2014 World Kickball Championship Guidelines released

Friday, February 21, 2014 - 13:59

2014 World Kickball Championship Guidelines released

Here at WAKA, we're always trying to do things better than the year before. This year, one of our resolutions is to communicate more thoroughly about the intent and decision-making process of the Tournaments department and the Founders Cup Selection Committee. So as our 2014 World Championship Guidelines come out, we just wanted to use this forum to call attention to the larger changes, and explain a little about how we arrived at them.

Since the 2013 WAKAPalooza Weekend concluded, we've surveyed our players in detail and had some really deep internal philosophical discussions about what Founders Cup represents. This process led us to certain guiding themes to help us navigate our policy decisions -- and perhaps the largest of these is to move in the direction of stronger team identity.

To illustrate how that principle manifests, let's look at a new policy goal: No more "ghost" players.

"Ghosting" refers to the practice of keeping a player on your League roster who does not actually play for your team, but is registered there solely to be eligible as a "ringer" should that roster be invited to Founders Cup. Moving forward, eligibility for an FC roster will only be extended to players who are actual participants on the invited team, as verified through any means at our disposal (up to and including public communal vetting of team rosters).

We have taken this step after observing trends in the competitive field, which included most prominently the 2013 World Champions fielding a roster that featured a significant number of "all-star" players from other regions. It isn't that they were the only ones doing so, or that they were unbeatable having done so, or that they did anything other than win fair and square under the rules and guidelines that applied to them. But in light of the growing popularity of the "ghosting" trend, it was clear to us that to do nothing was to endorse the practice, to see teams double-down on elite ringer recruitment as a necessity to compete, leading to a wider and wider competitiveness gap between the most experienced and well-traveled teams and the rest of the pack. All of this would start to fundamentally dilute team identity, and further undermine the sense of Founders Cup as a battle for bragging rights between WAKA's various regions and leagues. So, knowing that each path has upsides and downsides, we're correcting course for 2014 and going in a stricter direction on roster qualification and free agency.

Speaking of Free Agency, here's how that'll look in 2014:

- number of free agents increased to FOUR (meant to offset an increase in minimum roster size to 16 players, still with minimum of 5 of each gender)
- no more than 3 free agents can be of a single gender (meant to ensure that no FC roster has fewer than 2 "natural" players of either gender)
- eligibility for free agency tightened to two categories:
    - players from the same league and season (registered & participating on another team)
    - players with "a demonstrable consistent relationship with the invited team, being absent from the invited roster only due to reasons such as relocation, pregnancy, military duty, illness or injury."

These tighter eligibility criteria are aimed at strengthening team identity as well as regional identity and League pride -- i.e. a team from Atlanta will consist of players that play in Atlanta, a team from CA Hollywood will truly be representing CA Hollywood, and so forth. And we know of many cases where longtime teammates miss a season (or have to move), and look to WAKAPalooza Weekend as an excuse to reunite. This does not seem to us at odds with team identity, nor outside the spirit of Founders Cup, and it is with that spirit in mind that the Selection Committee will make transparent and public judgement calls on free agent eligibility. (This should also be a benefit to the affected players, since it will no longer be an advantage to register for rosters they can not participate on -- if they did so, it would still use up a free agent slot to include them on the FC roster.)

We hope that helps you see where we're coming from with the new Guidelines. There's lots more news to share, such as 2014's slate of Regional Tournaments, and the selected League/Seasons to be granted "Founders Cup Preferred" status -- but that's for the next blog post...

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