After our last tournament, as the crew finished pulling the last of the mats from the truck and into the dojo, the clock read past 9pm.  Some of us arrived at the venue at 6am.  Makes for a long, hectic day.  I joked that my family didn’t want to see me this weekend anyhow, and we began a [long overdue] conversation on why the tournament ran so late and what we could do about it.  Before everybody said goodbye and headed home, the bracket manager and tournament director agreed to revisit the issue.  After a couple weeks of brain storming, we agreed to do some research and publish this blog entry hoping to highlight some things that we all can do to minimize delays.

After doing a lot of research and data crunching, we came to the conclusion that the primary reason the tournament is delayed is due to so many last minute changes (particularly in the matchmaking, but that’s not the only area).  Some of the reasons include:

  1. People (contestants and/or staff) not arriving in a timely manner
  2. Too many things to do (too few hands) before opening the venue
  3. Contestants registering and not showing up
  4. Contestants not registering online and showing up requesting to be added
  5. Contestants registering at a particular weight and showing up overweight
  6. Contestants showing up, unable to (or deciding not to) compete

According to the bracket manager, having to make a change for a contestant (whether adding, removing, changing) typically delays about 3-5 minutes.  While this doesn’t sound like much of an effort, the data from the last 2 years (8 events) shows 10-12% of contestants require such a change.  When you have 600 contestants, needing to spend 3 minutes (minimally) each to change 60 of them results in a 3 hour delay.

What can WE do to help ourselves?

While identifying certain schedule issues, there were certain practices that, in hindsight, were just not in our best interests (Ex: Don’t tell a staff member “be there at 8”, if the expectation is that you need them to start working at 8).

The other thing we can do is just not allow changes the day of the event.  That would address the lion’s share of the delay.  If someone’s late, overweight, didn’t register, they won’t be permitted to compete.  If you have only one opponent and they don’t show up, it’s a forfeit.  The problem with this approach is that the purpose of the event is to provide matches (experience) to develop BJJ in the bay area (which is why we do these changes to begin with).  It’s also a punishment for their opponents, who may have traveled a long distance to find they have no match!

In the end, what we decided was best for now, is to automate a system to remind people of the division they have registered for, as well as to inform them of our procedures (what to expect).  If this can work, we can drastically reduce the number of changes (read: delays) and hopefully limit the need to disqualify people, leaving people without the matches (experience) they wanted.

What can YOU do to help us?

Well, firstly, just reading this and understanding that a few minutes of your time can drastically affect the running of our event is a huge plus, so thanks!  In addition, we’ve put together a short list of things that can help both you and us:

  • Please make sure to register online if you want to compete.
  • When you receive an email from us, please check it. Notify us if:
    • You need to change your weight (please check your weight (or your child’s weight). We always give a pound or two to cover the difference in scales, but more than that, you need to change)
    • You need to change your division (whether it was registered incorrectly, you’ve been promoted, or any other reason)
    • You can no longer attend (for any reason). If you notify us a couple days before, we can give you credit for next event
    • You’ve changed academies (computer tries to keep contestants from same academy from meeting in early rounds)
  • Please check the schedule on the website and plan to check in on time. There may be lines (especially early in the morning).
  • Please let us know questions and/or concerns early. Being able to address something early is a huge help.
  • If you have suggestions or ideas, please let us know. We want to provide a quality event, and we learn with each one!

Thank you all for your help and constant patronage!


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