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 Post subject: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2014 4:57 pm 
Slayer
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At most events that I have attended in the past year, there has been a policy of "let it slide, but give them a hard time". That is to say, that garb violations, so long as they weren't dangerous, were to be ignored. That meant jeans, uncovered t-shirts, Spongebob covered weapons, and the like were present on the fields I heralded. I personally feel that as these are the rules, and these are inter-realm events, that per the by-laws the BoW must be enforced. However, the general thought on the matter, when discussing this with head heralds and event coordinators, was that if we start to enforce these rules harshly, we'll be pushing fighters away. We'll be turning away new fighters who may never come back because of this. We'll be hurting the sport.

I know this has been hashed out before in previous threads, but this thread is not about garb standards, or general garb enforcement. This thread is specifically here to address the repercussions of garb enforcement on retention and event success (e.g., the likelihood of a person coming back to an event in following years).

So, what is your experience with how garb enforcement, or the lack thereof, has affected an event, either for the year in question or years following, and the retention of both old and new fighters?

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2014 7:54 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2014 8:57 pm 
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At Geddon, I had no pushback from the few folks that I told to go change. It's in the rules for national events, people recognize that. It just takes a herald approaching them and talking it through.

EDIT, because I missed a chunk of Thurat's opening post.

I don't think it's particularly hard to get folks into garb once they're fighting regularly if you paint it in the right light. The folks who REALLY want to garb up are going to take it onto themselves. For other folks, you can explain it as a t-tunic and pants being the "uniform" for Belegarth. A simple tunic, a tabard, and pants, and they'll not feel too out of place. The ones who really balk at garb are also the ones that you can't get out to events, because they don't want to embarrass themselves. I feel like the people that are driven away by garb rules are the ones who would inevitably have been driven away by one of the many other things in our culture that is so good at it.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2014 10:10 pm 
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So, yes - any negative situation at an event, whether is be at weapon's check or from a herald telling you that you need to get garb or go home has the very real potential of causing someone to never return. I think that I have had massive growth in my region by doing these unpleasant things in the nicest way possible. Because the reality is that events require garb and unsafe gear can't go on the field, so it has to be done. However, events can also make people decide that Bel is their forever hobby, so if you do it as best as you can - you might get to have your cake and eat it too. Here are some tips:

1) Always be professional and courteous, no put downs, no condescension, and only extreme hospitality.
2) If it needs to be said, explain that it isn't just you coming down on them - it is an international standard agreed upon by an entire community. Everyone has to be treated the same.
3) Apologize for the inconvenience, and offer them whatever they need to keep playing, whether it's garb or gear.
4) Have that gear obviously well maintained and tell them that you worked really hard on it for THEM because YOU feel it is REALLY important for new people to be able to play the game that you love.
5) Check in with them later to see if they are ok and having a good time.
6) Enjoy your new friends because if they are already on your field - you won't be given a better recruitment or retention opportunity.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2014 10:33 pm 
Slayer
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Thurat wrote:
At most events that I have attended in the past year, there has been a policy of "let it slide, but give them a hard time". That is to say, that garb violations, so long as they weren't dangerous, were to be ignored. That meant jeans, uncovered t-shirts, Spongebob covered weapons, and the like were present on the fields I heralded.


That's just pure laziness on the Event Coordinators and Head Heralds not to enforce the rules. The rules should always be enforced and you should have enforced the rules anyway I would have. Best thing you can do is be professional about it when you confront some one. I've thrown off more than one person for simple garb violations, i.e. white tennis shoes, wife beaters, modern print on garb, sports bras before the rule change.. Even fully kicked one gentleman off the field for a couple hours until he changed and had him talk to me directly before letting him back on. I've even failed weapons for having Spongebob or My Little Ponies on it. It's laziness of Coordinators and fighters that makes me wish we had Garb Gates of something of the like at more events.

There are two people that are really responsible for having the sports bra rule changed last year. I will proudly say that I am one of them. I and another gentleman threw a young lady off the field at Chaos Wars 17 because all she had on her torso was a sports bra. Old rule said it had to be covered, and we made her. Doing this caused a lot of up roar too which lead to the rule being changed. I will enforce the new rule; personally I thought it was a horrible change.

We have garb rules for a reason. If they are too lazy or too scared to get into garb they can go play some other sport in my opinion there is no loss there for us in the long run. I would rather see a better garbed event and smaller than a huge event with people running around in jeans and t-shirts. I would probably switch to Dag if the garb standards got to be any lower than they are now. I know I am not the only person who feels this way, and last year at Chaos Wars many people would tell you that the garb rules were pretty strictly enforced, and I doubt that will keep very many of them away from coming back. It's my personal opinion that though like I said; if you can't garb up you don't deserve to fight, and the sport is probably better off without them. Sir Anastasia's tips are pretty much spot on, and that's pretty much the same approach I and many other really good heralds I know handle most situations. There's my $0.02.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 5:40 am 
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I fought Bel for five years and Dag for five years, and I'm at the point where I'd probably avoid an event if I found that it had a policy of not enforcing garb rules well. We encourage garb at our practices, and we've been growing lately.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 8:18 am 
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Sir Anastasia wrote:
So, yes - any negative situation at an event, whether is be at weapon's check or from a herald telling you that you need to get garb or go home has the very real potential of causing someone to never return. I think that I have had massive growth in my region by doing these unpleasant things in the nicest way possible. Because the reality is that events require garb and unsafe gear can't go on the field, so it has to be done. However, events can also make people decide that Bel is their forever hobby, so if you do it as best as you can - you might get to have your cake and eat it too. Here are some tips:

1) Always be professional and courteous, no put downs, no condescension, and only extreme hospitality.
2) If it needs to be said, explain that it isn't just you coming down on them - it is an international standard agreed upon by an entire community. Everyone has to be treated the same.
3) Apologize for the inconvenience, and offer them whatever they need to keep playing, whether it's garb or gear.
4) Have that gear obviously well maintained and tell them that you worked really hard on it for THEM because YOU feel it is REALLY important for new people to be able to play the game that you love.
5) Check in with them later to see if they are ok and having a good time.
6) Enjoy your new friends because if they are already on your field - you won't be given a better recruitment or retention opportunity.


This.

The key to this is pretty simple: don't be a *. I understand that heralds have a lot to put up with, particularly weapons checkers, but that doesn't excuse being a *, and it happens all the time at nearly every event. Weapons checkers will treat people like they're stupid for having a failing weapon, and laugh about it later. Heralds will berate people for incidentally not taking a hit, and laugh about it later. Rumors circulate about the moron the weapons checkers and heralds are laughing about, and suddenly everyone is laughing at the new guy who just didn't know bette. Most of the people this happens to are newer, because they're intrinsically less familiar with the rules, customs, and culture of Belegarth and its events.

Xemeo might be kidding, but he's right-- we do use bullying, and it doesn't work well.

It's not the rules pushing new players away, it's the asshats enforcing them badly. A dose of temperance would make all the rules equally enforceable for our heralds, and much easier to do so.

Just sayin'.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 8:57 am 
Slayer
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Thanks for the thoughtful replies. Recruiting season is in full swing in many places, and gearing up in others, such as college towns like my own, so I've been thinking about how I present the sport to others, and how that will affect recruitment and retention efforts. I've been told that I'm too strict in my interpretation of the rules, but I feel better about that knowing that I'm not the only one who thinks that way.

Sir Anastasia, your advice is spot on. As Korbin reiterated, it's not the rules, it's the way we enforce them. Being less blunt, and minding the tone in which I approach enforcement will likely fare better than choosing to let certain rules slide.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:52 am 
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He can confirm but I believe that Teej lost a bunch of people when he tried enforcing garb rules for the Lowlands several years ago. It nearly killed his realm. Since then, the FL realms have been fairly lax about garb.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:26 am 
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The last thing I'll chime in on is that I feel practices and events can be different creatures. I like my events strict and what I said before is my approach to an event. It's true we should "practice" as we are going to play at an event, but you will find that lax garb rules at practice can greatly boost numbers and provide a "chill" atmosphere that the casual player feels more comfortable in. This can add to your numbers and keep your Sr. people from getting bored fighting the same people every practice.

The good news is that you can tell everyone from day one that they can go without garb at practice, but that events require it if that is something they are interested in attending. That way - they get to decide when to make the leap. If you make your events rock so that everyone has a good time - they are the BEST way to solidify someone's commitment to Bel. If you are petty and put them down for being inexperienced - they will probably drop out.

Use practice to get people into the athletic aspect of the sport and events as the tool to show them our community and culture. It doesn't have to be BAM! You either have it all on day one or GTFO. Similar to any martial arts group, don't force your white belts into competition on day 1. Ease them into it - and you will reap the rewards. I have been doing this for many years and I will say you can't predict who will be here in 10 years based on what they do and what they wear to their first practices.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 4:55 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:21 pm 
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Maybe not the best metaphor then, but the point I am trying to make is that you can have great recruiting gains by making sure practices are a casual environment. Maybe Yoga or any other casual athletic game would be better examples, you don't need uniforms for those activities so they seem more mainstream, and since the barrier to participate is low - you can get many casual participants. Casual fighters are a benefit that keep senior fighters from being bored and allow for future growth.

I think in BMCS there can be a feeling that a casual player can never become "real" Bel players, but it isn't true. That's what I meant by saying your recruits don't have to have it "All" on day 1. Getting people into Bel (heart and soul) can be done in steps. 1) Get people to have fun at practice 2) Help them get what they need for events 3) Have them have a great time at events. 4) Enjoy that they are now hooked into Bel. It's a strategy that requires patience, but it's a worthwhile angle for retention. And really, it works. If it didn't, I don't think I would have gone from 2 to 90 active members in 6 years.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 3:28 pm 
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I'm a big fan of the method of restricting weapons for regular players who show without garb. I've known several realms that say that after five practices or so, you must have your own garb or you can only use single blue. I've seen similar practices with loaner weapons and gear. This encourages newbies to become fully-functional self-sufficient fighters.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 1:40 pm 
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Enforcing garb at practices to the point of telling people they can't fight with you if they don't have garb (or are restricted to single blue) should be part of an overall policy of recruiting quality individuals to your realm. People who can't be bothered to have garb, probably can't be bothered to get equipment, etc. They will be a drain on realm resources, as opposed to a net positive.


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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2014 12:52 pm 
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Brutus wrote:
Enforcing garb at practices to the point of telling people they can't fight with you if they don't have garb (or are restricted to single blue) should be part of an overall policy of recruiting quality individuals to your realm. People who can't be bothered to have garb, probably can't be bothered to get equipment, etc. They will be a drain on realm resources, as opposed to a net positive.


We are NOT for everyone. And there is nothing wrong with that.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2014 6:56 pm 
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I think these are good points that anyone can take into consideration. Philosophies in the real world when practiced give realms and events their own feel, and whatever people's groups decide on is fine because that is what it right for them. Different regions have different needs too - rural areas can operate differently from populated ones, and whenever you decide on advice for how to grow your realm or event you really need to first ask yourself: what type of growth and what type of event? Then find a plan that works for you and your group.

The only thing I would caution is that you should always be growing, even if it is small growth - you really need a positive trend to keep up with natural attrition. If you don't do anything to grow, or you don't grow enough - realms can go extinct and no one wants that.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 5:26 am 
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The limit to single blue when not in garb at practice is an entertaining idea, I will have to look into it more, but for now I will weigh in on what I have experienced. I do not enforce garb at my practice, much to the annoyance of a few fighters that frequent it. That being said these fighters are exlempary individuals who show up in garb, offer to teach my new fighters, and then offer to have them over for a garb building session. Garb can help give them a character identity, and I will say that there is a certain level of psyching yourself up and getting into the zone when you gear up. That said, I rarely wear garb to practices personally, its a non issue for me and can create a more welcoming atmosphere for walk ons. I'd like to think that after 6 years in the sport, founding and leading my own realm, and volunteering my service to run major sections of national events that I am worthy of being kept around. The ultimate thing I was going to retort about this sport not being for everyone is that while its not, that random kid who fought for 3 weeks and then bailed because they were ostricized for not having garb could have known the next Kyrian or Elwrath, but told them not to go because the realm, which is all they understand about the sport, were jerks to him. Treat every fighter like they have the potential to be the next superstar in the sport, and they might bring you the next legend on a silver platter.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to make some simple practice garb so said individuals who attend my practice stop making me look bad on my own field.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 11:34 am 
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Had there been an expectation for basic garb, as is written in the rules, after a reasonable amount of time I don't see the problem with that. With weapons restrictions were not saying you can't play. I don't think anyone is saying that. I plan on solving the issue in my own realm by making half a dozen realm tabards that will be for use of anyone needing near basic garb for that day. If wearing our uniform at practice turns you off this game maybe you should find a different one. There are many options for you for a reason. Setting a standard isn't singling people out or being mean. It's expecting at a minimum the same from everyone veteran and new fighter alike for the betterment of the game and it's image.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:00 pm 
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Orokusan wrote:
Setting a standard isn't singling people out or being mean.


This is very true provided when people boot people off the field they do it the right way, and that people aren't harassed for bad garb. I always talk to people with respect when I have to boot for garb offenses. Recently we had an event where a guy was very angry about getting booted with a fuzzy leopard speedo... and people were being * about it on top of the booting. I spoke to him and told him to think about our image in a public park. What did we look like to families there? Would this hurt or help or recruitment efforts? He realized that his funny gag had broader implications for what we do and altered his garb accordingly. He never gave me attitude and I didn't give him any either. We came to an understanding through civil and friendly discussion. Before our talk - he said he would never be back because people had been mean. After that talk, he was playing again in a modified costume. I think this is an example of setting a standard and not singling people out or being mean.

This is separate from the concept of barriers to play. Requiring garb the first time out is a barrier to play. It can be alleviated by doing what others have suggested, like making loaner garb for people. Anything you can do to make it easier to join or play, makes it easier for you to recruit and retain. Retention doesn't have to be a passive process of separating the grain from the chaff. It can be a pathway where realm leadership helps its recruits learn all the ropes so that they become self sufficient. Ultimately, they even contribute back while growing your realm at all levels.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 6:41 pm 
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Orokusan, its attitudes like that that I feel drive people off. All of my fighters have garb, better than minimum, that we all wear when visiting another field or attending an event, I'm the first to call them out when they don't. So yes, we wear our "uniform" on game day, but for our pick up practices I see no reason for the wear and tear on the garb. I realize that back east there is a culture of in your not in garb, your not with us, but out here in southern California we've been garb lax for years, and what do we have to show for it? One of the strongest density of fighters in any state an the premier western event that outnumbers chaos wars in attendance. If were "doing it wrong" then I'm not certain I want to do it right. The fighters we retain out here all acquire their own kit and take pride in it, so really the only issue we have is you boys back east bible thumping because us new age hippies are doing something you don't like, and getting better results. Come out west to BFTR and see how we do things before tossing us under the metaphorical bus as a lost cause.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:45 pm 
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Hardiron wrote:
Orokusan, its attitudes like that that I feel drive people off. All of my fighters have garb, better than minimum, that we all wear when visiting another field or attending an event, I'm the first to call them out when they don't. So yes, we wear our "uniform" on game day, but for our pick up practices I see no reason for the wear and tear on the garb. I realize that back east there is a culture of in your not in garb, your not with us, but out here in southern California we've been garb lax for years, and what do we have to show for it? One of the strongest density of fighters in any state an the premier western event that outnumbers chaos wars in attendance. If were "doing it wrong" then I'm not certain I want to do it right. The fighters we retain out here all acquire their own kit and take pride in it, so really the only issue we have is you boys back east bible thumping because us new age hippies are doing something you don't like, and getting better results. Come out west to BFTR and see how we do things before tossing us under the metaphorical bus as a lost cause.


Tordek, generalizations like this aren't going to help in keeping this discussion civil. I know that there have been people who're convinced that California has been doing things wrong and see the need for it to be "corrected". My general assessment is that California does some things well. I personally believe in wearing garb to every practice even if there are others who disagree. Some realms don't enforce garb rules and have been successful in growing the sport. Some do enforce the garb rules and still manage to do very well. Let's focus on ways in which we can impress upon people in a positive way that garb is an important aspect of Belegarth. Oh, and, for the record, Oroku is from Stygia which is in Missoula, MT so I think he would qualify as a western fighter.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 8:11 am 
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Thanks for all of the great replies. It's great to hear success from different points of view; it'll make helping figure out what'll work for my realm easier.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 8:57 am 
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Oroku was at BftR this year. I housed him on his way down and back. Also I believe the overall population density of SoCal in general might have something to do with that areas numbers. It could be a poor correlation on my part but it's just an observation, considering SoCal area (LA metro, and San Diego metro) has more people than the entire states of Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho combined. Not trying to be mean or single you out Hardiron just pointing out some facts that may attribute to the areas growth.

Thurat, I stayed away from talking about garb enforcement at practice. Ebonhold requires garb after about 6 consecutive weeks of practice that a fighters made it out to. You asked about events and garb enforcement; I still stand by it. At events everyone on the field should be in minimum garb or be told to change.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 4:08 pm 
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Hardiron wrote:
Orokusan, its attitudes like that that I feel drive people off. All of my fighters have garb, better than minimum, that we all wear when visiting another field or attending an event, I'm the first to call them out when they don't. So yes, we wear our "uniform" on game day, but for our pick up practices I see no reason for the wear and tear on the garb. I realize that back east there is a culture of in your not in garb, your not with us, but out here in southern California we've been garb lax for years, and what do we have to show for it? One of the strongest density of fighters in any state an the premier western event that outnumbers chaos wars in attendance. If were "doing it wrong" then I'm not certain I want to do it right. The fighters we retain out here all acquire their own kit and take pride in it, so really the only issue we have is you boys back east bible thumping because us new age hippies are doing something you don't like, and getting better results. Come out west to BFTR and see how we do things before tossing us under the metaphorical bus as a lost cause.


I'm with Kage on the numbers game. Don't want to derail the thread but if you don't have those numbers where you guys are you're doing it wrong. And as you mentioned, you're not in any way shape or form doing it wrong. Look me up this year in Chinoyou can find me at arrow check. Hell at Chaos too.

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 Post subject: Re: Event success and fighter retention re: garb enforcement
PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 5:30 pm 
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Lots of ways to make a realm work well. BMCS is international with each group having its own local autonomy. And that is very important because it means that each area is best suited for addressing its needs based on the desires of its constituency. No reason to call people out on anything here - really all we can do is learn from each other the best practices for our own unique goals. There are things I learn from Florida realms and Illinois realms and California realms and all of those things can become tools for me to meet my goals - and the goals of the constituents I serve. I would also hope that we can work together to add humility to that laid back California philosophy. It's tough sometimes because we get a lot of crap behind the scenes, and I think that frustration came out here a bit. At the end of the day - everyone here is passionate about working hard for their groups and with trying to improve and grow BMCS - and I think we should all remember that.

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