Yesterday the NAH announced their proposed changes for the 2014 qualifying season, and man are some huge things coming from it! To get the whole story head to the NAH website HERE, but for a quick one-two summary, along with my own rants, continue to read our article.
There are only three changes proposed for next year: two major changes and then one change comes as a result of the major change. First, after numerous complaints about last years change, the NAH wants to go back to an open qualifier system. This allows players/teams to compete in any region that they want, but in-region teams get two weeks to sign up for the qualifier before out-of-region teams get a stab at it. One thing from 2012 that they didn’t bring back was the lack of restriction on the number of qualifiers that you could play. In 2012 I traveled to three different qualifiers, mostly because it was an excuse to play real competitive play in other parts of the country, but in 2014, as it was in 2013, you are only allowed to play in one qualifier.
The other big change was the addition of new regions. The Midwest is now split into the Upper Midwest and the Lower Midwest. Along with the split, Kansas and Tennessee join the Lower Midwest and Michigan joins the Upper Midwest. To make room for these additions, the Midwest regions drop Manitoba and the Dakotas. These provinces/states join up with Wyoming, Montana, Alberta and Saskatchewan to form the Prairies/Great Plains region. The other new region is formed out of America’s beard. The country of Mexico gains their own region so that they don’t have to attempt to travel to the USA to qualify for North Americans. Other minor changes to note, would be the addition of New Mexico to South Central, upstate New York and Vermont to the Eastside, and Mississippi to the South East.
Because of these changes, NAH was forced to mold out a new spot allotment for the 2014 North American Championship. Here is the quick run down of proposed allotment:
- 2013 NA Champions – 1 spot (obviously)
- Cascadia – 11 spots
- Eastside – 6 spots
- Northside – 5 spots
- Lower Midwest – 5 spots
- Upper Midwest – 4 spots
- South Central – 4 spots
- South West – 3 spots
- South East – 3 spots
- Prairies/ Great Plains – 3 spots
- Mexico – 3 spots
For a grand total of 48 teams heading to North Americans next year. Which, BTW, seems likely to be heading back to Minnesota for it’s potential permanent home (You can read more about that HERE).
These changes are looking being voted on by Club Reps between now and December 15th, so be sure to voice any concerns you may have with your Club Rep so that they can be passed along to the NAH committee. From what I can tell, NAH knocked it out of the park (or possibly “knocked it out of the court and off of a child’s head,” to keep it more polo related) with this proposal. Closed regions was a huge mistake last year. As long as in-region teams get first dibs, there is no reason out-of-region teams cant come play the tournament too. And our regions have needed to be reworked for so long; it’s great to see Kansas in the Midwest. In the grand scheme of things, I see no problems with these changes passing.
The only thing I hope they revise in all of this is the names. Lancaster Polo wrote a CUTE ARTICLE where Kabik gave the regions funny names, but in all seriousness, they need some work. Does one region really need two names? Prairies/Great Plains is annoying enough to write over and over, let alone say it. Let’s just simplify it and call it the Great Plains. Done and Done. And is the NAH really not creative enough to come up with better names than Upper Midwest and Lower Midwest? I know everyone will want to keep there Midwest blood (hell even I like to consider myself a Midwest player even after moving to Cascadia) but those names are boring. Change the Upper Midwest to the Great Lakes region. It’s simple and helps explain the region really well. Coming up with a new name for the Lower Midwest is a little more tricky since it spans so much of the country. But surely anything they come up with will be better than Lower Midwest.
Try the Gateway region, as St. Louis is nearly in the center and St. Louis is known as the Gateway to the west. Or possibly the Tornado Alley region, although Oklahoma should be included in that. What about the Ozark region? It may not pertain to Ohio but it still sounds awesome. Middle Earth? Crossroads? Highlanders? Fixcraftia? It doesn’t really matter what the change is, I would just like to see something a little better than Lower Midwest.