Damned If You Do…

Oh, the woes of politics.

A group of six outstanding young players have found themselves caught in the middle of an unwinnable situation: finish out the NexGen tour with a group of incredible friends and athletes or leave the bus to represent the United States at the Under-23 World Championships, one of the best opportunities in ultimate.

It is very unfortunate that these players are being used as proxies in an ongoing skirmish between USA Ultimate and NexGen.

After Kevin Minderhout, the founder of NexGen, attempted to start up a new elite club league outside of the realm of USA Ultimate this past winter, things haven’t exactly been friendly between him and the USAU staff in Boulder. The situation is escalating now, but it is made far worse because there are players being caught in the middle.

Think of all the ways this could be solved. Minderhout could have avoided scheduling the tour during the training camp he knew was required for players. USA Ultimate could agree to allow the players to arrive late to the training camp. The two parties could have simply had a conversation about this in the past six months.

Andy Lee, the USAU Media Director, told me yesterday that nobody from Boulder has spoken to Minderhout about U23 scheduling. That’s just crazy. This was a conflict that everyone could see coming. Now it’s coming to a head and players are being put in the awful position of having to decide to bail on something important to them.

The stubbornness from both parties is simply unnecessary. They have to recognize that it is in everyone’s best interest to highlight these players both on the tour and at U23 Worlds. These are some of the most marketable players in the game. The more exposure they can get, the better.

But now it comes down to a proxy war between Minderhout and USAU. Boulder doesn’t want to back off their long-stated requirements to attend training camp, especially when players committed to the U23 teams before they signed on with the NexGen Tour. But is the optimal outcome simply that the players — some of the best in the world — don’t play at all? Just to stick to your guns?

That’s a tough decision to make. At the same time, why did Minderhout schedule over the top of the training camp? Why create a problem where there doesn’t need to be one?

As Minderhout and USA Ultimate both try to “win” this skirmish, the players end up getting hurt.

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

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

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