As I emerge from almost finishing my second cup of coffee and my clouded, hangover feeling brain sharpens after another night of choppy sleep due to baby refusing to understand how glorious sleep is, I've decided to write an article, my first in a long time. And yes, the lack of sleep is worth it when you have a baby. 100% worth it.
I read an article this morning that inspired me on E Pluribus Loonum, Should the NPSL North Expand? It was an interesting article, mentioning some of the reasons the division should consider adding a couple more teams to continue to grow it's presence and strength and coverage of the state.
However, having talked to several NPSL teams in similar situations, (strong conference, good presence, more potential markets) I can tell you, resistance to expanding is real.
Why would they resist that? you might ask. More teams means more games which is good for everyone, right?
Not always. Especially not when your season is only 10 weeks long.
Consider the aforementioned NPSL North. Currently they have 8 teams. That's 14 games over 10 weeks. Not great, not terrible, but anything more is really pushing it when it comes to player health and having room for reschedules if needed.
This is one of the key issues with the NPSL. A short season relying on college players limits your growth potential unless there is a strategic plan in place.
I believe I wrote about it once again but I cannot find the article, and it might have been a post on BigSoccer, actually, NPSL could have, and really should have, implemented promotion and relegation years ago. With the right plan in place, it could have been a reality, and their might not have been a need for UPSL to grow beyond southern California.
Here's how simple the plan could have been.
Every conference has a cap on it's number of teams. Only 6 teams per conference, so everyone is playing 10 league games across a 10 week season. Anyone else who wants in after that forms a second division that will also be capped at between 6 to 8 teams based on geography and population centers in the region to ensure limited travel.
Boom. There you have it. Of course, NPSL would also need to get rid of it's ridiculous and completely unwarranted $17,000+ expansion fee, but this really could have worked and you'd have something very special going on. In fact, if they wanted to the NPSL could still do this and even break up some of it's bigger existing conferences to get it going. In the North Atlantic, you'd already have a 5 team second division ready to go.
And of course, if this had been the plan from the start, we wouldn't have this weird world where we're just hoping that NPSL and UPSL merge to help the amateur game in the US survive.
Where there is no vision, the people perish.