Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Magazine
• league rebranding
• derby merch basics
• dehydration and heat injury
• blocking techniques
• how necessary is game history for officials?
• meet WFTDA’s new Executive Director
• plus more, including managing risk for league events, plates 201, moving teams
Scar of David, Lafayette Brawlin’ Dolls
Close to sixty skaters and officials from all over Indiana swarmed the Brawlhouse getting ready to skate. The whole league should have been thrilled at the turn-out for their season-ending scrimmage, but if you noticed the captains huddling in the corner, you would have seen this wasn’t the case. The track was taped, the scoreboard was hung, and the EMTs... were nowhere to be found.
Could this happen to your team? And would you know what to do if it did?
For most leagues, the failure of a large event, be it a scrimmage, bout, or fundraiser, can have a severe impact on reputation, finances, and fan experience. In extreme cases, it can even threaten the very existence of the league. Even teams that have hosted many successful events can fall victim to unexpected conditions or circumstances beyond their control. This past January, a power outage at Bankers Life Fieldhouse put an Indiana Pacers game on hold in front of thousands of fans. While an NBA team is probably ready to handle this type of interruption, most derby leagues would be scrambling to make decisions... in the dark.
Teams should therefore develop (and document!) a risk management plan that follows best practices from the sphere of Project Management (see pmi.org) to protect themselves against catastrophic failures and their aftereffects. To do so, the event planning team should collaborate on three steps: 1) Brainstorming possible risks, 2) Prioritizing risks, and 3) Mitigating Risks.
brainstorming possible risks
To identify risks, the team should look at all of the items on their event plan, and think about what could go wrong with each one. For a typical bout, everything from printing programs to securing an opponent to setting up the sound system invites the unexpected. What if the printer is late? What if the opponent cancels? What if the amplifiers trip the circuit breaker? To create a complete list, the team should brainstorm freely with ample time to go through every piece of the event plan.
Once a list has been created, each risk should be rated on a scale of one through ten on the likelihood it will occur.It should then be rated on a second, but identical, scale on the severity of its impact. The past experience of the event production team is key to choosing appropriate ratings.
Take, for example, the risk of your mobile credit card reader not connecting to the network. If you’ve typically had no problems with mobile data in your venue, maybe the likelihood is only a “1,” but if you have had unreliable service in the past, maybe this is a “7.” If you are in a brand new venue, maybe this hasn’t been tested, and the likelihood is a “5.” As for severity, it may depend on how much you rely on advance ticket sales vs. how many people buy tickets at the door, the location of the nearest ATM, how much merchandise you typically sell via credit card, and any number of other factors that are specific to your league.
Once you have a likelihood and a severity for each item on your list of risks, multiply them together to get a combined score, called the risk priority number (RPN), between one and one hundred. Next, sort your risks from highest to lowest RPN to get a clear picture of which ones most require your attention. For example, a risk with scores of 3 and 8 will get an RPN of 24, and fall below a risk with scores of 5 and 6 for an RPN of 30.
Note that unlikely events should fall near the bottom, no matter how big of an impact they may have, so while an alien abduction of your head ref would unquestionably ruin the bout, it’s probably not worthy of concern. Similarly, inconsequential but common events will also fall to the bottom of the list, so you won’t spend much time worrying about what to do if the snack bar runs out of M&M’s.
There are two main strategies for controlling risk: 1) prevent a negative event from occurring or 2) have a backup plan in place to minimize its impact. Many teams already have solid prevention plans, such as limiting cash-handling to trusted volunteers in order to thwart theft.
However, for adverse circumstances more difficult to prevent (usually those with low likelihood and high severity), a clear backup plan is the stronger option. The plan should begin with the means of detecting the problem, as well as the person responsible for doing so. The second part should specify the action to be taken and the person or people who can authorize that action.
For example, if low ticket sales are a risk for an upcoming bout, the tickets chairman may plan to review the online presales one week in advance, and if sales are low, she may send out a special discount code via social media. It’s key that the decision-maker is determined in advance and therefore empowered to act quickly, without waiting for a board or committee vote.
Returning to our EMT-less scrimmage, the team’s safety officer had a confirmation email that wasn’t worth the pixels it was written on. What followed was a panicked shuffle for the phone number of a former league member with medical credentials who could be tempted out of bed on a Sunday morning. While the league was able to find someone, and the scrimmage was ultimately a success, it’s clear that league leadership would have had a better morning had there been a plan: 30 minutes before scrimmage start time, a specific person verifies EMTs presence, and has both a list of backup options and authorization for last-minute spending as needed.
An appropriate risk management plan, consisting of risk identification, prioritization, and mitigation, can help keep your league out of a similar situation, and guarantee the success of your events.