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Discussion: Too many sub classifications

Posted Discussion
Jan. 17, 2008
udaplaya
91 posts
Too many sub classifications
My $.02 worth (i.e., not expecting everyone to agree)

I am new to senior softball, and one of the first things that surprised me were the number of classfications under each age group. I knew there were different levels for 50, 55, 60, 65, etc., but had no idea that wthin each age group there were AA, AAA, Major, and Major Plus. After acknowledging that yes, there is a wide range of talent even in our later years, I still must question the need for five year old age band being further broken down into four sub groupings - seems like overkill.

As a result, we see small draws in many divisions. Using the 50 age group in Las Vegas as an example, there were 5 AA, 16 AAA, 8 Major, and 2 Major Plus teams. Would it not have made more sense to have a 10 team upper draw and a 12 team lower draw. 55\'s had 17 teams across three divisions, 60\'s had 20 teams across three division, 65\'s had 14 teams across three division - and this is at one of the more well attended events. This is an average of only 5 - 6 teams per draw, and I wonder if it wouldn\'t be better to combine things into an upper and lower divisions and have brackets of 10 - 12 teams, with not having to play the same teams over and over being an immediate plus.

I do not expect any organization to take action based solely on my views, but I thought I would throw it out there. Seeing the difficulty that the TOC is having, I would venture a guess that two divisions per age group would help solve the low draw problem.

Have a great 2008 season.
Jan. 17, 2008
taits
Men's 65
4387 posts
Sounds like you know Joe Lecak.
That's kinda like the hypothetical he threw out.
Too many if's ands or butts.
imo
Jan. 17, 2008
WOW
197 posts
The lack of teams in the upper divisions is because of the few "sponsored" teams grabbing up, [sometime even paying] the best players to form 'super' teams .[ Although you can't blame the player, anyone would like to have a "free ride".] The problem is these teams then whine about playing the same 2 or 3 teams at all the big tourn. It is really hard to feel sorry for them. Blame the sponsors and their mgrs. for the lack of teams in these divisions.
The vast majority of players are either playing for exercise, sportsmanship [a virtue that some of these "super' players seem to lack, ie illegal bats, illegal players etc.], or just plain FUN.
Jan. 17, 2008
Gary Heifner
248 posts
I have played at the 50, 55 and now 60 level. There is a huge difference. As you move up, the big fat guys are less and less. They have no knees or are dead! I have noticed that as teams are formed at the older levels, the teams who place rings ahead of friendship, dump friends, and reach out to more states. Often drawing from 5 states to put together an all star team. As those teams change team names and hide big time players, less and less teams want to go to big tournies, and pay the money just to get pounded. You need a AA. I would suggest NO Hrs and if you hit one, you are out of that game. You might keep the AAA level more balanced by limiting the roster to your home state and maybe other players from only one other state. I think this would force more guys to form teams. The 3rd level would be an Major division. Put together a team and come play. No boundries. No single player would ever get shut out due to home town. You might find 15-20 teams show up if they could draw from anywhere and show up with guys who would huff and puff and hit the ball to never land. No Hr limits.
Jan. 18, 2008
the wood
1085 posts
WOW:
You have made several comments about 'paid players' and also about 'blaming sponsors for the lack of teams in the major plus division'.
First of all, who are the paid players? I have been a major + sponsor for 5-6 years and have never paid anyone to play. I never even considered the possibility. We help with a player's travel expenses but we don't pay him to play (we = GSF). There have been roughly 40 guys that have played for us over the past 5-6 years and every one of them have had to come 'out of pocket' to be able to travel with us. Are we missing the boat? Or are you just making gross generalizations?
About the major + division... do you actually play in it? If so, how long have you done so? Because if you've been doing this for just a few years or less (the past 2-3 years), you don't really have much of a frame of reference. Those that have been involved over the past 10 years (Double L, Jim 16, SJUhoops... to name a few) could tell you that the major + divisions have never been healthier (i.e. parity and number of teams).
One of the more successful major + teams of the past 6-7 years (Old A's, 55 & 60 divisions) have had very minimal sponsorship and have travelled to as many, if not more, events than all of the other teams. I'm reasonably sure that none of them were paid... connect thedots on this.
I will be interested in knowing where you get your information. As I said, these were not just random remarks as you've stated them more than once.
Bob Woodroof, GSF, 60 major +
Jan. 18, 2008
DoubleL10
Men's 65
833 posts
WOW,
I'm with Bob Woodruff on this one. I am the DoubleL10 that Bob referred to in his note.
On what do you base your assertions about the Major + division? This will be my 12th year in Senior softball and last year and, hopefully, this year, we have never seen as many teams in the Major + program - especially the 60s in which I play.
Back in the late '90s, when there were no regional restrictions, there were only three legitimate 55 Major + teams in the country. That was because the best sponsors paid for all player expenses and recruited nationwide. I played on a team that had players from CA, VA, FL, TX, NY, UT and NV. Now, that we are operating under the "bordering states" rule, by and large, things are more evened out. Also, there appear to be more teams with limited sponsorships - like the Old A's - so that the guys playing are doing it for the love of the game and not because someone is picking up all their expenses. That is not to say that players on those teams with full sponsorships are not playing for the same reason but a full sponsorship sure makes it a lot easier!
I'm in the group that plays for the love of the game and I would continue to play as much as I could with no sponsorship at all.
Larry Lopez, Boaz Export Crating, 60 Major +
Jan. 18, 2008
sjuhoops
123 posts
WOW i am sjuhoops that bob mentioned in his email. this is my 15th year in senior softball and my 46th season playing a game that i enjoy. i have been fortunate to be able to play with and against some of the best players that have ever played this game. for the past 10-12 years most of our tourrneys only had 2-3 maj + teams. as larry has pointed out we now have anywhere from 6-10 60 maj + teams. just want to let you know that we do love this game and that we put in many hours of batting practice to keep ourselves sharp. i do play for exercise, sportsmanship and fun so i do disagree with you there. i try to exercise as often as i can and if you are ever in vegas on vacation and would like to hit with some great guys who put many hours into this game they hit on tues, thurs and sat 52 weeks a year(weather permitting).
p.s. im still waiting for my first paycheck.
Jan. 18, 2008
sjuhoops
123 posts
WOW
sorry
Hank Cluess GSF, 60 MAJ +
Jan. 18, 2008
Enviro-Vac
Men's 60
399 posts
To many sub-classifications - I agree
Jan. 18, 2008
BruceinGa
Men's 60
2665 posts
I would like to see 50's and 55's combined with only three classes.
Jan. 18, 2008
the wood
1085 posts
In the interest of brevity, I didn't respond to the sub classification portion. While I don't agree with Bruce on combining the 50 and 55 divisions, I no longer have an ax to grind with that (we're a 60 team).
But 3 divisions within each age group as opposed to 4 may make sense. I presume that the thought would be to somehow combine the AA, AAA and major divisions into 2 divisions. I could not begin to determine which teams went into which category as I have no personal knowledge of those teams.
BW
Jan. 18, 2008
the wood
1085 posts
Hank;
I'm not sure what happened with your check. It was mailed last week... perhaps we have the wrong address for you.
:-)
BW
Jan. 18, 2008
einstein
Men's 50
3114 posts
Woodly,
At major plus, the open division, where ex major leaguers often linger,
who cares who gets what.
Cash's got nothing to do with a players heart or ability.
I know lots of guys who play their best against the "paid for guys.".
Nothing is better than getting a guy out who's considered one of the best
hitters in the nation or beating a team of mercenaries, straight up.
Hunger, confidence and heart make champions
not money and stats.
Think New York Yankees.
Jan. 21, 2008
the wood
1085 posts
Einstein, you're preaching to the choir. I know of no one that is getting paid to play. That was my point.
I have grown weary of folks that have used this board to comment on things upon which they have little or no actual experience. The guy had made several gross generalizations about the major + division, none of which he can substantiate.
I also took exception to his comment about the major plus sponsors... for the same reason.
BW
Jan. 21, 2008
softballer
Men's 55
560 posts
OH MY! NO ONE IS BEING PD! OPEN YOUR EYES!

SOME GET ROOMS AND FLIGHTS AND OTHER THINGS TOO!
COUNT ON THAT
Jan. 21, 2008
the wood
1085 posts
I don't know who you are and/or which major plus team that you play with. But I do know that I know of NO ONE that is being paid to play.
If you mean that the guys whose room, flights, etc. are covered are being paid, well I can accept that. But I do not consider that this is being paid to play.
Do you mean that guys are receiving an income to play senior softball? I can truly say that I do not know of anyone that is in this position. There has never been anyone on our team that falls into this category.
Bob Woodroof
Jan. 21, 2008
CRUSADERVB
Men's 65
272 posts
Sorry Hank......I accidently picked your check up , it was stuck to mine and under Freddie's in Menifee.
Jan. 21, 2008
softballer
Men's 55
560 posts
to wood

i sir do not play majors but i do know of people that have or do get the all mighty $$$$$ to do so! and as far as rooms and flights isn't that a payment of some kind do do the game we love! and it has been going on for years and will always go on to make the best team out there as joe siad the yankees kind of teams!!
M
Jan. 21, 2008
taits
Men's 65
4387 posts
Crap, where do I, err, we, sign up.

I am also am aware of the things mentioned as a payment.
Jan. 21, 2008
audieh
Men's 60
242 posts
OK, I agree with Einstein and Bob here on the latest comments. I have been playing, sponsoring and managing major plus for 5 years and have never paid a player or had a player ask me for payments to play. Now, having said that, you must understand that when you are asking a blue collar worker that supports a family to play 6 to 10 weekends on a team that many can not afford to play particular on fly away tournaments.

If you are playing on the top level against the best players and you have the desire to compete, Then you try and sponsor, that is pay motels and flights for as many people as you can. To take your example to the extreme then no one should ever have a sponsor pay a entry fee, even on a recreational basis. Should I not sponsor my grandsons little league team? After all, we don't want them to have an advantage over the other team! Why do so many people think with such socialist tendencies and want everyone to be on the same level. Is is jealousy of talent or of a player who would not normally get to play having the chance to play on a national level. Listen, if someone comes along and will pay my players than I will release them immediately because it would be better for them. Let capitalism rule and you people and associations who want to limit major plus softball by purposely and artificially limiting runs per inning and home runs need to look at your motives. Why purposely keep games close. We are grown men and can handle defeat without our little psyche being harmed.

There is a reason why we have different classifications in senior ball and I am thankful for my fellow comrades who play AA, AAA, Major and of course Major Plus. Why do you be-grudge someone playing softball. If the major plus is too competitive for you then stay in a lower level and have a blast. But, I can assure you that other than talent, there is no difference in the hearts and minds of major plus players than all the rest. We love to play but love God, family and this country just like the players at AA, AAA and major.
Jan. 21, 2008
taits
Men's 65
4387 posts
I think the point that originally was made about this was that someone who "helps' out a player, to go play, can most assuredly get the cream of the crop.
Jan. 21, 2008
the wood
1085 posts
Softballer:
I am glad that you made the distinction between expense reimbursement and income. The rule book also makes this distinction as does the IRS.
So if you and others feel that major plus sponsors are doing senior softball a disservice, I must whole heartedly disagree with you. In my mind, I felt that we were helping folks play in travel events that might not ordinarily be able to do so.
You have made it clear that you KNOW that some guys are actually earniing an income. As I stated before, I honestly know of no one in this category. I do speak with other sponsors as to their annual budgets and primary allocations but I never thought to ask which players were getting paid.
On a percentage basis, how many major plus players are receiving money that exceeds their expenses? (In your opinion, of course).
BW
Jan. 21, 2008
the wood
1085 posts
Taits:
The 'cream of the crop' is already in the major plus level, for the most part. We don't have as many teams and, therefore, we must travel farther to play. Do the math.

I hadn't read Audie's post before posting my previous one as it is very similar to what he stated. There are a lot of serious issues within senior softball that must be dealt with. But before we get to them, should Audie, Donnie Chavis, Randy Hendricks, Ken Lipinski and many other generous guys spend their money differently?

Unless they change the geographic rules, the 'cream of the crop' would probably play for them anyway... those that could afford to travel. I really don't like the 'cream of the crop' label, Taits, but you threw it in. I much prefer to use the phrase 'those that wish to play at the highest level'.
BW
Jan. 21, 2008
taits
Men's 65
4387 posts
BW,
I'll agree with that. I do know of teams that are\were AA and worked up to major, where they are now, that got bennies. I can think of possibly one AAA team as well.
But yes the M & M+ go "earn" it. But the math can also be follow the money....

All teams being player equal, Who would you rather play with someone who pays your way or someone who does not.
Perhaps if a team had an arrangement that helped the players out if they performed well, WON. or did it on an individual basis. If a player has no financial risk is he always going to do his best? Maybe, & if he loves the game and guys around him, most likely.
.02
Jan. 21, 2008
the wood
1085 posts
Taits:
In reality, when are 'all things' equal'? If I were picking a team to play with, money would not be my highest criteria. I would want a team that has a strong chance of winning, will work to win, can accept it when they don't win and has a lot of fun along the way.
Many players over estimate the 'winning value' of sponsorship. If a sponsor throws in $20k and you have 16 players, the end result is that each guy receives $1,250 in financial assistance. If the sponsor has some bad 'strings attached' you've 'sold your season' for $1,250. I have seen this time and time again. Don't be fooled by this.
BW
Jan. 22, 2008
DoubleL10
Men's 65
833 posts
BW, Amen to that! I've been teams where we received "financial assistance" and wish I'd never joined. Some times we are better off footing the bill ourselves with none of the 'strings' attached. LL
Jan. 22, 2008
taits
Men's 65
4387 posts
BW,
I'd agree to that.
Jan. 22, 2008
WOW
197 posts
I purposely have stayed away from additional posts since I opened this topic. It IS interesting though, how I was considered clueless and un-informed and making generalizations when starting this. It is also interesting how the posts have gone from nobody knowing anything about $ being given to where the last few posts have gone.

I meant no harm in stating what I said, although it may have sounded like I did. I wanted to start a discussion and that happened. My point was that by sponsors throwing $ at paying for players to play AND also paying for airfare, hotels, car rentals, wifes travel, etc.[all of which I know happens] has made for fewer teams to play when traveling around the country. I have no axe to grind with anyone wanting to do this. If you have the $ to pay for someone to play this wonderfull game we all love, more power to you, BUT you must also acknowledge you are in the minority. Of the 100's of teams playing sr. softball, I would guess that there are only a handfull of these teams. My point is that by creating these paid. sponsored, or however you want to refer to these teams as, has minimised the # of teams wanting to travel, and spend THEIR OWN money knowing they don't stand a chance against the, YES, "cream of the crop, pd for teams]

I DO see a need or this kind of competion as there will always be sponsors willing to do this. [Can you say Steinbrenner?]
Remember who got in trouble a few yrs. ago in Illinois. That wasn't a non-sponsored team. How about last yr. when a very high ranking Summit board member got caught. Also a sponsored team. There have been other examples over the last few yrs. Illegal bats, underage players,etc.. All you have to do is read the SSUSA newspaper. So let the $ flow and create this kind of a division. It gives the guys a place to play but don't have that ruin the rest of the guys fun.

I feel these guys HAVE done a dis-service to the game as has been expressed before. But agin, there is a need for this level of competion.

I too have been playing Sr. Softball for many [15] yrs. and organized softball for over 35 yrs. I'm not a "newcomer or novice" I belong to an organazation of over 100 teams consisting of almost 2000 players playing 48 weekends a yr.
My point is that I DO have some experience to draw from.
Jan. 22, 2008
the wood
1085 posts
WOW:
Making nebulous claims about players getting paid is not exactly earth shattering. Who? By whom?
GSF has been 'guilty' of helping players with travel expenses but never paying anyone to play. If you and some others cannot understand the difference between the two, you aren't worthy of further discussion for me.
You mentioned that you have played for 35 years. So what? How does this, in itself, qualify you to comment on the major plus division? My son was drafted twice (baseball) but never actually signed a contract. Does this qualify him to comment on life in MLB? I was drafted into the US Army but the Pentagon isn't aksing for my input.
OK, you wanted to start a conversation and you have done so. Your only failing was to re-enter it. Come up with some meaningful input instead of vague claims, will you? Give us a break.
Think about it, without sponsors we'd have fewer major plus teams. It isn't all that complicated.
BW
Jan. 22, 2008
taits
Men's 65
4387 posts
BW,
As you should know, pay, wages or what ever you call it, includes the cash value of other benefits such as the reasonable value of food or lodging and travel. You could call them fringe benefits also.

That being said, I still agree with the post before this last one, and I had a team and could afford it, I might do the same.
I should have put this in before.
Jan. 22, 2008
softballer
Men's 55
560 posts
expense reimbursement and income.PD no matter what you call it!!!!
Jan. 22, 2008
the wood
1085 posts
Since you seem to know so little about the tax code (are you familiar with form 709), let's move on to the crux of the matter. WOW, whoever he/she is, made the comment that 'major plus sponsors are the reason for the shortage of teams in the division'. Clearly, I take exception to this.
In the 55 major plus division in '07 there were 10 teams. I will name them for you... GSF, CT Sportsplex, OLR Nighthawks, Grimes Trucking, IN Travelodge, Hollis Appraisals, MTC 55, Mission Texas, Premier Sports and Kelly's Sports. Other than Premier, these are all teams that we played last year in national events.
Here is my question to you and all of the other geniuses up there... how have the sponsors hurt the division? There was a lot of parity and there were more teams than ever. Larry Lopez has stated this, Hank Cluess has re-stated it... both are guys that have been there for over 10 years at the major plus level.
By the way, all of these teams were sponsored (in one form or another) last year. If you guys had actually been at one of the major plus national events you could have seen that the product has improved. If you wish to argue about the major plus division please first take the time to do some due diligence... since none of you seem to have any first hand experience with it.
Bob Woodroof, ChFC
Jan. 22, 2008
softballer
Men's 55
560 posts
all i'm saying is there is pd player! more power to them and they know who they are..

good luck toGSF this year i'm sure i will see you guys somewhere down the road!
Jan. 22, 2008
the wood
1085 posts
And I'm saying that I honestly know of NO ONE that is being paid to play.
The 2007 SSUSA rule book states in section 9.1 (Amateur Status)... 'an amateur player shall be compensated for no more than ordinary expenses of the tournament'. This defines the difference between amateur and something other than amateur. You know this because you are an SSUSA umpire.

To any that disagee with my stated position:
So, if it's cool with the association and its cool within the tax code, is there any other authority that we need to placate?
This discussion has drug out over several days and it is essentially a group of people (sponsors) that are operating well within the rules while trying to make it easier for some guys to travel to play at our level. The division IS NOT worse for it as some have suggested.

Softballer, if your true feelings are that there are paid players out there, I just hope you that are... 1) using the correct definition of an amateur (section 9.1)... &... 2) are speaking from first hand knowledge, not from heresay. I have not meant to be vindictive toward you and apologize if I offended you. But I really don't like to be put on the defensive as WOW has done... and good luck to you this year as well.
BW
Jan. 22, 2008
BruceinGa
Men's 60
2665 posts
I know of one that has asked for $1000 a weekend to play. This information was given to me second hand. But this guy, to the best of my knowledge, has never played in a senior softball tournament.
My opinion is that if you give more perks to some players you only cause dissention among the team.
I would think if one player got $1000 then others would expect it.
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