COVID-19 update: May 2020 and the road ahead

The IFPA Board of Directors continues to monitor the impacts of COVID-19 as we consider our path forward. We have received questions from the pinball community about the ongoing suspension of IFPA-sanctioned tournaments and leagues and what criteria we will use to determine when to end our suspension. While we do not plan to lift the suspension in the immediate future, we want to share some of our criteria for making this decision as well as offer some alternative avenues to encourage the continued enjoyment of competitive pinball.

We wish we were able to sanction events right now. Not only does our organization depend on competitive pinball in order to exist, pinball is a source of joy and community for each of us, and we are impacted by the absence of tournaments and leagues on both an organizational and a personal level. Given the close quarters and high-contact nature of pinball events, we recognize the heightened level of risk that they carry, and we are not comfortable incentivizing gathering in groups, regardless of size, to play pinball during a highly contagious pandemic.

Additionally, the IFPA is a global organization. While some regions are reopening or were not as severely impacted by the virus, we want to ensure that our plans to restart sanctioning are fair to all players. We rely on the expertise and guidance of our IFPA Country Directors and State Representatives to understand the situation on a regional basis, and we are listening to their input regarding whether they feel that tournaments and leagues are possible and prudent based on the specific realities of their communities. As of May 19th, our Country Directors and State Representatives are unanimous in their opinion that it is not safe to re-open IFPA sanctioning at this time. We will continue to consult them as the situation develops. All IFPA staff, country directors, and state representatives are volunteers, so please be respectful in offering your feedback as we navigate the re-opening process.

While we are honored that our work is a motivating factor in many players’ competitive pinball journeys, the IFPA does not control pinball tournaments and leagues outside of the sanctioning and ranking systems that we offer. If restrictions are eased in your area, you are welcome to gather for a pinball event within the guidelines of your local health authority. These events will not be worth WPPR points, but they can be for money, prizes, and/or glory. We appreciate the various ways the competitive community has innovated during our sanctioning hiatus, including Dead Flip’s virtual invitationals and Laura Fraley’s Quarantopia selfie league.

The IFPA is currently working on a campaign to reintroduce IFPA Challenge Matches as activity we will approve during this period where we are not sanctioning tournament and league play. We will share more about this initiative shortly, as we are very excited to start this on June 1st.

The IFPA will continue to monitor the situation closely and communicate with our Country Directors and State Reps to determine when it will be appropriate to restart our sanctioning process. Stay tuned for additional details in the coming months, and stay safe!

27 responses to “COVID-19 update: May 2020 and the road ahead”

  1. Lonnie carroll says:

    Hi. As a TD I think there needs to be a way to electronically accept buying in, IFPA fees, and payouts to Avoid personally coming into contact with 40 people and exchanging monies with all of them.

  2. Bryon Schmitz says:

    This is a fair assessment. The last thing we need is people traveling around county to county or even state to state to get IFPA points. Not necessary right now or even in the next few months at least. Virus is not magically going to disappear. Restarting in 2021 would not be a bad idea. I think we’ll survive if we don’t have competitive playing this year. That’s my opinion. Coming from a very competitive player in Wisconsin. We’ve discussed everything lately and I think the consensus is to lay back for some time. We don’t need people traveling great distances for IFPA points. I’m fine with it. Thanks for everything the IFPA has done and will do.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Lonnie, nothing has ever stopped a TD from collecting tournament entry fees via Venmo or PayPal on a mobile device. You can set it up yourself. Tournament fees are already remitted to IFPA electronically.

  4. Lonnie carroll says:

    Hi Stephanie. Thank you for your reply. I realize there are some patchwork electronic options and I probably would do exactly that if needed. Or I may not run tournaments again. I’m considered in the “high risk” group. Cashapp comes to mind as probably the simplest. I guess a grander, systemic future is what I have in mind. The IFPA has a secure system for us to transmit money to you, and most active players have IFPA accounts. If the credits were expanded to everyone and our registered tournaments listed on the calendar could be registered, paid for, and even then disbursed back out would be a dream scenario. I realize that would be a huge change but as a huge organizer it may help with any potential savings of lives , saving an outbreak in our local community , and reducing any possible liability that some person may try to sue. These all may be long shots but I do believe we are going to see a barrage of lawsuits against anywhere people feel like they caught the virus and employers, clubs, organizations , and even TD”s might get sued. Organizations that had “best practices” in place may fare better than others and I’m sure legal precedents will be set soon, one way or the other. Thanks again for your reply.

  5. Matt says:

    I don’t think a one-size-fits-all approach is appropriate here. It may be too early to resume play right now, but I also think it’s too early to lose all hope for competitive pinball in some form returning this year. Not all IFPA-sanctioned events are headliners that draw players from all over–many are small affairs that attract predominately locals. (Most of the big-name events have already been called off for this year anyway.) One option, if you don’t want to resume sanctioning some jurisdictions before others, would be (at a date to be determined) to allow events up to a certain number of players at first. That number could gradually increase as the risk continues to subside.

  6. Lee Miscarirolo says:

    An effort to begin tournament play at locations should be the primary focus. It can be done safely IMO. I am quite surprised that there has been no effort to develope a plan that could be approved by local goverments that reduce the likelyhood of transmission. X2 that there has been no discussion that I have seen.

    Many states have begun reopening. Arcades have recently opened. Pinball tournaments should be scheduled to begin once again. Its about getting back to normal now. That should be the focus. How long will pinball suffer. It is a one person no contact sport that only needs to deal with social distancing, surface contact and airborne particles. We cannot deal with that? Lets be realistic about this. Pinball should be ready to go. It is time to get started with a plan for all to use as it becomes available by location. In Florida, there are pinball places open. Legally. More are scheduled this week and next week. A museum in Miami has opened. Lets get the ball rolling. Get plans in place. Hold local tournys. Save the businesses. Either sanctioned or not sanctioned. No one will care. Just get things started.

  7. Joe Blasi says:

    The idea
    “To allow events up to a certain number of players at first. That number could gradually increase as the risk continues to subside.”

    Can work but then we need to kill old state SCS rules for this year or start over from opening date. (No holdover leagues)

    Maybe and split for SCS seeding from the old rules and from the more limited size limits

  8. Lee Moscaritolo says:

    Lets get rolling. Its time. Be smart, careful and have a plan. We are adults and can figure it out. Get the ball rolling.

  9. Lee Moscaritolo says:

    Ya. The doom and gloom has got to stop. It is time to get going. Time to plan. Not 2 dam months from now. Seriously. There should have been a plan in place a week ago. I am going to play pinball at a barcade this weekend. Cannot wait. Lets get these businesses up and running. Play safe with a safe plan. Get tournys up and running. Safely. We can do it. We are smart. We want it. Lets get the ball rolling now. Its a no contact sport with very small numbers of spectators who can watch via video stream. Lets roll.

  10. Connor says:

    Hey Lee! In the post it still talks about locations and cities still being able to organize their own tournaments and events that adhere to local recommendations from where you live about how people can gather, which businesses can be open, how to keep patrons at your business safe, etc.

    That’s great that the local Florida governments are opening up arcades and venues! I would recommend talking to those venues or local tournament organizers to see if they can organize an event for your local community that adheres to those guidelines. This post isn’t about saying that pinball tournaments can’t happen, just that they aren’t going to be sanctioned for World Ranking purposes.

    I think what they’re saying is that it just isn’t fair to have such a significant portion of the world legally and responsibly unable to host tournaments. It would throw off the legitimacy of the rankings for months and years to come if large chunks of the world are just unable to play.

    It would like if the NBA started sanctioning games and only the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic were able to play between all of the states. Would it then really feel like a deserved Championship if one of only two teams won?

  11. Lee Moscaritolo says:

    Hey Conner, yes I did get some of that and that is great but I don’t think the theme is a good one. My feeling is that the folks who are drafting this stuff should take that energy in a different direction. Lets get things up and running in the usa and spread that out to other geographics as permitted. We are the leaders of the world and we need to set the pace. We need to lead. It is time. Lets get going in a good direction and lets try to salvage upcoming events that have not been canceled. Lets get the calendar up. It is time. We can do it safely. We can figure it out. We always do and will once again but wait another 2 months without a plan? Lets roll. It is time.

  12. Mike Hafner says:

    I’m fine with the decision to wait. I have no doubt the competitive side will come roaring back once things settle down. Also, I don’t want to compete while social distancing. Many of the locations we compete at are already tight. I don’t want to have to wait outside for my turn. That doesn’t sound fun.

    I am worried about losing public locations due to the shutdown. I will support my local locations (while social distancing) by playing for fun as soon as I can. I encourage others to do the same. Just not all at once.

  13. Mike Hafner says:

    The half life of the virus on stainless steel, which is what many lockbars are made for, is 12 hours. So if you wait 12 hours between entries, you will probably be ok. Best to wait a full week between entries for the virus to completely degrade.

  14. Lee Moscarirolo says:

    Thats interesting data. I could not find a date on it. Do you think proper masks and good sanitizing could effectively reduce the risk of transmission?

  15. FRO says:

    It is not appropriate to play organized, competitive pinball in groups any time in the near future. The very suggestion is irresponsible, reckless and just plain ignorant.

  16. Lee Moscaritolo says:

    That may be true if there is not any safeguards in place but I would tend to think that there is enough knowledge and inginuity to safely coordinate local events at certain levels with a very low risk of transmission. Local restrictions could also factor into planning. Some of the safeguards may even be continued for an extended time and some probably should have been followed long ago.

  17. I am glad to see this statement and think it is correct. I also agree with FRO’s remark above.

  18. Joe Blasi says:

    “I think what they’re saying is that it just isn’t fair to have such a significant portion of the world legally and responsibly unable to host tournaments. It would throw off the legitimacy of the rankings for months and years to come if large chunks of the world are just unable to play.”

    “It would like if the NBA started sanctioning games and only the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic were able to play between all of the states. Would it then really feel like a deserved Championship if one of only two teams won?”

    That is why we need to kill year long stuff for this year as is.

    Unplayed playoffs (Stern Pro, IFPA world, POWER 100, etc) Should not count for this years sate SCS (if they some how play them this year) (EVEN MORE SO if state changes)

    POWER 100 for next year (cut off date before shutdown)

    SCS reset seeding from open date (as different states may have different ramp up times and may not get back to the old levels in full this year. Leagues in holding will need to have there points based on events / games played after the restart.

    Does the IFPA Really want to play the EVENT BUY rush cop? We don’t lots of list is full as soon as it’s posted to the site events.

    Expand the SCS at the very least to super size for all.

    ALT have an before and after grouping to get in (best rank if in both)
    + format change (some kind of per play of both groups to set the seeding for the main SCS (maybe some from non super to super number of players getting to that stage)
    (league events may need to spilt points somehow over both halfs)

    Kill the dollar fee / maybe make it stay that the state level.

    Unplayed playoffs That role to next year from this (Maybe should not count for that next year in the sate they are in)

  19. Barry says:

    Agree with FRO. Think of a league competition with say 20 folks and one person is infectious. By the end of the day all 20 people would be exposed and create a potential outbreak. Love pinball but without testing it is a high risk group activity.

  20. Lee Moscaritolo says:

    Testing will hopefully open things up some but unless you are tested at the door and dont leave the facility and the tested group, the risk will still exist. That sort of testing is a ways off. Planning tournaments must include the possibility of an infected player and will for a very long time and if that becomes the primary factor in having tournaments, competition may be done for a very very long time.

    There are methods that greatly reduce the likelyhood of transmission. Proper masking of the mouth and nose is paramont along with the distancing standards. A very big misconception of masking began early on. It is important for everyone to mask which reduces the likelyhood of airborne particles being placed into the air and not so much a protection of infection to the wearer. You can still be infected through the eyes and other ways with airborne perticles floating around and oon surfaces which is why we see the face shields becoming popular.

    One other thing to add… I called the arcade on the east coast of Florida a couple of days ago. They have opened their doors for pinball. My question to them was if they required face coverings. The answer was no and that the players can choose whether to wear coverings or not. I wont be going there and would not reccomend anyone going. They do have an every 3rd game limit of play which I thought was ok for the social distancing issue and they have employees running around as players leave a game for sanitizing. The face covering is concerning. I got the feeling they did not quite understand the importance of face coverings or maybe they dont care. Idk but it would not surprise me to see a rule change there or possibly a closure.

  21. Joseph Nebus says:

    I am also glad the IFPA is not sanctioning events, and not planning to sanction events, for the foreseeable future. I can not see a way to responsibly hold a pinball tournament under current conditions, and I do not see those conditions changing soon.

    I’m startled that there is talk of Challenge Matches. While those can be done more safely than a tournament (or league) they still demand great caution from the people participating.

  22. Heather Kendrick says:

    I was actually also somewhat concerned about the encouragement of Challenge Matches given that limiting exposure to people outside one’s household will probably continue to be advisable for quite some time.

  23. Chipper hughes says:

    If pinball tournaments to start up I think we all should start from scratch so that way other people can have a chance to move up

  24. Lee Moscaritolo says:

    Chipper, as crazy as that sounds, that would be a fun time for pinball rankings. I would not count on it though. Lots of players would not be happy.

    Tournaments in Florida have begun. The District Eat and Play in Oviedo Florida opened on the 21st. They are open all weekend featuring 26 pins, social distancing rules, mandatory face masks for the employees, local business opening guidelines and several extra staff members on hand for sanitizing games following use by a player. The tournaments were free and fun. I played in the one last night and really enjoyed it. The building is very large and it was easy to play well away from other players.

    Players were not mandated to wear face masks. Most did though. I wore a face mask and eye shield to reduce infection from airborne particles through the eyes. Again, I dont think everyone realizes the importance of wearing a face mask. I had a great time. Two full days of learning some new games. Hopefully things begin to roll around the country.

  25. Joe Blasi says:

    sanitizing games following use by a player.
    So all games single player only?

  26. Lee Moscaritolo says:

    No, we played two player matches in the tournament. Wiping down games between players balls was not kept up as I would have liked. I kept my hands from touching any parts of my body until I sanitized following the playing of a ball. I will have my own sanitizer for game cleaning next time for sure.

    I am heading out to another grand opening this weekend so lets see what management does there. I have not heard of any tournaments being held so it may be just practice. I am not aware of the face mask rule there either. I really hope that masks properly fitted become mandatory. It works and works well. If you are prevented from ejecting virus particles into the air or onto surfaces, most of the transmission risk is eliminated. This is the primary function of a mask. Lets see how this coming weekend goes.

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