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NPF issues

Jun 6, 2016
855
28
Chicago
Maybe the fixed venue and regions are part of the problem. In the early days of baseball and men's fastpitch in the time of Eddie Feigner, barnstorming was the way to go.

Imagine a league where the games are played at existing college facilities. A four-day barnstorming stop for two teams might include a two-day clinic for local players to learn from the pros with game tickets included in the price. Maybe an exhibition game against the host team. Fundraisers for the local rec leagues where they get a cut of ticket sales. These types of things would only work if you could get games into many more places than fixed venues can provide. Not to mention expanding the likelihood that people would come out to see a game if it were in their neighborhood. Not eight times a year, but once or twice. Think the Bandits would draw a few fans who would come out to see Aleshia Ocasio pitch in Gainesville? I think so.
Barnstorming doesn't build a team following though (and they have three teams who did that last year... or maybe two. I can't recall if Cleveland ever played any real "home" games).

What you mentioned is a fun gimmick to draw a decent crowd once in a while, and stuff like that could help, but that's not how you sustain a league.

They need exposure. They need a twitter account people can find. If you type in "NPF" into the twitter search bar, the #1 result is "National Psoriasis Foundation" and the NPF twitter account doesn't even show up because "NPF" appears nowhere in their name or handle. Because nobody there has the first clue about how to actually run a league.

Imagine if, instead of @MLB, the Major League Baseball account was @probaseball. OK, even that doesn't really demonstrate how stupid the NPF is because at least the word "baseball" exists in my example. They don't use the word "softball," so if you search the most important word you won't see the league's twitter account pop up.

Of course, the account itself is worthless anyway. They didn't even do regular, live updates of their championship series in August.

I can't say for sure if a pro softball league could be viable, but I am certain that there are measures the NPF could take to improve their lot in life if they were at all competent.

EDIT: To be fair and somewhat kind, Bandits games are a fun experience, and that do a lot to make that game day experience a lot of fun. But it's like they're trying to keep this s*** a secret with how bad they are at informing people about the product.
 
Last edited:
Oct 2, 2011
3,081
63
Florida
EDIT: To be fair and somewhat kind, Bandits games are a fun experience, and that do a lot to make that game day experience a lot of fun. But it's like they're trying to keep this s*** a secret with how bad they are at informing people about the product.
I've stood on this soapbox before...

If what you are doing isn't working, stop doing it and do something else. The league is going down the same path many sports have gone down and it is a long, slow death. It was good to see the international teams come in - but that was more the international federations looking for ways to prep their players for the Olympics than a NPF idea - but at least they made it happen.

You need marketing dollars - but travel kills the cost equation. You need to pay players - but you don't have the money. You don't need to be 'national' out of the gate - concentrate on building a region first - Florida/Georgia is the obvious one since USSSA is sinking a butt load of cash into this already for their own purposes, but if you could have teams basically built out of the major local areas in that area you can limit the travel, you can build up rivalries (you have enough 'local' university players to translate especially if you have teams in Tampa/Orlando/Jacksonville/Atlanta/Miami or something similar). You can even go down the Japanese model of working/playing - it does not have to be 100% full-time pro league but it could build up as other leagues over time have. Build a region, then repeat (California or Texas next) - then play the regions against each other at end of season. Keep cost down, build locally, expand by region (or not).... Pro Lacrosse has had some success along this line in the NE. Other semi-pro/partial pro leagues work this way in other countries - and so on...

It also reduces the barriers to entry - hiring 2-3 buses to drive across state and maybe overnight versus flights/several days reduces my travel budget to a point where the current required $$$ to start a team is way more realistic and manageable. They used to have the $$$ of required investment but every time I can materially reduce that, the more options there are for investment. Lets say it is $X million to get a franchise today - and that feels like a real tough investment to put into a questionable league... make it 50% less, well now that is making this investment less riskier and so on.

Just an idea I have floated before. I am sure there are BIG holes in my thoughts - but it is an idea worth exploring versus just doing the things that are not working. And either way, they have to market SO much more than they do.
 
Last edited:
Jul 14, 2018
189
28
Barnstorming doesn't build a team following though (and they have three teams who did that last year... or maybe two. I can't recall if Cleveland ever played any real "home" games).
You're right, and as the linked article states, long-term fans follow teams more than players. I actually looked at the NPF site after my post (maybe I should have done that first :rolleyes:). They did play a number of games at different college venues, albeit a limited number. My first instinct when visiting the site was to look at the standings. None to be found. So you're right-on about their online presence, they could be doing much more to promote the game. Their YouTube channel has a bunch of 20-second clips, most have under 100 views. The big news item on their website is that they are now selling advertising on the player's uniforms. Maybe we can chip in and put a DFP logo on someone!

You need marketing dollars - but travel kills the cost equation. You need to pay players - but you don't have the money. You don't need to be 'national' out of the gate - concentrate on building a region first - Florida/Georgia is the obvious one since USSSA is sinking a butt load of cash into this already for their own purposes, but if you could have teams basically built out of the major local areas in that area you can limit the travel, you can build up rivalries (you have enough 'local' university players to translate especially if you have teams in Tampa/Orlando/Jacksonville/Atlanta/Miami or something similar).
This is a smart approach as well. If the bulk of a season can be played in a small radius, and then maybe have one big championship tournament where the regional winners face off, that could go a long way towards giving fans a vested interest in "their" team. And keeping the costs down is a real issue.

I personally know two women who pitched in the NPF, and it was a real challenge for them. The money just isn't there, so they had to juggle jobs with the demands of playing for a team. If every softball player were a teacher that has the summers off, it would work out great. But that's not the reality. Depending on the player's good will to carry the banner for the sport will only get you so far.

It's been recommended in other posts, but for a good look at what it takes to field an NPF team, check out 'Burn the Ships' on Netflix.
 
Feb 26, 2018
224
28
I think the name of the league needs to change. NPF sounds silly. I get NFL is already taken, but maybe MLFP, NFPL, or something like that. Keeping it regional in the beginning would allow players to work normal jobs with their softball income supplementing their 9-5 jobs along with keeping games on the weekends only. As much as these women coming out of college may love the sport, if it isn't going to pay the bills, they aren't going to do it. After 5-10 years and the demand is there, then moving towards full time players would make sense. There's going to be growing pains, but the path NPF is currently on doesn't look good to me.
 
Apr 20, 2018
704
28
SoCal
Start with a name change and then hire a marketing firm. How about MLF? Major League Fastpitch. PFL? Professional Fastpitch League.
Need to find a billionaire that buys into the dream. Personally I have a hard time watching MLB after watching the College World Series. It's a good product. But all good products need marketing.
 
Oct 11, 2010
7,463
38
Chicago, IL
I do not have the personality to talk for 3 hours. Rush talks for I think 3 hours every day. Rachell Medows goes off for an hour every night. I do not know how they do it.

DD and me laugh at the commentators, half the fun. Dd knows rules better then they do. The other half is the players are good.
 
Jun 6, 2016
855
28
Chicago
IYou need marketing dollars - but travel kills the cost equation. You need to pay players - but you don't have the money. You don't need to be 'national' out of the gate - concentrate on building a region first - Florida/Georgia is the obvious one since USSSA is sinking a butt load of cash into this already for their own purposes, but if you could have teams basically built out of the major local areas in that area you can limit the travel, you can build up rivalries (you have enough 'local' university players to translate especially if you have teams in Tampa/Orlando/Jacksonville/Atlanta/Miami or something similar). You can even go down the Japanese model of working/playing - it does not have to be 100% full-time pro league but it could build up as other leagues over time have. Build a region, then repeat (California or Texas next) - then play the regions against each other at end of season. Keep cost down, build locally, expand by region (or not).... Pro Lacrosse has had some success along this line in the NE. Other semi-pro/partial pro leagues work this way in other countries - and so on...

It also reduces the barriers to entry - hiring 2-3 buses to drive across state and maybe overnight versus flights/several days reduces my travel budget to a point where the current required $$$ to start a team is way more realistic and manageable. They used to have the $$$ of required investment but every time I can materially reduce that, the more options there are for investment. Lets say it is $X million to get a franchise today - and that feels like a real tough investment to put into a questionable league... make it 50% less, well now that is making this investment less riskier and so on.
I can see a scenario where you could have 16-team league. Four regional divisions of four teams each. Those teams only play each other during the regular season. Then your four division winners play in the playoffs. This would greatly cut down on travel, you'd build some rivalries, etc. And while it seems strange that I'm proposing a 16-team league when they can't manage a 6-team league, if you pick the right spots I think it could work. And like you said, you can start small in one or two regions, then expand. I think divisions based on Florida, California, Texas, and the Midwest would work.

I don't know how the Japanese model works, but one thing you could do to generate revenue to pay players is for the players to work, on behalf of the organization, year-round. Teach lessons locally. Run camps. Find ways to generate income outside of ticket sales. Maybe you don't have the money to pay players much, but if they're making additional money through lessons, camps, etc., they might be able to make a living. Players might not retire after 1 or 2 years because they have to find a real job to pay the bills.
 
Jun 6, 2016
855
28
Chicago
I think the name of the league needs to change. NPF sounds silly. I get NFL is already taken, but maybe MLFP, NFPL, or something like that. Keeping it regional in the beginning would allow players to work normal jobs with their softball income supplementing their 9-5 jobs along with keeping games on the weekends only. As much as these women coming out of college may love the sport, if it isn't going to pay the bills, they aren't going to do it. After 5-10 years and the demand is there, then moving towards full time players would make sense. There's going to be growing pains, but the path NPF is currently on doesn't look good to me.
Start with a name change and then hire a marketing firm. How about MLF? Major League Fastpitch. PFL? Professional Fastpitch League.
Need to find a billionaire that buys into the dream. Personally I have a hard time watching MLB after watching the College World Series. It's a good product. But all good products need marketing.
I agree with the name change, but neither of you had the word "softball" in it, and I think that's a huge mistake.

If you ask the average joe sports fan what the sport is called, he/she will say "softball." They might say "fastpitch softball." And many sports fans are going to give you a blank stare if you say you're a fan of fastpitch.

Just changing the name won't change the people in charge though. They either need to hire people to do the stuff they can't do or leadership needs to change. The problem is that it's not working and the people in charge don't seem to realize it's not working.
 

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