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Nov. 1, 2003 - Womens corner
Good Sportsmanship in Mobile Made the Women's Game EnjoyablePat Lawlis
As we write this article, we have just returned from the World Championships in Mobile. We were struck by how many players took the time to tell us how much they had enjoyed the experience. They are the reason we are the Women's Directors, for they play for the love of the game.
Winning a ring at the World Championships is always an exhilarating experience. But for the most part, these women we refer to were not the ones who won the rings. These were the women who enjoyed playing with and against the Japanese players who brought us a cultural exchange experience while we were playing. These were the women who were honored to be named All Stars and who played in an exhibition game against the Western Division Champions when there was no Eastern Division Champion for them to play. These were the women who helped with and participated in the special Friday night competitions. These were the women who soaked up the experience of participating and the magical atmosphere of camaraderie among mature women.
Everyone who participated in the World Championships gave their very best effort to win the games they played. But there were as many losers as winners in the games ˆ that's the nature of games. Only one team in each division could walk away with World Championship rings ˆ that's a part of what makes the tournament special. But the majority of the participants were the biggest winners of all ˆ these were the ones who enjoyed being a part of the spectacular sportsmanship of the games.
In the baseball World Series (on-going as we write this article), winning is a job for the players and coaches. And if they don't do their jobs well, they risk losing them. Even so, without sportsmanship, their games are not enjoyable to the spectators who pay to see them play.
In our World Championships, our players don't get paid, and they don't risk losing their jobs and their livelihoods if they lose. We all play for the love of the game. We all love competition. We all try to win games. That's what competition is all about. But the things that make the experience intoxicating are the friendships that are renewed at every tournament, the camaraderie we experience, and the sportsmanship of the games.
We would like to thank all of you who traveled a little out of your way to attend the tournament in Mobile. We enjoyed your sportsmanship. We tried to make it a special experience for you, and many of you have told us that it was.
We would also like to give a special thanks to Mary Berg and the Mobile Legends teams who were our hosts at the tournament. Mary gave us invaluable assistance as we prepared for a tournament from afar, and the members of the Legends teams showed us true Southern hospitality as they helped out in every way they could to make the tournament a success.
We now have one final tournament to offer to each of you for this year. On the weekend before Thanksgiving, your team can participate either in the Winter Worlds in Las Vegas or the Winter Nationals in Ft. Myers. Indications are that we will have a lot of women's teams participating in these tournaments, as we transition into next year. Remember that 2004 rules will apply. This means that players who will be moving into new age groups next year will be eligible to play in those divisions at either of these tournaments. For example, if a player will turn 60 anytime in 2004, she can play on a 60+ team in one of these tournaments. The only exception is in the 50+ division where our transition to a "true" age division continues next year, and the minimum age will be 47 for 2004. That means anyone eligible in 2003 will still be eligible in this age division for 2004, and younger players are eligible to play in the 40+ division.
As we mentioned last time, we don't look at "40 somethings" as seniors, but it is important that we provide a means for them to transition into senior ball. It is also because these women are not seniors that we are gradually eliminating the younger ages from the 50+ division ˆ because 50+ women are seniors and they should be able to play with just seniors.
May you enjoy the sportsmanship of the games. As always, we welcome your questions and comments.