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Player Licenses

Here's a thread where we can all argue about player licenses. Are they the God-send that some people think? Are they just one piece to an overall revenue plan that need development? Are they the dumbest thing ever? Sound off. Or don't. Nobody gives a shit anyway.

I'll just start with a comment I made in another thread:

"DNOLA" wrote:

I changed my mind from before. I think now I'd pay for an NAH card, but only if there were a minimum level of service guaranteed. I don't mind paying for quality or paying for what's advertised as long as I know what I'm getting into. So if NAH can make a list and guarantee a certain level of service at their events, I'll bite, I'm in... but if it's more of this hokey, piecemeal, rube goldberg type experience... no thanks, even $3.33 is too much. EDIT: I think generally the organizers on the ground do a good job and didn't mind paying Boston at all. I got my money's worth from them, without a doubt.

On the other hand, and for the sake of argument, let's math this out...

Realistically how many "licenses" are they going to sell at $25ea?

78 (no. of people playing in a qualifier @ 26 teams) * 8 (number of qualifiers) = ~624 licenses/year * $25 = $15,600 total for the year. I get that every little bit helps, but it's hardly the panacea that some folks think it'll be--especially after reading that NAH/finances interview on yall's site. If you go to a company like RedBull with a well thought-out, codified proposal they'll cut you a check for $20,000. I'd rather see them explore avenues like that, if they haven't already.

I would also hope that NAH would be aggressively seeking out all reasonable sponsors and/or investors, and then taking their money. There were zero visible sponsors this weekend in Boston, no banners, no "freebies," nothing...there wasn't even an NAH banner or anything to let anyone know this was an NAH event.

I find it hard to believe there were no companies willing to throw money at an event like that, even if it's just a few cases of some weird new energy drink or coconut water / malt liquor hybrid. I'm not blaming anyone, though. It just feels like all avenues of funding should be explored before we start taxing the players to make up the deficit and calling it good. AHH DON'T TREAD ON ME!!!!!1!!1!

This discussion goes all the way back to that Nike On The Ball thread and how some people want to keep it all DIY and shit, which I still find ridiculous.

maybe licenses aren't the best choice for the term. why not memberships? being part of something sounds much better than being licensed (given permission). i'd be down to joining something before asking permission by a made up group to play a fake sport.

From this day forth... they will be known as NAH memberships. Moving on...

I DON'T WANT NO PART OF YO TIGHT ASS COUNTRY CLUB, YA FREEEAK BITCH!

I agree with everything you've said.

____________
The only reason anyone does anything.
For the lulz.

(Just hypothesizing here.) What about if NAH is dissolved and power is put in the hands of tournament organizers to choose what rule set they want to use, and what systems for qualification that they would like to put in place, and how many people they want to attend. North American Championship organizers pick which events they would like to pull from for qualified competitors.

Quality and standardization isn't dictated by a higher body but expected by the participants. Events cost more, and polo players spend their money on proposals that are a presentation of high quality.

I don't know, it's been a while now but I've lost sight of the efficacy of the organization. I love the people behind NAH. But as the saying goes, a camel is a horse designed by a committee.

What do we have now in North America? We have a convoluted, rigid qualification process that has changed the way people are allowed to travel to play and we have lower attendance numbers than ever. I am frustrated with the closed qualifiers and the confusing rules that had to be written to account for teams that are spread out geographically. And we have a rule set that no one is happy with despite having more than a handful of people who really know what the fuck they are talking about when it comes to writing one.

The best things that are happening for us are coming from outside NAH (BIKEPOLO.TV, PODIUM). What if NAH was just a way to facilitate these sorts of things? What if their job was to PAY them. I think that NAH has taken on too much by trying to dictate a rule set, a qualifying process, a schedule and sponsorships. I am just unmotivated to begin talking about how to give the organization more money when I think their responisbility needs to be reduced to more accomplish-able goals.

1) Find out how to get money into the hands of Podium and Bikepolo.tv
2) Find out how to get money from higher sponsorship.

The rest of polo WORKS from the ground up. It has been working that way since the inception. Bigger issues can be voted on by ALL clubs through a representative in polls facilitated by League. I think this discussion starts with answering the question: What purpose does NAH have going forward? Do we really want one organization to have ALL the purposes?

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fixcraft.net

I agree.

I thought I remember reading a few years ago when we were talking about the benefits of NAH that one of the reasons for forming it was to attract large, yearly sponsors and then trickle it down to various clubs for NAH sponsored events or for various products like Podium or BP.TV.

That made total sense to me. Large companies are more likely to give once a year to an, uh-hum, organized organization than 20-50k to Daniel from NY or Nick from COMO or have 15 different people hitting them up for 2-5k multiple times a year.

It's not really any of my business but I'd be curious to find out where the breakdown happened in that part of the original plan. Was there ever a big push to get large sponsors and they just showed no interest, or did NAH decide that they weren't interested in large/corporate sponsors? Or was it something else?

It seems like they need more of a plan than, "We're going to charge everyone $25 per year, then NAH will be a fully operational company where we can train refs and hire some staff," before we all throw down the money. Doesn't seem all that well thought-out, IMHO.

I think it's simply that they have a lot on their plate. Rules, reffing, qualifying structure, NA championship bids, and on top of that they're all players.

I just think we need to feather the throttle on our expectations of an organization such as NAH. I think polo needs to take one step back and find some flexibility again in how we accomplish things. And I think an incorporated NAH should shift focus to the things you discussed above and let aspects like qualifying structure and rules be hashed out and chosen by the people running the tournaments. If regions want to organize at a higher level to agree upon these things, that would be stellar and pretty much the IDEAL scenario. Less North American Hardcourt, more Mid West Hardcourt (or Eastside Hardcourt, etc...) -- at least in terms of ruleset and rules to get into qualifiers and things like that. Let local scenes figure this shit out in ways that work for them on the local level.

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fixcraft.net

Nick Kruse wrote:

I think it's simply that they have a lot on their plate. Rules, reffing, qualifying structure, NA championship bids, and on top of that they're all players.

I just think we need to feather the throttle on our expectations of an organization such as NAH. I think polo needs to take one step back and find some flexibility again in how we accomplish things. And I think an incorporated NAH should shift focus to the things you discussed above and let aspects like qualifying structure and rules be hashed out and chosen by the people running the tournaments. If regions want to organize at a higher level to agree upon these things, that would be stellar and pretty much the IDEAL scenario. Less North American Hardcourt, more Mid West Hardcourt (or Eastside Hardcourt, etc...) -- at least in terms of ruleset and rules to get into qualifiers and things like that. Let local scenes figure this shit out in ways that work for them on the local level.

i like that nick can say what i want too and he doesn't come off like a fanatic dick. well said, everything her.e

I’m open to the discussion about whether it’s worth disbanding and starting over. And I agree that a lot more should be delegated down to the regions – I really don’t know how or why issues like court length and goal depth are in the NAH conversation. But in terms of a gameplay ruleset and qualification structure, the current process is better than going backward. With NAH, we get to have one argument about qualification, rather than eight. Just look at the threads about determining the slots for the European Championship. That’s the alternative you’re advocating. In N. America, for the last three years, anyone who took the time to read the tour structure could tell you on day one how teams would earn spots for NA’s. That’s a transparent and effective qualification system, and it’s a good thing.

I get really frustrated with comments about “a convoluted, rigid qualification process that has changed the way people are allowed to travel to play and we have lower attendance numbers than ever.” People must have really short memories, or change their minds a lot. Smaller tournaments was one of the points!

One of the most common criticisms of the initial 7-qualifier system was that the NAH tournaments took up too much of the season and were too big for host cities and too much pressure, so they were crowding out other traditional tournaments. The closed system and consolidated schedule works to solve those problems, as well as giving the southern regions a competitive boost.

Yet somehow, even with the smaller, no-fuss regional’s, we’ve failed to make progress, and traditional tournaments are still being squeezed. ESPI itself might not happen this year for lack of a host, and a 20-team ESQ has had a ton of criticism about qualification and reffing despite being a really manageable size.

I don’t know how to fix it. I’m afraid that the community is simply not mature enough (in all senses of the phrase) to take another real step towards legitimacy. Refs still get no respect and hesitate to make simple calls despite at least two years of everyone recognizing that problem. Refs still get questioned and shit on when they make calls because players can’t shut up and deal with being told they are wrong. In Boston we had tall nets with inserts again, so leaning on the goal was rampant. I’m not blaming Boston, I used the same nets at ESPI 7 last year. And I’m not blaming NAH. Still, that problem could have been addressed with 40’ of PVC and 2 hours. The players could have done it themselves on Saturday morning. But it didn’t happen. Maybe folks don’t care, maybe everyone just wants to think it’s someone else’s job, I don’t know. It’s a small example. It is what it is.

Really, this closed regions experiment isn’t the end of the line, or even necessarily the right direction. It’s just two years of trying something different to see how it works, and if it creates some more interesting regional rivalry, and if we can prove out the competitive player base numbers. In 2015 we’re going to do something different. Personally, I’m more and more in favor of memberships and a wide-open points series, in which absolutely any tournament of a reasonable size could earn top finishers points toward N. Americans, and the membership fees go to administrate the player logs and points assignments, with a web portal to view it all. Forget “NAH tournaments.” Anyone throwing a tournament could award players points toward NAs qualifications if they (for example) used NAH rules, Hardcourt.org registration, and Podium Swiss Rounds and DE. Done. Just let folks throw tournaments and get out of the way. I hope we can have a long conversation very soon about all of the options for 2015, whether it been points series, closed regions, semi-open regions, and conference/division system, whatever.

NOLA: The large sponsor effort has been a complete and abject failure for lack of any real, meaningful planning or effort in a very long time. I think you should take it on. Honestly, I think you should take it over and run with it

Thanks for your thoughts. I don't mean to frustrate you with anything I said. You make good points in regards to the European talk. I just wish there was a way to allow for the travel and the fluid geographic nature of teams without creating a bunch of barriers. I realize my comment could have been more constructive.

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fixcraft.net

nah for rules and sponsorship, ref's association for reffing (duh), players union for tournaments and structure. 3 leaders meet to negotiate. similar to just about every sport.

Thanks for the real talk, Eric. NAH has been taking a lot of heat, and it's great to see you respond calmly and candidly.

thanks for taking the time to answer this like a real human. it's tight.

i'll be in touch about the later part.

eric_dc wrote:

NOLA: The large sponsor effort has been a complete and abject failure for lack of any real, meaningful planning or effort in a very long time. I think you should take it on. Honestly, I think you should take it over and run with it

just so it's on the record and people don't think i just open my trap and then run away when confronted, i told them i would do it for a percentage of sponsorship dollars i could secure (over some baseline amount), but not for free--which is actually pretty standard for fundraising/sponsorship positions if they're not on some kind of salary.

i already volunteer with orgs that deal with literacy in africa that a lot of my time goes to, and unless i have some sort of financial motivation from NAH it's not worth it for me to take time away from that.

all cards are on the table.

DNOLA wrote:

all cards are on the table.

i'm not seeing the card that says, specifically, how much it costs to divert DNOLA's time away from african literacy.

also is it just the africa time that's for sale, or can we buy some of the "arguing on the internet" time?

edit: i'm thinkin 20%...
--

na, we didn't figure it out, smart guy... here's the email i sent to ben... for das record...

Quote:

Hey Ben,

First, I don't have Eric's email, so please forward this to him.

I thought about the sponsor role and to be perfectly honest, I wouldn't do it for free. I've got a lot going on and it would have to be worth my time. We could talk about some sort of commission based system or something of the sort, but I'm not willing to purely volunteer.

If this is something you guys would be interested in, let me know and we can talk numbers and a timeframe.

Thanks,
Daniel

i'm open to negotiation, obveeeezzzzz.

it's not really arguing, i just like to be up front in my dealings.

who says i'll take time away from the akrifans? maybe i just need money for coffee to stay up when i could be sleepin.

they got $682 according to their IRS shit... really... this is the sole sum of their efforts. money money money moooney ted dibiase in this bitch. philly fools feel me. they still watch raw.

One of the most well written responses I have ever seen on this forum in 5 years.

____________
The only reason anyone does anything.
For the lulz.

Now we're talking.

Perhaps with the exception of using different rulesets and varying terms of qualification (more detail below, Nick) these are all ideas that have been eating at me for years and are past due in examining. Bottom line, this is the right conversation. A central organizing body does have a purpose, but we're overdue in re-evaluating that purpose and it's responsibilities.

Polo went from (for example, in my experience) Mad/MKE/Chicago to THE WORLD. The internet allowed us to take a huge leap in making contact, building a huge network, and playing anywhere we could travel. Seems like the mistake that was made was to try to organize accordingly. Not only may we have gotten to big too fast but are certainly tripping over ourselves in attempting to manage it.

So, much to unpack from these great posts, but I'll try to keep this orderly:

  • Daniel:
    • Developing a membership system and going big on sponsorships has absolutely gotten an aggressive boost since elections concluded. Qualifying logistics, rules development, and the resignation of our Sponsorship head (Jake's going to be a dad) have hindered our momentum a bit but we have re-focused our attention in that area, for sure. I completely agree that moving forward we need to be raising funds for our tournaments and our media partners.
    • The breakdown happened in part because, as Nick has pointed out, I think we were attempting to take on too much. We shot for the moon but also took cues from the community. This last part shouldn't be taken as shifting responsibility, it's just a fact. People seemed okay with raising funds, as a club, for tourneys (they were used to it) but what they really wanted - what they screamed about - was refs, rules, etc. So every time priorities were examined, developing the procedures and formalities got top billing and the benefit of the volunteer time. Sponsorship kept getting kicked to the back seat. Ironically, of course, we still ended up trying to address these prioritized issues while at work, at tournaments, between jobs, late at night, etc. and not making enough satisfactory headway in those areas either.
  • Nick, one idea you tossed out, I'd like to suss out a bit more:
    • " North American Championship organizers pick which events they would like to pull from for qualified competitors." If I'm understanding correctly, then this may be a bit too lax. People should know that they're attending something that matters beforehand. Also, people will want to know that they ought to attend said event if they want to be considered.

    Otherwise, much of this I'd be perfectly happy to see develop. As much as I'm very eager for a skill-based, open system for competition, the MW Hardcourt, Cascadia Hardcourt, etc., concept has been in mind for years. One of the hopes was that in creating an elected body to represent each region, that these regions would become more self-sufficient, creating regional-specific organizing structures.

    I firmly believe that NAH can assist in facilitating between the regions - help establish and/or spread the word about which tournaments will matter for qualification; coordinate the larger tourneys (NAs, Worlds); codify a proper ruleset (we are on the right track, we just went too far in the other direction). I also believe NAH can have a hand in nurturing smaller clubs, non-competitive polo, and building the next generation of players. But there is no question that the time has come for us focus on fundraising, so that our events and partnerships may thrive and other goals, such as inspiring and encouraging more people to play, may be met. And if that means bringing the brunt of some of this organizing directly to the doorstep of each region, then so be it. I know for a fact that we have people in place in each region that are eager and up to the task.

    Lastly, I just want to say that after initially receiving such a positive response, it's been profoundly frustrating to see the close region system take such a turn. Understand, the whole point was to give ourselves a couple years to accrue stats by breaking everything into regional chunks, only to re-emerge with, as I mentioned above, a completely skill-based, open system. So I want to say that none of the teams caught up in this have wanted anything but the chance to qualify and play some good polo. I firmly believe all intentions were honorable in this light. The situation is just unfortunate.

    This has been a very frustrating time. But the constructive comments we're seeing here and the type of discussion and action it breeds - this is what is going to bring about change. Thanks.

ben schicago wrote:
  • Nick, one idea you tossed out, I'd like to suss out a bit more:
    • " North American Championship organizers pick which events they would like to pull from for qualified competitors." If I'm understanding correctly, then this may be a bit too lax. People should know that they're attending something that matters beforehand. Also, people will want to know that they ought to attend said event if they want to be considered.

    .

    I like this idea a lot. It nurtures travel a lot more, and it allows for more events to actually mean something. everyone has good days and bad days, and one tourney to dictate where they should rate among the best is kind of a bummer.
    It's easy to contact NAH and say you'd like an event to be sanctioned, that tourney could pay it's NAH fee, recoup it through reg fees, NAH will give it guide lines to follow (net sizes, court sizes, etc as to keep them out of the rules, but maintain clarity so everyone knows what to expect) and then points can be given out. it could work in two ways: accumulate points to work through cat 1,2, 3 and4 players, and earn points to qualify for championships.
    I think that we should look at how cycling approaches things, instead of hockey. Cycling is a super inclusive sport, but maintains a high competitive nature. this would further the idea of A level and B level, but even in those levels there can be further categorization. So i think that the CAT1,2,3,4 and 5 might make sense. like i said before, earn points to raise categories, because a first time player (cat 5) is completely different from a higher b level player (a cat3) so when ranking them in rounds it would allow for that to be considered.
    I'm eager to be productive in my rants and complaints. I just want to see something go somewhere either go forward or go away and let something else come forth and try it. I come off as an asshole because i'm frustrated with how things are(n't) moving.

    thank you too for taking the time and posting / answering the questions / comments so far.

    x2. Thanks, Ben.

    Nick Kruse wrote:

    1) Find out how to get money into the hands of Podium and Bikepolo.tv
    2) Find out how to get money from higher sponsorship.

    The rest of polo WORKS from the ground up. It has been working that way since the inception. Bigger issues can be voted on by ALL clubs through a representative in polls facilitated by League. I think this discussion starts with answering the question: What purpose does NAH have going forward? Do we really want one organization to have ALL the purposes?

    +1
    I'm still fairly new around here but I'm much more inclined to hand money over (and have already done so multiple times) to these than I am to give money to the NAH. Nothing personal, maybe I just don't understand what NAH does..
    What I do know is that without the NAH, there would still be plenty of polo. But without things like bikepolo.tv and Podium, it would be much less convenient/enjoyable to follow.

    I'd pay today.

    Combination of choice: Smash + Bang

    PayPal: treasurer@nahardcourt.com

    I'm sure they'll gladly accept your $25 donation, today.

    I'm sure they would accept a donation, but they aren't ready to provide a membership/licence as you've described, so I'll stay my wallet until that time.

    Combination of choice: Smash + Bang

    .

    hey schultzy. remember when these conversations would last until 4am? yeah, i used to care. i still care but i used to too.

    frozenly.

    Purely theorhetical. What if NAH gave...1/3 of the money raised from player licenses (We'll use the 15,600 since I don't do math) directly to the organizers of North Americans? $5,200 cash money to produce a better tournament. Toilets, food trucks, PA system rental something along those lines, Beer Gardens! not to mention wood. If NAH could provide the money to make a very visible improvement to the tournament facilities would people be willing to pay these fees? I mention this instead of simply the registration fee because this money would be available to the organizers before hand so that they wouldn't have to pay out of pocket and get paid back following the tournament. I also mention North American's since it's a big yearly tournament and we're thinking baby steps.

    I understand that people want sponsors to donate money for this instead of us paying fees but other organizations use player dues to fund improvements and events where sponsorship money is building or unavailable.

    ____________
    The only reason anyone does anything.
    For the lulz.

    Medic.Mike wrote:

    Purely theorhetical. What if NAH gave...1/3 of the money raised from player licenses (We'll use the 15,600 since I don't do math) directly to the organizers of North Americans? $5,200 cash money to produce a better tournament. Toilets, food trucks, PA system rental something along those lines, Beer Gardens! not to mention wood. If NAH could provide the money to make a very visible improvement to the tournament facilities would people be willing to pay these fees? I mention this instead of simply the registration fee because this money would be available to the organizers before hand so that they wouldn't have to pay out of pocket and get paid back following the tournament. I also mention North American's since it's a big yearly tournament and we're thinking baby steps.

    I understand that people want sponsors to donate money for this instead of us paying fees but other organizations use player dues to fund improvements and events where sponsorship money is building or unavailable.

    I think being self sufficient would be pretty great for this. At that point you almost wouldn't need sponsors (almost. everyone knows the more the better) but one could really host a rather fantastic event this way. A real way for the NAH to actually have authority. It would be, essentially, their event, and then would have true authoritative power on the rules, and qualification requirements. It would shut tme the fuck up with every complaint i've had, and i would be more than happy to support the body.

    North America - NAH
    Asia - ?
    Oceania - ?
    Africa - NO POLO ALLOWED IN AFRICA
    Europe - Mostly anarchy from the looks of it

    If NAH were to reconstitute, would it be better to just go international?

    Combination of choice: Smash + Bang