|Sept. 9, 2006|
Discussion: SPA Plano 65 AA
My Goodness: This thread has deteriorated from an effort to discuss and debate the message – the SPA organizations responsibility to the integrity of the Senior Softball Age-Skill Category Tournament System; to considerable effort to discredit the messenger. Midwest desired to send a message to the SPA - that the avoidance of initial responsibility to discover or confirm an alleged violation and the lack of effective consequences when that violation is confirmed – is not acceptable. No. 13 says he knows that some members of Midwest wanted to play the championship game. That is wrong. All members wanted to play, but all members unanimously supported a decision to forfeit because forfeiture was (is) the most effective protest that could be made. Some of you think we were wrong to choose that form of protest, but we had little choice. If we played and won, the response to any complaint would have been, “What are you complaining about, you won!”; if we had played and lost, the response would have been, “You are sore losers!” By forfeiting, Midwest sacrificed its entire effort and reason for being there, in order to make the most effective protest it could against the SPA organizations failure to protect the integrity of the Senior Softball age-skill category system. To those who choose to ignore that message in favor of attacking the messenger, your loyalty to SPA, Mr. Hooks or Millers, is commendable. However, your lack of concern about the integrity of the system is not. I am not retired and have little time to continue this - this is my last post.
|Sept. 4, 2006|
Discussion: SPA Plano 65 AA
RE: SPA National Senior Softball Tournament, 65+, AA Category, 8/24 – 8/27, 2006 @ Plano Texas;
Championship Game Forfeit by Midwest Silverjox to Millers (West Bloomfield, MI).
We Senior Softball players get the kind of organizations we deserve. When advised of a violation affecting the integrity of the game and the system, the SPA took no action until it was too late, and then administered no consequences to those primarily responsible (the Miller’s managers). If we continue to support this kind of irresponsible behavior, we will continue to have tournaments that can be exploited by the unscrupulous. Following is the sequence of events that led to this deliberate forfeit.
I am a player, not a manager, and I do not have a copy of SPA rules and regulations. I have been told that it is a violation of SPA tournament rules if a player on the roster of a Major rated team plays for a team in a tournament of lower rated teams; e.g., a “Major” player cannot play for a AAA or AA team in a National Tournament.
At the SPA National, 65+, AA tournament, while exiting the softball field complex on Thursday evening (8/24), I was enjoying a pleasant conversation with a player from Millers about playing in 100 degree weather. The gentleman from Millers stated that the conditions were similar two weeks previous when he was playing for Tri-State Masters in the 70+ Major tournament. The gentleman innocently acknowledged a violation of SPA tournament rules.
Millers and Midwest Silverjox advanced to the finals of the winner’s bracket and were scheduled to play at 5:30 pm Saturday (8/26). I was injured and was not playing. During the game, I approached an SPA official, asked to speak to him confidentially, and told him of the discussion with the Millers gentleman, which clearly indicated that Millers was using an ineligible player. The official said he would check with his superiors. He came back and said he had relayed the situation to his superior(s) who had directed him to tell us that we would have to provide the name of the player in order for action to be taken. I replied that I did not know his name and was unable to identify him (the gentleman and I were walking side-by-side and went different directions without facing each other). I further stated that the SPA should be able to compare the Tri-State Masters tournament roster to the Millers roster and identify the gentleman. He said they could not because the Tri-State Masters roster was in Oklahoma City. I then asked if we could name each player on the Miller’s roster in the challenge. He sneered that it would cost $75.00 for each name, if we wanted to pay it. He again stated that SPA would do NOTHING without the name. At this time it was 7:00 pm (more or less).
I went to my motel room and searched for the Tri-State Masters roster, using my computer and made phone calls to players who had been in the 70+ Major tournament. No luck.
Sunday morning: Midwest having lost to Millers Saturday evening, is playing Scrap-Iron for the right to play for the championship. The name or phone number of the SPA senior official had not been provided, but using a phone number I had gotten the previous evening from a Kansas City player, I placed a call directly to Ridge Hooks, apparently that SPA Senior Official.
The reason for my call was this:
1. SPA, the entity primarily responsible for enforcing SPA rules, had the necessary information to confirm or deny the allegation, but were refusing to take any action, and were doing NOTHING to help us try to confirm or deny the violation.
2. SPA officials would not even go so far as to talk to or interrogate the Millers managers, or do something as simple as asking to speak with the player who played with Tri-State Masters.
During this telephonic exchange on Sunday morning, Mr. Hooks said he would call his son in Oklahoma City and if his son was available, ask him to go to the SPA office, get the Tri-State Masters roster and relay the information to SPA officials in Plano. Subsequently, I (and the rest of the Midwest team) then observed a discussion between the Millers managers and SPA officials in the grandstand adjoining the field.
Conclusion: Yes. Millers had been playing an ineligible player. The sole consequence administered by SPA was that the gentleman had been removed from the roster and would not be allowed to play in additional tournament games. My understanding is that any other, more significant, consequences would have required a formal protest to have been made the previous day, when the confirmable facts were unknown in Plano. There were no consequences administered to the Miller’s Managers or to the Millers team.
Midwest had won the right to play for the championship, defeating a very good Scrap-Iron team from Colorado. The game was a fun, exciting game between two teams generally equal in caliber, with great camaraderie and mutual respect and which required extra-innings to determine the outcome: a game which personified all the good things about senior softball.
However, having won the right to play for the championship, Midwest Silverjox forfeited in protest over the absence of responsible action by the SPA organization in dealing with Miller’s ineligible player.
Hooks Excuse No. 1:
All the SPA staff was in Plano and none were available in Oklahoma City, therefore the Tri-State Masters roster could not be checked.
My response: How convenient is it that there was someone (Hook’s son) who could and did check the roster but not until the arbitrary time-limit for formal protest, had expired.
Or - how difficult is it to ask someone to drive to Oklahoma City (210 miles, or about 3 hours) check the Tri-State Masters roster and use the telephone to call the information back to Plano. (I would have volunteered to take them up there and let them sleep all the way up and back.)
Or – How difficult is it to actually provide some leadership, some cooperation, some technical advice or ANY assistance to discover the truth in time for some significant action to be taken (we were not told that a formal protest would have to be filed on Saturday).
Conclusion: Clearly, SPA behavior indicates they had minimal interest in discovering the truth. Through the entire process, their actions and demeanor reflect this violation was an inconvenient intrusion, when it should have been seen as an opportunity to protect the integrity of the game, the system and the organization.
Hooks Excuse NO. 2:
We should have placed the call on Saturday night instead of Sunday Morning. Hooks claims that after he got the call from me on Sunday morning he did everything we asked and that if I had placed that same call Saturday night, a formal protest could have been filed in time.
My response: In this excuse, Hooks is simply disingenuous. The subordinate SPA official gave Hooks all the relevant information on Saturday and Hooks passed the responsibility onto us, but without the information necessary to meet that responsibility, then he claimed we did not perform in a timely manner. Furthermore, his subordinate never gave me the name or number of the SPA official (apparently Hooks) who made the decision, so how was I expected to make that call. I obtained Hooks name and number from other sources and my call on Sunday was simply done to suggest some inquiries that SPA should make, particularly inquiries that we could not make. We have no authority to interrogate the Millers manager and it should not be the primary responsibility of the players or managers to tell SPA how they should perform enforcement duties. We should cooperate, but the performance of enforcement duties is their responsibility.
Conclusion: This is a sad situation. Millers should have been required to forfeit every game they played with the ineligible player on their roster. Their managers should be prevented from playing or managing for a period of time. They got off “Scott-free”. We have been told by players from other teams that Millers had other major players on their team. I doubt that SPA has attempted to discover that possibility. In this day of computer desktop-search-systems that can easily find a players name and the team he/she is associated with, to claim to be concerned about rule enforcement and fail to have such a system leaves the door open for those as unscrupulous as the Millers managers. In the end, if we want to have fair tournaments, we have to recognize that the organizations may be less concerned than we are. If we want to prevent this reoccurrence, we should insist that tournament rosters should be available over the internet and that we be given access to that data that would allow us to discover these violations on our own. We should support those organizations that provide the most fair treatment, and avoid those who give fair treatment a lower priority (such as SPA).