Gap Between Selection and National Tournament

The 2013 tournament returns to Greenville, SC this May.

What should the MCLA do about the short gap between selection for and start of the national tournament?

Move selection (and therefore the last conference tournaments) up a week
9
27%
Move tournament back a week
4
12%
Keep as is
18
55%
Other
2
6%
 
Total votes : 33

Gap Between Selection and National Tournament

Postby eastcoastbias on Tue May 27, 2008 11:51 am

First, let me say that I think that the MCLA is an incredible organization, and appreciate the work done by so many to make everything run so smoothly. A lot of people forget that it is still very young, which speaks volumes about how far it has come. Sorry in advance for the long post.:)

I would like to get a sense of what people think about the incredibly short gap between when selections for the tournament are made and the tournament actually starts. Many teams -- those winning late conference tournaments and those on the bubble -- have just one week to book a trip that may be halfway across the country for 25-40+ members of their organization. While fundraising, hotel rooms, and some other arrangements can be done ahead of time, there are also things that must wait until a team is officially in the tournament.

Specifically, booking last minute air travel is an incredibly expensive logistical nightmare. The cost of last-minute flights has increased rapidly in the past few years, and can be expected to get worse if the price of oil continues to rise as expected, and if the airline industry continues on the current path. All of the domestic carriers have cut as many flights as possible so that all of their flights are at full capacity. This makes 35-40 last-minute flights harder to find and more expensive. If the tournament is held in Dallas next year, the problem could be even worse because American Airlines has cut more flights than most.

I would suggest either moving the selection and the late conference tournaments up a week (my choice) or moving the national tournament back a week. I understand that making this change might make some teams less fresh for the tournament and that conferences may schedule their tournaments based on final exams, but think that the trade-off is worth it. The difference in cost for team flights one week vs. two weeks out could easily run in the thousands of dollars or more, depending on a number of factors. Even the NCAA takes into serious account air travel when making seedings and scheduling preliminary round games for its tournaments.

In my opinion, the MCLA is setting itself up for an embarrassment with the current one-week gap. I can easily imagine a scenario where a team (D1 or 2) simply cannot afford to go to the tournament after realizing that the actual cost of last-minute flights is way above what they budgeted for. Anyone who has booked a flight to the Boston-area recently can understand why the PCLL selected Framingham State to get their D2 AQ before the tournament. I cancelled a planned trip to Boston recently because flights were triple what I have paid for them in the last couple years, even when booking months in advance.

I would like to know whether others share the same concern as I do, or why people think the gap should stay the same. I think it's a reasonable suggestion that should at least be addressed.
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Postby PNWLaxer on Tue May 27, 2008 6:47 pm

Way back when I played in this league the league championships ended on the last weekend in April and the tournament was the first week in May. One year, probably 3 years ago, due to the national championship venue the tournament was pushed back a week so that most teams had 2 weeks to prepare. The next year some leagues pushed back their championships so that there was one more weekend to fit in games. Eventually most leagues, except the SELC moved their championships up to the last weekend before Nationals again.

It is the individuals leagues that set the dates for their championship weekends and they have chosen to push them back to allow for more play. The MCLA did, based on venue availability, move their dates back which allowed for more travel planning, but the leagues took that time to play more games instead.
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Postby eastcoastbias on Tue May 27, 2008 7:16 pm

It is the individuals leagues that set the dates for their championship weekends and they have chosen to push them back to allow for more play. The MCLA did, based on venue availability, move their dates back which allowed for more travel planning, but the leagues took that time to play more games instead.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but the CCLA and UMLL hold their playoffs two weeks before the MCLA tournament. Those are both cold-weather leagues (to say the least) and they have been among the most successful leagues in the national tournament, obviously. I don't think the one-week shorter season hurt Michigan or GVSU in the rankings coming into it, and the extra week of rest didn't seem to hurt either team's showing.

It seems to me that the MCLA has the power to say that the final poll will be released the Monday two weeks before the tournament out of deference to the at-large bubble teams, and the expense of waiting another week. While conferences can give out their AQ anyway they like, I don't see why the MCLA can't set a deadline for getting that AQ and dolling out at-large bids.
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Postby BigheadTodd on Tue May 27, 2008 11:19 pm

Didn't American just put in a $15 per checked bag fee? That is going to hurt. If teams have an extra 2-3 days, they should consider Amtrack... It only takes 16 hours from Sacramento to salt Lake. Then another 20 hours from Salt Lake to denver. But then it is all down hill to Dallas. ECB is right though. Travel is going to only get more expensive.
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Postby Sonny on Tue May 27, 2008 11:51 pm

eastcoastbias wrote: Correct me if I'm wrong, but the CCLA and UMLL hold their playoffs two weeks before the MCLA tournament.


The 2008 CCLA tournament was held May 2-4 in Saline, MI:
http://forums.collegelax.us/viewtopic.php?t=10306

(The MCLA tournament field was announced Monday, May 5th and the MCLA championships began in Dallas on Tues, May 13th.)

The UMLL was supposed to have their conference championship tournament April 25-27th at the NSC, but due to extreme weather the UMLL Div 1 bracket was cancelled and the Div 2 bracket was postponed until May 3-4th weekend. Read more here:
http://www.collegelax.us/news/2008/05/03/umll-division-1-the-2008-playoffs-that-werent/

Most of the poor weather conferences (CCLA, Pioneer, UMLL, GRLC, RMLC, PNCLL) need the additional time to complete their regular seasons.
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Postby univduke21 on Wed May 28, 2008 9:08 am

I big problem for the RMLC, I know because it has happened. Is that we can't start our conference schedule until later in the year because of weather. I rememeber my Senior year we played I think the first 5 games on the road and didn't play a home game until early April or something like that. I know that one year the conference championships in Greeley were games played in a blizzard. So as far as us RMLC fans are concerned we need the tournament where it is, think of the kids, please think of the kids.
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Postby John Paul on Wed May 28, 2008 10:45 am

The national tournament will not be moved later. We don't want it the same weekend as the NCAA finals. It's up the conferences to determine the best date for their own purposes. If they feel their teams need more time to plan a trip, then they can move their tournament up. If they feel they need every available weekend to get in conference games due to weather concerns, they'll probably play as late as possible.

You're right that travel gets more difficult every year, but the a quick turnaround really only effects a small group of bubble teams. All of the teams that are highly ranked through the season can count on a bid, and most of them book their travel well in advance of actually qualifying. The best thing a bubble team can do is budget for the possibility and then jump on their plans immediately after securing a bid. If they don't get the bid, then they can either refund money to their players or save it for the next year.

The long range plans for the MCLA include subsidizing tournament teams, but that's still a ways off.
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Postby eastcoastbias on Wed May 28, 2008 11:27 am

I appreciate all of the well-thought out responses. It looks like the majority of people responding on this board thinks that the MCLA should keep the scheduling as is. I didn't necessarily realize how important that extra week is for those northern schools.

I still think that the gap is a serious issue, and hope that the conferences take into account the costs vs. benefits, and continue to reevaluate the timing. I don't foresee any real easy solutions to what I see as a serious dilemma for the MCLA.


All of the teams that are highly ranked through the season can count on a bid, and most of them book their travel well in advance of actually qualifying. The best thing a bubble team can do is budget for the possibility and then jump on their plans immediately after securing a bid. If they don't get the bid, then they can either refund money to their players or save it for the next year.


My main point still is that the cost of team air travel is VERY unpredictable, especially at the last minute. I don't know of any travel agency that will allow teams to reserve seats & prices on flights, and then cancel if they don't make the tournament. Teams can certainly be expected to plan ahead on hotels, ground transportation, etc., but unless they somehow have the financial means to sign a contract with a charter flight company, then they can't really pre-arrange air travel.

Making last-minute arrangements increases the cost of flights, and reduces teams' ability to find the best deal. An unexpected increase of just $100-200 per ticket equals thousands of extra dollars in expense for a team with a full-sized roster. It is very difficult for a club sports team to budget for that kind of unexpected expense. I don't know how the finances are done at all schools, but many teams cannot refund their players with a check or cash at the end of the year. I think most teams would happily let that money carry over to next year, but there is some unfairness to the seniors if that amount is real high and they are essentially subsidizing next year's team with their hard-earned money.

Final point (sorry)...
It is not just the teams whose flight arrangements depend on knowing that they are officially in the tournament. If a player finds out on Monday that their team didn't make the tournament and gets kicked out of the dorms Wednesday, then that gives him very little time to find a way home. A freshman who can't have a car on campus or a player living across the country would bear the expense of that last-minute ticket. You can't exactly have a car wash for your own ticket home.

I'm sure the many seniors in the MCLA would gladly miss their graduation to win a national championship. But if they don't make the tournament, then their parents, grandparents, etc. will want to see them graduate. Giving them just one week to know whether they should book a flight and hotels is a huge burden, especially during the busy graduation season.

I think that attendance at the tournament would improve if people knew a little further in advance who was playing. Friends and family aren't going to book flights to Dallas (or wherever) until they know for sure that their son will be playing. I'm sure every parent wants to see their kid play on the big stage, but they have to book the vacation time from work and won't spend an unlimited amount to get there. They are already paying for a college education, after all.

Comments?
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Postby LaxTV_Admin on Wed May 28, 2008 11:32 am

What if all the teams that might make the tournament (technically everyone) but generally I am talking about teams in the Top 25 just plan on going.

Ideally, I think I would have my team travel to the national tournament for the following reasons:

1. Experience - It is awesome. If we are not playing who cares, we can enjoy watching some great lacrosse and good weather (hopefully)
2. Scouting - This is a great chance to scout potential out of conference opponents as well as team(s) in your conference.
3. Networking - Coaches and players can develop relationships with other people in the MCLA. This will help them in the future as well as help your team.
4. Support - By going we are supporting our own league. Why not increase the attendance to something we have a vested interest in.

Perhaps I am being crazy, but I distinctly remember it was mentioned that SFU brought a couple of guys to the national tourney along with coaches. I don't know, but they jumped up a few spots from last year :) Not saying that happens to everyone, but it probably won't hurt.

On top of that, if we want our league the best of the best, we need to maximize fan support. That starts with those of us in the league who might have forked over a bunch of cash to go to the NCAA final four but not our own final four. (not wrong, just a different perspective).

So with that said, I agree with JP. Conferences decide when the league tourney should be to meet their team's needs. There are otherwise to minimize costs for the national tournament for teams.
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Postby Sonny on Wed May 28, 2008 11:36 am

eastcoastbias wrote:I think that attendance at the tournament would improve if people knew a little further in advance who was playing.


Maybe so.... But some hardcore lacrosse fans are already beginning to plan for the 2009 NCAA Final Four, back in Boston/Foxborough. Tens of thousands of fans buy tickets before the final four field is set.

We need more MCLA fans to plan to attend our National Championship Event, regardless of the teams involved.
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Postby John Paul on Wed May 28, 2008 12:12 pm

Another option is to have conferences subsidize the teams they send to the tournament. Increase conference dues enough to kick in to the teams that make it (maybe $5000 per team? - enough to have an impact). They are, after all, representing the conference and that money is technically available to any team in the conference as all have the opportunity to receive a bid (unless they are not eligible for some disciplinary reason).

I believe one or two conferences already do something like this.
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Postby Danny Hogan on Wed May 28, 2008 1:02 pm

any team that finds out they are going a week in advance put themselves in that position.

Talking maybe 1, 2 teams tops per year (the last AL bid and maybe a confernece champ who was not the favorite)....to my knowledge every Div 1 team has been able to pull it together and get out to nationals.....
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