March 15, 2014 by Charlie Eisenhood in News with 85 comments
After being sharply critical of USA Ultimate last week in a podcast, Major League Ultimate Comissioner Jeff Snader and VP Nic Darling have now reached out directly to USA Ultimate to propose a partnership.
They sent the following letter to USA Ultimate headquarters in Boulder earlier this week.
Read the full, unedited text below, provided to Ultiworld by a source on the condition of anonymity.
[quote]To the Executives, Board and Members of USA Ultimate:
Since the inception of the professional game, our organizations, USAU, Major League Ultimate and the American Ultimate Disc League, have been at odds, and this animosity strikes me as completely unnecessary. In fact, I believe our inability to cooperate is likely to have negative, long-term effects for both the sport and our organizations. It seems fairly obvious that we would both benefit from a more mutually beneficial relationship, and I hope with this letter we can begin a dialogue that will lead to such a relationship.
The differences between our versions of Ultimate are minor and largely irrelevant. The variation in our officiating systems has been cited as a major sticking point, but to me it seems a small thing. Rule variations persist throughout sports and offer a broader range of opportunity for players and fans to engage with and enjoy the game. That doesn’t seem like a negative to me, and it certainly doesn’t seem like a reason to pit ourselves against one another.
The competition for players also seems like a poor excuse for bad blood. Our league currently employs 320 players at most. That is a small fraction of your 40,000 members, and most of those who sign with the MLU still play in and enjoy USAU events as well. We have done nothing to discourage their participation in club Ultimate and have made efforts to accommodate the USAU schedule.
We may have differences in opinion about how we operate our respective businesses and what is best for the sport, but those differences are only a negative if they are shouted from opposite sides of a wall. By working together, we might be able to help one another rather than tear the other down. I am not suggesting we will be able to agree on everything, but at least we can find the useful points in one another’s opinions and approaches without the infection of ill will spoiling the conversation.
Right now, both the MLU, and the AUDL for that matter, have a valuable resource of fans and followers who are not being introduced to USAU because of the absence of a relationship. This is a significant opportunity for membership that is going untapped. If USAU was willing to take advantage of this opportunity, I believe it would reap rewards in both new membership and member retention.
So, we would like to propose a partnership. In this partnership we would recognize one another as valid Ultimate organizations working in our chosen areas. We ask you to recognize the MLU, and AUDL if they choose to work with you, as professional Ultimate leagues. In turn, we would recognize USAU as Ultimate’s national governing body, including the professional game. We believe that recognition would be best for USAU and the sport.
With this recognition would come the following:
– Official recognition of Major League Ultimate
– An agreement to work together on scheduling in an effort to avoid conflicts that hurt both of our players and lessen the effectiveness of both of our events. This, with the understanding of some inevitable conflicts, would assure that both parties are working in good faith to avoid them.
– Cooperation on public relations talking points to present a unified message to the many people still learning about Ultimate.
From the MLU:
– Official recognition of USA Ultimate as the sport’s national governing body.
– Tables at each game presenting the benefits of USAU Membership.
– Integration of USAU events and initiatives into MLU media channels, including the promotion of the national team and its members.
– An agreement to work together on scheduling.
– Cooperation on public relations.
The MLU would also like to offer to make a $10,000 donation to USAU youth development initiatives. We are committed to the development of youth Ultimate and if we can reach an agreement, we feel that USAU’s programs would be the best way to impact that development.
Finally, we would like to address the immediate issue of the Pro-Elite Challenge and the MLU Championship. The conflict between these two events creates a bad situation for a number of players who are heavily invested in both our organizations. Moving the tournament would alleviate a lot of frustration among the players and assure the success of both of our events. To offset any potential costs of this move, we are willing to donate $1,500 to the tournament, as well as an additional $1,500 to the Pro Flight Finale on the West Coast.
If you are interested in speaking, we would be happy to fly out to your office for a conversation. We know this is the right course for our organization and the sport, and we certainly hope you agree. We look forward to hearing from you.
Major League Ultimate
Executive Vice President
Major League Ultimate[/quote]