Sin City Shootout: Wrap Up
A fun weekend was had by all at the 8th Annual Sin City Shootout Sports Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. In terms of the softball tournament portion of the festival the competition was fiercely competitive as it was expected to be considering this was the last tournament played under the now “old” NAGAAA ratings guidelines. With that being said, there were some awesome advantages for the participants at this year’s tournament and there were also some disadvantages that we’ll take a quick look at in a pros/cons format.
- LOCATION: Las Vegas didn’t disappoint as the Tropicana resort was packed with festival participants and it was great to see how the Tropicana embraced the tournament and promoted their association with the tournament throughout the weekend. The dealers wearing Sin City Shootout t-shirts and the gaming tables embossed with the Sin City Shootout logo were especially nice touches.
- WEATHER: The desert nights got a little chilly, but all in all it was great to play a tournament where inclement weather was out of the equation. It just makes the weekend more enjoyable that way!
- PARTIES: Wow. When you walk into the “registration party” it is so much more than walking into some bar, finding the table, signing your name, getting your wristband, having a cocktail and heading back to the hotel. The registration party was everything Vegas is about. It was flashy, over the top, huge and most importantly….fabulous. Let’s just say you need to see it to believe it. The closing party was no slouch either with 80’s pop star Tiffany coming on late to sing a couple of songs and thousands of festival participants staying out til the break of dawn.
- FIELDS: Now, before anyone takes an exception to this….everyone can agree we’ve played on worse fields before. Some of the fields weren’t the greatest, but they were playable, dry and free of major issues.
- NUMBER OF TEAMS: This year it seemed like the tournament was possibly too big for the time frame. A tournament can never be too big, generally speaking, if the tournament has the proper amount of time to play all of the games. It was glaring this year that if this tournament isn’t going to expand its dates of play to at least Friday it might be a good option to work with a lower team cap per division. This year’s tournament was significantly larger than the Gay Softball World Series when including the women’s division teams. The difference being that the GSWS has five days of play and the Sin City Shootout only has two.
- LACK OF COMMUNICATION: There were some extenuating circumstances regarding a delay in between pool play ending and the double elimination tournament beginning. However, the lack of accessibility to the bracketing information and any information regarding game results was disappointing. When a tournament gets as big as this one is, the next logical step would be to move toward a centralized technology based bracketing setup similar to the myGSWS website that the GSWS uses. If teams in the same division are playing double elimination games at different parks the information must be readily accessible to those teams as to where they go next and who they play. If there are over 200 teams participating, an old-fashioned banner bracket that is filled out in Sharpie just seems like a dated way of communicating.
- TEAM RATINGS: Nobody had access to the team ratings for their division. Once again, if you’re going to tout that your tournament is larger than the GSWS then it would seem like an easy proposition to copy off of some of the things that NAGAAA does in running its flagship tournament. At every GSWS there is either a stapled hard copy of the ratings afforded to managers at registration/coaches meeting or a digital copy is made available that can be downloaded onto smartphones, tablets, etc. This has nothing to do with promoting protesting. This has everything to do with promoting transparency in regard to ratings which is always a hot button issue. The tournament’s policy is that no protests are allowed once double elimination play begins and that is the tournament’s prerogative to have that policy, but to not afford managers the ratings makes it extremely difficult to execute a protest as they already had limited time to do so.
- LACK OF FIELD SIGNAGE: Overall the field complexes were satisfactory, but what wasn’t satisfactory was that given how some of the complexes were laid out it was very difficult to tell what 4 plex you were at, especially at the D Division fields. A sign at entrances to the park would have been helpful and when in the park a sign here and there letting someone know that certain field numbers were here or there could have saved participants time.
- LACK OF CONCESSIONS: Food trucks were used at some fields to help with the lack of available concessions. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that concessions and registration is ready and open 30 minutes before the start of the first game at the complex. If the tournament has teams begin play at 8 am local time then there should be registration open and the opportunity to purchase concessions by 7:30 am. Registered players and properly hydrated/fed players are happy players. Beer sales tents and food trucks were available, but not until later in the day. However, some 4 plexes did not have any food truck access or concessions for the duration of the tournament. This would be a good deficiency to work on for next year if for nothing else, the revenue that could be generated by providing concessions at each place of play.
All in all, it was a great weekend full of awesome memories, new friends made and old friends connected with. Most teams will have stories about going to this tournament that they will be telling for years! Each team will do its own cost benefit analysis as it relates to their experience at the tournament. The bottom line is that big tournaments have big challenges and I know that the great tournament committee that runs this event will step up and meet those challenges head on to run an even better tournament next year. See you in Vegas in January 2016.