The mission of the International Dog Agility League is
“… to provide an inexpensive, competitive, games-oriented agility venue for dogs of all sizes without regard to breed or pedigree; to facilitate broad-based league play competition; to facilitate skill development; and provide a shared experience that spans geographic boundaries.”
We want the league to be fun, fair, and friendly. At the beginning of the year, we began making pilot changes to the rules to help attain our mission. We continue to invite input from the field of competitors to keep evolving the league.
I think we are all having fun; agility at its core is “a game we play with our dog in the park,” (Bud Houston, Founder of IDAL). Competition is great; it serves an innate human need but having fun while competing is even better.
Fun is kind of relative though. If someone is a true novice, they may feel discouraged and left out because they do not have some of the advanced skills, or they earn faults, slow times, etc. We want all skill levels to feel welcome, challenged appropriately, and feel that they are contributing to their team’s success. That is why we began to divide out the more novice players and provide slightly easier courses for them. Additionally, those instructors who use the league courses as part of their classes, can make simple modifications to allow everyone to play.
There are certainly barriers to achieving absolute fairness. Some of the reasons are:
- Inevitable variations in how courses are built even with maps. This can impact total distance, approach angles, distance to options, etc.
- Not centrally judged. One could argue that one judge understands the rules differently, but all judges make errors, even within the same class.
- Different skill levels of players
- Different team sizes, especially with regard to LPP calculations and dropped scores
- Different equipment sizes
- Different field conditions
In our efforts to make the league as fair as possible, we are seeking ways to address some of those reasons. I may have gotten more gray hair as I researched different sports leagues and their organization, handicapping systems, different calculation possibilities, database portals, ISPs and web hosts…
So, we will continue to adapt our structure and processes. Please be patient and flexible. If you have comments or suggestions, let me know! I will not throw ideas away without giving them some consideration.
I think friendly goes hand in hand with fun. Everyone’s agility journey is different, even with a new dog. Everyone may have a different agility goal. Everyone deserves respect.
Goals for the Year
- Finalize team structures and rule changes
- Get database online so that everyone has access to their own data
- Create a couple of videos evaluating different aspects of league runs
- Modify titles to allow for earning titles throughout a dog’s career
- Have forms online so that registrations and run entries can be made directly into the database
- Alternative storage and viewing method for videos
- Get clubs to rejoin the league and invite new clubs
I hope folks enjoyed their patches, certificates, and flags. (We will also accept feedback on that.) I sent a few extras for your new members, but I am sure you will need more as you grow. I plan to send out certificates and flags at least twice a year. Unfortunately, it was VERY expensive to send items to Canada and Mexico. If anyone has ideas on that, let me know. One club gave me a US address to someone who regularly visits the other country.
I will accept suggestions on how to make the above goals possible. I will also accept any volunteer help!
I will be posting a new draft of the rules that breaks down club/team structure further. The new structure should help less experienced players and will hopefully provide an additional layer of competitiveness within each club. The effort to break down teams is primarily upfront and should not be difficult. I will help you with this if you prefer. We may not be able to fully implement the breakdown for this season, but we can try!!
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Questions, comments, snide remarks, and feedback go to Melissa Wallace, IDAL Secretary, at email@example.com.