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Time for a Change of Scotties Format??

Thursday Feb 01 2007

February 1, 2007: By Resby Coutts

(Re-printed from the Scotties Heart Beat - the daily newsletter published by the Morris Scotties Tournament of Hearts)
The note in the program about the 1961 Manitoba championship format, in which Susan Heinrichs and her Morris team lost the final in a best of 3 East-West playoff, got me thinking about possible changes to the format for the Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Obviously changes have occurred from time to time in the past.
Some teams have suggested for years that the Manitoba championship should be a triple knockout bonspiel format. They suggest that format would allow teams to ?win or go home?. I can see it from the fans perspective, but I have to admit I have always been a committee person first.
I believe a championship is created for the benefit of the fans and the host committee and the host community as well for the benefit of the curlers. A triple does not strike me as a format around which you can create an event, nor do I think it is a format that creates an experience that approximates the national championship experience. Both are the case with the current 2-group, 7-game round robin format of the event.
That is not to say, however, that I am stuck on the current system. I think there is always a need for consideration of new concepts if someone can propose something that meets the needs of all interested groups.
For example ? do we need 16 teams in an era when there are fewer and better teams competing? Maybe a 10 or 12 team round robin would be better. That would create the opportunity for an event that the host community and the host committee require and it would create the round-robin training ground that I believe our champions need going to the nationals.
So then you ask which ?berths? do you get rid of ?.but I suggest that you are asking the wrong question. It would be my response that we get rid of all of them as they currently exist ? start from zero and build a new system that fits Year 2007 rather than try to fix a system that fit Year 1970.
My idea would be that you work with the players to build a system that works for the sport and the players themselves.
How about this for example ? a 12 team event that includes:
* The defending champion
* Three teams from the Manitoba Women?s curling tour
* Four teams from the Canadian Team Ranking System listing
* The winner of four NEW cash bonspiels ? one in Winnipeg and one in Brandon with the two others moving around the province similar to the floating berth spiel now?but with the restriction that teams could only play in two of them in a given year (the one closest to home and one other drawn at random)
I know, I know ? there are a hundred details I haven?t thought of and questions I haven?t answered.
Maybe my idea isn?t any good ? and yours is better. It seems to me, however, that with provincial sport funding relying (at least to some extent) on results at the national level ? the time has come to focus more attention on creating results at the national level.
Maybe the time has come when we can no longer afford to identify teams strictly on the basis of where they live. As a long-time rural resident, I recognize the reality of rural life and distances. The system I proposed above would create an opportunity for teams to compete locally ? but it would reward success, not location, in providing the championship berths. Maybe that?s all any competitive team should ask for.

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