Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Mixed up about Coed

Well, this fair play thing seems to have run its course. Alex has an interesting thread going on his blog, so today's entry is a comment of mine on his site. National Mixed Director George Cooke has chimed in there with some pretty strong comments, too. It's worth taking a gander.

Anyway, here's what I wrote:I will also generalize by saying the Open and Women players prefer that their two divisions be kept together, they don't care one way or the other about Masters, and they'd prefer that Mixed be separate or subordinated.

I really don't think there is much debate about the quality of an Open/Women's Nationals-level player compared to a Mixed Nationals-level player. The composition of both World Games teams (all single-sex players) attests to this. (This isn't to say that every Open player is better than every Mixed player, blah blah.) And the true Mixed teams generally don't do that great at those summer Mixed tournaments that are open to all.

It's a thorny issue, no doubt. The UPA must serve the needs of its members, or those members will leave. The Mixed series is a big benefit to a lot of people. If we were to go to an alternate universe where the UPA never set up a Mixed series, I really don't know what ultimate would look like. In the Ultimate History book, Joey Gray claims that had she set up a separate organization for Mixed, it would have been bigger than the UPA within three years. I think this is a gross exaggeration, but it's worthwhile to consider where these people came from and what they would be doing without a Mixed series.

(You can't just assume that everyone who plays Mixed now is playing because of the Mixed series, or that most UPA growth is due to Mixed. College play (which is decidedly single-sex) has been booming the last few years, with more than half of the UPA members paying College dues. There has also been a great improvement in catching scammers who played but didn't pay.)

Should all Divisions get equal billing? Should Masters be expanded to 16 teams and be given a Sunday finals? Would it bother you if your division's final was held at the same time as another final? Do you feel that it's important for your division to be held at the same site as another division? What if they don't feel the same way about you?

What's best for the UPA? The UPA represents the players, so they almost have to treat Mixed as a full and equal division, even if they know that the quality of play isn't as high as in single-sex play. But it's tricky because the UPA also represents the sport, and that means that they have to present the game at its best to the outside world. As George and Henry said, it's open to debate what this means, whether it's marketing how well we all can get along, or whether we show our best players.

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