Since the first time I stepped on the court, I have always wondered where the future of college dodgeball is heading. In 2005, the first season of our league there were just five teams, Delta College, Michigan State University, DePaul University, Kent State University, and Ohio State University. Now we have almost 15 teams playing and several more popping up across the states. But where is it all going?
The beginning of our league kind of reminds me of the beginnings of college football. There were few teams, no coaches, and the officials were terrible. In fact the University of Michigan didn’t have a head coach their first 11 seasons. It seems in our fifth season as a league many of the complaints and problems are the same. However, the growth of our sport can not be ignored either.
Am I going to predict that someday fans are going to pack 5,000 fans in the Breslin Center to watch the University of Michigan play Michigan State University in a game of dodgeball, or have millions of people watch the University of Florida play the Cinderella Henry Ford Community College in the final four on CBS? Not even close, but I do think that this sport has plenty of room to grow and could develop into a great league.
I do not think dodgeball will become a varsity sport, not anytime soon anyways. But I look at college rugby as an example. While not a varsity sport, several schools in each state across the country has a club rugby team. They have conferences, state tournaments, and national tournaments. They also break up the teams into three divisions based on size and how good their team is. I think that in a few years college dodgeball could do something similar very soon.
However, there are a few things standing in the way of our growth. Firstly, as detailed on the league messageboard it is really hard to find people at other schools to get teams started. There is no reason that some of these schools don’t have teams, other than finding the right people to run them.
Secondly, is the cost of traveling to tournaments. We saw it first hand last year when several teams backed out of nationals because they couldn’t afford it. That’s why I have always been in favor of having a regional tournament one week to a month before the national tournament. Charge each team in the regional $200 to play, and give the winning team the money to go to nationals. Doing this you can also cut down on the teams that go to nationals. While still, teams that have to travel far this money may not have enough to cover their trip, they at least have a starting point to get their team to the national tournament.
Thirdly, is the lack of a commissioner or league board. In most developed leagues teams are issued a schedule and they are expected to abide by it. In the NCDA, we have one team who has played eight games, and at least four teams have not even played a game yet. I know that some teams would be against having a league commissioner or league board but in order for it to grow properly it might need to happen someday. Without having someone or a group of people running the league, it is just going to remain a loose collection of teams that meet up once a year for a national tournament. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that, but if we truly want this to grow into a league that is taken seriously then that is what needs to happen.
Before any of this can happen, we need more teams. We have clubs that are interested in joining our league all around us, but because of a lack of teams around them it wouldn’t be feasible for them to join. I also suggest you contact your local TV/Radio station or newspaper to see if they have interest in running stories on your team. The more exposure this league can get, the better. It will get people talking and get people interested. The more people that know about it, the more it has an opportunity to grow.