is completely eradicated by September we need to limit Shuffleboard to District Tournaments. State Masters players can be determined by highest point total in each of the 7 districts and 1 more from the Central District. (largest group). Hall of Fame points could be prorated for the Main winners only First place 2 . Second 1 1/2 3rd 1 4th 1/2. this is a possible starting point and I’m sure it may be improved upon. Mike Marquis

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  2. Paul Hawkins says:

    I don’t know. It’s something I’ve given a great deal of thought to and so far I’ve been unable to work out realistic solutions.

    For those that don’t know me, I’m a younger player (43) in Central Florida. Whilst I try and attend as many tournaments as possible; I’m often restricted by work and family obligations. I’ve managed to adjust these so that I have Thursdays and Fridays free for District Tournaments. However, this comes at the price in that I often work Wednesday nights and don’t get home till after midnight which makes waking up at 6am on Thursdays unpleasant and I also work a 9/10 hour shift on Fridays staring at 5pm. I’m fortunate that I’ve been able free up the time to play tournaments, but realistically the whole tournament scene is impossible for younger players to attend. Even creating weekend tournaments wouldn’t help as that time is for my family as my children are not in school then.

    This topic of reducing player numbers has often come up in conversation and some of the key barriers have been:

    i) Travelling – players don’t want to travel long distances when they can play at their local club. Players who don’t drive can’t share lifts because if they make day 2, but the driver doesn’t, then they can’t return the second day.

    ii) Rules – i’ve seen many new players stop attending tournaments because of the rules. If a player makes a mistake they are often shouted at because their opponent who spots it is 40ft away and simply has to raise their voice to be heard. Mistakes are often accompanied by point penalties and this is no fun.

    I’m a strong believer that the amateur division should be a learning curve to step up to the professional league. The amateurs need to learn the rules, but there should be a more relaxed and nurturing atmosphere. I think that if a rule is broken, the player should be made aware of their faux pas; however if there has been no ingame advantage then there should be no penalty. Once a player turns pro they should be fully aware of all the rules and accept any penalty that accompanies a broken one.

    By example, if a player drops their stick whilst taking a shot and then waits for the discs to stop moving then they can walk onto the court to retrieve their stick without penalty. However, if a disc is still moving 30ft away then there is a penalty??? When there is no in game advantage then I don’t think there should be a point penalty – especially at the amateur level.

    I’ve also witnessed many home club players break rules such as leaving the courts to help out with problems etc. As a host club there are hospitality obligations and the familiarity with your home courts can create a lapse in concentration for players. I’ve seen players leave courts to turn fans on or get chalk etc. Occasionally, I’ve seen opponents call a judge on these actions. A friend of mine at his first tournament in his first match went onto the next court to help other new players who were having difficulty with keeping score. It was a simple thing he did to help out, didn’t take long and fixed a problem that was becoming distracting for the surrounding courts. His actions resulted in him getting a point penalty and his opponent shouted at him. He has never played a second tournament.

    iii) Tournament/Game length – despite my relative youth, playing 3x long competitive matches in a day takes it out of me, especially in the Florida heat where I play. I know some players have stopped because a full day of play is simply too much.

    I often look at cricket for inspiration. I’m not a cricket fan, but I admire their drive to rebuild their sport to boost its popularity. As a child, cricket tournaments would often last 3 or 5 days with at least 6 hours of play each day. Thats potentially over 30 hours of play for a single match which sounds insane. Their viewing figures dropped annually and they had trouble engaging the younger generation. Then in 2003 they introduced Cricket 2020 which condensed international matches into a 3 hour period. Since then they’ve rejuvenated the sport and have had successful growth, saving a sport in its death spiral.

    So what can we do? As I originally stated I honestly don’t know. I’ve got a bunch of half baked ideas that have potential and with discussion could be developed into possible solutions. I’m sure some are just bad.

    A) Tournament Structure – we can tweak so much here. I really like the 16 frame, 75 point best of 3 matches and personally would choose this format. I also enjoy the pure 75 point matches, but having had 3 hours sleep the night before followed by a 2 hour drive I do find them a test of stamina as much as skill.

    We also primarily play double elimination tournaments where after the first round the winners and losers are separated and both play separate elimination tournaments. The advantage of this is that everyone is guaranteed at least 2x matches of play which I believe is essential to justify long drives to other clubs. It also has the benefit of reducing the number of players as smaller clubs struggle with insufficient number of playing courts.

    Having spoken to some players who have been playing for a long time, they recall times when they would not start their first match until the afternoon as they were waiting for a court because there were so many players. In this situation, the double elimination format was essential in removing teams, ensuring that the final rounds were more streamlined and all players could play simultaneously. Those days with such high player numbers are sadly currently not happening. I therefore strongly believe that the double elimination format is now not the only option, and on reflection probably isn’t the best.

    As an amateur player we rarely get more than 32 players in a tournament. This results in most tournaments being wrapped up in 4x matches which is normally 3x on day 1 and then the final match on day 2. Because the field of players is small and the top 16 all play a 4th match you need to plan in advance on coming back the second day. With a 20 player tournament, 80% of players are back for the second day. It’s quite a pain having to travel back to a venue to play just the single match. I personally won’t attend some tournaments because I don’t want to qualify for day 2 and have over 4 hours of driving to play a 90 minute match. It really isn’t worth the traveling time investment.

    Earlier I mentioned that the lack of certainty of day 2 was a barrier for some players to attend tournaments as they could struggle making the journey alone. If we changed the format to where everyone came back for day 2 then this would negate that problem. As most players are coming back anyway, it wouldn’t be a big shift.

    One of the clubs in my district has been proactive in negotiating a promotional deal with a local hotel for shuffleboard players. However, it’s something I’d never consider because of the uncertainty of coming back for day 2. If I knew in advantage that I’d be coming back, then it’s something I’d definitely think about.

    Instead of running a Double Elimination tournament, we could do a Swiss format instead. Simply put, a Swiss tournament is where all players play every round. Winners play winners and losers play losers. In round 3 you have a third pairing of those with 1x win and 1x loss and so on through the tournament. By the end of the tournament you’d have a winner and placements down to last place. There would be tie breakers such as total points scored, or a computer could keep track of the success and failure of previous opponents through the tournament and allocate tie breakers based upon how players faired against stronger and weaker opponents.

    With 17 to 32 teams, 5 rounds would get an overall winner:

    Round 1 – 32 teams on 0 wins
    Round 2 – 16 teams on 1 win
    Round 3 – 8 teams on 2 wins
    Round 4 – 4 teams on 3 wins
    Round 5 – 2 teams on 4 wins
    – 1 team with 5 wins

    The advantage of this is that we could play 3x matches on day 1 and then 2x on day 2 which is very similar to what we currently do. Everyone knows in advantage that they are playing a 5x match, 2x day tournament so organizing travel is easier as everyone plays and finishes at the same time. It also gives everyone 2x matches in day 2 which has the added benefit of making traveling a second day worth it. For tournaments with 33-64 teams, then adding a 6th round would be needed. Alternatively, we could split the field and run 2x separate tournaments.

    During the summer in Florida we have a relaxed tournament schedule and my district hosts a separate schedule with 1x day tournaments made up of 6 or 8 single 12 frame games. I don’t enjoy the shorter format as much, but the tournaments are still fun and I do appreciate wrapping up a tournament in a single day. I’d happily play this format all year.

    The trouble with this format is that we draw new partners and opponents each round and a biased court can be unforgiving. Especially in the 6 game days, multiple players can finish with 6 wins and then total points scored throughout the day are a tie breaker. I’ve seen players win all 6 games and finish outside the money which feels wrong. By running this format with the Swiss system, you have the winning players playing and drawing each other through the tournament and thus the overall winner is undefeated; rather than getting a lucky tie break.

    Other avenues to explore could be a move towards club v club play. This has added benefits of travel organization and rejuvenating clubs as it build camaraderie from within.

    We could also create a player ranking data base. I envisage a system similar to that found in chess. Players gain more ranking points from beating players of equal or greater ranking than themselves and loose points respectively. Inactive players would keep their points but after an agreed upon time would be hidden from the charts, potentially loosing points after an elongated absence.

    I’d imagine that clubs would still hold ‘tournament’ gatherings, but players would split into brackets based upon their personal rankings based on those in attendance. Players would then draw partners and play opponents of similar ability through the day, gaining and loosing points. This has the significant advantage in that there is no longer the need for a fixed number of matches based upon the number of players who turn up. You could hold 3x matches at say 9am, 12pm and 3pm respectively. There would be no reason why some players couldn’t just play the first 2x matches and go, or even just come for the 3pm match. The fluency of the system allows brackets to be adjusted throughout the day. You could even see players move brackets depending on a win or loss in their first match.

    I really like the idea of individual rankings as it creates a system where you know how good you really are. Over time players will settle into point pockets and as players improve so will their points.

    This system also has the advantage in that it ensures players of equal ability are more likely to play each other. The top players continuously have challenging matches which will sharpening their skills and make them better players. The brand new players will also play each other. This allows for them to taste more victories, stay motivated and not feel out of their depth as they draw strong opponents who destroy them. Additionally, those in the middle of these two brackets will also have challenging, but beatable opponents.

    This is controversial thinking and I’m sure will get a few raised eyebrows, but the individual rankings would remove the need for Amateur, State Amateur and Pro players. Before you stop reading in disgust please hear me out.

    The rankings are just another form of putting players in certain brackets. Let’s say all amateurs start at 1000, State Ams at 1400 and Pros at 1800. As players play each other and begin to move up and down, we will start to see a blend of all the brackets and the original Pro/Amateur status will fade away. There is no reason why we couldn’t run separate tournaments where we split the field at say 1500 points.

    The key point of this discussion is how to address the dwindling numbers of Shuffleboard Tournament players. The fact that we play tournaments leads me to think that we all have competitive desires and personally I hate loosing. I’m sure we all know State Amateur players who were winning a lot in their final season as an amateur. They move up to Pro and start loosing every week. Over time they enjoy playing less and less and slowly drift away from our sport. The shift to Pro can be a significant change for some players. The individual player point system introduces a gradual evolution to the top tier of players and thus nurtures a players growth, keeping them motivated to keep playing and improving.

    Whatever we decide to do, I do think change is inevitable. As a newer player I have goals within the game I’m aiming for and hope to get there some day. I’m continuously supported and encouraged by the players around me who have become friends. I’m concerned tournament player numbers are on the decline and that local city councils will determine that Shuffleboard Courts aren’t worth the investment. I think it’s important to act sooner than a later whilst we still have a competitive and diverse player base to entice new players.

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    • stanistheman says:

      Hi Paul! Stan McCormack here. Great Article. Paul: Could you please send me your e-mail? I would like to make contact with you. Stanistheman_200@yahoo.com

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    • Earl Ball says:

      Hi Paul,
      Incredible!
      I wish I was capable of even thinking on your level. To express myself, as you do, would be incredible too.
      Stan and I need to find a way to have everyone view your thoughts. That probably means we need your help to break them into smaller pieces.
      I, also, would like to have your email.
      Earl

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  3. Glen Peltier says:

    think they will find out more about the virus as time goes by. With a little control we usuallyt have some people playing, some are eating, with a little common sense, we can keep people seperated. It is a long way off. I believe baseball is about to start up. We don,t have to worry about large groups of fans. Lets not borrow trouble. I trust the board will have it figured out by Oct. Glen.

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  4. James Vatter says:

    I am one of the better players who doesn’t currently play tournaments because they are to time consuming. I play every one day tournament ie single mingles that comes along.

    I would like more of those type of tournaments. Why couldn’t we have a two day single mingles combining
    both days points for the win. You could even award points to the winners.
    Jim vatter

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