Who's In First League Management

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Rain Rain Go Away

We have previously discussed the difficulty most managers have in getting people to attend their optional practices. So what should you do when you have a scheduled practice that most people can attend, that suddenly has to be canceled because of inclement weather?

I had such a situation arise this past weekend, and learned more about what NOT to do, than what to do, so hopefully my learning curve can benefit the other managers out there trying to plan a practice.

About a month ago I sent an email to the team telling them to mark their calendars for Sunday, April 19. On that date we would all get together, hit a few balls from in the batting cages and then go out to the diamond to field some grounders and shag some fly balls. I used the techniques from my April 7 blog posting (What are we talking about? Practice?) and got a good number of people to commit. Because the practice was scheduled so far in advance, it gave everyone time to readjust their schedules and to set expectations for their wives, girlfriends and friends that they would be unavailable during mid-afternoon that day. Those that already had plans had notified me in advance, and so I knew to expect approximately half the squad. Not a great showing, but not horrible. Actually it was about what I thought would show as I first tried to figure out when to practice.

We also decided to head to our bar sponsor after practice to hang out and see if the bar was interested in sponsoring us for another year. It was all set in stone. Everyone was amped… softball and some drinks in the nice spring sunshine.

Then Denver got hit by a freak late spring storm. Some of the outlying areas got up to 4 feet of some and many communities were without power for some time. Knowing that the storm was coming, I sent out an email to the team telling them that the practice portion was cancelled but that we should still meet up at the bar to try and secure that valuable sponsorship. Another call to action from the team, and this one had a financial impact on them, since the sponsorship would negate any need to pay for the league by the team.

Besides anything else, we are a tight knit group and I figure most of us almost enjoy hanging out more than the actual softball portion. Routinely we will show up early to chat and more often than not you will find us out long after the last out has been recorded on the field. So having the team meet-up for a drink sounded perfect.

And as is par for the course in Denver, although we got 4 feet of snow on Thursday-Saturday, it was in the mid 60s on Sunday and beautiful outside. Our sponsor has a patio outside and was perfect for seeing some of the guys I had seen only once or twice since last season.

So I get to the bar at the set time and look around, but don’t see anyone I know. I sit down and start watching the local MLB team throw the opening pitch of the third game in their series in LA and wait on the guys to show. Being obnoxious early to everything, I have become accustomed to having to wait for people to show up for things, or for things to begin, so I sat down, ordered a drink and waited.

By the time the second inning was over, having seen the local team surrender 3 runs in just over an hour, but not having seen any of my teammates I decided to give up hope, so I paid for my drink and headed out the door.

On the drive home I contemplated what I did wrong, and why nobody showed up. The first thought that crossed my mind was that softball was the great equalizer. Wives, girlfriends and plans can mold around softball but a day at a bar, not close to anyone’s home, is tough to fit into a schedule.

Secondly, there wasn’t a big enough draw to bring the guys out. In a previous email I had noted that if the bar didn’t sponsor us then we had a back up plan in place to cover our entry fees. So not showing up didn’t cost the guys anything, as their bases were already covered.

Lastly, it is possible that maybe I was wrong, and people really do come out for the softball aspect more than the social aspect. Maybe I was the only one who weigh them equally, or maybe the team figures that we will be able to hang out 25 times this summer, over two seasons, and that one more may tip the scales.

So what will I do next time a practice is threatened because of practice?

First off, I will look for a more athletic alternative. Whether it is securing some time in an indoor batting cage or finding an open gym where we can scoop grounders, moving the practice inside will be my first option.

If that doesn’t work out, or if it is a last minute cancellation, I will need to follow up with the confirmed Yay’s to make sure they are still on board with the alternative plan. This is something I didn’t do yesterday and ended up sulking on a bar stool by myself because of it.

Lastly, I could just cancel the practice. Sometimes it is more work trying to figure out last minute alternatives and to get a hold of everyone in time to notate the change, that canceling, either via a quick email or text message to the entire team, might be the best option.

Have you ever been in this situation? Place a comment below with what have you done?

Keep sporting!
- Who’s In First

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