The first poll ranking the top men’s clubs in the U.S. has been released with the New York Athletic Club (NYAC) edging New York City (NYC) for the top spot. NYAC’s resume so far this season consists of a 5-0-0 record and a Michael Lipov Tournament title in Chicago this past October. NYC is also undefeated with a spotless 6-0-0 in Northeast Team Handball League play.
Rounding out the top 5 are Chicago Inter, Revol and San Francisco CalHeat. Chicago Inter has a 16-1-1 record and is dominating play in the Midwest Team Handball League, placed 2nd to NYAC at the Michael Lipov Tourney and won the inaugural Texas Cup earlier in December. Revol, a new side consisting mostly of current and former Residency Program players at Auburn has a 3-0-2 record from the Chicago Tourney where they took 3rd place. Rounding out the top 5 is San Francisco Cal Heat with a 6-0-4 record, a 4th place finish in Chicago and a 2nd place finish in Texas.
Background on the Ranking Process
The bulk of the credit for this undertaking goes to Bryan Cothorn with the DC Diplomats and Northeast Team Handball League. Bryan has compiled the results and tabulated several different ranking statistics at this website: Link
Further, he rounded up several volunteers to review this data plus factor in their own personal observations to come up with their own individual ranking. These individual rankings are then combined to produce the overall club ranking: Link
Background on Rankings (in General)
The concept of “rankings” may be common knowledge to many American sports fans, but as there are a fair number of expats involved with handball in the U.S. here’s a brief explanation/history as it relates to sports rankings.
First off, let’s be clear: These rankings have no “official” bearing. They are not endorsed by USA Team Handball and they won’t be used to select teams for the Elite National Championship bracket. That process for selecting will card teams is defined in the rule book and those current standings are here: Link
It’s possible that these rankings could be used by some tournament organizers to seed pools, but that’s not officially defined anywhere.
As far as guidelines for the voters, much like the NCAA polls used for college sports there are no hard and fast rules. Voters are free to weigh different factors as they see fit. I’m one of the voters and I’ll tend to put more emphasis on key head to head results. But, if two clubs are close to each other I’ll probably reward the club that plays in a league and practices once in awhile. You don’t like that? Tough. As Bobby Brown once told America over and over, “It’s my prerogative, I can do what I wanna to do”
So what’s the purpose of the rankings, then? Well, it’s simply for fun and recognition. To acknowledge teams for their performances on the court. Bragging rights, if you will. To give some context to matchups that are taking place. It may not be official per se, but it adds a little bit more to your pregame pep talk to say that you are taking on the #1 team in the nation. And, it can really mean a lot for a newcomer team crack the top 10 after years of being just another team.
And, for sure, part of the fun are the debates that inevitably arise. The chip on their shoulder a team gets when they are somehow ranked way lower than they think they should be. Stupid voters! How come we can’t get any respect? East Coast bias! NYAC shouldn’t be #1. Those lazy mercenaries don’t even bother to play in the Northeast League any more. Chicago Inter may have 16 wins, but how many of those W’s are just beating up on weak Midwest opponents? etc, etc.
We’ve already gotten some great feedback and we’re looking at adding a Women’s poll. I’m adding a college specific poll that will place extra emphasis on college vs college results. And, I’m also planning on adding some Wiki style pages that will make it easier for everyone to see the results of different competitions. And, better yet, hopefully for players and coaches to enter the results themselves.
Finally, we would like to get some more balanced representation from other parts of the country so if you’re interested in voting please contact Bryan Cothorn.