Welcome back patient reader. Before we continue a small correction; I mentioned that I sent Shannon 5 questions when in fact it was only 4. My bad. I was dealing with a wonky hot water tank during the blog editing process and missed that.
My thanks to Shannon for taking the time to reply to my email and give her responses to the 4 questions. As promised, her answers are presented here unedited for you to read and consider yourselves-although you will see rebuttals from me to the things she mentions.
Just to be clear, here’s the Coles Notes version of the Men’s Open Event System. You’ll be able to see easily the similarities to the Women:
- 12 teams qualify for the Provincials
- 1 Defending Champion Berth
- 2 CTRS Berths
- 9 Berths allocated to five Open regional events (number of berths as per Curl BC’s rules with a provision for the Curl BC Manager-Scott Braley-to make changes at his discretion)
- 4 Open Events are held simultaneously in December: Vancouver Island, Okanagan, Kootenay and North
- 5th and final Open event held in the Lower Mainland in early January
- Teams can enter any and as many (read max 2 ) of the events as they wish
So you all understand the presentation it’s simply this: The questions are in Boldface, Shannon’s replies are in Italics and any rebuttal from me is in regular type but in a separate paragraph following her statements.
Ready? Away we go.
1 )Were curlers consulted prior to the decision and was their input sought?
Yes, they were. Each season surveys go out at the end of the year asking for input about our events. A survey also went out specifically about the concept with the title ‘Open Event Concept’, from this survey 70% voted in favor. Along with this we also have had numerous informal consultations with athletes, coaches and clubs around the playdown process.
Well I never ‘received’ a survey specifically about the Open Event Concept. But, Curl BC has a history of not actually sending surveys ‘out’ per se. Instead they tend to just post the surveys on its website with maybe a mention in an email, their Facebook page or their monthly newsletter.
This hardly constitutes as a proper survey. How do I know? Folks, I’m a BCIT Marketing Management graduate. Market Research was one of my best topics and if there’s one thing I can tell you, my old professors would cringe at the way Curl BC has conducted their surveys over the years. Inadequate sample size, poor delivery of surveys to the available sample market, misleading questions and, quite likely, lack of data from which to make good assumptions.
Let me put it this way; we had roughly 150-200 Men participate in this year’s BC Men’s playdown. If, from that sample size, Curl BC had only 10% actually respond to the survey with 70% in favor, then Curl BC is basing a decision on the opinions of 10-14 guys. And to any Market Research firm, that number would not be considered sufficient from which to draw any conclusions or recommendations.
So what I’m getting at is they can say 70% in favor all they wish, but first we need to know where that 70% came from. I’ll also add that to the best of my knowledge no one on good old Team Schneider was asked for our thoughts on the Open Event Concept.
2) The new Men’s Open Events closely mirror the format used for the Women. Given that this format has not increased participation (entries are down 50% since its inception in 2013) or improved performance at National Championships, why is it being used?
The Men’s concept actually does not mirror the women. The men still have FIVE events in each region, the only difference now is that they are OPEN.
I have to call out Shannon here. First, the Men’s system is literally the same with taking the 5 Regional events, making them all open and then having the Lower Mainland event held at a different time. What this does is give an advantage, again, to teams in the Lower Mainland who can use their geographic advantages (see the previous entry on this topic for details) to pick and choose from 4 other events to enter and then still have another one in their backyard in January.
Let’s shoot straight here; I’m looking forward to seeing how many teams from the Kootenay and the Island enter the Northern regional event instead of their own. And I know of one very good Kootenay team who’s relishing the thought of Lower Mainland teams venturing into their territory.
But the real thing here is that Shannon has totally dodged the question as to why Curl BC even considered using a failed system. Remember: the women began with 4 Open Events and participation declined so much, in a very short span, that they got reduced to just two.
3) Why does Curl BC continue to not form a BC Tour for Men’s and Women’s play to support events and develop curlers when virtually all other major provinces recognize the value of such? Keep in mind that a Jr. tour was formed without any hesitation 2 years ago while adults have called for, and volunteered to operate, a tour for over a decade.
The OCT, ACT, MCT are all mostly player and not association driven. We have definitely discussed the idea of a tour and there is agreement it should be a player and event driven tour.
Curl BC supports the junior tour but the current framework is a volunteer coordinator who is supported by a volunteer committee of event organizers, coaches and parents.
Curl BC would support and sanction adult events just like we do for the junior events if there were a men’s or women’s group who formed a tour and wanted our support.
The province has been lucky to have great junior tour coordinators in the past, we are currently without a volunteer junior tour coordinator for the 2017-18 season and will be advertising this position soon.
Kudos to Jim Cotter who has been the driving force behind the BC Junior Tour. Thumbs down to Curl BC who have ignored long standing, repeated requests to create and support the same for Adults.
And contrary to the third paragraph, Curl BC has been approached, on more than one occasion, in the past by individuals-myself included-offering to run a BC tour but has never taken those offers up. Mainly, IMO, because first on the table is a berth to the Tour Champion to their respective provincial championships.
This is a crucial component to the success of a Tour. It lends immediate credibility and value to players while stimulating interest in the homegrown events a BC Tour would have on their schedule.
Why haven’t they done this? You tell me as Shannon’s answer truly reveals no clue. They’ve had interest and volunteers in the past (and we’re talking back over a decade) and done nothing. Yet, without any hesitation they created a BC Junior Tour 2 years ago with the very same Provincial final berths.
4) If two teams from the same region enter the North and are the only 2 entries, will Curl BC honor that northern clubs commitment to host and require those teams to still travel to the North?
Yes, if you enter the open event in that region, then you must be prepared to travel to play in that open event.
Now I’m hoping that Curl BC will stick to its guns here. Because I can foresee a very simple and plausible scenario occurring about 6 months from now. Or as I like to call it:
How The Lower Mainland Gets Two Open Events, or A Primer on How To Manipulate the Open Event System…
Devious bastard that I am I saw a loophole in the Open Event Concept that any intelligent, like-minded and opportunistic curler(s) could exploit. And if you truly believe that a few guys out there aren’t playing with this idea in their heads, then I have a bridge to sell you.
So you’re sitting around with the boys, knocking back a few sociables on a nice Vancouver (and yes, because the Lower Mainland Open Event is held in January, not December, they are the one region that can pull this off) afternoon while planning next year. The topic of the new Open Event concept comes up and you get an idea. It goes like this;
You’re not interested with traveling in mid-December to lock horns with Tom Buchy in the Kootenays, Jeff Richard and Adam Cseke in the Okanagan for what may be only one spot and those pesky Islanders play tough on their home ice. But you sure like the idea of being able to have two chances to get to the BC’s. So, your thoughts turn to the North. For fun we’ll presume their event is scheduled for Kitimat-I think that’s remote enough for this exercise.
You know that for the past few years, no teams have even entered up there so here’s the plan. You and your squad convince at least one other local team to enter the North with you. Why two? because you need a minimum of two teams for the event to take place and it gets you a chance at one berth. Plus, you already know it’s unlikely a local will enter-and that’s what you’re counting on.
Because you really have absolutely no intention of flying into Terrace (if it’s not socked in by weather), driving an hour to Kitimat and staying overnight for a best 2 out of 3 against your fellow conspirator.
No, instead you’re going to go to Curl BC and Shannon and plead your case to move the event down to a local club (that you’ve secured cooperation with in advance) and your argument will be:
“Why do we have to go all the way there to play our fellow locals? Why should the Kitimat club have to give ice, time and cost for two Lower Mainland teams? Did we mention it’s also December? Travel could be risky, we might not even get in to a local airport and there’s just too much snow to drive for 12-13 hours, blah, blah, blah…”
Make sure you read that last paragraph with a whiny, nasal tone playing in your head. I could also add more, but I think you get the gist.
So you’re banking on Curl BC caving in. But what if they stick to their guns? Make you take the trip? Simple, you either complain some more-perhaps to the media, they hate that-or you just claim unforeseen circumstances, withdraw and you wait for the local event in January, which will likely get the single Northern berth anyways. Curl BC will refund your entry, they always do. You’re out zippedy-do-dah for giving it a shot.
Want to be even bolder? Two teams gets you one berth, 6 gets you two. Convince 4 more teams and you might have a better chance of getting the event moved. But what if a Northern team enters? Then you’re screwed, right?
Nope, the practiced devious mind has long ago taken this scenario into account. If there’s two of you and one of them, you both simply withdraw. But if there’s 6 LM teams in the mix you’ve got an option: persuade the local team to withdraw by offering to pay their entire way to the January LM event. All you need is the 24 guys on the 6 teams to agree to split the cost equally. What’s an extra $100-150.00/man if it gets you two local, sleep in your bed, kicks at the cat?
Sure, this is all predicated on the notion that you can get 2-6 teams to buy into a scheme and that Curl BC will cave or not clue in. But, guess what? Something very similar happened just 4 seasons ago and it worked.
In the fall of 2013, to beat the then minimum requirements of 4 teams for a region to get one berth, 16 wily Prince George curlers concocted a simple con. They entered, and paid, for 4 teams in their Regional event. Now the reality was there were only two teams who did want to play, but they needed 4 for the event to happen and the berth to be awarded. So, in go the extra entries paid for-so the legend goes-by one mysterious benefactor.
Come day one of the event what happens? Two teams no-show. The reasons: sickness, something came up at work, the dog ate my curling pants, etc.-you get the picture. And it doesn’t matter a damn that the winner got their heads handed to them in 3 straight games at the Provincials in Vancouver.
Curl BC got snookered and had no choice but to simply show default wins and losses and the event was a 2 out 3 for the two teams who really wanted to play. Apparently they even refunded the entry fees for the no-shows. Truth is they got caught with their pants down and if one group can pull this off, others will try-or at least consider the idea.
So I’ve done two things by presenting the above. First it’s a notice for Curl BC to be on guard if they smell something hinky going down and to stand firm if something like this happens.
Second, I’ve just given you guys in the Lower Mainland a gift to ponder and chew on. You’re welcome.
So if you come away after reading these two entries and aren’t happy but think there’s nothing you can do about it, don’t. Email or call Shannon, your Regional Curl BC Rep or your club rep, send Scott Braley a nasty note (his email is on the contact list on Curl BC’s website) complain to your local media sports guy how Big Bad Vancouver is stepping on the dreams of hometown athletes, but for God’s sake, most of all start make noise. Making these guys answer tough questions from unhappy curlers is not how they want to their day to go. And they’ll change if you are persistent.
But if you all sit there meekly, in 5 years we’ll probably have less than 16 teams entering Men’s play. I could be wrong and I hope time proves me as such, but I don’t think that will happen. History is already pretty clear on what the Open Event Concept does to participation