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Message posted by Fiftyball »Message board home   »Start a new discussion

Feb. 9, 2009
Topic: Tournaments
Discussion: Need For National Ranking System

The length of the Audie Hollis letter reveals how much he cares about his subject. He makes many good points and I mostly agree with everything he writes, but I would like to add my two cents to the mix.

Back in the late 1980's, I played in one of the earliest so-called World Series, which was a national tournament. There were age divisions back then, but no rankings to separate the good teams from the bad; you just entered and took your chances against whichever team you were assigned to play. As you can imagine, there were many, many mismatches along the way, and it soon became apparent that a ranking system was needed to make the whole thing more competitive for teams of varying abilities.

As the idea grew of competing against teams from different parts of the country, various organizations were formed and they each began to run their own version of a national tournament. The levels of play became more of what it is today, with divisions such as Super Majors, Majors, Triple AAA, etc. And, governing the whole thing was an encyclopedia of confusing rules. The game soon took on a look of something other than what we all grew up with.

But, the national tournament idea flourished and more teams became enamored of competing in something like a major league of senior softball. Players loved the recognition that came with it, and if you were lucky to win a championship, your could buy yourself a ring. But, why play the top teams, when, if you could come up with a good excuse, you might be able to talk your way down the in the rankings and wind up with an easier schedule?

Some people became really adept at crying the blues, which didn't disturb anyone other than the team that had to replace them in a higher bracket. The national organizations, not being stupid, knew what was going on, but they gave in to the song and dance people anyway because they threatened to withdraw and not come if they didn't get their way. It's not hard to understand, 90 teams in attendance is more profitable than if they only had 85.

And so it was unfortunately true, that the schedules of many national tournaments had such outlandish mismatches as the Peoria Pea Shooters in the same bracket with the Birmingham Bombers, while there were teams in the Pea Shooters' bracket who didn't belong there, and wiped out the field as a result.

I have long been of the opinion that there is a need for an Independent National Ranking System for all teams that participate in a national tournament. And, with this, you can throw away all the various divisions, from Super Majors down to Double AA.

Sounds drastic, but consider: If there is a national ranking for all teams, their individual ranking numbers should say it all. Bracket the teams in their sequential order. No more seeding rounds, which of themselves are breeding grounds for fraud and manipulation. Go right to the medal rounds, and make them more involved and competitive by having teams play in brackets more equal to their ranking.

The top bracket will, essentially, be the equivalent of the Super Majors, anyway. so you really don't need that designation to let people know the quality of the teams involved. Ranking numbers should do that quite well.

The idea is to COMPETE for your ring. The idea is to make it hard to win, because, there is nothing to compare with winning a championship in a tough tournament against teams of equal ability. To win a championship any other way makes a mockery of that championship. The ring associated with it means nothing. I don't know why anyone would want to wear such a ring without having really earned it.

National organizations might be reluctant to accept a national ranking system because they would feel it
could affect their overall attendance. After all, if they don't submit to teams who threaten not to come, those teams would, indeed, stay home. But, wouldn't their numbers be offset if more if teams around the country were assured they would not be overmatched against a vastly superior team? The Peoria Pea Shooters would gladly be a part of a tournament in which they would match up nicely with the Scranton Muffins. Let the Birmingham Bombers play the Florida Legends, that would be a great match-up.

Finally, with national rankings, we can have a true NATIONAL CHAMPION in each age division at the end of each year. Perhaps even, a National Championship game?? Wouldn't that be something?

Rudy Strauss

Senior Softball-USA
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Senior Softball-USA is dedicated to informing and uniting the Senior Softball Players of America and the World. Senior Softball-USA sanctions tournaments and championships, registers players, writes the rulebook, publishes Senior Softball-USA News, hosts international softball tours and promotes Senior Softball throughout the world. More than 1.5 million men and women over 40 play Senior Softball in the United States today. »SSUSA History  »Privacy policy

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