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Michigan ASA Launches Softball Task Forces

01/05/2016, 11:45am EST
By Troy Stowell
During the weekend of January 15-17, the Michigan ASA will be in Midland hosting the Annual Meeting of Softball Commissioners, Umpires, Executive Committee and Umpire Staff.  This meeting will lay the groundwork of the upcoming softball season.


At this meeting, we will be launching a series of Task Forces.  The small focus groups will help the State Office come up with ideas and action plans to help grow the sport at both the local level and throughout the state. 

The Case for Task Forces

The sport of softball has been at a steady decline nation-wide for the last 8 - 10 years.  While specific areas, such as girls Junior Olympic has seen growth, many local Parks and Recreation Departments, Complexes and Tournaments have not been as lucky. ASA has developed Task Forces at a National Level and have seen immense success in connecting the National office to local associations.
Michigan ASA has not been immune to this decline, having seen a small percentage of team, player and umpire loss for the past few years.  This affects the bottom line for everyone involved; whether it it financial, in public perception, or actual game play.  Out State Umpire Staff is a perfect example of a small group working together for the greater good.
By creating small group Task Forces made up of players, umpires, league directors, commissioners, and softball enthusiasts, we are able to focus on specific issues of the big picture, attack problem areas and develop some best practices.  By keeping the groups relatively small and selective, we can leverage contacts throughout the state that we might not otherwise have access to.
Each group will be chaired by a member of the Executive Committee or a commissioner, meet once or twice per year (or more as needed) and report to the State Office with their progress.


The Initial Task Forces

After some great discussion, these are the first Task Forces that will be created.  Some may have a longer life cycle than others, but it these were identified as areas of the sport both locally and state wide that needed the most attention out of the gate.
Local League Development

Issue: Local leagues are our bread and butter and the biggest revenue generation that we have as an association.  We have lost nearly 300 teams since 2009 and continue to lose local leagues from affiliating.

Goal: This group would ideally work to develop a plan of action to become a liaison to the local leagues.  Focusing on how to work with leagues to make their program and formats better and more inclusive.


Marketing, Sponsorship and Communications

Issue: Declining revenue, new methods of communication with all levels of our association and the new re-branding process will be an issue moving forward.

Goal: This is more of an opportunity we should not pass up.  This group would assist the State Office in locating and securing sponsorships for both events and the web site.  Develop a communications plan that incorporates new technologies. And develop a rebranding plan to help sell the USA Softball namesake to local leagues without a loss of identity.


Men’s Fast & Modified Pitch

Issue: These two games have suffered more than any other in our association.  Declining numbers at State Tournaments, and local leagues folding are spelling the slow death of these games.

Goal: This group would work to identify methods to help build the game at a local level (involving youth as well) and new formats for tournaments, with the possibility of creating a Tournament Series.


Women’s & Coed Slow Pitch

Issue: Both Women’s and Coed State Tournaments have suffered with participation numbers.  While Coed registration numbers make up the great majority of our team numbers, the Women’s game is suffering.

Goal: This group would help to identify ways to help the Women’s Game, and methods to increase participation at State tournaments for both divisions.


Junior Olympic

Issue: Our State Tournament for JO is top notch, however our team numbers pale in comparison to those associations and states in our region.

Goal: This group would help promote the JO program to local leagues.


Tournament Standards and Planning

Issue: Our Tournament numbers have been steady for the past 5-7 years, and we have success in the Power Series.  However there isn’t any real standards when it comes from one tournament to the next.  Each local that offers a tournament provides a different registration process, look and feel of the tournament organization.

Goal: This group would ideally begin to identify and implement a series of standards for each tournament so teams have similar experiences from tournament to tournament.  This group should also work with the Marketing task Force to identify and recruit tournament venues for all divisions of play.

Tag(s): Welcome  Youth  Slow Pitch  Fast Pitch  Modified  Umpires  Hall of Fame