The time is NOW

ya pase por tiempo muerto y temporal
por la ausencia de una aurora prometida

navege 20,000 leguas de un viaje submarino
donde la superficie era un antojo del destino

di piedra por cristal
daño colateral de cuanta guerra
mercancia barata en barcos de velas
caida libre del cielo hacia la selva
vi partir los profetas por puntas de lanzas
para asi sembrar desesperanza
soy Ferguson, Missouri
Gaza, Ayotzinapa
conciencia humana que despierta y se destapa
si despues de este viaje
de angustia y demora
hay ganas de amar.
dime quien me va a parar?
si mi tiempo
es ahora.

Dualidad.

No me puedes encontrar

aunque me busques en cada dimension del pensamiento.

No me puedes encontrar,

aunque quizas entiendas lo que siento.

Y es que…estar tan cerca, o estar tan lejos,

es solamente una tangente

que alguien, un dia dibujo en el tiempo.

Pero te cuento que mi amor es tan azul,

que me paro frente al mar

y me parece tan pequeño.

como con tanta inmensidad,

se puede sucumbir solo ante un sueño?

y por que el amor y el odio siempre estan tan cerca?

y por que crecen tan juntas,

espinas y flores?

como si fuera un presagio ya ancestral,

para que la gente se hiera,

y tambien, de paso

se enamore.

The Impact of travel distances on clubs, on a pyramidal promotion and relegation system.

        In our attempt to create a US soccer pyramid that adheres to the fundamental principles of our game, the USAFL faces a few challenges. One of them is how to design from scratch ( though one could make the case that it could also be considered an advantage), an ideal US club soccer structure.

The continental size of the US, including multiple time zones, brings special attention to the issue of travel distances, which could affect the healthy growth of the game in different ways.

A particularly tricky thing is the ideal “jump”  between division geographical areas, as it affects promoted and relegated clubs in opposite ways.

Let’s use as example a small club being promoted from the State Level, to the Regional Level that we will build “on top” of it. Such club will now face travel distances it has never faced before; which not only means a bit more complicated logistics, but higher travel expenses as well. Bearing in mind that the financial health of our clubs will be key for our project success; when it comes to promoted clubs, we would agree that the more gradual the travel increase is from one division to the one on top, the better. Of course, in a promotion and relegation system, there is a relegated club per every promoted one, and it’s financial health should also factor in our equation.

Although it is usually not lethal, the financial impact of relegation is an issue that should not be taken lightly. An open pyramidal structure, however, compensates that impact to a certain degree, since lower divisions are smaller in area, therefore reducing next season’s relegated club’s travel expenses. The wider the traveling distances gap between divisions, the bigger the travel budget compensation, which a relegated club will benefit from.

As you could have noticed, we face a dilemma here!  Gradual increase in distances between divisions is great for a small club promoted for the first time, but not enough compensation for a relegated club, when it needs it the most. On the other hand, sizable difference on travel distances will be a good compensation for a relegated club, but may strech a small promoted club too thin ( remember the first  Dayton Dutch Lions “promotion” disaster? ). Obviously, the trick here will be to find the right balance.

 

A case for promotion and relegation on US Association Football.

Association Football is the world´s most popular sport, its evidence in human culture dates back to China’s 3rd-2nd century BC. Though some oversimplify the reasons why it became the magnificent phenomenon it is nowadays to its simplicity (which has definitely play a role); a couple of other factors have been fundamental for its growth.

An important step in its transition to the modern era, was the formation of the FA, and the unification of the rules in 1863. This created the conditions that allowed the game to go global. However, though simplicity and unified rules were key, the principles of inclusion and meritocracy completed the recipe. This last elements have become essential parts of  football culture, and therefore, the core values of our game.

This values are best exemplified by the World Cup. More nations take part in the Fifa World Cup ( 204 entrants for South Africa 2010 ), than the 193  members that the United Nations counts with. Even the smallest and poorest nations on the planet, are granted their right to compete, and gain qualification based solely on their sporting merits.

Beyond the World Cup, every Fifa sanctioned competition adheres to the same principles, weather it is  at the nations or club level. All potential entrants are granted the right to compete, and it is merit the criteria used in order to determine how far each will advance.

The spirit of our game, however does not end with its Continental Competitions. At the domestic clubs level, inclusion and meritocracy are achieved by the practice of promotion and relegation. It is important to emphasize the role that promotion and relegation plays in the larger scheme of world football, in order to make a fair assessment of what is at stake.

The reason why we should implement pro/rel in the US, is to be in touch with certain fundamental values. Values that, not only have become part of our game’s DNA, but which rightfulness is something worth preserving. Within its spirit, there is a dream of a better world, there is a hope for a better humanity.

One Step at a Time.

      On the original plan we presented some general considerations, outlined a strategy, and proposed to start our pyramid with three levels, the top (temporary 1st division ) consisting of 16 groups.

     The organic approach we presented next, had the same basis as the first , but this time we did not have a fix number of groups on our top division, and proposed instead to make that decision only after an original admission period was over. The idea was to custom fit the design of this level, by taking in consideration the number of clubs admitted, and their geographical locations, which will aloud the reduction of travel distances.

     The soft spot of the first project, is clearly illustrated by the solution that the Organic Approach suggested. By the same token, the Organic Approach can create an pyramid that would lack the elegant symmetry that I believe most soccer fans will like to see.

     A ‘Level at a time’ method could fix the issues before mentioned.

     The basic strategy and considerations will be the same as in the previous two, the difference will be that an upper division will only be build, once the foundation of the base division (in this case the State Level) is ‘solid’; once all of its groups are filled with a minimum number of teams, and there is a sense of financial stability.

     This stratagem will allow us to have the symmetry of the initial plan, and will avoid creating groups that may be tough to fill.

     The trade off is that the pyramid´s grow process will be much slower than it would be with the other formulas, and it will hold the potential faster development of some regions.

     Out of the three proposals:

  • The Original Plan

  • The Organic

  • A Level at a Time

     I personally think that the Organic Approach is the best.

     Please let us know what you think! We need your input in order to implement the best possible strategy.

    Roger H. Ferrer

Work Group Member.

United States Association Football Leagues.

A More Organic Approach.

   After writing the firstPlan for the Implementation of an Open League US Pyramid” post, I kept mentally working on it, and as a result of such exercise I got to consider a couple of new twists to the original idea.

I would like to share these thoughts with you fellow fans, in order to foment a debate which is one of the key next steps in launching our “Unites States Association Football Leagues”.

 

The first one of the before mention “twists” is what I call:

A More Organic Approach”

 

Why the idea of organic growth?

After countless hours of daydreaming about implementing pro/rel in the US(if you are reading this, you provably have an idea of what I am talking about..), blogging and reading other fans ideas on how to implement it, and what would the ideal US pyramid be ; I got to the conclusion that almost all “projects” I came across ( including mine ), were:

  • too heavily influenced from the structure of the most popular world leagues

  • very disconnected from the realities of US club football

 

We are, for the most part, thinking of the structure that we would like to have, and then making the US fit into our idea. Shouldn’t it be the other way around!?

The right design, will come to us by finding solutions to the unique problems that the actual situation of the game in the US will present to us, we just have to “listen”. What we CANNOT ignore are the fundamental principles of our game, which are inclusion and meritocracy.

 

At the State Level(2nd Div), an organic structural design is obvious, since it will be close to impossible to find a unique formula, considering the huge differences in size, number of potential clubs, number and quality of local leagues, and other conditions from one state to the other.

 

The Regional Level(1st Div) is a bit more tricky. The fact that we can decide on the number of groups and their geographical boundaries(something that we cannot do at the State Level), give us the chance to create the symmetry that will serve as a base for the pyramid further future growth. However, we will have no control of how many teams are going to sign up for this level after the first admission period closes; neither their geographical locations and financial capabilities. With so much room for randomness, there is a big chance that at this stage our elegant symmetrical approach will not be a good fit.

 

I think that it may be better to wait until the admission period is over, an once we know what we are working with, decide the groups composition of this level. If we are successful incorporating more teams after every season, we will eventually get to that elegant symmetry, once it is the right time.

 

This is, in a nutshell what I mean by “A More Organic Approach”. Everything else remains the same as in the original post.

 

It is very important to us that you share your views with us. Please tell us what you like and what you don’t like about these ideas on how to implement a Pro/Rel open league in the US.

 

Next post will be about another tactic, a step by step method. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

Plan for the Implementation of an Open League US Pyramid

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

There are unique challenges and opportunities, that any plan in order to establish a Football League on the US, open to all potential clubs through the practice of promotion and relegation, will have to take in consideration.

Challenges

  • Geography

http://goeurope.about.com/b/2007/03/01/so-just-how-big-is-europe-compared-to-the-us-anyway.htmif

The large size of our nation, and its impact on travel distances will have to be carefully considered, specially at the Regional Level.

  • Clubs Reality

Most of the active football teams in the nation, are very precarious organizations. Therefore, clubs that joint the pyramid at the most affordable lower levels, should not be “pushed too hard”, or they may brake.

  • Apathy and Disbelief

Years of being ignored and disrespected by our “soccer leaders”; a huge amount of manipulation; and a pseudo soccer journalism that does not promote a real debate about the promotion & relegation issue, never ask the hard questions, and is totally in bed with the status quo; have been successful creating a big deal of apathy and disbelief that promotion & relegation will ever be implemented in the US among our soccer fans,

Opportunities

  • Great Potential

If we consider our nation’s wealth, and our cultural diversity, I think that the US could have the best and most interesting soccer league in the world.

Not only our cultural diversity could give our league a unique spice, but also our vast geography can contribute a great deal, since factors as temperature and altitude also have an impact in the style teams play, widening even more the contrast of styles that our cultural diversity will create.

  • Local Leagues

Large number of local leagues all around the nation, could be the ideal building blocks of our structures foundation.

  • Non-existing State Championships

Self explanatory.

Strategy

  • The pyramid should be built from the bottom up.

  • Traveling distances will require special attention.

  • Admission criteria should be clear an openly available.

  • Structure should grow organically. Not all groups and levels have to start at the same time. If one Region or State League has the minimum number of teams in order to start a season by the end of a predetermined admission period, it should not have to wait for the other groups or States in order to start.

  • On the first phase, the focus should be on stability over rapid growth.

Divisions

The first phase of the building process should have three divisions

  1. Regional (1st Division)

  2. State (2nd Division)

  3. Local (3rd Division)

The hierarchy levels 1st, 2nd and 3rd division, will be “moved” on the next phase of the building process, when other level(s) will be added “on top” of the existing ones. On the first phase, the Regional level will be the higher of the structure.

Phase I: Regional Level (1st Division)

Level: 1

Entry :

  • By Direct Buy In. ( only available temporarily. I will get to it later )

  • Promotion from State Level Leagues.

Number of leagues:

I have considered 3 choices:

  • 8 leagues of a geographical size of around 1/8 of the nation’s continental area

  • 16 leagues of a geographical size of around 1/16 of the nation’s continental area

  • 32 leagues of a geographical size of around 1/32 of the nation’s continental area

8 leagues:

It could be. However, I think that traveling distances may still be too much for the first phase of our building process, specially considering that at this stage we are going to be dealing with very young clubs.

32 leagues:

I really like the fact that, if we divide the nation in approximately 32 equal geographical parcels, we get traveling distances just a bit longer than the average State size, which makes sense if we want to push teams to travel just a bit longer with each promotion.

The problems:

  • It is way too similar to the State Level. The State of Texas, for example, will be the same size as a potential group.

  • The State and the Regional levels would kind of overlap.

  • The symmetry of the pyramid will be very inelegant.

  • At the upper two levels ( Regional & State ), we may not integrate many teams on the first years, therefore to fill two divisions so similar in group sizes will have 2 negative effects:

    • will slow the building process of the pyramid.

    • Perception of hierarchical status of the two leagues will not be as clear as it should be.

16 leagues:

I think that 16 leagues is the right choice.

Traveling distances are not as long as if we go with 8 leagues, yet it solves all the issues of the 32 leagues choice.

Number of teams per League:

Minimum: 6 ( 4 will be too few in my opinion )

Maximum: 8

  • As said before on strategy, on this phase the most important thing is stability.

  • On the first phase, we want to avoid the chance of any team quiting in the middle of the season. The chances of that happening are a lot less if teams have to play only 7 away games, compare to 15 away games that they will play if we had 16 teams.(main reason)

  • Also, this division will be the last to “fill up” and it may take a while before all the regions are launched. We don’t want the structure to be so unbalanced. Organic growth should go together with a sense of equilibrium.

After the admission period is over, once we know the total number or clubs admitted and their geographical locations, there should be a cushion time before the league starts.

  • During this time we will do the schedule, and leagues composition of teams

  • League’s composition should be decided taking in consideration clubs input.

Phase I: State Level (2st Division)

Level: 2

Entry:

  • By Direct Buy In. ( only available temporarily. I will get to it later )

  • Promotion from State local leagues, or State promotion play-offs.

Number of Leagues: One per every State.

Number of teams per League:

Minimum: State Specific

Maximum: State Specific ( 16 recommended )

The State Level is the most important of the first phase, It will be the frame of the whole structure. Here is where we will have to work the most, since:

  • It will be the first level we will be building from scratch.

  • Local Leagues already have their structures in place, they just need to be attached to our system and improve some aspects of their organizations so that they can comply with our Leagues criteria.

  • The Regional Level most probably will fill up last, and also, most of the rules and regulations we worked on creating the State Level, could be used on the Regional one with minor adaptations. By the time we launch the first Regional league, we will already have a great deal of experience.

State Leagues should be custom fitted to every specific State, taking in consideration factors such as:

  • geographical area.

  • number of applicant teams.

  • financial situation of applicant teams.

Phase I: Local Leagues (3 rd Division)

  • There are hundreds of them all around the nation

  • Lowest and cheaper entry level of the structure

  • Affordable entry fees and the possibility of promotion, should encourage the creation of clubs all around the nation

Keys to create this level will be:

  • To establish the criteria to be met in order for local leagues to join the structure

  • To communicate and negotiate with existing local leagues

Financial Considerations

Administrative expenses should be as low as possible, and managed with transparency.

Financial Incentives

Funds ought to be generated, in order to offer financial incentives to the best performing clubs.

This will:

  • motivate them to join the structure, and

  • empower them by offering a way to improve their financial situations.

Funds Raising

In order to offer the before mentioned incentives, and be able to afford administrative expenses, different initiatives have to be put in place.

  • Merchandising

  • Advertising

  • Donations

  • Etc

(A web site can help accomplish this tasks.)

 To be continued……..