Great Lakes Analytics in Sports Conference

Stephanie Budzisz

Oakland University

Horizon Volleyball League Wallflower Schedule

The Horizon volleyball league is a double round-robin league consisting of nine teams in which the games must be played out over a time span of nine weeks. We propose a new method of scheduling games that is a combination of the Travelling Party and Lone Ranger strategies. While the Travelling Party strategy is favored for its convenience, fairness, and low cost, it usually requires either an even number of teams, or extra time to accommodate games with the last team. The Lone Ranger strategy is generally disliked due to the heavy burden it places on a single team during the league that year, and a lengthy time period required to regain fairness. Our strategy, which we refer to as the Wallflower strategy, enables all 72 games of the Horizon League to be played within the league's specified nine weeks, unlike the ten weeks that would be required by using the Travelling Party strategy. We measured the fairness of the schedule in terms of three burdens: missed class days, miles traveled, and nights spent at hotels. The Wallflower schedule produced a fair distribution of the burden in all three categories. No school's mileage is more than 14% of the miles traveled by all nine schools (which is guaranteed to be within 25% of an solution optimized solely for minimum number of miles travel led). Each school is required to miss no more than 1 or 2 class days, and this can be traded off on consecutive years. Each school is estimated to have 5 or 6 nights spent at a hotel. The Wallflower strategy enables schools to customize the solution to suit their preferences, such as missing more classes to have more rest between games. It also satisfies additional desired traits of a good schedule, such as not driving long distances the day of a game, no more than 4 away games in a row, and no game needs to be scheduled the last Sunday before tournaments. While this schedule has some schools play three away games in a single weekend, and three home games in another weekend, these schools also have two weekends during the league during which they have no games scheduled, and these three-game-weekends may be when schools choose to trade an extra day of missed classes for an additional day of rest between games.

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