Monday Impossible: Break Up Players Into Divisions?


A few weeks ago I went out to the local beer hole with a few bike polo players to talk shop and see who could drink the most while still maintaining verbal acuity (the answer was nobody). Early in our frivolities, we got on the subject of really outstanding players and how they make going to tourneys (with the idea of winning) a forgone conclusion for most other players.

In the past I’d mentioned having a major and minor league for this very reason, actually, though when I brought that up the people around me made the wise choice of ignoring what I was saying. Good on them, really.

But then Lumberjack brought up this idea:

What if we had divisions in NAH Tourneys?

Now I realize this isn’t a new idea. As far back as 2011 people were suggesting this very thing on LoBP (ALL HAIL!), but I wasn’t part of those conversations and I’m willing to act like they didn’t happen.

What Lumberjack suggested, more or less (the beer was taking it’s effect on me at this point), was the following:

  • Players would, for 1 year, have their records of goals/wins/other important data recorded
  • After that year, the club reps would tally up the group and split them into A/B/C rankings based on defined measurements from the NAH
  • Those players would then go to tourneys and play in those divisions (C players playing on Friday, B players on Saturday, and A players on Sunday, much like (he says) MTB racing does.
  • Players individual records are continuously kept, allowing them to either move up or down based on performance.

There are lots of problems with this model, but I’ll get to those in a second. First let’s talk about the benefits.

1. All levels of players have a chance to win big: Let’s say you’re a C player and you really want to go to a tourney, but realize you’re just going to be pushed out of the thing by Saturday. Well, that really doesn’t give you much of a positive outlook on how things are going to go down, is it? If we broke things into divisions like this, there’s a very real possibility that your team could make it to the podium, as there’s an equally good chance that the folks you’re playing against are around your same level of play. Same with B Players, too.

2. Seeding is less difficult: Instead of having a day where organizers try to work out who is the strongest and who is the weakest team, they can simply start up the tourney for each division respectively. Since everyone is already vetted into a group, organizers can simply create brackets and start the event!

3. bigger tourneys, smaller brackets: Sure, we’re talking about having three individual tourneys happening here, but the brackets will be far smaller for each one, and that leads to a faster event.

4. More entertaining to watch: One of the big things that gets tossed around in bike polo is making it more exciting to watch. Well if you have players who are all closer in skill, the games get more fun, and you have more people to root for. Breaking up NAH tourneys into Divisions gives viewers more champions to root for, and inherently creates more viewers simply because the people who are playing in other divisions will more than likely want to cheer on their friends who are in the currently playing group.


And now some of the problems that I can see with this:

1. People don’t like being broken up: Yeah, I can see how, if you’re used to going with all your friends to a tourney and playing with them, this would suck a bit. Though to be fair it’s not like you’re going to be completely separated from them. Still, if you want to team up with an A player for an NAH tourney and you’re a B player, I don’t know how that would work.

2. Finding similarly ranked players in your club: Not so much a problem for me as I think I’m around the same level as most people in my club, but if you’re the only player in your particular division in your club, you’re going to have a harder time finding someone to consistently team up with. But maybe not, I don’t know.

3. Figuring out which metrics to track: It can seem easy enough–goals and wins, right? But what if you’re a defensive player? Well then, maybe blocked goals? great passes? communication?!

Truth is, I have no idea what metrics we’d need to track to make this work. That’s for smarter people than this humble polo player.

4. Organizing: In essence, there shouldn’t be much trouble with this given how tourneys are thrown now (a seeding day and a single/double elim day), as we’d just cut out the seeding day–but in a proposed A/B/C tourney breakdown, you’re looking at asking C players (or whoever–at least one group) to play on Friday. Maybe that’s just where our sport needs to go, where people need to take off to go to a tourney–but it’s going to be tricky to convince people of that.


So, what do you guys think of this Monday Impossible? Totally off-the-wall or does it have some merit?

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  1. Irishvelo says:

    What if I’m a B player but I want to play against better players? Some want to go to tourneys not necesarily to win but to get better. Like playing people from your own club all the time, eventually your skills plateau.

    • Crusher says:

      A good point, and one I hoped I addressed in the article: if you’re doing great as a B player, you’re record will reflect that, and you’ll eventually bump up to the next level.

      Alternately–and much more to what you’re saying–you could go to the majority of tourneys that aren’t NAH sanctioned and play whoever you like there, as there won’t be any breakup due to division, more than likely.

      • Irishvelo says:

        Then why should the NAH care about divisions? Should they be looking for the best teams, period? Maybe giving people with less skill the opportunity to win, should be the independent tourney’s option, like the Thaw. I guess it boils down to what is the mission statement for the NAH?

  2. Irishvelo says:

    High schools divisions are based on population size not talent. We are not professionals like mlb, nhl, NBA, and their lower leagues. With the NAH, essentially we have two levels. One sanctioned, where we follow the rules, we wait to drink after the games and the fun is in the level of competition. Two, unsanctioned tourneys that can be whatever you want to make it. Plus, we are talking about a sport that has a small group that take it seriously(meaning they follow it and almost live the life style and all levels of skill), they/we will not be enough to fill two divisions let alone three. Maybe in 10 years levels will make sense because everyone will know Bike Polo but until then you will thin the herd and create sandbaggers that are looking for wins.

    What we need to do as a whole community, is figure out how to get more people to play, then your idea starts to have merit.

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