WFDF Considering Gender Ratio Rule Changes For International Mixed Competition

If approved, the new rules would come into affect in January 2017 and impact upcoming World Games and WUCC competitions.

WFDF_LogoThe World Flying Disc Federation is currently discussing two possible changes to the gender ratio rules for mixed competition at the international level. The first would create a prescribed ratio for the number of men and women on the field at any given time, with the ratio automatically swapped every two points. The second change would modify the existing “offense decides” rule so that the decision simply alternates between teams, regardless of whether they are on offense or defense.

The changes are currently being considered by WFDF’s Ultimate Committee and are due to come up for a vote of final approval by the Board of Directors in December. If ratified, the changes would go into effect in January 2017 and would be implemented at the 2017 World Games, 2018 WUCC, as well as all world and continental competitions moving forward.

RELATED: WUCC 2018 To Be Held In Cincinnati, Ohio

The specific language of the proposed rules is below.

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A1. Mixed Division

  • A1.1. Events must specify which of the following ratio rules will be used to determine if points are played with a ratio of four (4) females and 3 (three) males, or with a ratio of four (4) males and three (3) females.
    • A1.1.1. Ratio Rule A will be used for The World Games 2017.
    • A1.1.2. For all other WFDF Events in 2017 and 2018 it will be assumed that Ratio Rule B will be used. However if Ratio Rule A is to be used, then a public announcement will be made a minimum of sixteen (16) months prior to the event.
  • A1.2. Ratio Rule A (“prescribed ratio” rule):
    • A1.2.1. At the start of the game, after the first disc flip, an additional disc flip happens with the winner selecting the gender ratio for the first point. For the second and third points the ratio must be the reverse of the first point. For the fourth and fifth points the ratio must be same as the first point. This pattern of alternating the ratio every two points repeats until the end of the game (half time has no impact on the pattern).
  • A1.3. Ratio Rule B (“end zone decides” rule):
    • A1.3.1. At the start of the game, after the first disc flip, an additional disc flip happens with the winner selecting which end zone is “End zone A”, with the other end zone becoming “End Zone B”. At the start of each point the Team that is at End zone A must choose the gender ratio. This process applies for the first half. For the second half, at the start of each point the Team that is at End zone B must choose the gender ratio. ere is also a more detailed description of how the End zone decides rule works: So if Australia is at Endzone A for the first point, they get to choose the gender ratio, regardless of being on O or D. The next point USA is at Endzone A, so they get to choose the ratio, again regardless of O/D. This continues until the end of the half. At the start of the second half, Australia is now at Endzone B and they again get to choose the gender ratio, regardless of O/D. Next point it’s the US turn. Repeat until end of game.

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The goal of these changes is to highlight WFDF’s commitment to promoting gender equity within the sport; the organization has already approved an update to the rules surrounding roster composition for the 2017 World Games, guaranteeing an equal number of men and women are represented from each country. WFDF Ultimate Committee chair Brian Gisel noted in the press release that the international governing body made these changes to “underline our commitment to present an event fully meeting gender equity.”

While these rule changes would impact US teams competing internationally in WFDF sponsored events, it is unclear to what extent USAU would attempt to mirror these rules in their mixed club division. In the past National Federations have tended to follow WFDF’s lead on many of the rules in the Championship Appendix when running major events, but WFDF emphasizes that the decision is up to each national governing body based on how they want their events to be run.

USAU considered a similar change for the mixed division back in 2013, which would have required teams to switch their 4/3 gender ratio each offensive point. The rule change was ultimately rejected by the club working group, based partially on feedback from mixed players and teams that felt the change would both be impractical given the relative membership numbers and negatively affect teams who already regularly employ a 4-women offensive strategy.

WFDF is still collecting feedback on the proposed changes. The Australian Flying Disc Federation implemented Ratio Rule B in their Mixed National Championships last month as well as in the mixed division of their recent U22 National Championships. According to Gisel, the initial reviews from participants at those events have been entirely positive.

  1. Steve Sullivan

    Steve Sullivan is the Executive Editor of Ultiworld. He began playing in 2001 at Boston University, helped found Slow White in 2004, and has played with the team ever since. He has volunteered as a college Sectional Coordinator, a club Regional Coordinator, and currently serves as a player-elected representative for the Mixed division on USAU's Club Working Group. He has previously written for the USAU magazine and The Huddle. You can reach him by email (steve@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@sjsully21).

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