October 14, 2014 by Charlie Eisenhood in Livewire with 30 comments
It has been just seven months since USA Ultimate announced its official position on the semi-pro leagues.
The statement is summed up in just two sentences: “USA Ultimate will not promote, partner with, or otherwise formally recognize or endorse the AUDL or MLU at this time. This decision is based on several fundamental and philosophical differences and operational conflicts between USA Ultimate and these leagues.”
It’s already time for a rethink.
I’ve been clear since that statement that I disagree with USAU’s position here. But there is growing evidence that the tide is shifting more generally towards an acceptance of the leagues.
Take a look at these statements from the USAU Board of Directors candidates. We asked each of them about what they thought of USAU’s position on the semi-pro leagues. Of the five candidates that responded, four of them expressed that the pro leagues are at least in some way good and that there is common ground on which the organizations could work together.
Then, today, we get news that the Titcomb family has purchased the Seattle AUDL franchise. I think this is significant. Although both of the largest ultimate-specific apparel companies — Five and VC — have already had business relationships with the semi-pro leagues, there is something more resonant about one of the most high-profile ultimate families — and one that is synonymous with grassroots ultimate culture and lifestyle — taking ownership of a team.
These are just isolated examples. There are countless ultimate communities that have embraced the semi-pro leagues and, in many cases, strengthened the community in those cities. (No doubt, New York has benefited from the cross-club fertilization of the Rumble and the Empire. The community is tighter here now than its been since I moved here in 2007.)
And you don’t have to go far to see the impact the leagues are having on visibility. High schoolers look forward to going to games and get autographs from their favorite star players. That’s powerful stuff.
Anyway, some scattered thoughts here, but some important things to think about as we head into 2015. Now back to our regularly scheduled National Championships previews!