April 11, 2014 by ultiwhirled in Other with 7 comments
When Major League Ultimate announced last Tuesday a deal with the ‘multi-channel’ online broadcaster The Whistle for the 2014 season, the AUDL declined to comment publicly. Exclusive UltiWhirled sources, however, can now confirm that both the AUDL and new broadcast partner ESPN3 are shaking in their collective boots.
One General Manager for an AUDL team spoke with UltiWhirled off the record this morning.
“Oh, I think we’re all really worried by this new MLU deal,” said the GM. “Not that anyone would say so or anything, but I think we’re all in this space of: what does this even mean? And that’s the thing, really: the fear of the unknown. We were feeling good for a while there—we got a deal with ESPN3 to broadcast a game-of-the-week! But now the MLU turns around and gets a deal with The Whistle. How are we supposed to feel? Do you know how big a deal The Whistle is?
“Seriously, I’m asking, because none of us have a clue what it is. The Whistle could be anything, and that’s downright terrifying.”
The timing of MLU’s announcement (April 1st) has left some in the ultimate community suspicious. Evan Lepler, ESPN’s commentator for the USAU Club Championships, weighed in via e-mail:
“I think for most of us working with ESPN, the first question with this MLU deal has been: What? Followed quickly by: Wait, is this an April Fool’s joke? MLU could just be totally messing with us. They come out with this fake webcaster that nobody has ever heard of, and they make like it’s a huge deal to get people talking. Not a bad prank.”
According to one league attorney, the AUDL and ESPN are so concerned about the deal that they are considering legal action to prevent the broadcasts. The organizations plan to sue for an injunction invalidating the deal, based on the obscure legal quirk that imaginary broadcasters are barred in most states from broadcasting real events (see: State of Indiana vs. Easter Bunny Productions, 1974). Unfortunately, it turns out that suing companies that may not exist has gotten trickier since the Citizens United ruling (2010), as such companies are now, legally, imaginary people entitled to hypothetical freedom of fictional expression.
Still, if the AUDL lawyers can disprove The Whistle’s existence, then they may make some headway. Hope remains high with the AUDL’s legal team, of course, as the league successfully lawyered two of its own teams out of existence back in 2012. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.
Research into the alleged broadcasting network is ongoing, but until such a time as its existence and scope can be verified or disproved, the AUDL and ESPN will have to work together to get through this unsettling period. One can only hope that they find solace in continuing to collectively ignore the NHL.