Summer Nationals entry sizes

Discussion in 'Fencing Discussion' started by Ancientepee, May 16, 2019.

  1. Ancientepee

    Ancientepee Podium

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    Last night was the normal-fee entry deadline. The number of entries has gone through the roof. Last year, the total number of entries to the individual events was around 9,980. This year, the number as of this morning was 11,132. (Keep in mind that this is the number of entries and not the number of fencers since many of the fencers are entered in more than one event.)

    This includes entries whose status is "Pending", meaning that they might not have qualified and so will have their entry rejected. So between now and the start of the tournament, from day to day the numbers will go down as entries are rejected and are withdrawn because of change of plans and the numbers will go up because of late-fee entries or entries that the NO had been holding because of issues like bounced checks or questions about classifications or membership.

    The sizes of the entries should be causing concern. While the USFA can always find bigger venues to lay down ever more pistes, the one constraint about which very little can be done is the number of competent referees. You can train and test additional referees, but no amount of training will change someone who lacks the physical and mental ability into someone who can referee at the highest level. They can be competent at the Divisional level but just can't adjust to the speed, variety, and complexity of the actions at the National level.

    For the number-freaks out there, here's an overview of the entry numbers I found as of the morning after the normal-fee entry deadline. I have another spreadsheet that shows the number of entries on each day and on every day except the first and last, there will be over 1,000 fencers competing on that day with four of the days having more than 1,300 fencers competing.
    Screen Shot.JPG
     
  2. Strytllr

    Strytllr DE Bracket

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    That is utterly insane. and cool. but mostly insane.
     
  3. Allen Evans

    Allen Evans Podium

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    Hahahahah....no. I'm sure it will all be fine!
     
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  4. dcchew

    dcchew Podium

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    A slight thread drift......

    As one of the armorers assigned to be at the Summer Nationals during the 1st week, please be sure to have your equipment ready to be checked when you do the equipment check. There's nothing more frustrating than having a fencer show up in front of me and drop his/her pile of equipment in front of me expecting me to figure out for them what is working or not. You should have figured that out before you stepped into the venue. The equipment check is done to try and ensure that there's level field of play for everyone.

    A NAC level of equipment check hasn't changed in several years. There should be no surprises to anyone who has gone to a national or regional level competition (RYC, RJCC, SYC, ROC). Please get your equipment checked out by your club or regional armorer before you show up in Columbus. It'll save everybody a lot of grief.

    With the number of entries, it looks like I'll be checking 800+ sets of equipment during the 1st week. Note to self: bring hand sanitizers, some of those saber gloves have a life of their own.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
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  5. Zebra

    Zebra Podium

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    I think a decent proportion of the "pending" vet registrations will be approved. There apparently was a problem with marking the vets who fenced in their division qualifier as qualified for their vet event.
     
  6. jdude97

    jdude97 Podium

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    It'd be crazy to think how big div1 would be if it weren't the July Challenge and required co classification. I'd guess d1ME would be over 500 for sure, maybe 600 or more. JME is 346 even with qualification! Probably would be double that or more without. I remember my first Y14 ME NAC had barely 100 people 8 years ago...now Y10 men's has at least 100 in every event. Interesting to see how MF is bigger than ME at Y10 and Y12...maybe because kids are being started in foil primarily.

    As for the referees issue, maybe if the USFA stopped being so obtuse about hiring one weapon refs they could get more refs. I've had this Kafka-esque conversation with the hirers:
    Me: I'm a really good epee ref but not so hot in foil and saber, can you hire me for the NAC?
    Them: You have to be a 5 to be hired as a one weapon ref
    Me: How can I get my 5?
    Them: You have to ref at NACs o_O

    So I can't get my 5 and be a one weapon ref without being a multi-weapon ref to begin with. I'm currently a 7 in epee and told by a few different people they'll give me my 6 when they observe me at a USFA tournament. But I have no interest in becoming a great foil or saber ref. I've tried for years, and I just don't understand it well enough. It's not fair to the fencers to have me ref RoW weapons. I've even been told that if I'm hired as a multi-weapon ref that I may even just be assigned in epee. So basically they want me to get to a 6 or 7 in 2 or 3 weapons for no reason, just as a barrier to entry. So I'm fine to not ref NACs. It's much lower pay than any regional tournament or even college tournament. If they don't want me, I don't want them.
     
  7. dcchew

    dcchew Podium

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    It's not only the cost of not only hiring the referee. Throw in the cost of getting referee to the venue and paying for his/her stay there. You have plane tickets, hotel expenses, meals, etc. Ideally, a referee who can direct different weapon types is more useful than a single weapon referee.
     
  8. Ancientepee

    Ancientepee Podium

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    When I proposed starting the Division II national events back in 1984, the reaction was uniformly negative. I was told that no one would want to fence in them. The Secretary of the USFA at the time told me that she would rally opposition to the proposal and make sure it was defeated because none of the fencers in her Division would want to fence in them. It took me two years (and some underhanded tactics) to get the Division II events approved for the 1986 Nationals but only as a one-year test event.

    Two weeks before the National I got a post card from the Secretary showing the number of fencers who had shown up at her Division's qualifying events. The number of entries for the Division II events were almost double those for the Division I events. She wrote on the bottom of the postcard that she had been wrong. The Nationals themselves that year had in total about 25% more fencers competing then in the previous years but took about the same amount of time. At the BOD meeting, she stood up and said that she had been wrong about the Division II events and moved that they be made annual events (which they then were). I gave her much credit for being so willing to admit publicly to her change of heart.

    My feeling is that the number of entries in (especially) the junior and Y14 events are at the point where running the events is problematical. With 350 entries in the Y14MF event this coming summer, that means a first round of 50 pools of 7. The probability that something (technical or medical) will go wrong on one of those pools which will impact the 343 other fencers is quite large. I'm not sure what the solution is, but some group in the USFA should be investigating possible improvements.

    (By the way, I fenced in the very first U19ME National Championship event in 1966. There were 7 entries total. One pool of 7 and no DE.)
     
  9. sdubinsky

    sdubinsky DE Bracket

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    Can you write a memoir or something on the history of US fencing? I would love a book like that. All your stories are wonderful.
     
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  10. Zebra

    Zebra Podium

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    Not quite so. FOC will hire some refs for national events who don't yet meet the official hiring criteria, but as part-time rather than full-time officials. That means they only pay a partial stipend rather than full travel expenses. As Annamaria Lu pointed out on another site, it effectively means you lose money your first few national events, but it's considered part of "paying your dues" on the way to reaching that national level.
     
  11. Zebra

    Zebra Podium

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    That group is the Tournament Committee, and according to the latest BOD minutes (Feb 2019), they're planning to limit all DE fields in national events to a maximum of 256 fencers beginning in the 2019-20 season. They also intend to implement a 20% cut in the Y12/Y14 events at Summer Nationals effective in 2020.
    [I don't know how they intend to resolve the second with the first, since a 20% cut in the aforementioned Y14MF still leaves you above 256 fencers.]
     
  12. tbryan

    tbryan Podium

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    The key there may be "hired as a one-weapon ref." I've known at least one referee in your situation. He did his first few NACs on a volunteer basis. I think that they call those refs walk-ons.

    For example, if you're going to be at Nationals to fence, you could stay an extra day to referee. You'll want to contact the hiring referees to coordinate beforehand, but if they can use you, then this is one route that wouldn't require you to improve your foil or saber ratings. It helps if there is a referee who is actively refereeing at national events--or, better, a referee observer / examiner / instructor--who can vouch for you with the hiring referee. You won't be "hired," and you'll have to pay for your own hotel and travel. I don't remember whether walk-ons even receive the honorarium. But you will have an opportunity to referee and be observed. Hopefully, you'll get bumped up to a 6 or even a 5.

    I think that NACs are probably a better time to walk on as a referee than Summer Nationals. IIRC, they've said in the past that resources are stretched so thin at Nationals that they sometimes don't have anyone to spare to do observations. Not sure whether that's still true. YMMV. :)

    Edited to add: the referee that I mentioned now actively referees NACs and has a 4 epee rating.
     
  13. Zebra

    Zebra Podium

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    Walk-ons (now called "part-time officials") do get honorarium and per diem.
     
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  14. naysayernyc

    naysayernyc Made the Cut

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    I think that the Tournament Committee wants to encourage kids to compete so keeping the fields big is good. I think the fields have been getting bigger and need to be pared back for the huge events like Y14/Cadet/Junior MF and ME at Summer Nationals and the March Youth NAC Y14. Y14 MF is the biggest field at both events. There are 222 Y14MF fencers on the national points list. Not every ranked fencer is coming (there are a number of foreign fencers on the points list). The ohers are coming in via divisional qualifiers and the regional point standings (RYC) route. There are not that many kids that qualify via the divisional qualifier. Most of the additional kids are via the regional route. If they either went back to a cutoff percentage from the regional point standings (ie three years ago) or just moved the qualifying points up it would take care of the problem. Averaging in the top 40% for RYC's (ie 180 point cutoff) would be pretty analogous to needing national points (cut off for SYC national points is top 40%). I do not think that going to 20% elimination (from pools to DE) for Y14 is a great idea. I think for the kids getting at least one DE at the national level is a worthwhile experience.
     
  15. ReadyFence

    ReadyFence Podium

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    Agreed.
     
  16. ReadyFence

    ReadyFence Podium

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    350 registered for Y14 MF? Is that a record?
     
  17. Inquartata

    Inquartata Podium

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    I guess we can expect another round of "We must make events smaller!" hyperventilation pretty soon. Fasten your seatbelts, folks, it's gonna be a bumpy tournament.

    They have already eliminated Div 3 from NACs, the next move will probably be to delete it from Nationals as well. Then maybe Div 2. Looks like we are moving back toward invitational tournaments and the national "squad" system.
     
  18. ReadyFence

    ReadyFence Podium

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    Ugh. I really feel for you guys. Is there any possible way to get everything set up 6/27 reeeeeeaaaaaaally early so you guys can check a ton of gear before what is sure to be an insane first day? As much as we hate to ask you guys to stay late, it’s a lot easier on competitors :)
     
  19. Strytllr

    Strytllr DE Bracket

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    Well, they raised the regional point requirement this season for Y14 to 160 from 150. And numbers still increased.
    The fences who qualified via regional points for Y14MF totaled 223 across all 6 regions. Raising the bar to 180 would technically reduce that current Y14 list down to 186, but I imagine all it would really do is push the remaining parents of those 37 fencers (or more) to go to just one more RYC to try to get their points up to the new minimum.

    I could agree with only giving points to the top 40% though. I don't know if that would really reduce the number of fencers that actually gets to 160 points, but it might help.
     
  20. dcchew

    dcchew Podium

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    It takes a full 2 days just to set up the venue with a minimum of 7 to 8 armorers and local labor help. There's literally no way given the cost of renting out the facility an extra day, to a equipment check any sooner than the afternoon before the 1st day of competition. It's just not going to happen.

    As I suggested in my previous posting, check your equipment before you even arrive. If something isn't working, don't take a chance of hoping that it'll pass muster and having to scramble afterwards to get it fixed or replaced. You'll just have to stand in line again.

    When you get assigned to an armorer checking your equipment, start out with your mask first. Then the body and mask cords followed by the lames and gloves. The cords get tossed into the mask as they are finished tested and tagged.

    For the cords, they don't have to be totally unraveled. All we need is that the cord ends be loose enough so that we can connect it to a test box..

    I can check a saber setup in under 5 minutes if the fencer works with me on getting his/her stuff organized. A foil check can be done in 3 to 4 minutes, a epee check can be done in 2 minutes. What slows the process is when equipment doesn't pass muster.
     
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