It was cited that one team would have significant roster omissions due to prior commitments and they deemed that unfair to continue. At first impression the statement alone was kind of sketchy considering Bandits coach Mike Steuerwald said the Bandits would have played Monday, and I’m assuming he says that knowing the personnel situation he may have been facing. “Even with six players gone, we could have settled this on the field Monday”, Steuerwald told The Examiner in this great article Bandits Coach and Owner React . This tweet from Pride Head Coach Beth Torina echos the same thought as her Bandits’ counterpart. However after talking to NPF Commissioner Cheri Kempf, who took full responsibility and sole ownership for the decision, there seemed to be a miscommunication. “I just wish they would have been asked”, states Cheri. The miscue turned out to be pretty costly considering it seems the series may have been able to be completed had the right info been passed along. Cheri was under the impression the players were asked who couldn’t change their flight, and in reality after the cancellation in the locker rooms he found out the players were merely ask who had travel plans the next day, not who couldn’t modify them. From the reaction it seems the 6 players on the Bandits, including Wiggins and Abbott, could indeed make different arrangements if need be, but weren’t asked that by their organization before communicating with Kempf. I was told the Pride were all ready to play the following day.
In a league that is trying to develop respect and notoriety, the argument that it should or shouldn’t have been played. As Cheri pointed out to me, there would have been criticism either way. We obviously see the reaction from not playing, but lets assume they did play with an incomplete Bandits roster. Had the Pride took the series the league would still have taken grief for letting the Pride win over an incomplete Bandits roster. Cheri, knowing what she knew at the time, felt that was unfair to the Bandits.
Although we love it and it provides some of the most exciting nights and moments you can ask for, the NPF regular season essentially means nothing. These players play to win the championship, and all players were robbed of that opportunity this weekend and this year. They sacrifice so much in their personal life to go out and give us fans the absolute top quality product every weekend in a regular season that has no bearing on the playoffs. The title is the goal and the title games have to take place!
I could go on forever about how bad of a decision it was for the league to make this decision, but there’s always a silver lining to every situation. There’s no denying the NPF is in its beginnings, and every decision will affect the growth of the league. This situation will serve as a very important learning situation. Cheri mentioned to me that there will be a committee to address changes that need to be made for further post seasons. She also mentioned that she would have a conference call to all owners to discuss the situation in full, however the decision she made was final. She let me know that the playoffs are structured to award skill and not winning by default, and that there are no bylaws that allow for changes to be made. All of which will be addressed and changes will be made in the future during the league meetings. “Policies will be addressed in the offseason,” Cheri assures us, “but it’s built by the league not Cheri Kempf.”
One of my original goals in the article was to give the fans an opportunity to voice their opinion on the matter. After all the fans are what has given this league legs, and what will carry this league to its greatest heights right? I would have liked the NPF brass to consider the fans a bit more. This is the marquee event of the NPF, fans come from all over to see the championships. Money is spent on tickets, travel, hotels, food. We’ve all been on trips, its not cheap! Here’s a few examples of this very thing from the Chicago Bandits Facebook post…
As I was informed by Cheri the league did exercise a ticket refund policy set aside for cancellations on events that a rescheduling wasn’t done. Although it is just a small payback it shows the league does care about the fans. “I’m sorry to the fans because we are appreciative and grateful for our fans,” Cheri Kempf explains, “You never want to disappoint people, you don’t want to let fans down.” You can also find Cheri Kempf’s official statement here. Thanks to all of our Twitter followers who weighed in with their opinion…
This doesn’t look good on the league, the league has to know that. I don’t like the decision any more than anyone else but I do want to encourage the fans to continue to support this league. After talking with Cheri I have 100% faith that the best decision was made at the moment for the league. We all know that sometimes the best decisions are also some of the toughest. I believe that the front office will show that this can be used as a constructive event and lots of progress will comes as a result of this terrible ending. What can’t happen is the fans stop supporting your favorite teams and players, they are still going to be out there playing for you next June! They still deserve your support! This decision wasn’t a team or a player decision, if it were up to them the series probably would have been finished. I also know that Cheri Kempf and her staff love this league and sport more than anything, although it may not seem like it at the moment this league is in good hands! I do want to thank Cheri Kempf for responding to my request to speak with her. She got to me in a timely manner and didn’t avoid me or any tough questions.