Wednesday, January 11, 2006


What Now?

Another year gone by and Ultimate matures with the Baby Boomers who created it. Cable TV, DVD's, Hall of Fame, Youth Division, and now a book of record. What next? What would you like to see? I'm curious.

I am no longer a member of the UPA Board of Directors (my term recently expired) so I am speaking and asking as a civilian.

As a board member, I was an advocate of the involvement and support of leagues. However, I was unable to put into action a plan I had in hand three years ago when I joined the board. Nor was I able to get passed a refined version of that plan which incorporated the comments of many league organizers. After further research with league organizers (the UPA held a league conference) and discussions with outside consultants, the question of the UPA and leagues remains one that the board is continuing to consider (to the best of my now out-of-date knowledge). This issue may also wind up being part of a long-term plan in which grows out of the strategic planning process now underway. I am supportive of such efforts. It's just that...

...I am disappointed with myself for not having been able to produce more or induce more action with regard to leagues. Part of the mission of the UPA is to provide a framework for competition at all levels, and to foster the growth of ultimate in the US. Developing a true plan for incorporating leagues and/or league players into the UPA would help to uphold that mission.

Of course, there are pros and cons on this issue. I see as most important the single "pro" that there are very many league players out there who would benefit from a roughly standardized "league product" a la youth soccer (AYSO) or USTA tennis tournaments for children. I also think the UPA should foster SOTG more actively than it currently does (how? That's another issue), and affiliated leagues would be one way of ensuring a universal standard.

The biggest con is the difficulty in answering the questions, "What can the UPA do for my league? Why should I bother?" I believe that there is a good answer, as the UPA can offer the following benefits: providing insurance at discount rates through their blanket policy, on-line registration, tried-and-true processes and policies, start-up manuals, competitive formats, expanded newsletter coverage. The UPA *currently* offers some of these benefits to sponsored leagues and is developing others from this list. I think that the UPA can go further by rebating some of the revenue from new league members who join the UPA.

There are many practical reasons to be hesitant; any new adventure has risks. Developing an on-line system is costly, and many leagues have already developed independent, incompatible systems? Why should they switch? Well, maybe they won't, but a central, on-line system could be extremely valuable to smaller leagues, as well as for information sharing and reporting. The on-line rostering system is a great example. And with any new program, there are mistakes at first, but there is learning, too.

The UPA, in my opinion, has the money, clout and wherewithal to develop a sound league program and to continue to work to improve it until it is genuinely first-rate.

Monday, January 02, 2006


Back and Blue?

[This letter is a duplicate of a post to, written in response to Ken Dobyn's post regarding the book, Ultimate: The First Four Decades, by Pasquale Anthony Leonardo and Adam Zagoria. Ken Dobyn's orginal message of 12/29/05 is the first of the thread "Ultimate-The First Forty-Four Skewering." (Sorry, I was unable to create a link.)]

Mr. Dobyns,

You created a dynasty and culture of athletic excellence by dint of the force of your will, skill, and your considerable charisma. Generations of ultimate players respect your personal accomplishments and what you have done for the game.
Your voice carries the weight of decades at the height of the sport. Your influence extends worldwide.

And THIS is how you choose to represent yourself? By a tirade against people who have devoted years to a project which may never break even? By initiating a spirit battle from a long-dead rivalry? By standing up for the disenfranchised "little people," i.e. the franchise known as Molly and Teens? By disparaging other styles of winning ultimate?

One is heartened that the sands of time have not dulled your passion. One can fondly imagine that your pedantry in trying to set the record straight is indicative of the perfectionism and expectations you brought to your teams -- something most of us did not experience first-hand. One can enjoy the armchair view of a heated exchange.

But for a man of such vision on the field, your literary view is verily myopic. In that great trove you deride is the collation of thousands of names, pictures, facts, statistics, rosters, stories, viewpoints and lore into ONE place. It is the first significant effort to record an oral history which would have died with age and fuzzy memories. It will give legions of players a sense of their sport and enrich their ultimate experience. It is a synthesis of different writing styles. It is a massive editing task. It is a rich visual presentation. You have belittled these accomplishments by overlooking them. The task of the writers need not have been "thankless."

Criticism IS easy, because perfection is so hard.

Your legacy, which clearly is still of great concern to you, includes the impressions of every person who ever played with, against, or near you -- those who remain in the game and those who do not. It also includes those whose introduction to a legend includes the bitter invective you just released. Would that you could have spared us, and yourself, that indiscretion!

-Eric Zaslow

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