Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Pick-Up Problem

Mike Schelle here. It's a little known fact, sometimes even to myself, that I am CUDA's supposed coordinator for pick-up Ultimate. Or maybe I got voted out, it doesn't matter. What matters is that pick-up in Columbus has historically struggled for various reasons. Today I'm going to go over those problems and some possible solutions, then see if enough people are out there to get pick-up back on track.

Right now pick-up is advertised on our main website for Sundays at 3:00 PM at the Park of Roses. I've been here for three years, and only in the first were numbers ever consistent enough to be worth the trouble. Here are the problems as I see it.

1. With lots of college and club teams in Columbus, practices/games get in the way of coming to pick-up.

2. The times often change several times a year, and few people ever show up on time.

3. I lied, there really aren't any other problems.

You can't fix problem one. Club players aren't going to sacrifice practice/tournaments for pick-up. The good news is Columbus has 750,000 people in it, and only about 100 of them are playing club Ultimate. 200 tops. There are players - newer players, youth players, Masters (old) players and those just too busy to commit to club teams that can still make a vibrant pick-up group.

The second problem is the bigger problem, but ironically the easiest to fix. Are you ready? When you show up to pick-up whenever the hell you want, you are wasting everyone else's time. How am I supposed to set a field up at 3:00 and then assume people will show up at 3:30? 3:45? Exactly how much of my time should I waste before deciding to go home? And it's not just me - this is the same question every player is asking him/herself as they get in the car each Sunday. Why drive out to Whetstone when nobody might be there? How do I know I'm not wasting my time? It's a snowball effect that creates apathy until nobody bothers showing up.

There are several things we can do to fix the problem. Social networking is a great way to alleviate the risk in coming out every Sunday. The new CUDA Twitter feed is a perfect way to update the community Sunday mornings on the weather and liklihood of a game. If I know it's going to storm, I can post that pick-up is cancelled and nobody wastes their time. If I know there's a giant tourament that weekend and numbers will be unnaturally low, I can cancel and nobody wastes their time. The less people waste their time, the more goodwill they will have to show up the next weekend.

The second thing we can do is create a group of regular pick-up players right here, right now. If we get a core group together, with phone numbers that we can call when we need a few extra players one day, then we create trust. If I know ahead of time that John Doe and Mary Smith and so on and so forth will probably be there, then I am more likely to show up myself.

So if you want to play more Ultimate on Sundays, then email me at mike.schelle@gmail.com with the subject "Pick up." I will make a list serv to help coordinate games with, and we can decide if we like 3:00 or another time. Then, if the weather's nice, we can get things rolling this weekend.

And be sure to come out to Como Park tonight, for mixed pick-up at 6:00. Only lightning will keep us away, and numbers have been great despite the poor weather. If you have any comments about pick-up or in general, please add them to article with the links below. It's easy and I don't think you have to sign up for Blogger or anything. Feedback is very important!

2 comments:

Paul said...

You forgot about Spring League in Columbus. As far as I know, this changes the "regulars" from a Sunday Pick-up to Saturday Spring League.

Guess what? We won! OSP is victorious, and we can now return to pick-up!

Please let me know about your replies so I can attend WHEN it happens!

Thanks! Paulfhelm@gmail.com

Paul said...

ps. 3:00 is a little late -- especially if "ultimate time" ever becomes an issue.

Can anyone get out of bed by 1:00? I say let's plan to start at 1:00, which means if you need any warm up time, be there then, and plan to play by 1:30. Sharp! (right?) Amyone? Bueller?

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