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“We’ll Look Into It”

In response to my articles about the Highlander last week we received a letter from the Eastern VP of Canlan (the corporation that owns the Highlander) asking that we “please remove the articles immediately”. The letter suggested that we do this because Canlan cares deeply about their participants’ safety and that I, as the author, am “uninformed”. I’ve never been so happy to be called uninformed because it means for the first time ever someone at Canlan is at least listening. Hopefully they’re listening now because I’m going to tell them quite simply how to save their reputation and improve their business. First though I need to show that I am not “uninformed” about what happens on that field.

Since that field opened I’ve played there every season, approximately 120 games for 13 teams. How have I played for so many teams? Some nights, when I have nothing to do and a different division is playing, I’ll go to the Highlander with one of every color jersey and offer to guest for any team that needs me. Because of this I’ve spoken to literally hundreds of your customers and will tell you they almost unanimously feel the decline in playing experience has been steady. As convoluted as this may sound, the entire problem with Soccer at the Highlander can be traced back to Drop In Soccer and flat screen TV’s.

At noon Highlander offers drop in use of its field for five dollars per person. If you dig out the waivers from last winter you’ll find that I was there on average twice a week, that when I came I came mostly with groups of 5-15 people, and that the only days where the drop in did any business were the days when I came. As time went by I found it harder to convince people to come, there was a myriad of problems from the pricing to the unhelpful attitude of the some of the staff. I addressed both concerns to the Field Sports Coordinator as well as the General Manager, only to hear what anyone who has ever played or refereed there has heard at least a dozen times, “we’ll look into it”. The day that I can honestly say drop in died was when my friends and I organized for 20 players to come down at lunch for a pick up game. We called the night before to confirm that drop in was available. When we showed up the next day with everyone anxious to play we found the field in use for a mini-soccer camp. We were told we should have called ahead and when we said we did, we were not given an apology for the mistake or inconvenience.

When I came to the Highlander at the start of this season I noticed the dry erase boards they put up to display what changing rooms the teams were assigned had been replaced by flat screen TV’s, and my head actually began to reel. Not at the picture quality of those TV’s, but what the TV’s themselves meant. The TVs cost probably around 2500$, easily what I brought in for business during one Winter of trying to champion the drop in program. Is this where our money was going? Is this why they can’t afford to have a second referee running the time and keeping a second set of eyes on the field? I remember that suggestion clearly from the last meeting six months ago, during which the administration promised to address the escalating violence in the league. Everyone thought it was a great solution and we were told they would “look into it”. Did I miss the rep meeting where someone said “I can’t read the white boards to see what changing room I’m in, you should look into that,”?

How It has Led to This:
Why do I relate my experiences with Drop In to the current problem of your players having no respect? Because promoting the Drop in Soccer is the answer. I will tell you first hand having just traveled Europe and played in the streets and parks for three months, when strangers play together the unspoken etiquette is worth more than any rule book. It would improve the quality of your league play by virtue of the fact that I’m not going meet Bob on Monday morning, play a friendly game with him, then punch him out Tuesday night in a league game. Fixing the Drop in Soccer is not hard, it is not something that can be solved by “looking into” anything but it requires only a modicum of effort.

The Solution:
In response to Canlan’s demands that we remove the negative articles Ken, our editor, asked the VP who contacted us if he would be interested in a phone interview to tell their side. He did not respond. I do not blame him. I gave every impression that I hate the Highlander and would likely not give an unbiased interview. I apologize for having to act that way but since it did get me the right people’s attention I can’t say I regret it, and at least now I can drop the pretense. I don’t hate the Highlander, I love Soccer and would do anything to see it played properly. Arguing about what has gone wrong in the past is not just unhelpful, it is actually harmful. Rather than an interview about the past incidents I am interested in an honest and frank discussion about my solution, which I believe will not only increase the profits of the Highlander but also greatly improve the experience for every player there. Is your motto not “Where the experience is everything”? Even if you refute my plan, so long as the reasons why are explained reasonably I will post the discussion and retract all my earlier posts.

Image El verdadero futbol Originally uploaded by Diego.78

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