April 4, 2014 by Charlie Eisenhood in Livewire with 32 comments
Wisconsin Hodag coach Hector Valdivia (
also a player for the AUDL’s Madison Radicals) took to Twitter last night with some very interesting thoughts on the club and semi-pro landscape. Check out what he had to say.
I think Valdivia is really sharp here. There is an oft-unspoken undercurrent to the club v. semi-pro conversation that has nothing to do with spirit, referees, or gender equality: money. The vast expense of a club season (literally thousands of dollars per year per player for the top teams) starts to look less appealing when there are competitive options that are a) free, b) fun, and c) in front of fans.
USA Ultimate has already made it clear: they are moving the club season into the summer, into direct competition with the semi-pro league seasons. That conflict is coming; the question is how soon?
I think we will learn a lot from this semi-pro season. With the AUDL looking likely to secure a major deal with ESPN3 and the MLU continuing to work with local Comcast networks and reach wide audiences on ESPN highlight shows, the exposure trump card that USA Ultimate played last year with their ESPN3 deal (in part to help ensure participation from players when the NexGen Pro League concept was still on the table) is looking less shiny at this point. If things go well for the pro leagues, an acceleration of the move into the summer seems very possible, even likely.
As discussed above, the opportunity to play internationally — and to win the Club Championships, the most prestigious title in the game — is clearly a priority for many teams. But the lure of money is an enticing one, and the perceived value of winning a pro league championship is increasing every year as more and more elite level players join up.
The lines are drawn in the sand already. Which side will players stand on?