Suppose the UPA institutes a roster limit of 15 players for the fall series. What effect will this have?
80% of teams will be worse in absolute terms. The overall level of play will probably decline. There will be more parity.
How will various teams be affected?
All teams will be hurt a little because practices will be harder to do.
The best teams from big cities will be hurt a little because of this.
Conglomerate teams will be hurt significantly as practices become much more difficult to field 7s, and players decide to stay locally.
Second teams from big cities will be significantly better. There might even be enough interest in a third competitive team.
Small-market teams that currently do not lose players to conglomerate teams will be hurt a little because of the practice effect. Small-market teams that currently lose players will be helped a lot.
Why will play decline?
With this few tournament players, the level of play will have to decrease because players won’t be able to maintain that intensity and quality playing 50% more. (Roster of 21: play 1/3 of the time. Roster of 14, play ½ of the time. ½ is 50% more than 1/3.)
Practices will have no subs and won’t be intense. Many practices won’t even have 7 on 7, which means no zone or junk D practice, funny offensive lines (2 handlers, 2 middles, 1 deep?), and unrealistic spacing.
Some good players will retire/play coed rather than compete on a lesser men’s or women’s team.
Some decent players will want to play but won’t make it on any roster, and unless there is a critical mass of them and at least one or two are organizers, they’ll be out of luck.
On the other hand,
Players will have to condition better, so maybe that will raise the play.
Second-string elite teamers will now be playing bigger roles on lesser teams, bumping down those players to a lower level.
And another thing:
There will be more tournaments, as teams decide that they can’t get that much out of 6 on 6 practices and so will decide to go a relatively weak tournament. Having more tournaments that are competitive is definitely a good thing, but what is the cost? Perhaps it is that teams won’t practice much. Maybe this would lead to a rise in conglomerate teams who get together at tournaments every weekend.
And one more thing: I’ve been discussing this from a team level, but of course it is individuals who play. I listed a few types who would be hurt by this, but who is going to be helped?
Players who would prefer to be a big fish in a small pond but all the other fish prefer a big pond. (Ok, let’s be a little kinder to them: perhaps they think that it will be better for their career if they spend a year or two playing full-time at AAA instead of practicing with and riding the pine on a big league team, and without roster limits there would be no AAA team for them.)
Players on a team whose natural roster limit is 15. They actually won’t get any better or get to play more, but their best opponents will be a little worse. (Otoh, maybe their chances at making Nationals are lessened. Red Tide might have been good enough to beat Dark Horse twice when it counted, but they probably weren’t good enough to beat Dark Horse reinforced with a few of the extra players from DoG.)