Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NASPA membership

Posted by Brad Mills
So I have officially joined the North American Scrabble Players Association, the new organization for tournament and club Scrabble in North America. NASPA is a player-run organization formed as a result of Hasbro no longer funding club and tournament activity, and by extension, a large part of the NSA's responsibilities as we've known them. The NSA's new focus will be on outreach, casual play, and School Scrabble. Thus, the responsibilities formerly under the NSA umbrella are being transitioned over to NASPA - a process which should be completed by the end of the year. In a nutshell, NASPA is the future of organized Scrabble in North America.

Right now I'm one of only 40 NASPA members, and the first member in West Virginia to my knowledge. My membership number is AA000044. That's a vanity number, for the record, and it cost me a little extra... but it was worth it for me to have a 44 at the end of it. (I've got kind of a thing about the number 4.) And, I believe it was a good thing to provide a little extra startup money to the new organization.

As of July 1, NASPA membership will be required to participate in sanctioned Scrabble tournaments - similar to how NSA membership is required currently. Also, on July 1, NSA clubs will become NASPA clubs provided the proper fees have been paid. This fee for a club to exist is a new requirement - and yes, I'm going to pay it, so we're going to become a NASPA club. I don't know if we'll have the same club number as before, or if we'll even have a club number at all... calling ourselves "NSA Club 620" was always a requirement of the NSA and Hasbro. For all I know, we might become the "Charleston, WV Scrabble Club" or something appropriately descriptive of who and what we actually are - imagine that!

So although there is uncertainty about the specifics, things are moving, and I believe they're moving in the right direction. I like the idea of us as players deciding our own fate - I dig it philosophically, and I think it fits the "spirit of the game" better than being at the financial mercy of a big corporation.

If you want to learn more about the corporate history of the game, pick up Paul McCarthy's Letterati: An Unauthorized Look At Scrabble - a rather underrated book, in my opinion, which takes an unapologetic look at the NSA-Hasbro relationship and examines the effects it's had on organized play.

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