A look inside scheduling and how Tetris is helping

One of the most frequently asked questions we get at BAM Jam is “When will the tournament schedule be out?”

Typically, the BAM Jam schedules will be out the Thursday before the tournament starts. We post it online and separate it by the bracket type and court.

But the next question is usually “How do you create the schedule?”

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Scheduling is kind of like a big puzzle with moving pieces and limited space and time. 

Scheduling BAM Jam teams is a bit like playing a game of Tetris. The teams are the different shapes closing in on the bottom and you want to position them so that every piece of available space is being used. As the popularity of BAM Jam has grown, wasted space could mean an additional team that doesn’t get to play. Maximizing our space and time is the key to delivering BBall for All. 

Like Tetris, you barely know what is coming next and time is running out. The next team could be a fourth grade girls team or it could be a tenth grade boys team. It could be a team that is interchangeable with another bracket (such as men’s 6’0 Under Competitive which usually has more then one bracket) or it could be a team that needs to combine with another division in order to have enough teams to play (such as combining 3rd and 4th graders).

And while we do have some nice software to helps us in this process, misplacing one team can blow an entire bracket up, sending us back to square one (Tetris pun intended). 

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Like Tetris, we are shooting for no wasted space. The goal for bracketing is 100% accuracy.

Our bracketing guru, Jon DeWolfe, has scheduled dozens of these tournaments. While he has really dialed in the process over the years, it still comes down to preparing for the deadline and then seeing who signs up. This is one more reason that teams signing up by the registration deadline is critical. Like Tetris, for us having a Plan A, B and C can help us be successful. 

Once teams are registered, Jon will look at the times that are available (this is determined largely by when we are allowed to start, when we have to be finished and by how many court monitors we have) and the number of teams in each division. That’s when he starts to lay things out. 

Once a first draft is done, the brackets are reviewed by several people to make sure all registered teams have been accounted for and that there are no overlapping games. Court monitors need breaks and special event times have to be accounted for as well.

Once tweaks are made and corrections are turned in, a second draft is prepared. This draft is also reviewed, corrected and tweaked. This process continues until the brackets are accurate. That is when they are made public. 

The goal: creating 100% perfect brackets so teams can focus on having a great time.

It can be a tedious process that requires patience and a “can do” attitude. 

Do you have more scheduling questions? Feel free to post your questions here or send them to: service@idahoselect.org.