From: PAASL BOD
To: All PAASL Players
Starting January, 2018 with Evening Session #50 and Sunday Spring 2018, PAASL will be instituting some changes. Although these changes may seem burdensome during a transition period, they are meant to develop a more enjoyable soccer playing experience, reset our league organization and culture, and position PAASL for continued long term operation. The Board would like to thank all our players who have responded to our online player surveys, as these changes are driven by the survey data. The following is a summary of the changes, with more detailed explanations to follow.
Playing Surfaces Update
- More turf field use on Sundays results in higher field rental costs
- Players prefer turf fields, but are not ready to completely eliminate grass.
- Go to "rainy season" schedule in November's compressed game times resulting in need for increased pre-game organization and prompt game starts.
- PAASL is switching to a new pool of USSF certified referees in January 2018.
- All games will have three referees, as required by USSF, increasing both referee personnel needs and expenditures
- New referees will not be accustomed to PAASL's unique rules and team setup. Please be understanding and adaptable.
- Players should continue to keep the Board informed on referee performance.
- PAASL has a new Player Conduct Policy in response to elevated player dissent.
- Please respect ALL referee decisions and get on with the game.
- No pass, No play, No exceptions - make sure you bring your player pass. No verbal approval by coordinator and/or PAASL Board member.
- Digital pass tools are available ONLY as a backup.
- Please arrive early to organize and expedite the check-in process.
Photo upload into your PAASL profile: this will be required for registration.
- Team coordinators are volunteers. PAASL thanks you for your support.
- The new check-in process requires new responsibilities of team coordinators.
- 50% of team coordinator playing fees will be refunded after the second week of the session subject to a performance review by the division commissioner.
- PAASL is investigating joining CSAN, the local USSF affiliate, for access to a larger referee pool, better insurance benefits, and streamlined registration.
- May result in additional registration cost and effort for players.
- Fees will increase to $175 PA resident / $185 non-PA resident.
- The fee per game does NOT change ($135/13 weeks = $175/17 weeks).
PAASL has substantially increased its use of the Palo Alto turf fields (Mayfield and El Camino Park) over the last year to reduce rain-out game cancellations. Our pickup games are almost exclusively on turf fields now. Starting November, we will be transitioning to our "rainy season" schedule, which puts as many Sunday games on turf fields as possible. The unfortunate trade-off is increased field rental costs, slightly compressed game times, and the ever pressing need to start and end games promptly requiring more pre-game organization. However, player survey data indicates these trade-offs are desirable to play more games. From April through the end of October, since a healthy contingent of players still prefer grass to hot turf surfaces, PAASL will return to regular game times and include grass fields back in our playing schedule.
The City of Palo Alto has committed to a multi-year project of improving the grass playing surfaces in Palo Alto. PAASL, as a community partner, will continue to work with the City on this project with regards to planning and financial assistance. Rest assured that we will remain fiscally conservative with our grass field maintenance and improvement investments to keep your playing fees reasonable.
Over the years, PAASL has actively strived to improve the level of officiating at PAASL matches. We created the referee feedback form, transitioned to a three-man referee system in both Sunday and Evening Men's A leagues, conducted extensive dialogue with our referee provider, and carried active dialogue with the referees themselves.Â
Effective January 2018, PAASL will be using a new group of USSF certified referees in an effort to improve game play quality. All games in Men's A, Men's B, and Women's divisions will utilize three referees, as required by the USSF, unfortunately increasing PAASL's annual expenses. You may still see some familiar referee faces, but will likely encounter many new ones who are accustomed to the more organized and formal nature of other Bay Area leagues. This transition may result in a significant cultural reset of PAASL. However, PAASL anticipates our new referees will help improve the player experience. We ask for the understanding and cooperation of our players during this change. Please continue using the referee feedback form and communicate with Board members regarding the performance of PAASL's referees to help not only our new referees, but also our league culture.
Over the last few years, the Board has continued to observe elevating levels of player dissent with referees. To combat this problem, our new referees will seek to maintain their authority by utilization of yellow and red cards, rather than confrontational words. In addition, PAASL has adopted a more thorough and detailed Player Conduct Policy, which is available for review on our website, and requires acceptance to register for any session. The principal uses of this Conduct Policy will be to eliminate dangerous, overly physical play, poor sportsmanship, and player dissent. The Board asks that all players respect all opponents, teammates, and referees, including respect for referees' decisions and calls whether wrong or right. Please remember that PAASL does not keep scores or standings. A high quality, safe, and enjoyable soccer playing experience should be the desired end result.
Over the years, the player check-in process has become very relaxed, often culminating with a referee asking players to pile their player passes on the ground or perhaps not even collecting player passes. It has also become common practice that any player without a pass can have a Board member "vouch" for their valid registration. As we will be involving new referees who are foreign to PAASL's setup, PAASL must reposition our player check-in procedures to align with check-in procedures commonly used by other leagues throughout the nation. Similar to other local youth and adult leagues, PAASL will adopt a "NO PASS, NO PLAY, NO EXCEPTIONS" rule. All players must have a valid PAASL player pass complete with session sticker approved for play by a match referee to play in any PAASL game, including as a ringer. Please do not lose or forget your player pass. If you need a player pass for any reason, please contact your team coordinator or appropriate Division Commissioner to have a new pass made, subject to a two week turnaround time. Online player pass backup tools will be available, but should not be relied on as they can delay the check-in process. Please consider arriving earlier for your scheduled game to help organize and expedite the check-in process.
To support PAASL's new digital pass backup tools and help our Division Commissioners create your passes in a more timely manner, all players must upload their passport-like headshot photo prior to any future session registrations. This is a one-time occurrence. Please login to your profile through the PAASL website to upload your photo. Any photo submissions which are deemed invalid due to improper cropping, poor resolution, or invalid subject material will delay the creation of your pass, which you must have to play. PAASL will not provide refunds for missed games due to poor photos. The standard turnaround time upon request of a new pass is up to 10 days.
PAASL has always been an organization built upon and run by volunteers. To facilitate pre-game check-in with our referees, PAASL will be asking for additional responsibilities from our volunteer team coordinators. Team coordinator responsibilities are the following:
1) Manage your team's game ball and make sure it does not get lost.
2) Promptly communicate with your team's players and Division Commissioners.
3) Pass out session stickers, new player passes, and uniform shirts at the beginning of each playing session.
4) For Sunday leagues, the first and last teams playing that day are responsible for setting up the goals and making sure they are locked back up in the appropriate locations.
5) Be a representative of PAASL and help regulate overly physical play, substitutions when necessary, and respect for the referees.
6) NEW* Show up 15 minutes early to facilitate player check-in.
7) NEW* Bring a printed paper copy of your team roster to each game for the referee.
8) NEW* If you will be late or unable to attend any of your team's games, organize a backup team coordinator or someone who will be able to arrive early and bring a copy of the team roster for the referee.
Given the additional responsibilities being placed on team coordinators, PAASL will refund 50% of all team coordinator session playing fees after the second week of the season. This refund is subject to a review of the team coordinator's performance and approval by the appropriate Division Commissioner.
PAASL is working towards joining California Soccer Association - North (CSAN), the USSF affiliate for adult leagues in the area. Although this may result in additional registration cost and effort on behalf of our players in the short term, PAASL believes this will drive long term benefits for our league and ultimately for our players. The immediate benefits of joining CSAN is that we will have greater access to our referees from PenSRA. Also, CSAN will be able to provide additional insurance benefits for our players, including gap medical coverage. Over the long term, joining CSAN will align PAASL's registration processes with other leagues in the area and help streamline these processes for better communication with players and continued longevity of our league. As most of PAASL's decision making and direction is shaped by our players and their opinions, PAASL will continue to update our players as related developments occur.
In order to facilitate joining CSAN, PAASL will be converting our Evening league from a 13 week session to a 17 week session. This will align our Evening and Sunday session start dates and reduce the inconvenience of annual CSAN registration required of our players. Due to the session extension, the session fees will increase to $175 for Palo Alto residents and $185 for non-Palo Alto residents. Please note this does NOT increase the fee per week from what it currently is ($135/13 weeks = $175/17 weeks).
Over the years, PAASL has become increasingly relaxed with regards to enforcement of its procedures. Starting play in 2018, PAASL hopes to elevate the quality of our league and improve the overall experience by re-formalizing our check-in process, upgrading the duties of our team coordinators, affiliating with CSAN, upgrading our Player Conduct Policy, and changing our referee pool. We also hope this will position PAASL operating longevity by aligning our league with local and national standards. Although seemingly burdensome and confusing, the Board asks for the understanding and support of all our players during a short transition period. We expect these changes will provide a higher quality soccer playing experience. As always, keep responding to our online surveys as these data shape the direction of PAASL. Thank you for "Playing PAASL" and we look forward to seeing you all on the pitch.
PAASL Board of Directors