Ultimate = Cricket?

History repeats itself.

Reader DC sends along a link to a very interesting bit of history from the world of Cricket, the baseball-like game popular in England and former English colonies.

In the late ’70s, there was a rebellion in Cricket, as a new league split from the established organization in the sport. It was called World Series Cricket. From Wikipedia:

[quote]World Series Cricket (WSC) was a break away professional cricket competition staged between 1977 and 1979 and organised by Kerry Packer for his Australian television network, Nine Network. The matches ran in opposition to established international cricket. World Series Cricket drastically changed the nature of cricket, and its influence continues to be felt today.

Two main factors caused the formation of WSC—the widespread view that players were not paid sufficient amounts to make a living from cricket, and that Packer wished to secure the exclusive broadcasting rights to Australian cricket, then held by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC).

After the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) refused to accept Channel Nine’s bid to gain exclusive television rights to Australia’s Test matches in 1976, Packer set up his own series by secretly signing agreements with leading Australian, English, Pakistani, South African and West Indian players, most notably England captain Tony Greig, West Indies captain Clive Lloyd, Australian captain Greg Chappell, future Pakistani captain Imran Khan and former Australian Captain Ian Chappell.[/quote]

Does this sound familiar? NexGen’s Kevin Minderhout — who, in part, wants to get exclusive broadcast rights to high-level men’s Ultimate — just finished up a crosscountry tour, speaking with eighteen teams in private to convince them to partner with him to form a new league. The entire discussion has been out of the public eye.

Although what will come of the proposed NexGen league is still unknown, I think one thing is pretty clear: his efforts will be influential. If the league forms, it will obviously have a large effect on the sport. But even if it doesn’t, the conversation he has started will leave a lasting impression on USA Ultimate and its member teams.

This proposal doesn’t have 50% team support for no reason. There are a number of things teams aren’t happy with about USA Ultimate’s Triple Crown Tour, and the NexGen league solves at least some of them. For USAU to keep teams from leaving en masse, they may need to implement some changes as soon as this season — changes that will likely mirror aspects of Minderhout’s proposal.

I encourage a full read of the Wikipedia entry about WSC. It’s a fascinating read, and perhaps very informative of what might happen with NexGen (or even the professional leagues) down the line.

  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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