USAU Unveils Final Survey For 2019-2021 Strategic Plan

What do you want ultimate to look like in 10 years?

Semifinals at sunset in Frisco at the 2013 USA Ultimate National Championships. Photo: Alex Fraser --
Semifinals at sunset in Frisco at the 2013 USA Ultimate National Championships. Photo: Alex Fraser —

Today, USA Ultimate announced a final survey designed to gather feedback for the organization’s upcoming 2019-2021 strategic plan that will be announced at the National Championships in October.

The survey asks respondents primarily for their thoughts on various ’10 year visions’ for the sport, as well as ten different strategic focus areas. The survey contents have already been narrowed after previous surveys and the Vision Tour.

Below are the thirteen ’10 year visions’ that respondents are asked to rate:

  • I can watch our local high school ultimate teams play league games in our community as a varsity high school sport, with equal status to many other sports.
  • Mixed ultimate is extremely popular and is viewed as one of ultimate’s unique features and major contributions to the world of team sports.
  • We are going to watch the historic inauguration of ultimate in the 2028 Olympic Games. Play will be mixed gender, and games will be self-officiated.
  • Semi-pro leagues are thriving. Our local team(s) draw big crowds, and games are exciting. USA Ultimate coordinates with the top league(s). Female athletes play and receive as much support and coverage as male athletes.
  • High-quality ultimate is regularly broadcast and easy to watch on multiple devices. The fan base has grown exponentially, well beyond players and their families. Games are being watched by many with ample commercial interest and corporate sponsorship.
  • Youth and teens who excel from an early age have many high-quality development and competitive opportunities to become elite players.
  • Ultimate is being played in diverse communities all over the country by many thousands of youth who today are considered underrepresented in our sport. The sport is now much more reflective of the diverse make-up of the U.S.
  • I see ultimate games being played wherever I go – pick-up, local recreational leagues, tournaments. The sport has exploded. From what I see at fields and parks in my travels, youth and adults are playing the game as much as soccer.
  • Ultimate is widely known as having one of the most inclusive communities, appreciating and valuing all dimensions of diversity. A sense of acceptance is felt both on and off the field.
  • Dynamic local and state-based community organizations now operate across the country in most major cities and all states, as active member-driven associations that provide great local programs and events that connect to national-level opportunities, advancing the sport in flexible, tailored ways for local needs and dynamics.
  • Spirit of the Game has been proven to be a powerful vehicle for teaching life skills to youth and developing strong character. It has even been shown to positively influence society, beyond sport, creating many opportunities for ultimate to advance its growth and impact.
  • Spirit of the Game is thriving and cemented into the way ultimate is played, organized and developed, from local leagues to elite international competition, and is evident in the way kids play at school as well as in televised games. Players talk about and strive to live out SOTG values.
  • Self-officiating is standard for all levels of play. Referees are not used at any level of the sport. Player-officiating is supported in high-level and showcase competitions by the use of observers which is increasingly accepted by players and organizers as an artful compromise between pure self-officiating and third-party decision making.

Here are the ten strategic focus areas that respondents are asked to rank in order of their importance:

Foster and Advance Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

When looking at equity, diversity and inclusion in ultimate, we consider gender and race, as well as age, division, class, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation and ability/disability status.

Strategic Opportunity: Invest more resources to foster and advance all dimensions of equity, diversity and inclusion at the local, state and national levels.

Promote Fundraising and The Ultimate Foundation

Fundraising allows non-profit organizations to fund outreach programs, diversify their income sources and rely less heavily on membership revenue. USA Ultimate created The Ultimate Foundation as a separate 501(c)(3) organization to raise money to increase the funds put towards ultimate playing opportunities for girls and underrepresented youth via state and local organizations.

Strategic Opportunity: Promote fundraising and The Ultimate Foundation in order to diversify USA Ultimate’s revenue sources and increase funding to outreach programs for girls and underrepresented youth.

Invest In and Support Local Disc Organizations

State-based and local organizations, associations, clubs and teams provide local playing opportunities and advance the sport in flexible, tailored ways for local needs and dynamics.

Strategic Opportunity: Focus on establishing, connecting and supporting local ultimate organizations and programs, increasing overall quality and quantity of playing opportunities.

Achieve Official Sport Recognition

Unlike many sports, ultimate is not currently recognized as an official Olympic Games, NCAA or varsity high school program/sport in the U.S. (except Vermont).

Strategic Opportunity: Official recognition by any of these organizations/structures would not only elevate legitimacy and grow sport participation, it would also create significant opportunities for financial support for players and teams at all of these levels.

Coordinate with Semi-Pro Leagues

As the sport continues to grow, semi-professional leagues will potentially remain part of the ultimate landscape. When viable, they may provide playing opportunities for elite players, spectating opportunities for fans and marketing opportunities for the sport.

Strategic Opportunity: Work with and/or influence semi-professional leagues to optimize use of resources, minimize program conflicts and ensure the appropriate level of inclusion, consistency and coordination in how the sport is played and promoted.

Preserve and Promote Spirit of the Game (SOTG) Values

SOTG emphasizes personal responsibility for fair and enjoyable play by giving participants officiating authority at all levels of the sport. Unique in the world of youth and competitive team sports, SOTG serves to create a competitive environment where the character of competitors is both developed and showcased.

Strategic Opportunity: As ultimate grows, so does the need to emphasize, develop, promote and preserve this philosophy at all levels of the sport.

Expand Sport Awareness and Credibility

While ultimate has been growing in recent years, it is still significantly behind other more well-known and established sports such as basketball, soccer, swimming, hockey, lacrosse, etc. Many people still do not even know what ultimate is or that we are a viable option for youth and adults who want to compete and have fun in a sport.

Strategic Opportunity: Expand focused efforts to overcome this lack of awareness and credibility so that ultimate is known as a “real” sport with “real” athletes and a great place for youth to learn life-changing values.

Enhance USA Ultimate Brand

Refers to the identity, image and public perception of USA Ultimate and the sport of ultimate, particularly when distinguishing them from other organizations and sports.

Strategic Opportunity: Focused effort to enhance the brand is important for attracting participants, members, coaches, fans, sponsors, donors, youth-serving sport organizations, etc.

Continue Developing USA Ultimate Technology

Technology refers to things like USA Ultimate’s front-facing website (, its back-end member services platform (, mobile app, social networks and any other digital platforms it uses to communicate to current and potential members and fans and promote and market USA Ultimate and the sport of ultimate in general.

Strategic Opportunity: Continued investments in technology will improve communication and member experience, enhance the USA Ultimate brand and help drive awareness for the sport.

Increase Youth Participation

Today’s youth are the future leaders, players, coaches and organizers of our sport. And ultimate is great for kids with so many social, emotional and physical health benefits.

Strategic Opportunity: Focus on vastly increasing the number of youth who play ultimate across the country.


You can take the survey here.

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld.You can reach him by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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