At the USASF Regional Meeting in Atlanta, Les Stella said the number one problem in the industry is the lack of competition. I agree with him, but state it a different way. I say the problem is the average number of teams per division is too low because that makes it quantifiable. Increasing the average requires increasing the number of teams, decreasing the number of divisions, or some combination of both. Increasing the number of teams is the ideal solution, but not something we have much control over. Given that, we need to look at ways to reduce the number of divisions in order to address the problem.
There are 3 significant things that go into determining which division a team is in, Age, Level, and Team Composition. Age has 5 significant options, Tiny, Mini, Youth, Junior, and Senior. (I’ll leave Special Needs, International, and Open out of it for now). Level also has 5 significant options, Levels 1-5, leaving 4.2 and 6 out of it. Team Composition, the number of athletes and number of males on a team, is a little more complicated and has different options based on Age and Level. We have to reduce the number of options in at least one of these to address the problem.
Changing the number of age groups from 5 options to 3 or 4 would help increase the average number of teams per division. I’ve seen several options for doing this, some with minimum ages and others without basements. I initially thought I would like to see the groups be changed 13-18, 9-14, 5-10, and 6 & Under, but now think it would widen the ages a little to 12-18, 8-14, 4-10, and 6 & Under. I’d prefer to leave Age alone in favor of adjusting the Levels and Team Compositions, but still wanted to mention this option.
Another option is reducing the number of Levels. I would like to combine Levels 1-5 into 3 Levels. With 3 Levels tumbling with basically break down to skills with hand support being allowed in the first level, non-twisting flips being allowed in the second, and current level 5 skills allowed in the third. Baskets would be either straight rides or toe touches in the first, Up to 2 tricks in the second, counting each spin in twisting baskets as a trick and not allowing other tricks during twisting baskets, and current level 5 skills in the third. I haven’t separated building skills yet, but they would be close to Level 2, Level 4, but limited to full ups, and Level 5 building rules now.
Team composition is more complicated and there is a great conversation on the Fierce Board about it. Right now groups can be split based on size, small or large, and number of males, limited, semi-limited, or unlimited. Options to address the size include limiting Large to 30 people, down from the current max of 36, or dropping large and small in favor of a single team size. I’ve heard 24 and 25 mentioned as options. I would like to see 24 become the single team size, offering 3 divisions, All Girl, Small Coed, and Large Coed. I’ve gone back and forth on the number of guys I would allow in the Coed Divisions. For Small Coed I’m between 4 and 6. Four is what we are used to, but 6 would allow 1 guy to be put in each 4 person stunt group. For Large Coed I’m between 12 and 16. Twelve would allow 1 guy for every girl while 16 would allow 3 person stunt groups to be based and assisted or spotted by guys.
Why did I choose 24? I wanted a number that’s small enough that it’s reasonable to put a team together, but also divisible by 2 (for coed stunts without a spot), 3 (for coed stunts with a spot or group stunts without a spot), 4 (for group stunts with a spot and baskets without a front), and 5 (for baskets with a front). Unfortunately the first number that meets the 2, 3, 4, and 5 criteria is 60, which isn’t a reasonable size. If I take of the 5 requirement, which is the one lowest on the priority list, 12 is the first number and 24 is the second. 24 fits in the reasonable size for me.