Softball Now vs. Softball Then

It is not uncommon to hear players sitting at one of the local parks bar drinking a cold adult beverage of choice or doing the same while tailgating in a parking lot to start a conversation about the way softball “used to be” versus today’s softball.  This discussion can take on many topics and directions, but for the sake of this commentary, I am going to focus on one topic.

In the 1990’s when slow pitch softball emerged to it’s highest participation in the TriState area, there was basically one dominant association and this was USSSA.  ASA had one big tournament a year and that was the annual City Metro Tournament (where every USSSA team paid an ASA sanction fee to just play in the event). USSSA tournaments averaged at any level at least 20-25 teams (and at some levels 30-50 teams) and had an NIT format across the country that required you to win an NIT to qualify for World Series play in September.  What did you get?  A paid world berth and some travel money.  If a team did not when an NIT, they did not get the opportunity to compete in the World Series. There was no pay an entry fee to go to the World Series like there is today, getting to the World Series was earned thru competition.

Just like any business that is observed to grow and be profitable by other business men who think with a few tweaks in operations and benefits that a new business can be just as successful.  Thus the emergence of the NSA program, WSL, ISA, Freedom Sports Association, and the latest in the expansion GSL.  So in perspective, the expansion of 1-2 dominant associations to now having 6 associations spreads out the participating audience (teams) and depending on a teams goals and needs, teams can be very selective for where they chose to play. So the result of those 20-50 team tournaments divided in our area three ways (USSSA -GSL-WSL) comes to 6-16 team tournaments depending on the prize packages that attract teams.  How is this any different than the fast food industry?  In the 1990’s there were three dominant fast food hamburger places (McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s) now how many are there?  Same with Pizza, there was Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Pappa John’s…now there is pizza on every corner.

Teams should be chasing competition, not where can teams win money and be done playing by 6pm on Saturday evening.  If you look at the local tournaments that draw the best turnouts, (2) Bash for Cash, City Slam, Schutzenfest, Metro, Slugfest, Turkey Bash..why it’s because of the competition and bragging rights.  And don’t these tournaments all run under different associations?

What am I saying…I am not saying only have one association or play one association, I am saying build a team to compete not chase cash. And at the end of the day if the team you are on wins or finishes in the top three then you have competed or want to compete to get better the next time out.

For The Love The Game…….



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Posted by on Mar 16 2016.
Filed under Commentary, Todd Sledge.
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