Idea to Expand Participation

shafeeq
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Re: Idea to Expand Participation

Postby shafeeq » Fri Apr 29, 2016 8:33 pm

Are you suggesting we reduce the number of freeroll practices to even the playing field? That would be, in theory, lowering the level of the top competition down closer to the bottom feeders. Teams which are too small and miss a day shouldn't be pandered to, they should be encouraged to get more members involved so they don't miss days.


I think there's diminishing returns from freeroll practice - to a point there's a clear improvement in safety, past that a clear improvement in driving quality, but beyond that the top drivers are getting little out of each additional day. The top teams are clever enough to adapt to reduced practice days by getting the more out of each day they do get, so will end up where they are now. That may take more preparation than now, but that's effort that happens at a more civilized time than 7am. There's a monetary cost to every practice (paid by sweepstakes) and a time cost in chores (paid by every team) and a time cost (paid by every team that practices). The time cost of freerolls takes away time that could be used building/improving a buggy or figuring out wheels, and the money freed up from the sweepstakes budget to support Greek & new teams, or to hire flaggers to man the barricades, so that all teams can have all their people practice rather than lose some to standing around freezing.

In my time, it was unthinkable to skip spring break, but that's now become standard. The top drivers looked about the same 2 weeks before the race as they did during this year's race. But pushers may be a different story, though, since push practice is not a complete replacement. Fewer practices puts more pressure on teams to make sure their buggy doesn't malfunction, but also gives them more time to get it right before it hits the course. Of course procrastinators will still be able to screw themselves.

Closing Tech and/or Frew for a couple of midday push practices a semester is an interesting idea - CMU would be the only thing affected by such a closure. I'd gladly trade a weekend of freeroll permits to have a uphill-only race during Homecoming.

DTD is moderately large (not SigEp or PhiDelt large though), however they've refused to participate in Buggy since Delta Force in 2011-2012. Maybe sometime soon there will be enough interest among the members though, especially since they've moved onto the Greek Quad.

Sigma Chi is also moving onto the Greek Quad next year (replacing KapSig), so maybe there's hope there too.


Do you know what's behind DTD's refusal? The impossibility of competing? Too much of a time & money pit for the reward?
IIRC KapSig built a pretty decent buggy, then vanished, so that's sad. Pusher restrictions absolutely have to go for it to make any sense for a sorority. 80 women and their friends is a huge bump in the audience, even if there's only a handful of buggy-serious sisters.

In the present environment, there's zero chance of a new buggy independent, and the university is even more stacked against "5 friends who want to compete from scratch." So our only hope for expansion is for more Greeks to be seduced by the siren song of buggy. It's an easy sell when every other house is doing it, but now that buggy is a thing most Greeks don't do, what do we have to offer them? The issues are noted year after year, but I think it is now time to collectively do something about them. Maybe PiKA & SigEp just had off years, just like SDC did last year, and will be back in force next year but I'm afraid of where this trend leads.

I'd hoped that when GoDaddy signed on as a sponsor, they'd send Danica Patrick (who is driver-sized).

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Elmo Zoneball
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Re: Idea to Expand Participation

Postby Elmo Zoneball » Fri Apr 29, 2016 9:28 pm

Pope on a Rope wrote:
Anyway, one idea is fewer but longer practices. This goes along with making buggy easier without changing the nature of the beast.


An interesting idea. Somewhat a double edged sword.

Historically, IIRC, FR used to be Sunday AM only, except perhaps the weekend before Sweepstakes, when they'd go both days. I think it was increased to both days on weekends for two reasons: the first being if one day is rained out, there was still a chance the other day would allow some rolls to get in. The second reason was because of the increasing number of teams needing to practice; they couldn't get the rolls in if they just rolled on day a week. The proliferation of female teams further increased the demand for FR slots if they were doing the hills.

If Sweepstakes were to return to fewer FRs, the consequence would more teams attempting to qualify over fewer days, and many teams getting far fewer rolls than the get currently. I think there could well be chaos as a result.

It might be different if you could extend FR past 9AM , but I doubt the City will like that, as the traffic builds up through the park quickly after 9AM on weekends.

A related issue: teams could get far more rolls, and might be able to cancel late fall FRs, if the FR process were streamlined and optimized to funnel as many buggies down the course as quickly as possible. It would require all the teams to be much more organized, and probably would also require all chairman have radios tuned to a common channel controlled by the Sweepstakes Chairman, to better coordinate the FR process. Even if they do nothing else, it might be worth alumni organizing a protocol for how to efficiently conduct FR, and hand it off, so that each successive Sweepstakes Chairman does not need to reinvent the wheel (no pun intended.)
"I love the smell of solvents in the morning -- they smell like... victory."

cmhayes
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Re: Idea to Expand Participation

Postby cmhayes » Sat Apr 30, 2016 8:28 am

DTD was planning to roll at the beginning of this year, but the student spearheading the issue was "too busy with other projects" and the other two guys helping him really had no drive or desire to start a team. They were talking to Fringe about renting Insite. Out of a house of 60+ they had 3 people who wanted to get involved and the one who would have made it happen (Like Alex Russell for Phi Delt (shout out to his hard work)) bailed.
We as the BAA have money stashed away, and the alumni who built buggies don't want their babies being loaned out. Lets get a buggy built that we can drop on the frats doorstep, show them how to use it and say come out and try rolls this weekend and see what you guys think. If they hate it and never come back, well we tried. If it works we may have a new team! And we can help them build their first buggy with tips tricks and notes like the Alums helped Apex (that you guys again for that) if they hit that point. I'm in New York but I'll happily build the shell in my garage (much to the chagrin of my landlords) if the BAA funded me to do it.

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Re: Idea to Expand Participation

Postby Pope on a Rope » Sun May 01, 2016 1:01 pm

Competition issues aside, Making buggy easier to do, without changing the nature of buggy is a goodly goal.

To that end, there are a bunch of ideas.

Fewer but longer practices. Yes, go past 9 am. This will take cmu using some political clout. Get rid of the ones in late fall and early spring (which are typically the coldest ones and the ones mostly likely to have weather issues). This also gives the drivers a chance to practice in lighting conditions more like what they will see on raceday.

Get rid of the notion of the follow car. A designated recovery vehicle (with a driver who knows what is up) can be dispatched from the top of the hill with a mechanic and tools and get to the chute within under a minute of when the current follow car could arrive. No only does this speed up rolls, it gets rid of one of the biggest risks related to free rolls: follow cars. Cars and buggies clearly do not mix. They are not needed to teach new drovers as each org has access to hours of roll footage from their garmins or go-pros to show new drivers (or could borrow some). Less obvious but equally important is that follow car drivers have been known to do stupid things (like having passengers hang out of open doors or taking the chute turn too fast) so getting rid of them would also improve safety. This also frees up a follow car driver for every org. So, the flow would be. Get the buggies ready to roll. Have the same mechanics that would jump in the follow car, jump into the recovery vehicle. When the buggies are past the driveway, they get back out. If the buggy does not get past the driveway, they take a drive. There may be more than one bunch in the car when that happens. More often than not, they would end up with more wrenching time and less, driving around the course time.

Get rid of the idea of a pass "test. The current pass test does very little to prep the driver for a real world pass. It seems like a pointless waste of time that invites all sorts of chaos as "lazy" orgs use this as a means to get additional rolls late in the game. The lack of roll order above, should generate plenty of passing opportunities in a natural way.

And insert this rule. If you are not qualified before truck weekend, you are not allowed to roll truck weekend (or in the race). harsh but if you know it is coming, less so. The good is that it allows the roll order during truck weekend to be snappy and reliable which is important for the leading orgs to get their truck mojo optimized. It also gets rid of new buggies that show up late which is probably a good thing. It also encourages all orgs to get out there earlier. If that happens and then they find that they have truck weekend for extra practice, they might get better which might in turn lead to more participation.

shafeeq
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Re: Idea to Expand Participation

Postby shafeeq » Tue May 03, 2016 10:46 pm

Agree on the follow cars - a freeroll takes about a minute, and we waste a minute between each team waiting for the follow car to clear the chute. The main loss is that a fast team has to judge how long to wait in order to make sure that they won't catch the previous team's slow buggy in front of them. And that bystanders no longer have a clear indication of "there will be no more buggies for a minute, so I can cross the road." That can easily be solved by running the car through once at the bottom of the roll order. Radio club will have a little harder time making sure that every buggy that left the top of the hill arrived at the bottom - that probably calls for racecar-style buggy numbers so they don't have to recognize each buggy by sight.

Phipps will fight later freeroll permits, but CMU is dead at 9am on a weekend. Other than exhaustion, why can't freerolls just turn into push practice at 9? Everyone's already there and set up, so may as well get more done while you're there.

Another issue that may affect participation is there's only one kind of penalty, and it is the most severe. You come up a couple rolls short of qualifying a new buggy, and you get nothing. You work all year and your mechanics are a few seconds late at the start of the race, and you get nothing. You miss the pushbar, you get nothing. Spin, and you get nothing. Which gets demotivating when you keep getting things 99% right and get screwed by the last 1%. It would be less crushing if minor violations resulted in time penalties rather than immediate disqualification - 5 second rule, transitioning a few inches out of the zone, incidental contact during the race, etc., result in 5 to 10 seconds added to your time. Enough that the penalty is bigger than any advantage gained, so never worth doing deliberately, but small enough that you could overcome a mistake. To win, you have to be both perfect and fast, but behind that, you can get by with only one or the other.

Things like loss of mass, drop tests and crashes are safety-related so you still have to get them right every time. The pushbar could go either way - you can get a large advantage from missing it, so the deterrent needs to be large, and it's been part of definition of the race "forever." Maybe the pushbar is a time penalty in prelims and a DQ in finals? If an A team qualifies with the added penalty, there's no need for an A-B swap. Which removes a competetive advantage that large teams have over small ones. Applying time penalties this year might have allowed Fringe B & Fish A into finals, where they could've trophied if they were mistake-free and made for closer final heats than the 11th and 12th fastest teams that took their place. On the one hand, those teams did everything right, but on the other hand, they didn't affect the final standings. An alternative would be to start Saturday with a "Wild Card" heat with the 10th place team and fastest (DQ'd or not) team left out of finals. The winner takes the 10th final spot.

Lets get a buggy built that we can drop on the frats doorstep, show them how to use it and say come out and try rolls this weekend and see what you guys think. If they hate it and never come back, well we tried.


This is something I just don't get - except for the driver, who has fun getting up for freerolls!? To me they were always work, but work that had a fun payoff. I do see the "this whole buggy thing isn't as hard as we thought " benefit of giving it a try.

What's the concern with loaning retired buggies - that they'll be destroyed in a crash? Or that clueless new teams will trash them through incompetence? I think both could be addressed with close cooperation between the borrowing & lending teams. Set up next to the lending team at rolls, work with their mechanics to do maintenance, and their drivers to help yours. Working alongside a competent team will transfer more operational knowledge to the borrowers than listening to alumni. So it starts out like the major/minor teams I first suggested, but gets progressively more separate as the borrower gains experience and the training wheels come off. Of course that does require the lending & borrowing teams to get along with each other.

Speaking of wheels ... 125mm inline wheels with decent compounds are now commonly available. For $25 a wheel, a low budget team could hang with frontrunners, at least until the turn - see Hydra vs Boson & Icarus. And clever mechanics may be able to improve on that. Though some of the hub designs may prove to be as unsuitable for buggy use as the plastic derby wheels were. And the tiny spindles required are another concern.


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