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ACBL Restricting Junior Coupons

Although I am now retired from any official administrative position, I remain concerned about the direction the ACBL is taking and in particular, the importance of promoting and nurturing the game among younger players.

There are three motions pertaining to junior players on the agenda for next month's ACBL Board meeting in Memphis. Here is the first:

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Item 121-61: Junior Coupons
Moved that:
Junior coupons will be made available for junior members in good standing for entry into events at NABCs.
Any junior under the age of 26 years who has less than 500 masterpoints and is a full time student (must provide proof of eligibility) will be entitled to coupons that can be used for any event. These coupons will be 50% of the NABC Regional entry fee.
Any junior under the age of 21 years who has less than 500 masterpoints will be entitled to coupons that can be used for any event. These coupons will be 50% of the NABC Regional entry fee.
Junior coupons will be available for any junior under the age of 16 for free entry in Intermediate/Newcomer games with a masterpoint limit of 300
.
Items 942-70-B, 021-230, 41-151, 042-151, 073-150 and 073-151 are hereby rescinded.
Effective July 1, 2012
Estimated cost/savings: Approximately $10,000 savings/year

Discussion:

The makers of the motion want to encourage participation by young people in NABC tournaments and strongly support giving newer young players a discounted entry fee. Costs for junior coupons have averaged approximately $23,000 per year for the last 5 years. It was felt that those with the least need for encouragement to play, i.e., experienced players and some professional players, accounted for the greatest usage of the coupons.

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The current policy in effect for all ACBL members in good standing is:

A) If you are 15 years old or younger (under 16), you play for free. It does not apply to Platinum point NABC events. Generally speaking, children play for free.

B) If you are 20 years old or younger (under 21), you are entitled to use Junior Coupons for every session you play. They have set value of $10. In effect, you receive a $10 entry fee discount for every session of bridge played at an NABC.

C) If you are 25 years old or younger (under 26), and a FULL-TIME STUDENT, you are entitled to use Junior Coupons. Same conditions as in B).

The above policy pertaining to junior coupons was an excellent compromise worked out while I served on the ACBL Board of Directors. They would all be rescinded if the new motion is approved in Memphis. 

The proposed policy is much more restrictive, slightly reducing the value of the current junior coupons, LIMITING them to players who have less than 500 masterpoints, and eliminating the free plays for children (with one exception) under 16.

The savings to the ACBL are estimated to be $10,000 per year, or ballpark $3,300 per NABC. It should be noted that given a 10,000-table NABC, the ACBL collects more than $700,000 in entry fees. Larger NABCs may gross $1 Million or more in revenue. Yet the makers of the proposed motion want to "save" $3,300 per NABC by making Junior coupons more restrictive!

What an awful message to be sending to the too-few young players currently playing bridge and attending NABCs. The savings per NABC would be less than the cost of one ACBL President's dinner! 

This is not the direction I believe the ACBL should be taking. But the new, significantly more restrictive Junior Coupon policy may well be in effect for the Philadelphia NABC this summer UNLESS enough people take a few moments of their time to write to the ACBL Board of Directors expressing their opposition to Item 121-61: Junior Coupons. 

If you share my concern, please take a moment to express your views. Since I am no longer a member of the ACBL Board of Directors, it is critical for you to send your comments directly to the ACBL Board of Directors.

Thank you for taking the time to read this message. In future posts, I will inform you about the other two Junior motions on the ACBL agenda for Memphis.

 

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