Two blog entries in 2 days? What gives? Is the author on Speed?
No, not at all. If you recall my post yesterday, I did mention that I would follow up-in slightly greater detail-with my argument supporting a BCTRS instead of a tour. Call it Merk Part 2-the Icemaker Strikes Back, if it makes you happier. Although Dave doesn’t get really any screen time in this sequel, not even a cameo.
What you’re about to read is kind of a Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of the two files that I sent to all the recipients of Merk’s original email and the host clubs of the 7 BC Cashspiels listed in the Curl BC Yearbook for this season.
To keep things brief, I’ve cut out some of the non-essential bits but kept the heart of the argument for a BCTRS and the Points System Prototype pretty much intact. Remember that this is not gender exclusive and as far I can see, it should be put into place for both Men’s and Women’s play in BC. So without further ado…
Participation in playdowns continues to decline for men and women. The reasons for which are various and best dealt with at another time. One thing is certain, however, the decline in playdown participation has also trickled down into BC Cash and competitive bonspiels.
As proof, one only needs to look at the number of events a decade ago compared to this season. and the recent low entries in the Men’s fields of the Vernon and Kamloops Cash events-which resulted in Vernon failing to meet CTRS criteria and Kamloops cancelling their Men’s event.
I believe we are all in agreement that competitive events, Cashspiels or otherwise, are crucial to the development of teams and athletes. Events within our province provide excellent competition requiring less travel, time-off and financial resources than those outside BC. They also are a source of income, pride and fun for the spectators, host clubs and volunteers who run the events. It is thus of the utmost importance that we do everything possible to support and promote these events and preserve this in province, competitive environment.
Recently an email from Dave Merklinger called for the creation of a BC Tour to support events and develop athletes. This is not an old idea and has been proposed many times over the years by many different curlers.
The benefits of an organized tour within our province are obvious but at this stage, with participation at such a low level, we do not have the luxury of creating a tour with event qualification rules about: minimum field/purse size, limitations on non-BC teams and other criteria-as was suggested in Dave’s email and some of the replies he has received.
In the opinion of this author, these restrictive rules would be detrimental to events and even further discourage athlete participation-likely dooming any tour to failure. Instead we need to take a far different, less restrictive, welcoming and more open route.
I propose we consider an alternative. One which can be;
- quickly implemented at a low cost for the 2018-19 season
- is inclusive, not exclusive, for teams and events
- simple, cheap and easy to maintain
- offers the opportunity to improve on the mistakes of the WCT and CTRS
- has flexibility to adapt to changing dynamics and grow over time
In short, a system which is open to all athletes and events in an attempt to stimulate and encourage greater participation at the competitive level rather than restrict it.
What I propose is not the creation of an organized BC tour of events, because that framework of 8 events already exists.
Instead I propose the immediate creation of a BC Team Rating System (BCTRS), using the existing Cashspiels in our province as a starting point, with ultimate goals of expanding the number and size of events in BC and creating a fully organized provincial tour as participation increases.
Quick Implementation With Little or No Cost
Although Curl BC shows only 7 cashspiel events listed for this season, there are in fact 8 plus other highly competitive spiels which could be included for a BCTRS in 2018-19. They run from September until March, can form the backbone of the inaugural season and be built upon should growth occur.
Inclusive, not Exclusive
To encourage athlete and event participation in the BCTRS we need to take a view to being inclusive of events, not excluding or hamstringing them with rigid, unrealistic qualification criteria rules. True there are events, such as the Nelson and Cranbrook Cashspiels, using different formats and some events open to women’s and mixed teams. However, they can still be included simply by understanding their format and adjusting the points accordingly. The key to remember is we are in a position of not excluding, but including events.
Simple, Cheap and Easy to Maintain
Collection, updating and releasing of BCTRS standings and results can be done simply by one person using an Excel spreadsheet. Events would be responsible for collecting and reporting the data to the BCTRS manager who processes and posts the weekly updated results.
All that has to be established are rules for team registration, team participation in events (ex: 75% participation of registered team to collect points from an event) and the points system itself.
Improving on the WCT and CTRS
We have the opportunity to learn from the errors of the WCT and CTRS, correct them and show leadership in the competitive game.
For example: Grandfathering of points. Instead of carrying over past points, we start all teams with a zero value each season. This gives a very fair, clean and level playing field for all athletes at the beginning of every year.
The great advantage of the CTRS is its basic low cost and ability to change. Why? because it relies not on a tour-that it must maintain and finance-but on the existing events throughout our country. A BCTRS would have the same advantage, with the ability to grasp opportunities as they arose.
It’s also worth noting that since there is little capital or equipment investment required, the BCTRS is also a low-risk venture for Curl BC.
In short, there are many advantages in establishing a BCTRS before a BC Tour (and in truth we actually do have a tour of 8 events now, just not organized in any fashion). But one very crucial aspect remains: in order to be successful, it must have the support of the athletes through their participation. To get that support, the BCTRS must be of value to the athletes.
Value for Athletes Becomes Value for Events
If athletes see no value in a BCTRS they will not participate in the events of which it is comprised. Non-participation leads to events, like Kamloops this year, being cancelled. Once cancelled it is difficult, often impossible, to resurrect an event. Therefore, value to the athletes also translates into value for events.
What form should the value take? We already award 2 berths for teams based on their results in the CTRS I propose that we, instead, award those same berths for the top teams of the BCTRS.
BCTRS vs. CTRS
Why the BCTRS over the CTRS? the answer is simple. The CTRS is of little or no value to curling in BC. This is not meant as an insult, critique or put-down on my part of the CTRS. It is, instead, a simple recognition that the CTRS has a much different goal and purpose which does not address the competitive environment and issues in BC.
Let us remember that the goal of the CTRS is to rank teams on a national basis for the Olympic Trials and some National Championships. As a result, it cannot, and is not in any way, be concerned with the current or future state of competitive curling in BC.
Therefore, since the CTRS is of no value to BC, then we should not be giving any value towards it. Thus, it is only logical that those 2 berths awarded to the Men’s and Women’s provincials should be earned not through successful results in CTRS events, but instead solely through participation in BC events.
This doesn’t mean that BC teams cannot enter CTRS qualified events or that BC events cannot be both BCTRS and CTRS. Teams remain free to choose whichever events they wish, but will only receive BCTRS points in BCTRS events. And, while it is not necessary to meet CTRS criteria in order to be on the BCTRS, it is hoped that over time, as our events re-establish themselves, that the majority of our province’s cashspiels can grow and ultimately meet the CTRS criteria.
Suggested BCTRS Points System
Please note that this is a Suggested Points System for discussion purposes only. It’s purpose is to act solely as a starting point from which to develop a final BCTRS.
(Short Summary Folks: it’s an argument starter. Have fun.)
BCTRS Event Qualification Criteria
In my opinion the current state of affairs puts us in a position where event criteria rules similar to those that the CTRS uses would only make things worse. Therefore, you can toss out any ideas of minimum field or purse size. My only criteria is your event has a pulse and meets the definition of a Cashspiel.
Definition of a Cashspiel
I define a competitive, non-playdown event (cashspiel) as follows:
‘A Cashspiel is a competitive, non-playdown curling competition comprised of two sections. The first section, or Qualifying Round, is a competition used to establish a pre-determined number of finalists. The second section, or Championship Round, is a single-knockout elimination competition to determine an overall event champion.’
Now if you think that’s pretty broad and open to interpretation you’re right. Given the current state of things, beggars can’t be choosers.
Current BC Cashspiels
There are 8 Cashspiels in BC that I know of which meet this criteria for the 2017-18 season:
- Golden Ears Cash
- Vernon Cash
- Kamloops Cash
- Cranbrook Cash
- Nelson Cash
- Penticton Cash
- Abbotsford Cash
- Richmond Cash
Competitive Event Types by Format
Essentially there are 3 types of event formats used by these 8 Cashspiels:
- Double or Triple Knock-out Qualifying with Elimination Finals
- Round-robin Qualifying with Elimination Finals
- Round-robin Qualifying with Ladder Elimination Finals (Nelson and Cranbrook for example)
Additionally, a case can be made that there are events outside the 3 formats which could meet the definition criteria, are highly competitive in nature and warrant serious consideration for inclusion. For example, the Prince George Kelly Cup. (hey, look Ma, another argument starter!)
A points system needs to be based on two factors;
- Team results in Qualifying Rounds
- Team results in Championship Rounds
Once those 2 factors are taken into account, points are then accumulated by competing teams in 3 ways, resulting in an overall, cumulative total for the event ;
- Qualifying Round/win Points
- Elimination Round Points
- Elimination Round Money Points
Team Finishes, Qualifying and Championship Rounds
During the Qualifying Round of an event teams earn 1 point for every win against equal or lesser ranked opponents. A bonus point of .50 is added if a team defeats an opposing team of higher ranking.
In the Championship Round teams receive points three ways:
- Final position achieved (see breakdown below)
- Money won ( $amount/1000)
- Bonus .75 for defeating a higher ranked opponent in CR play
Suggested Points System Breakdown
Based on the example above, available points at any BCTRS would be as follows:
Elimination Round Base Points (all events):
- Champion 15 points
- Finalist 10 points
- Semi-finalist 5 points
- Qualifier 3 points
Why Base Points for All Events? Using the same Base Point for all BCTRS events ensures that a team winning just 1 BCTRS event has only a slim chance of riding that single result to a Provincial Berth over teams that play, and win, in multiple events.
Rather than a Strength of Field Multiplier we use the generally agreed notion that a larger purse equals a tougher event. Thus your Money Winnings and Elimination Bonus Points based take the place of a Strength of Field Multiplier and are accumulated as shown below:
- Money Winnings $amount won/1000 (ex: $10,000/1000=10 extra points)
- Opponent Bonus .75 for every higher ranked opponent defeated
Qualifying Round Base and Bonus Points
During Qualifying, teams will be awarded 1 point for defeating an equal or lesser ranked opponent. A bonus .50 points will also be added whenever an opponent of higher rank is defeated. These points recognize solid performances during qualifying that don’t result in advancing to the Championship round
For example: A team could post 3 wins and 3 losses, with all wins against higher ranked opponents, and not advance to the Championship Round. Yet they posted a good performance. They would now earn a total of 4.5 BCTRS points as a result instead of nothing.
In summation, the creation of a BC Team Ranking System is crucial to rebuilding the competitive events and athlete talent pool depth within our Province. By using the event resources we already possess in a cost effective manner we can add value to our existing cashspiels, offer our athletes a valuable-and affordable-incentive to support the events to improve their developing skills while we create an increased competitive environment within our province.
In the words of John Lennon: ‘Thanks for the audition’