February 19th, 2011 by John Ellis
As a tournament director that hosts 20+ racquetball tournaments/shootouts per year, I get asked why I sanction my tournaments quite a bit. Naturally the club players that are not diehard tournament players question why they have to join a state organization for $50 Annual Membership when they’re only going to play one or two events per year. Even the $20 One Event Fee annoys these players and definitely forces them to question their participation. So, I prefer to have the conversation with these players so they can get a true understanding of why I sanction 99% of my In-Shape events. Generally, my explanation will give them the understanding they need and often lead to a new yearly member of the California State Racquetball Association (CSRA). Here’s my list of reasons why I sanction my In-Shape Racquetball events.
Liability is by far the number one reason I sanction events. With the insurance coverage that the USAR has in place for it’s state affiliates, I believe it’s my duty to make sure that my tournament players have coverage if something happens to them at the club or on the court. I would never assume that all the event players would have their own personal insurance to cover any accidents that may occur and I want to make sure that if something does happen to a player, their first concern isn’t about how they’re going to pay for that initial visit to the doctor or hospital. One might ask, doesn’t In-Shape cover the liability for people in their clubs? Of course, but I’m an outside entity hosting events using their courts, and even though waivers are signed for non In-Shape members on both my end and In-Shape’s, I do not believe that In-Shape should have to worry about injuries that happen due to my racquetball events.
The R2 site is a close second to the insurance coverage when it comes to sanctioning. Ryan and Tish Rodgers have created a program that has revolutionized the tournament directing industry and the accessability that directors have with the racquetball tournament playing public is a powerful source. I was with Ryan and Tish from the beginning when it came to R2 and in the early years, I kind of felt like their test dummy! There were some late nights with the program when they first had it up and running due to the kinks that existed, but over time, they’ve hammered out a program that works nearly flawlessly for every event. If I do have an issue then I send out a quick email to Ryan and he gives me the answer in minutes. Usually it’s an answer that I should have thought of myself, but regardless, they’re customer service is awesome. The truth is, I can send an email to thousands of racquetball players promoting my upcoming event in a matter of minutes. There is no substitution for that type of advertising. The ease of creating the draws and times are the bonus to the whole situation. Of course, the players themselves are now able to follow the event throughout the process. I really does not get much cooler than that!
Advertising on the CSRA website (www.californiaracquetball.org) is a factor for me when hosting events. I know there are over a thousand CSRA members and I’m sure a good percentage of those players are checking the state website to see what events are upcoming. Unlike many states, California does a fantastic job of updating their website when it comes to the schedule plage. I try to stay about two months ahead on promoting my upcoming In-Shape events so you’ll constantly see In-Shape’s presence on this site.
You can’t host a racquetball tournament without racquetballs. As a sanctioned CSRA event, you’ll receive the new Ektelon balls needed to successfully host your event. This will save you at least $75 in expenses and of course, the players appreciate being able to use a new Ektelon ball for their matches.
Although I’ve had a few gripes about the CSRA and certainly the USAR over the years, the fact is I’m pro state/national organization. I love this game and want to see the sport consistently thriving. To do that, national organizations, state organizations, event directors and players have to work together to grow racquetball’s numbers so that we can continue to grow as an entity that has value in numbers and organization. This includes the entire sport of racquetball, the IRT, WPRO, WOR, IRF and every other association out there. National, regional and local businesses need to see the value in numbers if we’re ever going to receive financial support from outside the industry.
I could go on for a while and probably come up with another 5-10 points about why I sanction all of my In-Shape events, but these are the main reasons. Support your state association. If the association is not performing up to par then ask yourself what you can do to help the situation. If you’re not willing to help then you can’t complain. I’m not saying being a board member for a state racquetball association is for everyone, I’ve yet to be on the CSRA Board, but not sanctioning your events are not helping anyone in the sport, not even your local members that complain about a small yearly payment. I know times are tough for people financially, but the insurance coverage alone should end the conversation on why all racquetball players should be USAR members.