November 2, 2012 by Charlie Eisenhood in Interview, News, Opinion with 14 comments
Here are more thoughts about USA Ultimate’s Triple Crown Tour from our inbox. If you have your own opinion to share — or questions for USA Ultimate for our live chat on Monday — leave them in the comments or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. There is already a great conversation happening in our post from yesterday — check out the comments there.
Liam Kelly, UK Ultimate Coaching and Development Manager:
[quote]I really like the idea that a tour gives people a better story to follow the USAU regular season. We run a tour system in the UK and it certainly adds to the drama of the season in both the mixed tour and the open & women’s tour.[/quote]
[quote]The Triple Crown idea is great to bring together the separate nationals series and the regular season, as well as the added bonus of the US Open. I’m looking forward to keeping one eye on the the USAU TC Tour this year.[/quote]
Krishna Rao, player, Boost Mobile:
[quote]On a fundamental level, my broad criticism would be that USAU seems to be moving too quickly in implementing this. Before complicating the regular season, it would be nice for USAU to put in some ground work. For example, run the US Open for a few years and prove you can attract top quality international teams before making it a required event. Sort out the myriad problems with the ranking algorithm and bid allocation system before deciding who can attend which tournaments. Prove you can effectively promote the current USAU Club Championships, before adding other tournaments you want to promote. I understand that you are working on some of this, but why not give it a few years to build a solid foundation before expanding. What is the rush? Especially since the current system dramatically reduces competitive opportunities for some teams.
I do see benefits to the new structure. Top teams get to skip sectionals, which makes for a more competitive tournament and fewer games where the outcome was never in doubt. Calling something a regular season championship makes things easier to promote. But I see more problems then benefits.
Some specific criticisms:
- This will likely significantly increase the cost of playing on an elite team, by increasing the number of flights they take and reducing flexibility on where/when to fly. It seems like you are asking elite teams to pay more now, and promising the uncertain benefit of increased exposure (and perhaps decreased costs) years and years into the future. That seems unfair to the current generation of elite players.
- This plan completely discourages the formation of new teams by reducing their access to tournaments at every level of competition, which seems in contrast with USAU’s goal of increased playing opportunities. This seems like a huge problem — especially in the mixed division where relatively new teams make up a large percentage of national qualifiers each year.
- Related, this plan makes it much harder for teams just below flight qualification thresholds (i.e., losers of the game to go) to continue to be competitive, because they are locked out of so many opportunities to play tier one teams, and especially two tiers above them. The current structure seems to try to help 2012 Nationals teams remain 2013 Nationals team and makes it harder for anyone else to join the club.
- USAU seems to be moving away from its core competency as an organizational body, to a league. There are already several attempts to form leagues in the works with varying levels of success. It seems like a mistake for USAU to get into this business.[/quote]
Brandon Silverman, player, Boston’s The Ghosts:
[quote]I won’t speak officially on behalf of the Ghosts…but from our conversations, folks are generally unexcited about the change. Here’s why:
– For us, the club championship is why you play. Hosting a tournament in Colorado and trying to give it a lot of prestige just isn’t the same. Same with winning the regular season. I would be surprised if lots of people get excited about the two other legs of the crown or if it impacts the way teams prepare for the season.
– I’m new to mixed but our team is essentially a pick-up squad of friends. Almost of them played Open & Women’s before life finally got in the way and mixed represented an excuse to hang out for a few weekends and maybe have a shot in Sarasota. My sense is that the new tour element isn’t a draw at all and, in fact, I doubt anyone would even be available for any extra tournaments (we were the #2 seed in the country and we struggled to get numbers at sectionals). I have a feeling this is true of a lot of mixed and if you combine that with all the turnover year to year, the new model seems tough to implement.
– If the goal is to increase the visibility of the sport, than I think USAU missed the most fundamental learning from the entire AUDL and NGN experiences and it’s this: two-day tournaments will never be spectator friendly. If you want fans, television and non-ultimate players to watch, host a single, competitive game at night and in a stadium. The entire Triple Crown Tour, on the other hand, represents a doubling down on the tournament format. It’s asking for a lot more competitive, high-level tournaments. I think that’s the wrong way to reach the goal. Instead, single game showcase events should be the focus.
– My idea is that you don’t have the Finals game in Sarasota. Instead, Sarasota determines the two best teams in the country each year and then sometime in the next 2-4 weeks, the Finals are hosted in a major ultimate hub on a Friday or Saturday night in front of thousands of people. You have a healthier set of teams, several weeks to hype the event and analyze each team, the ability to host the event in front of an ultimate community (one doesn’t exist in Sarasota in any significant numbers) and a much more exciting, climatic event for the teams involved.[/quote]
[quote]1. What will happen to existing tournaments like Labor Day and ECC?
Organizers for these tournaments have put in hard work to make sure they made quality high level tournaments. Are these going to fade away? If there are already the US Open, two pro tourneys and the pro-select tourney, then are teams really going to play other ones? Furthermore, where are these other tournaments going to be held? Is each tournament going to have all three divisions hosted? Seems like the Bay Area is a good place to put the mixed pro tournament, but maybe the Open tournament should be more central.
2. What teams are they trying to get internationally for the US Open?
Of course, GOAT, Furious and Buzz Bullets come to mind. Will they only allow one of the two Canadian teams a bid? How is that determined? What would happen if both of them made semis?
Other teams like Clapham and Flying Angels from Europe and the top clubs from Australia and Colombia are probably in the mix. How are these teams going to be selected and how are they going to attract these teams to fly all the way out here. It really has to be the best of the best from outside North America to even put up a decent game against these teams (even national teams couldn’t take down Revolver + Kurt [Gibson] and the club teams from these countries aren’t quite as good as their national teams usually, except for maybe Colombia).[/quote]
[quote]I think it’s great that they are making the top level more competitive. However, I believe that they made the top tier too small. I think that they should have taken all 16 teams from nationals and made it the top tier and taken the rest of the teams and divide them up into the rest of the tiers. Also, I believe if they are gonna put eight teams in the top tier, they all have to go to the U.S. Open. If they do not have to play each other at this large tournament the point of it is moot. Other than that I think that the system is awesome and I’m looking forward to keeping up with the upcoming season.
On another note, I think it would be neat if the U.S. Open was in a different region each year, somewhat like how the U.S. Open golf course changes venues each year. I think that this will be good so that people who can not pay to travel long ways can still experience this tournament. However, I think it would be good to keep Nationals in a set location to add to the prestige of getting to that one spot.[/quote]