Have too many people that want to play on sports team, how to manage?
April 27, 2011 10:24 AM   Subscribe

I started a sports team at work and now we have more people who want to play than we have spots on the team. How would you diplomatically handle this?

I started a basketball team, with only 10 spots on the roster, to play in a city league.

First season was fine, only 10 people wanted to play, but now that word has spread, we have more that want to join.

It's a work sponsored team, so no one pays for anything. It mostly consists of mid management and up, with 2 line workers also on the team. We're a mixed bag of skills - some college level, some have never played.

I need a diplomatic way to handle the additional people that want to play. I can't say it's managers only, that's just kind of rude.

Ideas so far:
1) Have people pay on their own...may or not weed out people. And then everyone expects equal playing time - hard to manage.

2) Have a queue - but then it could be years before a spot opens up. And what if an employee on the team has pressure because their manager is next in the queue and wants to play?

3) We also go at lunch once during the week. Line workers can't make this, only managers can due to working hours. I could make that Wednesday attendance a requirement - but that would be unfair.

4) Split into two teams: Company won't pay for two teams.

Please help me out here!
posted by MeatFilter to Work & Money (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Create two teams, split the money the company provides across the two teams and have everyone pay a share of the outstanding balance. Everyone gets to play.
posted by axismundi at 10:29 AM on April 27, 2011 [11 favorites]

Do it by lottery. If they miss x practices, they lose their spot and it goes to the next in line.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:29 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

How about splitting into two teams, and hold tryouts for the team where the company pays? The second team pays its own way. Each season you do new tryouts, so as people get better they have the potential of moving up to the 'free' team.
posted by chiefthe at 10:30 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

1. Is it possible to have a "second string" of players who would fill in when someone is sick or has another commitment? They could still attend practices and attend games out of uniform as supporters, join in drinks or whatever you do after the game.

2. Why not have tryouts and pick the team based on ability?
posted by cilantro at 10:31 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, definitely do whatever you can to avoid managers having preference for places on the team, that would be terrible for morale. If you do end up having two teams, consider having the managers (who are, I assume, on much higher salaries than the line employees) pay to subsidize the line workers.
posted by cilantro at 10:34 AM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Having participated in my department's softball league a few years ago, I can attest that even with sufficient people signed up there were frequently games where an insufficient number of people actually showed up to the game. Even with beer involved. Don't think that a pool of 20 will always have availabilty. Just schedule 10 to show up per game, and if they can't - let them find an alternate among the extra.

If you are all gung ho about winning - tryouts determine slot and you would need to manage replacements.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:35 AM on April 27, 2011

Response by poster: "Two Teams"

I think a lot of people would want to be on the CEO's team to get closer to upper management - drinks after game, etc. I foresee that being an issue...any ideas for that one? Lottery for the two teams? What if I end up with only 6 on each team, that's not enough :-/

"Try outs"

I can't cut higher ups...that would be REALLY detrimental to me...
posted by MeatFilter at 10:37 AM on April 27, 2011

Response by poster: I don't know how to quote yet on MetaFilter..so....

Nanukthedog: I'd love to do this, but the league only allows 10 on the roster and you can't change mid season...I've tried bribing them to allow more, but they won't do it.
posted by MeatFilter at 10:38 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

First of all, it would probably be great to have a couple spare players . That is, if there are more than ten but still less than 13-14, you might consider just having one team.

If there are considerably more people, then two teams would obviously make more people happy. I'm not sure it would be appropriate to separate the teams with skill based tryouts. It depends on the nature of the league. Is it a big league with different divisions for different skill levels? Then hold tryouts. Otherwise, old players in old team; new players in new team.
posted by stuart_s at 10:42 AM on April 27, 2011

Okay, so you can't have more than 10 on the roster, per league rules. Tryouts seem like a disaster waiting to happen (I'm with you: cutting upper management would really suck for you...you can't expect adults to always act like adults). Your company only pays for one team, so two teams is out.

I think the best way to handle this is to have an application period. Whomever wants to play puts his or her name in the hat (or use a random generator). Then you draw from the hat. You make the team list public, tell people they have X amount of days to commit or pull-out of the team, with you drawing additional names as necessary. Make it totally transparent by making sure at least two other people witness your drawings; you don't want anyone accusing you of cheating. Once you've got your 10, you're done!
posted by cooker girl at 10:45 AM on April 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

I don't know how to quote yet on MetaFilter..so....

It's manual. Copy the words, paste em in the box, put italics around them.

As far as the team, I'd just straight out do lines. If it's a couple year wait, oh well. Only those truly interested will stick with it.
posted by cashman at 10:46 AM on April 27, 2011

In that case...

Only one team unless you know for sure that at least 16(? as many as you think are really required) people are committed. If there are too many people for one team, but not enough for two teams, there's really nothing that you can do about it.

Form the teams based on seniority. Team seniority, not company seniority. Everyone wants to play with the CEO, but not everyone can play with the CEO.

I think the distilled essence of the answer to this question is that you're probably going to have to say no to some people.
posted by stuart_s at 10:50 AM on April 27, 2011

Best answer: Yeah, I think you will just have to do a waiting list. "No room right now, but I'll let you know as soon as a spot opens up." That's how I've handled every team I've ever managed, though admittedly there were no work politics involved. If that truly won't work, second best would be a lottery each season, but I personally would probably hate being on a sports team that changed rosters dramatically every season (or that I had no guarantee of getting back on each season). Cohesion is usually really important for team sports.
posted by JenMarie at 10:51 AM on April 27, 2011

Do you guys have any sort of practice? If so, the people who show up to practice get to play on the team that week.
posted by astapasta24 at 11:42 AM on April 27, 2011

Response by poster: Do you guys have any sort of practice? If so, the people who show up to practice get to play on the team that week.

Unfortunately we don't run an official practice, because not all employees can make it during our lunch play.

It seems like the sign up list is the best way to go for morale and team cohesion and the most fair to those waiting. Thanks for the feedback from everyone!

Also, I wish I could mark more than one as a best answer...
posted by MeatFilter at 11:50 AM on April 27, 2011

Also, I wish I could mark more than one as a best answer...

You can, though if you mark everything as best answer it somewhat dims the usefulness of the feature.
posted by Jahaza at 11:56 AM on April 27, 2011

Also, I wish I could mark more than one as a best answer...

You can mark as many as you want as best.
posted by COD at 11:58 AM on April 27, 2011

With regard to the waiting list, I don't know how beneficial it would be for you to require a timestamp, or some marker to indicate who really did enter their name first. Maybe leave the waiting list open to view so that everyone can see how many people are on it and where their names are, for some kind of transparency.

I say I don't know because it depends on your office politics and whether or not people will exert some kind of "influence" over you to get Person A in front of Person B, particularly since you've implied that there might be employee-manager pressures. I used to manage a work schedule for part-time and full-time salespeople in retail, and had to account for time off. Some folk stooped to pretty devious tactics in order to get their last-minute vacation requests at higher priority than someone who submitted theirs weeks in advance.

For this 10-man roster limit, does that mean if someone is injured or unable to attend, you'd have to play the game or finish the rest of the season with 9? Or is it a case where you can only "dress" 10, but can have more people on the team ready to come in and substitute?
posted by CancerMan at 12:23 PM on April 27, 2011

In the worst-case scenario of your situation (which it sounds like you're not too far from), where people are using the team as a way to politick their way up in the company, and managers are pressuring employees not to play so they can get face time with the CEO, and maybe people aren't playing as hard as they could for fear of showing up the boss... I'd walk the hell away. Your job title isn't City League Basketball Team Coordinator, right? You provide some other service to the company that fills up your time? Then screw it. It's not worth the hassle.
posted by Etrigan at 1:23 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Unless it is a cold, hard, professional level of competition, first in first out is the only fair way. Top ten based on seniority, waiting list for numbers 11 through infinty.
posted by dirtdirt at 5:06 PM on April 27, 2011

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