I have been talking about doing this blog for almost a year now and the guys on the bus have finally held my feet to the fire. Now before I get started, let me just say that this is a total work of fantasy. It is in no way intended to be taken seriously. If you are not a sports person, this blog will probably not be too enjoyable for you. But if you are any type of sports junky, get ready to have some fun!
As most of you already know, I am a huge hockey fan. Most guys tend to have some sort of sports obsession, and the guys on our bus are no different. Glenn loves LSU, Trey is a huge Braves fan, and I am a die hard Predators fan. Fowler loves the Titans, leaving Howie as the odd man out, but he is an avid outdoorsman and keeps up with a few teams just to pacify us.
My idea came from countless conversations on our bus in regards to our favorite teams and how they function both on the playing field and in the front office. These teams are constantly trying to find ways to grow their market and improve their performance. So I began to think, what if we implemented some of the basic components involved with running a sports team into the Southern Gospel Music industry. I am most familiar with the NHL, so I will base my thoughts on what little bit of knowledge that I have in that regard. Also, let me state again, this is just for fun! So please don’t take it too seriously!
The first thing we would need to do is to establish the league. For starters let’s say 20 teams, or groups. This would make up the top tier of the league, or as in baseball, the majors. They should be full-time, known nationally, and performing 100 or more concerts per year in 25 or more different states.
We then would divide the United States into 8 regions that would be defined by the map. This would allow us to recognize what we would call regional groups. These would be groups who travel outside of their local existence, but are still not on the national scene. They can be full-time or part-time, and should be performing 50 or more concerts per year in 10 or more states. This would be the minor or developmental league.
The third and final division would be the local artist. These are the groups who perform 26 to 50 times per year, are part-time, and mostly travel within a 250 mile radius of their home. This would be the AAA division.
Each of the major groups would be required to have a minor league group in each region. These affiliations must be approved and registered with the league. That would mean a total of eight minor league groups associated with each major group. It would be the major groups responsibility to counsel the minor league group with their business decisions, and to help to teach them in any and every way possible, with the goal being to have them become a major group either thru replacement of a departing major group, or league expansion.
In addition to the major groups having a link to the 8 minor groups, the minor groups will be required to have at least 5 groups that they mentor. They will serve in the same manner as the major minor relationship, in that they will help the AAA groups in any manor possible. Any questions that the AAA group brings to the Minor group can then be brought to the Major group for help as needed.
When the major group has a concert in the minor groups region, the major group will, when allowed by the promoter, give a 3 song opening slot to the minor group. This will be done at no expense to the promoter or the major group, and will be done by the minor group for exposure and product sales. If the minor group is unavailable or already booked, they will recommend the appropriate AAA group to the major group. The major group will then have the option of letting the AAA group open in the minor groups place.
Yes, it’s a big task for the major groups to take on 8 minor groups throughout the country, and the minor groups to take on five AAA groups, but I feel it is essential for everyone to pass on the knowledge and wisdom that they have learned through their time in the league.
All of these “affiliations” must be made known to and approved by the league so that there is a record of the relationship between each of the groups.
The individuals that make up the groups will be under contract to the group. These contracts can be broken down into 2 main categories. The first is a minor league contract which is for anyone not in a major league group. These can be negotiated in any form or term, but must first be approved by the major group with which the minor or AAA group is affiliated. The contract must then receive league approval.
The second is a major level contract, which is divided into 4 levels as follows:
Level 1: Entry Level Contract or EL. This contract is for persons with less than 3 years accrued experience at the major level. It will be a minimum 1 year with a maximum of 3 years. The 3 year total can be accrued at one time or be a total of time from various contracts. Once the 3 year mark is passed the individual automatically qualifies for the next level.
Level 2: Minor League Contract or ML. This contract is for persons who have accrued 3 years in either the AAA or minor divisions and have yet to serve with a major group. The terms of these contracts are unlimited. It is possible for an individual to go directly from an EL contract to a RFA contract depending on the level of the group or groups the individual is contracted with.
Level 3: Restricted Free Agent or RFA. This contract is for persons who accrue 3 years under an EL contract with a major group. These contracts can be for any term starting with 1 year to 7 years. At the completion of the contract other groups can make offers to the individual for their services. However, the group that holds the individuals contract will be allowed to match any offers the RFA receives. If the group chooses not to match the offer, the individual can accept the new contract, and the new contract holder will compensate the current contract holder accordingly. Compensation will be determined by the league. Individuals who accrue 10 years as an EL and RFA combined will then qualify for the next level.
Level 4: Unrestricted Free Agent or UFA. Individuals who accrue 10 years as an RFA and EL combined will be granted UFA status. An individual with UFA status is free to negotiate with any group at the completion of their contract.
If a major group loses a member, they will look to their minor and AAA affiliates for an appropriate replacement. If one is found in the minor league, the major group must help to find a qualified replacement for the minor league group. If an appropriate replacement is not found within the minors, the major group can then look to its AAA affiliates for the appropriate replacement. If the replacement comes from the major groups AAA affiliate, both the major and minor groups must assist in any and every way possible to find a suitable replacement for the AAA group. This is why the affiliation process would be so important.
If a suitable replacement cannot be found within the minor or AAA divisions, a trade between owners may be facilitated. It must be handled thru the league, and must receive approval by a majority of the league before it can be completed.
The trade deadline would be July 15 of each year so that each group would have ample time to have everything in order prior to convention. There will be no roster changes allowed between July 16th and the conclusion of NQC in September. The new year will start on the day following the completion of NQC.
The entry draft will take place each year at Dollywood in October on a date determined by the league to coincide with the Harvest Celebration.
Ok, I have set up a very loose framework here and oh my, can you imagine. Everyone feel free to throw in your ideas!
Until next time…..