Regional Team Leagues and State Championships

By Larry Hodges/USATT League Chair & State Associations Coordinator | March 13, 2016, 12 a.m. (ET)

Regional Team Leagues and State Championships 

Dear Club Leaders,

How'd you like to run a Regional Team League? Or a State Championship? If there already are ones in your state, then you're all set! But if not, USATT needs your help in organizing them.

Here is a listing of Regional Team Leagues currently in operation – email me if I'm missing any.

Here's a listing of State Championships held in 2015 (with the assumption that most will have similar championships in 2016). So far 2016 State Championships (or State Games) have been sanctioned in AL, AR, AZ, CA, FL, IN, MN, MO, NY, OK, PA, VA, and WI. (I plan to run one in Maryland, tentatively June 25-26. Other states also have plans for ones that are not yet listed as sanctioned.)

Now let's assume you are one of those unfortunate states without a Regional Team League or a State Championship, but like all those who want to Make USATT Great Again (as some say we were during the hardbat era long ago), or just want to play in them, what can you do?

Why not organize them yourself? Or contact other club leaders, and work together to set them up? (I find that having multiple people working on a project like this often energizes all of them.)

Here is the USATT League Page, which includes a link to this League News Item (which explains the importance and benefits of leagues), and to the USATT League Prototype, which you can use as a starting model. (You don't have to be a member of USATT to play in such a league.)

Here is the USATT State Championships Page, which gives info on setting up a State Championship, with the goal of holding them in all 50 states this year. (Unlikely, but if we strive for it, we'll get more than if we don't.)

Why are leagues so important? It creates a different atmosphere than the "winner stay on" mentality so common in the U.S., fostering instead a "team" atmosphere, where you cheer for your team, and your team cheers for you. It's why European countries have table tennis memberships that dwarf USATT's, and why league-based sports have such large memberships.

To quote from the League page:

Those who study sports association memberships can help but notice a pattern: those with huge membership do so through team leagues. That's the reason why the German Table Tennis Association has 600,000 members, why the U.S. Tennis Association has 700,000 members, and why the U.S. Bowling Congress has over two million members. And the lack of such a league structure is the primary reason USA Table Tennis has only 9000 members."

But you don't play in a team league just so you can boost your association's membership; you do so because it's fun! You're pumped up because your teammates are cheering for you, you win and lose as a team, and when it's all done, you and your opponents go out for pizza.

Why are State Championships so important? Because they foster local news media, leading to publicity and growth in the sport. To quote from the USATT State Championships Page:

For most players, the State Championships should be one of the most important events of the year. Many can compete to become a State Champion, whether it be in men's or women's singles, a senior event, a junior event, hardbat or sandpaper, a rating event, or doubles. It gives them something to train and look forward to. It's also the time when players from all over the state get together for table tennis and fun, usually ending with everyone going out for dinner together.

We'd like to celebrate these champions by commemorating them on a USATT State Champions Page as well as on the USATT News page. We'd also like to have an annual Parade of Champions at the U.S. Nationals, where, between matches during the showcase events, we invite all the attending state champions to take a march around the playing arena as the crowd cheers.

We'd like to turn these State Championships into major events in the local media. To do this, the tournament director or publicity director would simply Google the local TV, radio, and newspaper listings to get contact emails. Then, the week before the tournament, send them press releases inviting them to cover the tournament. Afterwards send them a follow-up press release that they can use.

To set up a nationwide system of regional leagues and state championships we need your help, either in organizing them, or in talking to club leaders to do so. Now's the time to get busy!

Sincerely,

Larry Hodges

USATT League Chair, State Associations Coordinator, and member of USATT Board of Directors