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A Proposal for Re-Structuring of Men's Curling in Manitoba

Tuesday Jan 27 2009

A Proposal for Re-Structuring of Men's Curling in Manitoba ..........If you follow the on-going communications on CurlingZone, occasionally you'll find a discussion which merits more exposure. One of the reasons the following merits exposure here at thecurler.com is that it presents some very good ideas for possible future direction in Manitoba curling. And the author is identified - that's a point that I consider important. Whether I agree or disagree is irrelevant. Whether you have enough faith in your own ideas to put your name on them is relevant.

The writer here is Bryce McEwen - a pretty good young curler and obviously one who has taken the time to define challenges and to present solutions. Here's what Bryce has to say....

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Here's my opinion on the state of curling, the Safeway championship, the Dominion championship and MCA Bonspiel.

The #1 problem facing curling right now is demographics. Curlers are too old. So how do you deal with demographics? You come up with a plan that gives young curlers a reason to continue curling.

In days past, camaraderie and competition were enough to keep people playing. Unfortunately for us, it's no longer the case. Today, curlers want to know "What's in it for me?" Right now, all we can really offer is money and a berth in the provincial championship. But not nearly enough money and the berth’s are hard to get! By the time curlers are 16, they seem to have to make a choice - "do I devote all of my time to curling so that I have a chance at making the provincials or some cash, or do I give it up?"

Because of the commitment required to get your hands on some of that cash or a provincial berth, most seem to be giving it up. The 'carrots' seem completely unattainable to most curlers.

The MCA needs a plan that deals with declining numbers in both the highly competitive ranks and the club ranks. They need to look at both of the issues together, not separately. Below is my plan for the Safeway Championship, The Dominion Championship, and the MCA Bonspiel, which I hope addresses the needs of the highly competitive, the mid-level competitive, and the just for fun curlers.

SAFEWAY CHAMPIONSHIP - GOALS
-#1 priority is to find a representative who is going to be competitive at (win) the Brier

SAFEWAY CHAMPIONSHIP – FORMAT
Since the goal of the provincial men’s is to find a Brier winner, the field should be smaller
-16 teams
-2 Pools of 8
-Round robin followed by page playoff

SAFEWAY CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM SELECTION
1          Defending Champ
2          CTRS Leader as of Dec 20
3          MCT Championship Winner
4          Winnipeg Region #1 (Zone Playdown)
5          Winnipeg Region #2 (Zone Playdown)
6          Central Region (Zone Playdown)
7          Eastman Region (Zone Playdown)
8          Interlake Region (Zone Playdown)
9          Norman Region (Zone Playdown)
10         Parkland Region (Zone Playdown)
11         Westman Region #1 (Zone Playdown)
12         Westman Region #2 (Zone Playdown)
13         MCA Bonspiel #1 (Labatt Winner)
14         MCA Bonspiel #2 (Free Press Winner)
15         MCA Bonspeil #3 (Safeway Winner)
16         Defending Dominion Champion

This gives many avenues to make the provincials. You can either play a lot on the WCT/MCT to gain CTRS points or win the MCT Championship. You can play well one weekend and win your zone. You can play well during the MCA Bonspiel, or you can win the Dominion Championship.

DOMINION CHAMPIONSHIP - GOALS
-increase participation at club level
-expose club curlers to another level of competition in the hopes that they take the next step, which is to compete for an opportunity to go to the provincials

DOMINION CHAMPIONSHIP – FORMAT
Since the goal of the Dominion is to increase participation at the club level, the field should be larger
-32 teams
-same format as current Safeway Championship

TEAM SELECTION
1-8         Winnipeg #1 - #8
9-13       Westman #1 - #5
14-16     Central #1 - #3
17-18     Eastman #1 - #2
19-20     Interlake #1 - #2
21-22     Norman #1 - #2
23-24     Parkland #1 - #2
25-32     MCA Bonspiel #1 - #8
 
This would allow 8 club champions from Winnipeg, 5 from Westman, 3 from Central, 2 from Eastman, Interlake, Norman and Parkland regions to compete. The rest of the spots would come from the minor events of the MCA bonspiel. Same eligibility rules would apply (only one member of a team could have played in a provincial men’s championship or Grand Slam event in the prior season).

MCA BONSPIEL – GOALS
-to award Safeway Championship spots
-to award Dominion Championship spots
-to have the biggest bonspiel in the world, where people enjoy competition and camaraderie, get to play in clubs throughout the city, have a couple of drinks and have a great time

MCA BONSPIEL – CHANGES
- only teams with competitor cards start in the Labatt Event
-when you lose in the Labatt, you drop to either the Safeway or Free Press event (teams without comp cards start in these events, so that the chance to play a ‘big name’ still exists)
-when you lose in the Safeway or Free Press Event, you drop into the minors and are still eligible to qualify for the Dominion Championship (providing you meet the eligibility requirements mentioned above).

This would give the top competitive teams who want to play on the WCT/MCT about 8 different opportunities to make it to the provincials, including CTRS points, MCT Championships, one of the zones, or through the MCA Major events.
 
This gives the mid level teams (like myself, Cory Chambers, Hamilton, Zachary, Strand, Wickman,  etc), who would love to get to a provincial championship but maybe don’t every year (or any year), two things to play for, The Provincial Championship and The Dominion Championship. There would be about 5 opportunities to make the provincials, and 9 opportunities to make the Dominion (by winning your club championship and one of your region spots or through the MCA minor events). And there would also be the carrot that if you win the Dominion Championship, you qualify for provincial next year (thus making you ineligible for the Dominion the following year).

And this would give club teams who won’t even consider playing in an MCT event but would play in the MCA about 9 opportunities to make the Dominion (by winning your club championship and one of your region spots or through the MCA minor events).

So hopefully, when a team comes out of juniors and quickly realizes making the Safeway Championship is incredibly difficult, or a players wife has a baby or he gets a new job and has to cut back, instead of putting the broom away for good, they join a men's league and play once a week, and play in the MCA bonspiel, in the hopes that they can qualify for the Dominion championship.

Only by looking at the needs of all curlers will a solution be found.

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(There is a lot of good food for thought here.  In his last line, Bryce's challenge is that 'the needs of all curlers be considered'. I'd suggest that needs to be expanded a little to include 'the needs of all curlers and clubs be considered'. I'd also suggest there is a challenge here for the curlers. The MCA has issued an call for volunteers to partiicpate in a a major review of the entire playoff structure for all levels of competition. The challenge is for curlers is to get involved - make your thoughts known as Bryce has done here. Be a part of the discussion to be sure the needs and wishes of curlers are considered...Resby)



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