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Friday, August 22, 2014

Responses to Summer 2014 Survey Comments!

Hey Folks!

Did this a few seasons ago, and it's time to bring it back! I really really value your feedback (both positive and negative!) in the surveys as it helps to focus attention on what needs to be improved about the league, where your priorities are, and what we're doing well! What follows are a few excerpts from your survey comments, followed by how it's being addressed! Feel confident that your surveys are read and valued. I high five myself when I read a good one, and sometimes cry myself to sleep when someone tells me I am LITERALLY HITLER. Here we go:

"I enjoy Saturday playoffs much more than Thursdays."

This is not an uncommon sentiment! While Parks & Rec has repeatedly declined to give us Gillis Park on a Saturday citing the need to keep neighborhood parks available for neighborhood use on the weekends, Gillis is not the only option. I'm going to look into holding the playoffs at South Austin Recreation Center just down the street on a Saturday, a solution that's worked out very well for us in the past! Stay tuned for more updates on this.

"I will keep repeating this, so you know how much we enjoy it. I love the no bye weeks."

For those of you who have never experienced bye weeks, in the past TX Live would accept as many teams as we could possible register, necessitating a few teams having a bye each week as there just wasn't enough room and time for everyone to get a game in. I now limit registration to 18 teams each season to give us our nice, neat, 3 field / 3 time slot schedule at Gillis, and haven't continually gotten overwhelmingly positive feedback about it. This will not be changing, you can count on your no bye weeks! THAT BEING SAID, there will still be instances where external events force us to take a bye week such as SXSW, a major holiday falling on a Thursday, or for example October 9 this season will be a bye week as 4 teams will be in Vegas for WAKAPalooza Weekend.

"Please keep enforcing dogs MUST BE ON LEASH. There is one medium sized dog that is never on a leash and it's very disruptive to my dog who is."

This is a great reminder of the Gillis Park policies which are in place. It DOES NOT MATTER how good your dog is off leash, some dogs are more introverted and can be fearful or distressed by your friendly off-leash dog running up to it while it's stuck on a leash and getting up in their business. It's a leash-only park and everyone should be able to bring their pup without having to worry about whether another owner who is breaking the rules is going to ruin their dog's night. I'm going to be much more diligent about enforcing paper forfeits for violations of this next season.

"Less Facebook. More Email and/or Google+ for communication."

This is a tricky wicket. While I would love to send you guys an update every time there's something worth sharing, getting a ton of emails from your league rep is viewed as very spammy by a lot of people. The one email a week format is what we've settled on as sufficient to get the info out without being too annoying. Google+ is not something I've looked into before, but since this isn't the first time I've gotten that request I think it's time to explore what this G+ thing is all about. Hopefully I can link posts across multiple platforms so that I don't have to post everything 3 times? Will update soon. Also up for consideration is using the GMOT blog as a platform to do a weekly post recapping the week that I'd write over the weekend. This way we get more content and communication without overloading peoples inboxes, and I don't get a flood of OMG UNSUBSCRIBE ME JERK emails.

"I never learned about league parties until a couple of days before (other than the boat party) and usually could not go with such short notice."

This is a big one! The dates for our league parties are set BEFORE THE LEAGUE EVER STARTS. If you go check out the league website right now you'll see September 27 and November 22 marked as our party dates. This info is also included on the social schedule given to your captains at the captains meeting the day before the season starts. A Facebook event is usually created 2-3 weeks prior to the event and the party details are noted in the weekly league emails for the two weeks leading up to the party. Do yourself a favor and go mark those dates down on your calendar NOW so you know you won't miss them!

"I really dislike Gibson as the team bar", "DO NOT HOLD POST GAME AT GIBSONS.", "We need a new bar.", " I love Gibsons as a bar but it's not very big to fit the whole league.", "Too many freaking seasons at Gibson = lame."

So I'm hearing that you guys love Gibson and want to stay there forever, right? JAY KAY. Message received, action taken: this season we will be partying after games at Midway Field House located at 2015 E. Riverside Dr. This is a full-on large-scale dedicated sports bar with TVs everywhere, TONS of parking (check out this parking map), lots of room, and I've negotiated some KILLER specials. $1 PBR, $2 Miller Lite, $3 well cocktails, and an as-yet TBD special on Dewar's Highland Honey which will be settled on later. The only thing about Thursday nights in the Fall is a little thing called Thursday Night Football, which means that place is going to be HOPPING every week! We'll be concentrating our presence in the upstairs area where we can pretty much take over (enough WAKA jerseys in one place and people just get out of the way), and you dog owners can enjoy the fenced patio outside the bar where there will likely be an inflatable screen for the game. Good? Good.

"The policies are something that should be enforced all of the time, not just when it is convenient or inconvenient for Stephen. There are weekly occasions when people use random substitutes from outside of the league and their team to meet minimum requirements."

For the past 5 seasons or so, TX Live has had the following league policy listed on the league website: 
  • Substitutions are allowed in regular season games ONLY when fewer than the minimum number of players are available (4 men and 4 women), and ONLY as many subs as is necessary to reach the minimum. No subs are permitted during the playoffs.
This policy was enacted to prevent teams from being forced to forfeit games when short a girl, which was happening all too often, and the minimum number of women on each roster was also increased to 6 to address the same issue. Forfeits = everyone's least favorite thing in the world. Worse than hitting your funny bone, or getting a sweaty hug from Stephen, or getting slobbered on by one of Rock's giant Newfoundlands. However, this policy was also enacted when Live was explicitly a Social Only league with no Founders Cup eligibility. With the dissolution of the Capital league due to poor enrollment, Live was made FC Eligible so that at least one league could send our best and brightest to Vegas every year, and it may be time to re-examine this policy. Removing this league policy and adhering to the standard WAKA policies throughout the regular season will almost certainly lead to an increase in games forfeited, but this commenter is absolutely right that having inconsistency in the application of policies is questionable in a league where a good percentage of our players enjoy playing in a competitive manner and wish to have the level playing field that the rules are intended to provide.

In fairness to those who are keen on having things by the books (and this is not asking a lot at all from those who couldn't care less), the following policies are going to be adhered to for the Fall season:
  • Substitute players will not be permitted at all. Your players must be registered and on your roster. If you're pretty sure that an ineligible player is playing, feel free to challenge it, I can check their ID and reference it against my player roster from my phone.
  • Kicking orders will be exchanged prior to each game. This is a simple matter of writing a second copy of your kicking order down on a scrap of paper and handing it to the other captain, and will give you the ability to do something about it if your opponent is being a fun-sucking filthy cheater and kicking out of order to gain a competitive advantage.
  • WAKA shirts of the appropriate color must be worn for a player to be eligible. You can modify your shirt to your heart's content so long as you don't obscure the logo or make it the same color as another team. This will resolve problems like having two navy blue teams playing each other or having a guy hanging out in the infield that you thought was a ref because he was wearing the wrong color shirt field the ball you kicked at him.

The balance between competitive teams and "just for fun" teams waxes and wanes from season to season, but it's safe to say that we have heavy enough elements of both in this league and enough teams to justify separating them. This has been tried before, and unfortunately culminated in a "competitive" division of only 3 teams, and a bunch of really really good teams pot hunting in the lower division for easier wins. Here's what we're going to try out this season: two 9 team divisions with independent schedules and inedepent playoff brackets. Only the upper division will be FC eligible and win a trophy, the lower division winner will be rewarded with bubble wands and a bar tab. How will it be decided who will be in what divisions? Why, you of course! And no, you will not be saying "we want to be in this division". Once the teams are set, all of the captains will be asked to rank every team in the league #1-18. I'll provide basic stats for each team like years they've ben together, past championships, and last season's results so if you're not familiar you can make an educated ranking. These rankings will be averaged to find a fair, peer-assessed ranking and the top 8 teams will be put in the upper division with the bottom 8 teams in the lower division. You'll play every team in your division exactly once over the course of the season. Elegant! Simple! Will it work out? I hope so!