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It’s Time For A Players’ Union In Elite Ultimate

by in Opinion with 36 Comments

Ultimate Players' Association.Bob Cousy established the NBA players’ union in 1954. At the time, there were legitimate concerns the league and team owners were chasing their own motives with little or no regard to the players interests. For example, back then when a player got traded he was expected to pay for his move out of his own pocket. Cousy was motivated by a simple issue: left unchecked, the league was moving in directions that increasingly began exploiting its players as means to further “popularize” and “monetize” professional basketball.

60 years later, we see player’s unions playing huge roles in virtually every professional sport. They serve a basic purpose: to protect the interests and well being of the participants who actually compete on the playing surface. We also see why this is necessary: those with marketing and/or financial interests in a sport are, by definition, less interested in the players’ concerns.

In 2013, I am beginning to see some parallels in ultimate. I believe we as a community of players need our own union. As it stands now, we the competitors are forced to compete within a framework designed more to “grow the sport” and less to protect the players.

USA Ultimate wants more opportunities for exposure of top-level ultimate, control of the events that top teams attend, and control of the revenue streams from marketing and broadcasting to ticket sales. USAU’s initial concept for the Triple Crown Tour received resounding disapproval from the players, and after discussions the USAU backed down. That should serve as notice of where USAU sees ultimate going, and there is no doubt that they intend to get it there, or beyond.

It seems that USAU envisions a limited number of high-profile events, which can be packaged up and marketed to sponsors and networks. They stand to make the profits from any incoming revenue, but it seems that by charging large entry fees and establishing some existing sponsorship for premier events, they haven’t necessarily put themselves out to absorb much of the risk.

When thinking about the demands on the players, I think it is necessary to consider two classes of teams, those that have consistently been in the top 10 over the last five years, and those that haven’t. Also, for now i will assume we are talking just about Men’s Division teams, as it is the men who have alternative playing options in the two “pro” leagues.

I think the top USAU teams are happy to make their own schedules and decide which events they want to attend. DIfferent teams will have different formulas for how many events, how much travel, and the timing of those events to suit their personnel and metrics for success. From the player’s perspective, if USAU is going to mandate that they attend certain events, the players want to be compensated for that.

Consider two different teams.

Pro Flight Team A that is composed of many college students who played the grueling college season and have limited budgets may be happy to play local tournaments all summer, and attend one premier tourney they can drive to.

Pro Flight Team B, on the other hand, has many young professionals with more money than responsibility, and are all to happy to pay to fly to multiple events and want to test themselves against quality opponents all summer long.

These teams may have different objectives, with Team A only focused on success at Nationals while Team B wants to win a number of tournaments, win their region, and perform well at Nationals. The training schedule and formula for success for these teams will be different, but under the USAU structure they will have the same demands. And, unless one of these teams wins a premier event, they will receive the same amount of compensation from USAU…nothing.

I think, in general, that these teams want some expenses covered if they are traveling to mandated tourneys. Nationals has always been an optional event, and we can look back to the Northwest around the turn of the century to find an Oregon-based team that qualified for Nationals, but didn’t have players who were willing to make the trip to Sarasota. This option is eliminated under the Triple Crown format for Pro teams, as their option is to participate or disband. This is the proverbial “gun to the head” of these teams.

Now, for the teams on the cusp of Nationals or the general ultimate dues-paying members who don’t participate at Nationals or in the Triple Crown Tour, they would not want to see their dues going to support a limited number of elite events. USAU, for the time being, seems to recognize that by upping the tourney fees on the Triple Crown events to help cover expenses, further taxing the participating players, and again offering nothing in return.

Outside of financials, the new USAU format limits the exposure the average player has to the top teams, as those teams now have decreased participation in regional-level tournaments, and most don’t play at Sectionals. From a competition standpoint, this limits the “bubble teams’” ability to improve because their chances to play top-level competition has been diminished.

For the players on teams below the bubble level, the limited access may prevent young players from seeing what the best players in the game are capable of, but there is probably minimal impact for players on those teams. Those teams can still participate in their summer schedule, they are covered by insurance, and the “fun” events will still be available to them.

Backing up 60 years to the questions Bob Cousy faced, do players on elite teams need protection from a potentially unchecked USAU? If so, who is it and how is it provided? A conservative back of the envelope calculation tells me that Revolver spent roughly $15,000 (not counting missed work) to attend the US Open. What was their payoff for winning? Two thousand dollars and a little time on ESPN3. Now imagine USAU wants Revolver, and the other top teams, to attend three of these types of events per year prior to the Nationals series. Players continue to operate at a deficit, a potentially expanding one, while USAU continues to grow.

I think there is a strong case to be made that USAU does plan to require more from players on teams in the top tier, and that in return they are offering little. To date, sponsorship revenue to teams has been limited, and while i’m sure most top teams pay little-to-nothing for their uniforms, they are not getting money to use at their discretion for things like plane tickets, field space, proper training, rental cars, housing at tournaments, or meals while on the road. This means that players are still covering their own expenses. With that, in my mind at least, comes the right to determine their own team objectives, including the events they attend as a part of achieving the team’s goals.

This isn’t the way the USAU currently sees it, and unless the players unite to work with the USAU in determining what is a fair expectation of the players, the USAU will continue to demand more. At some point those teams may look back and wonder how they got to that point, but I believe the time is now for the top teams to agree to what they expect from USAU. After all, elite players are dues-paying members, and they represent the product that USAU is marketing; they should be setting the expectations, not becoming the victims of USAU’s agenda.

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About Greg Husak

Greg Husak is a 15 year veteran of high level Ultimate. Greg was a leader during the UCSB Black Tide's three-peat, and then again with the Santa Barbara Condors, winning two titles and a World Championship in 2002. He played two seasons and won a title with San Francisco Jam. He is now playing again with the Condors, who are headed back to the Club Championships this year.

View all posts by Greg Husak →

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  • Jimmy

    Could you elaborate on the Oregon based team who qualified for Nationals, but chose not to go?

    • http://www.ultiworld.com/ Charlie Eisenhood

      This question is answered further down the thread, FYI.

  • G

    Portland beat SF in the game to go (game may have been played in the snow). The team of mostly older Portland guys simply weren’t planning to go and bid went to SF. 1998 or 1997 IIRC

    • L

      1997 NW Regionals in Eugene. There was no snow.

  • lo

    Most elite players seem to be unhappy with the way that things are currently being run, and I would guess most of us agree with this article, but how to we realize these changes? Is someone volunteering to start said union?

    • Guest

      As someone who has been very involved in Ultimate, and who works for a non-profit, I have to admit I am pretty ignorant about how USAU runs things. But that leads me to the question, is the BOD supposed to represent the player’s interest? If they are, then they are clearly not doing their job (a thankless volunteer job), because so many members are unhappy. And if they are not, then a “union” makes sense. Now, as a late 20s year old male I am pounding my fist and clamoring for a union….but wait, what does that mean? Do we pay dues and hire someone to take care of it for us? I have never started a union and imagine it is a big deal. Certainly something I would support, but absolutely not anything I am capable of starting in my spare time.

      • Henry Thorne

        We’re serving the players interests completely. That’s our only job. The difference is that the “players” to us means all players, future players, players who haven’t heard of of the sport yet, etc., our service is to “the sport”. Hence some of the time the players are asked to do things that aren’t directly in line with purely the interests of today’s players but instead benefit the sport as a whole and thus all future players as well as those of today.

        In particular, the thing the average player/organizer pointed to most that was holding them up from expanding the sport was access to fields. While USAU can’t go out and help every league get fields, what we can do is help get exposure and credibility which directly impact access to fields.

        Our High School team here in Pittsburgh, North Hills, never was able to get any recognition from the school. Hence when my youngest son Max graduated, the team ended. They had won six city championships in a row yet still had no credibility with the school.

        Seeing it on ESPN changed their tune. They are now considering supporting it for the first time. Sometimes a few sacrifices now are worth it for the sport we all think everyone should get a chance to play.
        Henry Thorne (USAU board member)

        • Guest

          So to clarify your point, Henry:

          USAU is working in the interest of all players including future players. The moves that USAU are making are with those future players in mind and the long term benefit to existing and future players outweighs the detriment to current players.

          Is that a fair summation?

          • knappy

            Henry’s & Gwen’s participation in this thread is appreciated. However, I am somewhat troubled by the suggestion that current players must do things against their own interests in order to serve “the sport”. This is the mindset that led to decisions such as: TCT being launched with limited feedback from its eventual participants; master players relegated to another place/time for their championships, against their wishes; mixed & women’s teams must follow the same structure as men’s division despite obvious developmental differences across divisions. USAU alienated a lot of players by putting their ambitions for the “sport” ahead of the current players. While you can argue this was necessary or inevitable, I remain convinced there was a better, more inclusive path that the USAU could have chosen.

          • Henry Thorne

            Agreed. We need to do better.

          • Alice

            Awesome response. Thanks for leading us down the rabbit hole that is usau’s thought process and then responding with “we need to do better.” when challenged on multiple fronts.

            At a minimum, you should put some thought into the above posts and give responses.

          • Henry Thorne

            Sorry Alice, I’ve been doing my real job.

            But here you go…
            To Charles:
            Even when it was the UPA, the mission has always been about “the sport of Ultimate” not just today’s players. And the today’s players are totally in line with that wanting us to do the right thing for the sport as a whole. There really isn’t any disagreement on this. People want Ultimate to grow and they want us to do that. And we are. Incredibly well.

            To “Put the Weapons Down”:
            Yea, there was an increase in cost. It’s still real small compared to most sports. If you’re a top level gymnast, your parents are flying you all over the place and it’s year round. Same with tennis, swimming, etc. To play at the top of a sport is generally an “all in” endeavor, and our athletes are getting to the level where they’re that high of a level of athlete. We could put together a comparison to show this if it would help.

            To “Clarify my Point”:
            That was less clear than what I said, and twisted it some, not goin’ there.

            To Knappy:
            How can people keep forgetting that we had a group of players involved in setting up the TCT. That group came up with two proposals that were voted on by a larger group of high level players. The challenge is getting those players to actually volunteer to be on these committees trying to figure this stuff out, not that we don’t ask.

            And now to you:
            Thanks for telling me my thoughts are “down a rabbit hole”. I’m a person. I said we need to do better because we do, and that’s always true. If you’d like to talk this all over and get a better sense of the complexities of it all and maybe help out, I’d be glad to meet with you at Nationals, I arrive in a couple of hours.
            Henry

        • Put the weapons down

          Thinking of the future of Ultimate is a noble pursuit indeed, and I think that it is safe to say that most elite players are behind that, in theory. Players take issue with the way that the idea is being put into practice, as it is simply not a sustainable financial endeavor for many of the elite, the jump in costs between the 2012 and 2013 season alone is daunting and what is in place to protect the players from this trend continuing? At some level, you have to protect the product that you have now in order to create a better future for ultimate.

          That being said, a player’s union is a bit of an overreaction, as division at this point would do more damage than good. It seems in the best interest of everyone to find a better way, as almost any alternative would be better than a non profit organization fighting with their broke players in regards to how to achieve what should be a shared goal.

        • Charles

          Henry Thorne wrote – The difference is that the “players” to us means all players, future players, players who haven’t heard of of the sport yet, etc., our service is to “the sport”.

          I guess, in a nutshell, that sums up the name change from “Ultimate Players Association” to “USA Ultimate”.

          Is this definition of “player” reflected in USAU’s charter? Did anyone get to vote on this new definition of “player”? Should Ultiworld have asked the people currently running for the BOD what their definition of “player” is so we can vote accordingly?

          It’s never occurred to me before now to even ask what USAU considers a “player” or that this was the definition USAU is working from. Seems like kind of an important detail.

  • nrojb

    DENTAL PLAN!

    • monkfunk

      (Lisa needs braces)

      • ItWillAlwaysBeFunny

        DENTAL PLAN!

  • Time for change

    This column is spot on! USAU has consistently disregarded whats best for the players (i.e. the membership of a “membership organization”) in order to advance its own agenda. When asked USAU defers to referencing that the course of action they are following is one that the players have asked for without ever sharing specific information that states players want to get jerked around at the last minute just to fit the needs of ESPN.

    There is definitely a need for players to have actual rights in determining how the sport moves forward and not just run up against a response of “we will take that into consideration for next year but don’t have the ability to change things now” which is all we’ve heard this season.

  • SP14

    The tourney feed alone are very expensive for the players and the “top” team getting exempted from sectionals is incredibly lame…

  • Tim Anderson

    A major reason for unions is to wrestle the revenue from the owner’s hands. Is USAU going pro? Attendance at AUDL games has been anemic at best. First you have to have players, then fans, then sell merchandise, create a pro-league, pack the stands, then maybe you get a TV and national sponsorship deals and some money. Major League Ultimate and AUDisc League I’m assuming will one day be the AFC/NFC of tomorrow?? I’m wondering when this will get political and USAU realize they’re behind the curve on pro-Ultimate? They’re really the only entity that can swing the number of quality players AND the organization to run a 16-32 team national league. Until there’s enough money to pay players to move to their respective cities and train and salary them, Ultimate is just a great hobby.

  • Gwen Ambler

    I wanted to add two points of information to this discussion:

    (1) USA Ultimate has started club councils for each division that
    will be extensively consulted during the off-season for making changes
    to the Triple Crown Tour for next season. These councils elected
    representatives this fall to serve on the Club Working Group which
    includes the National Directors and USAU staff for making the
    Season/Series Guidelines. For instance, Peri Kurshan and Michelle Ng
    were selected by their peers of leaders on women’s club teams to be the
    women’s club council representatives. These councils and working groups
    were created to ensure that there was more player and team
    representation in decision-making that affects them.

    (2) Elected Board of Directors are an additional way of having
    interests represented at the organization. Elections for At-large Board
    members are currently underway. PLEASE VOTE!!! More about the
    candidates can be found here http://www.usaultimate.org/news/2013-board-elections-candidate-information/ and here http://ultiworld.com/2013/10/14/usa-ultimate-board-candidates-answer-questions/.
    Additionally, all the Board members’ emails are posted online and
    everyone is welcome to ask specific questions or let the Board know your
    thoughts. http://www.usaultimate.org/about/contact_us/board_of_directors.aspx

  • Scott Grindy

    I take serious exception to the author’s comparison of the current USAU situation to that of the NBA. The NBA is controlled by a series of for-profit owners, while this is obviously not the situation with ultimate. Glossing over this distinction allows the author to demonize USAU with such phrases as “They stand to make the profits from any incoming revenue…they haven’t necessarily put themselves out to absorb much of the risk.”
    I would even argue that “profits” is the wrong word to use here. USAU is nonprofit**. There isn’t some collection of millionaires taking money from the elite players. Who, specifically, stands to gain from these profits? Tom Crawford? The board of directors? Obviously that’s nonsense. That’s where this comparison breaks down.

    That being said, I think there’s legitimate questions raised here. Ultimate may be, one day, a marketable sport that generates sustainable positive revenue. But it will take a significant investment to get there – the question is then who will make this investment. This is where USAU is stuck between a rock and a hard place. They can either secure that investment from (1) all players or (2) some subsection of players, in this case the elite players. Obviously there aren’t other significant investment streams, else they would be exploited already. Option (3) would be to abandon plans for marketability and let the pro leagues attempt it, although it seems USAU has staked its position out on that already.

    As a total scrub of a player, none of this affects me directly. But I think it’s interesting to observe the evolution of the various leagues. Worst case scenario? All of the elite players ditch USAU for the pro leagues, which go belly-up after a few seasons. I’d bet most of them would then retire rather than go back to USAU.

    **technically the NFL is also a nonprofit, but the teams aren’t. Club ultimate teams, whatever their legal status, are definitely not for-profit entities.

    • Roger

      My thoughts exactly. I would be curious to know if any other amateur sports have “unions” and what purpose they serve in a sport with no revenue implications.

      • peter

        “Obviously that’s nonsense. That’s where this comparison breaks down.” Actually, that is not nonsense. Non profits can have many of the same motives as for profit companies ~~ they want to increase their revenues, build up their finances (nest egg), hire more employees, expand their reach, etc. Tom Crawford is very well paid & the more he raises revenues for the USAU, the more leverage he has when it comes to salary negotiation. I work for a “for profit” company & our #1 competitor is a non profit org that does business, in almost every way, exactly as we do. This is not to assail the USAU in any way, but to discount their potential to act monolithically in negotiations with players is naive.

        • Scott Grindy

          Fair points – perhaps “nonsense” was a bit too strong, and I see your argument about Tom Crawford. That being said, I still think the comparison improperly frames the discussion.
          (Time to go back to work, so I’ll copy my response from above)
          Most of my original post was written because I don’t think the “us vs. USAU” frames the discussion well, especially in the context of the comparison with the NBA. USAU isn’t taking these steps to [purely] make money, they’re doing it to “advance the sport of ultimate,” but how they (really we) go about that is what’s being discussed. I think comparing the USAU board to NBA owners therefore unfairly questions the board’s motivation and casts them in a negative light.

          • Scott Grindy

            Another thought: juxtapose the author’s reference to “potentially unchecked USAUltimate” with Gwen Ambler’s response about the formation of club councils and BoD elections. USAU isn’t really “unchecked,” at least in the same way NBA owners were.

    • Katherine

      The main thing you say is missing from the above NBA vs USAU comparison is a group of “for-profit owners” but that could be easily changed. In our present situation, folks who would assume ownership of an elite Ultimate team are simply going to be operating at a loss. I can echo Greg’s cost assessment for our Pro-Flight team as well. This season alone our costs are in the neighborhood of $50,000, not including work time lost. If every team between now and next season designated an owner or group of owners and then those owners collectively told USAU that as professional owners their teams would no longer compete without some form of compensation (since they are effectively operating their businesses at a loss), it would change the landscape drastically. I think that’s an aggressive stance, but it would likely generate more change for individual teams than a players union would.

    • Charles

      You can’t bargain over profits when there are none, but you can bargain over a lot of other things like scheduling, roster requirements, etc. They key is having a more direct say in the process when you’re going to be heavily impacted.

      And no, USAU isn’t stuck between a rock and a hard place. They unilaterally launched a new structure that required more time and more money from players (and if teams hadn’t balked initially it would have been even more onerous). If this is what they wanted to do they should have either funded it themselves or presented it to membership for a vote. But since they know everything, and because they have all the leverage (history, inertia, world bids, etc.), they dared teams to leave.

      Regardless of what happens with any “union”, this offseason is going to be interesting.

      • Scott Grindy

        You say that USAU should have “funded [the TCT] themselves,” but I think that’s exactly what I was getting at I that section – USAU just doesn’t have the proper revenue to “do it themselves.” I would agree that a vote of membership would be better, but then you simply have more people voting who have no financial stake (me for example), which (I would argue) does little to solve the inherent logical contradiction in USAU proceeding unilaterally.

        To the points in your first paragraph, I agree. Most of my original post was written because I don’t think the “us vs. USAU” frames the discussion well, especially in the context of the comparison with the NBA. USAU isn’t taking these steps to make money, they’re doing it to “advance the sport of ultimate,” but how they (really we) go about that is what’s being discussed. I think comparing the USAU board to NBA owners is therefore unfair.

  • Keith

    Gwen makes some good points about what USAU has attempted to do with getting more elite players involved in the decision making process and while I think that a “Union” isn’t the right term I think Greg is headed down a direction that is viable. I think USAU has lost the trust of the upper echelon players with the first iteration of the TCT. I know as a player on a top select team the costs of our season were double the previous year and that made the season difficult for our younger players yet we had to commit to our travel schedule in January well in advance of knowing our roster. I am convinced that had this year not been a WUCC qualifying year NGN League would have gone through. That said, where I could see an organization forming in line with Greg’s ideas is an elite player group that is organized by players not USAU that then sits across the table from USAU or other organizations wanting to host a championship (NGN, MLU, etc.) and negotiates terms for the championship season/tournament, call it a union or something else.

    • Anon

      Top Select teams aren’t required to do anything (only Pro and Elite teams have requirements). Top Select teams could turn down that designation and play whatever schedule they wanted. Or they could accept their designation and play in a tournament with the Top Select teams from all the other regions, along with all of the Elite Flight teams from the prior year’s nationals. Not a bad choice…the key word being choice.

      Other Select Flight teams had even less structure, even though in the original TCT plan there was more structure for them. Feedback from the players showed that teams at that level weren’t ready yet for more requirements and structure, so more flexibility was built in. So, the “focus” on the top teams with the new structure that critics will often cite is not a result of only wanting to provide opportunities for those teams. It’s a result of responding to the desires/practicalities of the players/teams at the next level(s).

  • Michael James Vacirca

    I agree with the author almost sadly. The organization that used to run Ultimate was called the Ultimate Players Association, and that’s what it was, players representing the interests and the growth of the game we love. That has changed as it has attempted to become a for-profit enterprise. That’s not a bad thing, but those folks sometimes forget the simple idea of “keeping the main thing the main thing”; which is the interests of the players. For an elite level player today, it is now a marketplace, and the power balance has shifted- I run a fairly large construction company and feel I can say- Representation in the form of a Players Union is warranted.

  • Anon

    All this talk about the movement of the organization’s priorities away from the players is totally misguided. Just like the last time the organization did a strategic plan (when it was the UPA), USA Ultimate’s latest strategic plan was based on multiple surveys and feedback from the players and members of the organization.

    In fact, the TCT is the product of the “club restructuring” initiative from the UPA’s prior strategic plan…the fundamentals of which were based on the desires expressed by the players for things like a more meaningful regular season, changes to the geographic and regional structures, a tiered competitive structure…but with overlap between the tiers, and increasing opportunities to showcase the highest level of the sport. It isn’t a surprise that these elements, which came directly from the surveys of the membership and various planning committees made up of player/member representatives from across the country, are featured heavily in the TCT structure.

    Then, prior to launching the TCT, USAU went back to the players/members with two potential club restructuring plans during the winter/spring of 2012. The feedback gathered during that time was used to help the USAU staff and board distinguish between two plans that featured two fundamentally different approaches. That feedback helped set a final direction and contributed to additional changes to the final plan.

    Then the plan was launched in the fall of 2012, and it required some change. And no one likes change. And often times people don’t understand that getting some things that they want mean making trade-offs. For instance, a tiered structure (but with overlap) combined with a more meaningful regular season means deliberately creating groups of teams and creating some structure around when and where those groups/teams play each other. Likewise, when players/members said that it was important to have opportunities to play the best teams from other parts of the country (rather than limiting that competition with a more regional approach) the trade-off obviously comes with increased travel and associated costs.

    The move towards increasing opportunities to showcase the sport also came from the players/members, who have repeatedly (in the prior UPA strategic plan and the more recent USAU plan) said that is important for a number of reasons. It helps with establishing legitimacy, which in turn helps grow the sport by creating positive awareness among youth and their parents. And visibility helps create positive awareness with sports administrators and field providers who can help provide more and better playing opportunities. All of these moves are and have been ideas generated by and for the players and members of the organization.

    The idea that the organization is not focused on the players is absurd. Even more absurd is that the organization is profit-driven, and is generating profits at the expense of the players. It is the opposite, both from a philosophical and of course from a legal standpoint. There is no profit sharing to be had…even though there is prize money now that begins to help offset some costs. Otherwise, there are events that are subsidized for their participants by the dues of the membership, and as the organization grows, also by revenues from merchandisers, sponsors, and fans. But all of that is so relatively small right now that it only helps the organization break even. And where there is revenue being generated, it goes right back into programming that doesn’t generate revenue (e.g. youth outreach programs, coach and observer training, the affiliate program, grants, and media/marketing initiatives). That is what non-profits do, and what the UPA did, and what USA Ultimate does.

    The concerns that players have about the implementation of their broad ideas and desires are primarily reactions to change, which of course always comes with trade-offs. But if you look at the money being spent by club teams, the tournament schedule and requirements for teams is not much different than in prior years (~2 tournaments/year). The trade-off is that teams do have less control over that schedule…but in turn there are tiered playing opportunities, more meaningful regular season games, and lots more opportunities to showcase the sport. If you look at trade-offs for things like the nationals format, you see a few placement games on Day 3 (which many teams reluctantly played or played less seriously anyway), replaced by opportunities to create visibility for the sport (by showcasing the semis and finals – both on site and through media). Again, this is precisely what players/members asked for directly or is being used as a mechanism to provide the things that they asked for directly (e.g. growth, legitimacy, more access to fields, etc.).

    USAU continues to do just what it has always done, regardless of its name. It is implementing the strategic goals of its membership for the good of the sport through its Board of Directors and staff, which operate by soliciting and responding to feedback from its members. There are a lot of competing interests that any one individual player may not understand. There are trade-offs that the average player or member may not understand are required to get some of the things they want.

    USA Ultimate’s mission is about Character, Community, and Competition. Everything it does, from SOTG and observer initiatives (Character), to tournament-based competition structures that keep different genders and divisions together (Community), to regular season and championship qualification structures that provide exciting high level playing and spectating opportunities (Competition), flows from that mission…which is the same with USAU as it was when with the UPA.

    Players and members are driving every change either directly or indirectly. But change can be tough. The Club Division has had to change the least over the past decade, so for that group it may be even tougher. But the fundamental reasons for the changes came from those players and the membership at large, and they will continue to be involved through the structures that exist to provide feedback and direction, whether through the Board, volunteer groups, surveys, etc.

    • knappy

      anon, you seem to be very knowledgeable about all things USAU. A few questions for you: Do you work for the USAU? Do you have insight into why the interpretation of the survey results that led to original TCT plan missed the mark by so much? Have the survey results or feedback on original 2 plans to which you refer ever been posted publicly? How about the feedback from masters players on the move of the masters series to summer?

    • Master of What?

      Anon, if you could start by acknowledging that USAU is acting like a control freak, refusing to relinquish any element of the sport, then it would be a lot easier to take your arguments seriously.
      The UPA had an executive director, offered sanctioning for tournaments that wanted it, and acted as a clearinghouse for anybody who wanted to get more information about the sport and the game. They accepted feedback from their coordinators and their players, they were transparent, and their number one goal was to advance and promote the sport.
      USAU has a CEO, they require sanctioning, they refuse to even discuss the efforts of anybody else and their version of a partnership is that if you do everything we tell you to, we will give you some theoretical support. They fire coordinators who disagree with them, regardless of past contributions, they ignore feedback from their players unless faced with an ultimatum, and they make unilateral, last minute decisions.
      Maybe all of these changes are necessary for them to advance their version of the sport, but if they are going to fund all these changes with member dues, they could at least pretend to care about the people paying their salaries right now, as opposed to the “future members” Henry Thorne talks about.
      At the very least, hire a PR person so that Will Deaver doesn’t have to stand up in a room full of people he has known for 15 years and try to explain that he’s screwing them over, but its for the good of the sport.

      • Henry Thorne

        You need to stop shrieking.
        All of the changes we’ve been making are driven by the players. And Anon actually did a pretty fine job of laying out just what they asked for and just how we delivered it. And we agree with those players and are making changes that are fantastic for the sport and especially the players of today who, for the first time, are actually getting some credibility and playing on TV where they belong. It’s been a huge boon year for the sport that we got a partnership with the biggest best brand in sports, ESPN, and USOC recognition as well. Our membership is growing like crazy, our sanctioning programs as well, observer training, same, the list goes on, the org is killin’ it. But the whiners will always be with us.

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