Saturday, February 16, 2008

MetroRock Climbing League: Weeks 5 and 6 and Suggestions Going Forward

Well, after a couple of weeks without updates, Team MassClimbers learned it's fate today: solidly in fourth place but within spitting distance of third place. With a grand week in week six by us and a weak week by the third place team, we could have overcome them and finished one spot out of the money. Second was out of the question and, happily, fifth was also out reach.

But we know how its all going to finish. We're finishing in fourth because not all of our teammates got 100% of their climbs in this week. So a stellar week was not had. But that's OK, we're glad that its over and we can have fun for once.

A few critiques:
- Midgrades (a, b, c, and d) were not counted; so a 5.10d was worth the same as a 5.10a. This meant that I had to spend my past six weeks ensuring that I got my six 5.11s in. This also meant that I couldn't work on improving my leading in a grade that I was comfortable with. The next league, which I won't participate in because it happens in the spring when I'll be outside, will count these midgrades somehow. This will be, I believe, the single biggest improvement to the league.
- No idea what an acceptable score should be. This means that if I set my standards at getting 60 points each week, that meant I would rarely earn more than 60 points (because 5.11a/b is really my limit and 5.12 is too far out of reach). But if I had set my score to be 75 points then I would have called myself a 5.10 climber and climbed only three 5.11s each week just to get the bonus points. But I chose 60 points, not 75. Now, how many climbers like me also chose 60? That's the point. No one knew where they stood. I believe the next league will also take this into consideration. I guess it is just important to not give beneift to those folks who are at the cusp of a particular grade (i.e. - a 5.10c climber would get far more points than a 5.11a climber because that 5.10c climber would get a few 5.11s in, while the 5.11a would almost never expect to get a 5.12 in). By setting a standard, everyone would know where they stand and what to expect.
- The league supposedly ended on a Thursday when all other weeks leading up to the final week ended on a Sunday. This unfairly affected those people who went on vacation during one of the first five weeks, because they then had a short week to get all their climbs in. I'm not sure if this will be taken into consideration the next time around. I know this affected me because I have been counting on getting my hardest climbs done on Saturday when I have the most rest. I'm not sure if my Saturday's climbs will count (I think they will be because the staff has been very good at communicating that this league was a work-i- progress), but if they don't then I can say that it is my fault for not reading the rules properly.
- One other thought I had after my original post (this bullet is an addition to the first post): some folks thought the league was too long (I haven't decided if I'm one of them yet). I'm not sure if that is because everyone was trying to get at least the minimum and trying to get the same six climbs each week, thus making the experience stale at the end. It may be that adding the mid-grades to the scoring mix will help make it more interesting and less repetitive, but I also think more emphasis needs to be placed on regularly changing routes across the grade spectrum. This will keep folks from doing the same routes for all six weeks (two or three in a row is OK) and may make the league, thus, seem less long. But I say this thinking that the route setting probably needs to be even more proactive during the league than it normally is to alleviate this feeling of it being too long.

Some good things that I've heard:
- Obviously utilizing the midgrades is a great idea.
- Possibly increasing points for leads is a great idea, too, but I hope they don't give a lot of points for leading. Four points would seem reasonable. Not everyone can lead, and one wouldn't want to exclude those folks.
- Capping the total points anyone can earn in any given week. This is a great idea because it keeps people from deliberately moving themselves into a lower grade just to get the bonus points for climbing harder (even though they should be climbing hard to begin with). However, people are still going to manipulate the system so that they shoot for the max each week. My suggestion here is that anyone who earns the top score more than the average top-score earners gets bumped up to the next category automatically and retroactively. In other words, if someone gets the top score four times, and, on average, people in the league get the top score only two times, then that person who earned the top score more than twice gets penalized for "cheating". This is a good system because people won't know what the average is until the league ends. This would essentially eliminate the opportunities for those who are trying to "time the market," so to speak.
- Offer more than cash for the top two teams. If there's nothing to compete for, then there's nothing to compete for. I don't know what to do, but maybe offer the third and fourth place teams their money back. Just a suggestion off the top of my head. Probably not a particularly good one.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to getting back to my routine: working grades that I'm comfortable with so that I can go into the outdoor season with a level of confidence on specific grades. From this time forward, it's all about not getting hurt and getting ready for outside. Whereever I am grade-wise is whereever I am. Go climb a rock!

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