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Sept. 1, 2003 - Womens corner
Women's 40 Division Created as Transition to Bridge Age GapPat Lawlis
We've received quite a few questions recently on one subject: Why have we introduced the new 40+ women's teams into senior softball?
The reason is really quite simple: At about the age of 40, most women grow tired of playing ball with the very much younger counterparts on the diamond. As a result, many start looking for a new activity.
Some may move to golf and others just give up playing sports all together. Although there is nothing wrong with playing golf, it is a waste of good softball talent for women to leave the sport of softball. At the same time, women who leave the sport for a number of years are harder to attract to senior softball when they become age eligible.
That's why the 40+ division was created. Certainly, 40-year-olds are not what we would call seniors. We wouldn't call the 40-somethings who currently play in the 50+ division seniors either. We consider the 40-something players to be in transition, and the new 40+ division is a transition division. It serves as an important step toward opening the pipeline to a steady stream of new senior players, as the current seniors eventually move up to older divisions.
Admittedly, we have had an awkward situation at some tournaments this year because we don't have many 40+ teams yet. Where the 50+ teams are agreeable, we have sometimes mixed the two divisions, using a five-run equalizer for the 50+ teams.
This sounds a lot worse than it is, since about half of those on the field for most 50+ teams are players in their 40s. In addition, many of the 50+ teams have enjoyed the new challenge of playing the younger teams.
However, some 50+ teams object to playing with the younger players for fear of injury and this is a legitimate concern. We try to respect the concerns of the 50+ teams and schedule games accordingly.
Just as we have always tried to work with the 60+ and 65+ teams to be sure they are agreeable before scheduling them to play younger teams, we also are working with the 50+ teams to be sure that we have agreements before scheduling them to play against 40+ teams.
Our interest is in maximizing playing opportunities for all teams but not at the expense of safety.
That brings us to the women-only tournament in Flagstaff, Arizona, on Sept. 6-7. We want to make it the top annual women's tournament, but we can only do that if we have good team participation.
We're working through some growing pains that have caused a few less than desirable situations in previous tournaments. We expect a great tournament in Flagstaff and we hope that a lot of teams will join us for this new tournament. Flagstaff is comfortably located in the Arizona high country at the foot of the San Francisco Peaks and surrounded by forests of pine trees. It is near Grand Canyon, several national monuments and the world-famous red rock country of Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. In short, this is a great site for a great tournament.
At the same time, don't forget the World Championships in Mobile in October. We now have a special women's page at www.seniorsoftball.com. Our expectation is to be able to keep the latest information, such as the 2003 women's schedule and 2003 women's rules posted there. Just go to the Web site and click on "women." As always, we welcome your questions and comments.