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the question of the UPA and leagues remains one that the board is continuing to consider (to the best of my now out-of-date knowledge).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.

I couldn't agree more. I and a friend are working on a Spring high school league in St. Louis, and would LOVE it if the UPA had a more active, supportive hand in the process.

As I mentioned in the post, the UPA already has
many, and is creating more, services for leagues.
Have you contacted the UPA? (1-800-Get-H)
Specifically, Melanie Byrd has been compiling
lots of useful information for start-up leagues,
as far as I understand. I guess that she could
be of some help. (My e-mail was somewhat a comment on the board -- and myself -- not the administration, which follows the directives set
by the board.) Good luck!
i completely agree. i'd also like to add that i think it's more important to start leagues at a younger level (say...gradeschool gym teachers). growing up, if kids play ultimate and know the rules/game, i think it would clearly generate more interest at the high school level, which would lead to teams/clubs being formed.

currently, i am all talk...but i hope to change that soon.
Wait, I thought the hiatus was over
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