As my numerous rule and policy proposals illustrate, I often have opinions on what I think is best for the NCDA. These opinions are rooted in what I believe to be the best for the health and growth of the league as a whole. It is for this reason that present to you all now my opinion on where Nationals 2018 should be held.
It goes without saying, and yet I am saying it nonetheless, Nationals is the premier tournament of the NCDA season. It is no small task to host Nationals and it is not something to be taken lightly. I have witnessed four Nationals bids votes in my time in the NCDA, with this upcoming vote being my fifth. Each time there appears to be one driving criterion that has inordinate amount of weight on the minds of member teams: proximity to one’s own university. I do not mean to say that geography should not be used in the evaluation process, but not nearly to the degree that has been evidenced in the past. Here’s a fun fact for everyone: the last two seasons the runner-up in the Nationals Bid voting did not attend the subsequent Nationals. I can wager that those two schools received a majority of their votes from schools close in geography to said schools. There’s also something I learned in my time in the league: longer road trips can actually be really fun. Sometimes it’s fun to drive several hours with your teammates in anticipation of a dodgeball tournament. So having to drive an extra couple of hours isn’t the end of the world.
There are numerous factors to consider when voting for Nationals Bids. For me, the most important criterion for which my vote is based on who would be in charge of that Nationals: the Director of Nationals and the host school as a whole. For the most part, each bid passes that test. But there are times when that is not the case. It is as a result of that measure that I have to eliminate two bids from my recommendation for Nationals 2018. I will preface this by saying I do not know any of these people personally, which I guess is the issue in this regard. NIU and PSU have submitted bids to host Nationals with a combined one tournament hosted between the two schools. I want to say I admire their motivation, dedication, any other -tion word you want to use in their belief in themselves to host Nationals. It is not that I believe they could not host an amazing Nationals. It is purely the fact that I do not know they can. Experience is key when hosting tournaments. I know my first tournament I hosted as MSU captain did not go nearly as smoothly as my second, third, fourth, etc. NIU is a new member team and does not have the experience of going to tournaments, letting alone hosting one. I know DePaul has said they could be of service, but there really needs to be a Director of Nationals on the ground who knows the ins and outs of hosting. Penn State hosted their first tournament this season which was awesome, but even with that they have relatively little tournament travel experience even for a school that has been in the league for several seasons. Again, it is not that I do not think NIU or PSU could host an amazing Nationals, I just have reservations voting for either to host without knowing for sure.
The next school I will eliminate from my recommendation is Akron. I think Akron could do an amazing job of hosting Nationals, as this was evidenced to me from their success at the two-day tournament, The War, this season. My issue with Akron is two-fold. For the first one, it only applies to the Recreation and Wellness Center. The walls there create some circumstances unideal for Sunday bracket play. In one of the gyms, the walls are just pretty close, resulting in frequent bounce backs. In the other, the one better suited for spectators, one side has a distinct advantage with the wall in the middle of the court protruding to create bounce backs with ease. I do not know what would be the case at Goodyear Hall, but without confirmation of the location I would not feel comfortable recommending Akron to host. My second reason is I feel if Akron were to win the vote it would once again just illustrate that team vote based on geography. The state of Ohio has a ridiculous amount of teams. If they all think Akron would do the best job of hosting Nationals, then vote for Akron. If they do not think that but instead do not want to drive a couple of extra hours to Virginia, then I have a problem.
That leaves two teams: JMU and VCU. Frankly, I recommend every team votes these two teams 1 and 2. I will offer my official recommendation, but I will be happy if either hosts Nationals 2018.
JMU has hosted numerous tournaments over their time in the league, with the annual BEAST being their highlight tournament. Having attended the BEAST this season, the new UREC is just as amazing as JMU says in their pitch, and I personally had no complaints with how the tournament was run and handled. The walls are a tad close for personal preference, but they are the same on both sides and in that regard create a fair court. Furthermore, I can only imagine the home crowd JMU could bring for Nationals judging by what they bring to road tournaments as well as what was present at the BEAST last season. The UK home crowd in 2013 is the best crowd at a tournament I’ve ever attended, and I think a JMU Nationals could replicate such an experience.
As happy as I would be if JMU hosted Nationals next season, my official recommendation would be for VCU to host. For starters, I know VCU hosted their first two tournaments last season and I already grilled PSU for only hosting one. Yes, it’s only one more tournament but it does make a difference. Each tournament makes you feel that much more comfortable hosting and knowing everything is going according to schedule. Furthermore, the difference in the number of tournaments VCU and PSU has attended lets me know that VCU has seen quality and not so quality run tournaments and knows the differences in each. OK, now to the meat of the proposal. For one, the two main courts have nets behind the baselines. This means not only are both sides fair, but we would get rid of the bounce back strategy. Second, the PDF that Hunter posted today sounds amazing and I do not need to go into all the details here, but check it out and be impressed. These services could lead to Nationals 2018 to be the best ever. Finally, the $1,500 apparel credit from SAVAGE is nothing to sneeze at. Roughly 60% of the Nationals budget went to t-shirts last season. $1,500 would go a long way to lowering the costs for everyone and the league. I am confident VCU would host an amazing Nationals and all the extra add-ons that are proposed make me that much more confident in recommending them to host next season.
Ok, I spent a portion of this article telling people not to vote based on geography. I am now going to contradict myself and tell people to vote based on geography, but for a different reason. For the East Coast schools, continue to do what everyone has always done and vote for JMU and VCU because they are closer to your school. For everyone else, vote for JMU and VCU even though they may be far away from your respective school.
Five schools have hosted the last eight Nationals. Aside from Nationals 2012 at SVSU, those Nationals have exclusively taken place in the states of Ohio and Kentucky. The East Coast has become a region so large that Zig has broken up its region designation in the standings into multiple states. We as an organization will not progress if we simply host Nationals in Ohio and Kentucky each season. The East Coast has patiently waited and in that time expanded into a booming region. It is the time, and perhaps it’s even overdue, for the East Coast to host an NCDA Nationals. I hope everyone agrees with myself.
So, in conclusion, if you have not voted yet, please vote VCU and JMU 1 and 2 (again either one would be fine for me, but I had to pick a side so sorry JMU). If you have voted already and voted for those two schools, good job keep your vote. If you did not vote as such, I would ask you to really reconsider your decision, especially if you voted purely because those schools are far away from you school. The East Coast deserves a Nationals, please give it to them.