March 26, 2014 by Charlie Eisenhood in News with 27 comments
The World Flying Disc Federation — the official international organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee and the organizer of international ultimate events including this year’s World Ultimate Club Championships — has been relatively quiet about the USA’s semi-professional leagues, the American Ultimate Disc League and Major League Ultimate.
WFDF President Robert “Nob” Rauch broke the silence with this statement on USA Ultimate’s site earlier this week:
To clarify any misconceptions, as WFDF President, I concur with earlier posts that the pursuit of inclusion in the Olympic Program is likely a long term goal, but IOC recognition is a key starting point. At no time in our discussions with the IOC have they ever mentioned that lack of a referee system was an obstacle.
On the contrary, our concept of “spirit of the game” was a strong positive in our recognition application, as was gender inclusiveness and the strong growth of player participation at all levels in the US and around the world. USA Ultimate is an important Member of WFDF, is one of our charter members and, as a not-for-profit organization, serves the entire spectrum of constituencies from grass roots to elite in the US really well.
Moreover, it is also pursuing the commercial arena successfully with their partner ESPN in learning how to best present Ultimate for the broadcast audience. Although we don’t directly interact with the two “pro” leagues in the US and wish them success as they pursue their own commercial interests, we believe their decision to introduce referees is misguided as it rejects the core element of SOTG that differentiates Ultimate from so many other sports and which should be seen at minimum as a key branding tool. In any case, I personally believe that candid discussion of these issues benefits the entire disc community and I laud USA Ultimate for stating their position so directly.