Monday, November 18, 2013

The Monday Poll in Review: Masters Division

Last week's poll was aimed square at the PSP in hopes enough supporters of Masters play would make it clear the league was missing a great opportunity by not offering some version of the division--and frankly, I think y'all blew it. The turnout was embarrassing and (as usual) it leaves me to do all the real work. If half of those who actually play Masters had spent half the energy they expend bitching and moaning on PBN the poll might have achieved something. Fortunately for you lazy slackers I continue to believe Masters play is important and a real opportunity for the league to expand its reach across demographic boundaries with a positive outreach to older players (just the sort of players who will be the coaches and team leaders of the future if they aren't already active in those roles.)
So, without further chastising let's review. The poll was divided into competing questions in order to get some idea what the majority preferred. The first category was age limitation or restrictions and the current 40 years old and above was the clear favorite with nearly 50% of the vote over either dropping it five years to 35 or increasing it five years to 45. Not surprisingly dropping it to 35 received nearly a third of the votes and when you add in the 36% of the vote of those who are either waiting to play Masters or would play an Open (over 30) division of Race 2-2 it might be worthwhile to find out what sort of real numbers--peeps willing to pay and play--are really out there.
The second category was about format. Masters has been Race 2-4. For a variety of reasons it's more difficult for the league to offer that format compared to Race 2-2 so the poll sought to gauge the views of potential players. Only 10% insisted Masters ought to be Race 2-4 even though a clear majority preferred Race 2-4 they were open to competing in Race 2-2. And an additional 22% preferred Race 2-2 over Race 2-4. Those results suggest minimal resistance to a format change and given that Race 2-2 is both less physically demanding and cheaper it is likely to encourage greater participation than previous Masters events.
The last category was looking to define the voters. Unfortunately this section drew the fewest votes. Only 15% had played a Masters event before and would again if it were available. 22% wanted to play Masters and have been waiting to qualify--which likely puts them over 30 or 35--and 14% are ready right now to compete in an Open Over 30 Race 2-2 division.
Are there enough older players who will actually commit to playing if divisions designed specifically for them are made available? By this poll result it's hard to say but probably easy to dismiss. But even if the numbers are marginal I think it's an effort that ought to be made. Race 2-2 is considerably more flexible in its scheduling demands and if the league would make a definitive announcement at the beginning of the season that Chicago and World Cup would offer Open Over 30 and Masters divisions in the Race 2-2 format the results might surprise. And even if the turnout is poor initially the league can't expect to keep aging players playing if they have no place to play. I'm betting if the league makes a commitment to those players they will come.

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