Saturday, July 26, 2008


The title is something of a misnomer as the solution to "fixing" D1 extends beyond D1 into the other am brackets, current classification system and the PSP's pricing & prizes system. In brief it goes like this: modify pricing so that it is a neutral factor in a team's decision-making process; modify prizes to reward accomplishment and encourage superior competition; allow for more fluid player movement through the classification system up and down; add a new Xball bracket, D4.
Now for the how and why. As the league currently functions D3 is the entry bracket, a catch-all for brand new to Xball teams and teams that have been playing 5-man Xball and every permutation in-between. For example, as of this writing the NEO has registered 13 first timers for D3 or more than 25%. In Chicago it was 25 of 58 or over 40% that were first timers in D3 Xball for that event. At the same time classification rules state that a player appearing on 2 or more D3 rosters will be classified D2. If that means cumulative rosters then every player in D3, regardless of aptitude or success who plays more than 2 events has to move up (or in rarer cases remain as part of the limited allowance for higher ranked players.) This is NOT a player or team friendly construction. It forces players (and teams) up regardless of ability and should routinely result in swelling the ranks of D2--so where are all the former D3's? So right now you and your team decide to play as many PSP D3 events as you can in the coming season. The result is you manage 4 events, are never close to playing Sunday and for your effort and trouble all your players will be ranked D2 in the future. Does this make any sense? Not to me, it doesn't.
Which leads us to D4 Xball. D4 becomes a true entry level to Xball division and D3 becomes functionally a leaner, more competitive division. As to how D4 works try this: all APPA classification rules apply for players with any history so new to PSP teams that nonetheless don't qualify for D4 must begin at D3. Movement through the division is not based on a random value of time served but on merit or team/player choice. Any team that wins a D4 event is immediately reclassed D3 for any subsequent events. As a result D3 becomes a division to strive to attain for some, a more competitive bracket all around and teams that aren't ready for D3 have a place to develop and a league that encourages their participation instead of enforcing obstacles to their development. This also means there is no good reason for the wholesale shoveling of D3 players into D2 and the consequent prodding of D2 players into D1. A D4 division removes the need for aggressive compulsory player movement that is, IMHO, completely out of tune with player skill levels, committment and the development of teams.
Let's move on to pricing. D1 - D3 entries should be priced the same. What teams are paying for is the opportunity to compete on a national level. The league provides the same services to all. The "new" D4 is offered at a reduced rate to encourage participation and because the prizes in D4 are tokens only.
Prizes must be awarded in all competitive brackets but should also reflect degree of difficulty and/or level of accomplishment. This one is difficult to assess. Currently the league pays out around 43K an event, regardless of participation, to divisional Xball. And I'm sure the league prefers prizes to be a fixed expense and I imagine many of the teams do too but I can't help wondering what impact it would have if the league instituted a prize floor (minimum guaranteed) and then allowed for a rising percentage of entries per division to go toward matching or exceeding the floor. For example, around 10% (if I remember my calculations correctly) of D3 entries end up in the prize pool given the average number of competing teams while at D1 it's above 60%. If the higher divisions offered the potential of a higher percentage return on entries I wonder if it wouldn't help motivate voluntary upward movement. Just a thought.
Okay, I've gone long again so I'll save classification for next time as it's the toughest nut to crack.

No comments: