Handicap Advisory Committee


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Below is a letter written to us by one of our members, expressing concerns and asking questions about the Handicap Advisory Committee and how it all works.  Our response follows.

Dear League Management,

I feel compelled to write because of grumbling I heard regarding the last HAC recommendations and your decision to raise “the skill of more than fifty members” within the current season.  I believe that such grumbling is not productive unless directed towards the proper authorities – you.  This is with the intention of bringing to your attention some of the impressions made with the end result of being able to improve as our rating systems evolve to better dimensions.  If my notions are wrong, please forgive me.  I only want to positively contribute to the positive evolution.

I, personally, do not question the rating increase of the players in my team or many of those in the other teams.  I feel that the recommendations of the HAC and your decision were sound.  What bothers me is how your letter came across to me and those who may share my views although you may have had the best intentions in writing such.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I always had the notion that our skill level ratings are based on computer generated evaluations – that is why we jot down innings, defensive shots, etc. in our score sheets.  I always had the notion that you input these in some kind of program that spits out the ratings of players.  If this is not so, there goes my notion of APA being high-tech.

Now, if the HAC is a recommending body – “eyes and ears” – reviewing the records and if they are also players of the league during the season, could it be possible that the element of bias can come in?  I mean, as you used the words, they are “not suspected of or have been accused” of being biased but could it not be to their advantage that they recommend to increase the notches on the skill level ratings of members of their opposing teams?  And why now when most teams are in a crunch of their positioning for the season and division championships?  Somehow, this move may be misconstrued and subject members of the HAC to “suspicion of skill level manipulation” to favor their teams.

I reiterate, the HAC recommendations and your decisions may be sound but how it came across disturbed a number of members.

May I suggest that next time, the HAC’s recommendations be implemented at the start of a season.  This way members are more psychologically receptive to their self skill level perceptions to begin the season.  This way, too, the HAC will be above suspicion of manipulating results of a tournament because the season has not yet started.  This does not, of course, apply to players who really deserve to be skill upgraded based on their performance based on the tallies on the score sheets at any time during current seasons.

As the APA evolves, we will always have problems and glitches.  I believe in problems.  They are proofs of our being dynamic.

Kudos to your efforts.


Very truly yours,

Rudy D. Liporada


Dear Rudy,

Thanks for sharing your concerns with us.  We are used to receiving hastily scribbled notes written by angry players, so it’s refreshing to know our players are capable of well-composed, thought out communication.

You are correct in your notion that skill levels are based on computer-generated evaluations.  That does form the basis for APA skill levels.  However, you should also be aware that it is impossible to use one formula, which is 100% accurate in all cases.  Our system is the best in the world, and is accurate most of the time (remember, fifty players is only five percent of the total number playing in our area), but there will always be cases where the system just doesn’t quite fit the player.  Take, for example, the case of a player who plays last most of the time, and has had several drinks by the time that last match rolls around.  The data on the score sheet won’t show the effects of the alcohol, and it’s quite possible that this player’s calculated skill level will be too low.  There are many other cases where a human factor causes the data to be misleading, and for this reason we must have a human factor in the system.  That’s where the Handicap Advisory Committee (HAC) comes into play.

HAC members are players in the League.  Often they are higher-skilled players, who can recognize things like stance, stroke, ball control, table management, and other aspects of a person’s playing ability.  They are players who we feel we can trust to give an unbiased opinion when asked.  To counterbalance any bias, which may be present, we usually have multiple players from each division serve on the HAC.  Additionally, we try to keep the members of the HAC anonymous, to avoid the perception of bias even when no actual bias exists.

We call on members of the HAC from time to time during the league year, to get their opinions on players or to have them watch players for whom we have received requests for skill level evaluation.  Once a year, during Spring Session, the HAC meets for a formal review of every player in the league.  It is important that we do this late in the Spring, because our goal is to make sure the skill levels of players entering the Local Team Championships are as accurate as possible prior to the first round of play in those tournaments. 

So why don’t we wait until the end of Spring Session?  We used to do that, but it had a devastating effect on teams whose players were raised.  In an effort to diminish that effect and to give players a chance to adjust to their new levels prior to the LTC, we began meeting in April of each year.  We can’t do it any earlier, because new players added in the Spring need a chance to play several matches before we start assigning skill levels to them.  Also, since we don’t know which teams will qualify in the Spring Session, we now have to review every team in the league. 

It is important to note that, despite what you may have heard, no player in the League has the ability to raise the skill level of any other player.  HAC members are only permitted to make recommendations, which is exactly the same thing any APA member can do via the skill level evaluation forms found in every team packet.  We implement HAC recommendations only after thorough review of player records, scoresheets, and any other circumstances surrounding the player involved.

We hope we have addressed your concerns about the HAC and why we raise skill levels when we do.  Although we cannot implement your suggestion of effecting the new skill levels at the start of the next session, you may find it interesting that we are making some changes for next year.  We feel that some of the grumbling you heard was due to the “sticker shock” effect of opening your team envelope and finding that one or more of your players is now a skill level higher, on the recommendation of the HAC.  To reduce the sticker shock, we plan to (1) send out a notice to all teams prior to the next HAC meeting, so they know changes may be coming, and (2) notify all affected players a week prior to making the actual adjustments, so they aren’t surprised when they walk through the door on league night.

Thank you again for sharing your concerns with us.  We welcome your input and the input of other APA members as we strive to improve the league from year to year.


League Management


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Last modified: May 23, 2012