8-30-2012 Dust-up in NPF

DUST-UP IN NPF

August 30 2012

The 2012 NPF Championship ended Sunday without a champion – a decision made by NPF Commissioner Cheri Kempf after conferring with the Chicago Bandits and USSSA Pride after rain forced cancellation of Sunday’s game – a decision since disputed by the Bandits – a decision reliable sources tell Spy left players on both teams considerably unhappy with the league.

To help frame the discussion, Spy is publishing a letter received today from the Bandits:

“To All:

Well it is official. There will not be a 2012 champion named for the NPF; the league held a conference call Tuesday and decided that the decision that was made will stand.

As many of you know in the softball world, or in any sport for that matter, there are criteria that are in place prior to the start of the event. Those criteria are in place for the very reason we have facing us in this series.

While all the criteria that are normally used would have favored the Bandits at this championship, it was decided that they could not be implemented due to the fact they were not in place at the start. To change/add rules after the fact would not be right so, therefore, the decision needs to be final.

I know that this is not what we want to hear, but it is the proper way to handle the situation. Any different decision would add fuel to an already controversial situation.

My hope is that we can get past this with minimal damage to the league and most of all to the players who have dedicated their lives to seeing this league succeed. Let us try and remember some of the sacrifices that have been made. The league has worked very hard to bring you the very best that softball has to offer; many have sacrificed to make this the best sport in the world.

  • · The Olympians that left the national ranks; made a life altering decision in 2011 to dedicate the rest of their playing days to the development of the professional league.
  • · The players who have numerous years in the league for little, if any, compensation, while trying to make a living working a real job 9 months out of the year, just so they can contribute and play the game they love for the other three. The conditioning that they must do in the off season, along with working a full time job would be enough for any normal person to quit.
  • · The rookies coming out of college that have decided that there should be a professional women’s league, their determination to do everything in their power to help.
  • · The coaches that love the game so much they decide to work it year round.
  • · My Bandit staff, headed up by Aaron Moore and Hannah Michal; many of them working for the love of the organization, certainly not the compensation. Many of them are taking on two or more positions to try and keep expenses down.
  • · And the owners that have dedicated both time and much money to seeing this dream come true – the creation of a women’s professional softball league.

In closing I would like to thank all of you to for your continued support. I also ask that you help us to grow this sport. The next games you attend bring friends, invite family, and talk to others about how amazing our athletes are. Always bring another and pass on to them that they should also bring friends. They will fall in love with it and then they too can help it grow.

The controversy we face right now is minimal compared to the things going on in other professional sports daily. This shall pass and become a matter of record. Realistically, no one was injured, nobody tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, no player hold outs, nothing that can’t deal with.

I want to thank all of the fans, especially my beloved Bandit Nation. Without you guys this doesn’t exist. Thanks to Mayor Bradley Stephens for believing in and supporting this sport the way he has and to his facilities crew headed by Rob Townley. Without them the Park at Rosemont would be just another stadium.

I believe what you fans did have the privilege to witness this weekend was tremendous. I believe it will only get better!

I look forward to seeing you all at the Ballpark in 2013. Thanks again for the wonderful support this season!

Sincerely,

Bill Sokolis”

The controversy centers on the decision to end the tournament without a champion.

Although rain was forecast for the Chicago area, there was no plan B in place for ending a weather-shortened tournament. When rain forced cancellation of Sunday’s game – with the Bandits leading by a game in the best of three tournament – the Bandits thought they should be the champion, and told Kempf they would not have enough players to resume on Monday.  Kempf so notified the Pride.  But, after conferring with the players, the Bandits reversed course and told Kempf they would indeed have enough players for Monday – even without star pitcher Monica Abbott.  However, sources tell Spy that Kempf, having announced there would not be  a champion, refused to change that decision, which was apparently reaffirmed in the conference call this past Tuesday.

Spy has written many times that all such decisions by NPF, and for that matter by ASA, NCAA, and ISF should be made in the context of players’ desires and interests.  Given what we know about players’ preferences, the championship would have continued Monday and the decision on a champion made by players on the field.

Thus, given an opportunity to put the decision back on the field, but declining, Kempf made the wrong decision.

Remember: all of this “who shot John” discussion occurred in the space of 30 minutes, with both teams still in the dugout.

Against this backdrop of leadership uncertainty, there was considerable buzz about the possibility of adding two more teams, rumored to come from Texas.

Spy has long believed NPF needed a batter marketing plan, devised by new leadership with a proven sports business record.  The actions taken, or not taken on Sunday reinforce that belief.

Rfh

 

PS: Spy has its own vertical criticisms of the PR/reporting effort by NPF which ranged from merely adequate to inept.

 

 

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