You know where this is going, right? As long as I'm already busy winning friends and influencing people I figured where's the harm. (In for a penny in for a pound. Heh.) I was reminded of this issue by a thread over at PBN in the PSP forum. (Link is the title.) It's a poll about the Race 2 format(s) and any changes peeps might want to suggest. It's well above average in content and tone so check it out if you're interested.
Anyway, I'm not looking to change any PSP formats. (Not today anyway.) What I do want to do is remind everyone about a rule PSP introduced at the beginning of the 2011 season. You know the one. The one that added that harmless extra 20 feet to the length of a standard PSP Race 2 field. The one intended, along with those additional bigger props (that not only never materialized but actually shrank in 2012) to encourage the return to national tourney play of the older, fatter, slower crowd. You know, former players. (The guys who played 10-man at Cup.)
Prior to that rule taking effect VFTD strongly urged the league to reconsider on the basis it would slow points and games down and result in a lot more matches played to time than score. During the 2011 season I followed up a few times in event reports. (See here & here.) While those numbers suggested the warnings were justified I failed to follow up except to periodically remind everyone (ahem) that the games were dragging--as if it wasn't apparent to everyone competing.
Here we are in the off season between 2012 and 2013. Now I have two seasons of data on games played to time instead of score and I have data collected from the 2010 season to serve as a comparison. Before the extra twenty feet were added to the length of a field and after. I'm gonna limit the numbers (to keep this from getting more boring.) For the 2010 season--the last season with the field at 150 feet in length--8% of all preliminary Pro matches went to time. 16% of Sunday matches went to time. (Still) in 2010 13% of all preliminary D1 matches went to time. That bumped up to 16% on Sundays. 14% of all preliminary matches in D2 went to time sliding up to 23% on Sundays. In D3 prelim numbers were 8% of prelims moving up to 18% on Sunday.
In 2011 the seasonal numbers for games played to time in the Pros jumped to (45%) in the prelims and (33%) on Sundays. The 2011 numbers for D1 are (51%) prelims and (50%) Sundays. [The D2 & D3 numbers are similar in terms of percentages of change.]
In 2012 the seasonal numbers for games played in the Pros was (43%) in the prelims and (80%) on Sundays. For D1 the numbers are (54%) prelims and (62%) Sundays.
The rate(s) of change are both dramatic and pretty consistent--and, do I have to say it?--undeniable. What else happened between 2010 and 2011 that could account for such a distinct difference in results? (Hint: the answer is nothing.)
Look, the extra length isn't the whole problem. Field designs are also contributing to the lag in play as did the contortions required by the new technical snake but on the old field dimensions the concern would be about playability. There has been some talk about adding more props to the field kits and while I favor that change, conditionally at least, I'm not convinced that change alone will suffice because it will rely on the designer(s) knowing what to do with those extra bunkers. On the whole it would be easier to get rid of the extra twenty feet.