Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Brief History of the Skillz Competition

From 2002 to 2006, HZW did not use Yahoo!: Justin then Joe would tally up scores manually using box scores, and that we maintained rosters on our own (shared) documents.  And while there was at some point an original document stating the league's rules and scoring, over time this was not consulted or updated in any way.  But we still voted on any rule changes--we just remembered them.  It wasn't that complicated: at one point the majority of the league had to vote to approve a trade, and then we voted that this was a bad idea and trades should be made without approval, and then trades were just made (the announcements were made via email so the commissioner could update documents and the league could be informed).  This system was not great, but it worked.  We did end up with a lot of complex rules, but we basically knew what they were and acted accordingly.

In 2007, we made the switch to using Yahoo! for our roster management and scoring.  This meant a lot of our old rules did not apply, were no longer necessary, or were basically maintained with Yahoo!'s features.  We had rules for how free agency worked, for example, that we followed (we essentially had to wait our turn to use or weekly FA pick), but the most relevant rules were frequently applied, and easily known.  2007 also happened to be Bryan's first year in the league, and so Bryan was not familiar with many of the precedents that were established by previous rule issues, or the less-frequently used rules.

Before 2007, HZW's "Team Kicker" rule meant that you selected a team, and then you got all of that team's extra points and field goals, regardless of who kicked them.  If the team's kicker got some points, then got injured mid-game, and then the team's punter got some points, your fantasy team got all of those combined kicking points.  When we switched to Yahoo! scoring, this would not work, but we maintained the Team Kicker rule by a) allowing a manager rights to a team's replacement kicker (if you have Team A Kicker, and that team's kicker is injured our cut, you get to pick up his replacement, and it would not count as your one free agent pickup that week).  We also had enhanced rosters for unbalanced trades, so if a team had two kickers (it happens occasionally when there are injury concerns), a manager could carry both kickers on the roster without it counting against the roster cap (but would still have to pick a kicker to start to get those points).  But it must be noted, as you might guess, that this was rarely done, and so this Team Kicker rule garnered very little attention.  A member who joined the league in 2007 would likely not notice it.

In 2009, Kiah made a move that came to be notorious for Kiah, in which he makes a dubious move based on a dubious interpretation of an occasionally ambiguous rule, which often forces a vote to determine the move's legitimacy, to establish precedent on rule interpretation,  Kiah went ahead and picked up a kicker based on the Team Kicker rule, and announced to the league that he assumed he could do this.  Bryan was perplexed by Kiah's move that didn't make any clear sense without knowledge of our pre-Yahoo! rules (I don't remember the specifics, but it may have been this move which forced the issue on some of the rules listed in the previous paragraph).  At this point two members of the league had joined after the Yahoo! transition (Bryan and Nathan).  How many other weird rules are there out there?  What other things will older members be able to that newer members don't know about?  And what other things could newer members be doing that they didn't even know? I announced that this was indeed a problem, and that after the season was over, I would try to compile (with consultation with the rest of the league) a formal rulebook that would specify many of HZW's strange traditions, precedents, and obscurities.

In 2010 I began drafting that famous Rulebook that has become more crucial to HZW business.  The process of writing and discussing the rulebook also helped to formulate, solidify, or innovate some of our rules.

While writing the section on Auction procedure, I was initially going to write that the seating order (and thus the order of throwing out names, and the order in which bids are made) would be determined randomly at the time of the draft. In the past this was done by a simple drawing of cards. But something struck me about this.  It would be fine to keep this up, but why, for the first time, put this down in writing?

So I informed the league that while writing this section, I would leave it a little more vague.  Instead of specifying the random draw of cards, I would include a statement like "Seating order will be determined in a method of our choosing before the draft."  We could do anything we want.  We could have some sort of competition.  I think my original quasi-joke was that, heck, we could have a Punt, Pass, and Kick competition to determine the seating order.  This was immediately received with enthusiasm.

The Competitions
2010: quarterbacking (champion: Justin)
The first annual HZW Skillz Competition was a quarterbacking competition, both for accuracy and distance.  Jon (the 2010 host) acquired a tire to use for the accuracy portion of the competition: we would be ranked on how many times out of 10 we could throw a football through the tire from a set distance (ties broken with a throw-off).  Then we were ranked by how far we could throw the football.  The rankings of the two rounds was added up Grand Prix style, with the winner being the top combined score.  Justin won, giving him the opportunity to throw out the first player for bid.  And the first player for bid, in the Skillz Competition era, something we now debate and discuss for hours and even have a trophy for?  The 49er Defense.

2011: mini-golf (champion: Kiah)
We had a team mini-golf competition at Goodrich Golf Dome.  The winning team would sit in seats 1-5 (ranked by scores), the losing team in seats 6-10 (ranked by scores), with the person with the lowest score sitting in the first seat no matter what team he was on.  Once again, ties within teams were broken with a putt-off on a single hole.  This year, the Skillz winner was also the Hazelweird winner.

2012: HOH bean bag toss (champion: Jon)
We used a bean bag toss game purchased by Abe which assigned different scores for different holes.  As I watched Big Brother, I considered how to use the structure of that show's competitions for our HZW competition.  The format: two people would compete head-to-head for the best score in the bean bag toss.  The loser was eliminated from the competition, and would get the lowest seat.  The winner would be "Head of Hazelweird," and would choose the next two people to compete to avoid elimination.  This would be repeated until there was one champion remaining.

2013; Arcade (champion: Justin)
We went to an alien-themed restaurant/arcade, and each used $10 of our own money for tokens.  We could use our tokens in the arcade however we chose, and the order of seating would be determined by who had won the most tickets.

2014: Fun Run, Wiffle Ball, Home Run Derby, HOH frisbee throw (champion: Joe)
The winner of the 2014 NCAA tournament bracket would choose the 2014 Skillz Competition.  Joe won and established a four-round skillz competition

Round One: Fun Run.  Anybody who chose could participate in the three mile run/walk, with the top two finishers getting to be captains and choose teams for the second round.

Round Two: Wiffle Ball.  The two teams played wiffle ball for an established amount of time.  The members of the winning team earned the right to compete for levels of immunity in round three, while the members of the losing team competed to be the first Head of Hazelweird in Round Three.

Round Three: Dinger Derby. Everybody took a swing at a wiffle ball off the tee, with measuring tape to measure distance.  All members of the winning wiffle ball team had immunity for the first matchup of Round Four: they earned extra matchup immunities based on their order of distance in the dinger derby.  Earning immunity for a matchup meant you could not be selected to compete in that matchup.

Round Four: Frisbee Toss Accuracy. Two people would throw a frisbee at a tree from a set distance.  If both hit the frisbee, they took a step back.  If both missed, they took a step forward.  If one person hit the tree and the other missed, the one who hit the tree was the new HOH, and the one who missed was eliminated, getting the next lowest seat available.