Friday, May 13, 2005

O Canada

First, let me digress by complaining that the guy who started this thread (again) on rsd couldn't even spell a one-letter word correctly. (And while I'm at it, it just turns my skin every time I see someone write "loose" for "lose", "prolly" for "probably", and "Natties" for "Nationals". (Ok, I should probably respect the UPA and call it "UPA Championships", or simply "UPAs" like the Canadians do (actually, they usually write "UPA's", but the correct plural is UPAs). But old habits die hard.))

Should Canadian teams be allowed to attend UPAs?
Yes.
There are selfish and altruistic motives for and against the idea.
For:
Better teams = better series
More money for the UPA
It's a natural alliance. US teams play Canadian teams all the time in the regular season (more than they play against teams not in their region).
The top Canadian teams might disband

Against:
There ought to be a US championship. I now give this one a little bit of weight.
My team might not advance as far in the series. Tough luck, although I do feel a bit of sympathy for the teams whose goal is simply to make UPAs or Regionals and get bumped by a Canadian team.
There is no proven "best US team". It was unfortunate but necessary to send the Condors to Worlds last year because they had the fortune of losing to Furious in the finals rather than in the semis.
They don't let us play in CUPAs. Who cares?

I would actually go further and emulate the US Open (golf) model. The US Open is open to all players in the world (with a 1.4 handicap or better, but I wouldn't put in a handicap requirement here, although you could use RRI), but it's easier logistically for US players to qualify. There are two or three layers of qualifying events, and certain players are exempt into one of the higher layers or the championship itself. Players can enter any local qualifier they want, although most choose the one closest to home. Foreign players are welcome, but they need to attend those local qualifiers, which are in the US.

So here's my plan for ultimate:
0. Keep the Sectionals/Regionals/UPAs series of qualifiers.
1. UPAs Semifinalists are exempt into UPAs the next year.
2. All other UPAs qualifiers are exempt into the Regionals they qualified from. If they want to play in a different Region, they have to attend Sectionals.
3. Teams can compete in any Sectionals they want, but then have to play in that Regionals as well. All Sectionals must be held in the US (except for #5 below).
4. The UPA can give more bids to stronger Regions. Give 4 to the NW and 2 to the SW, say. It would make a NW team on the bubble think twice before heading south for the easier pickings, but would allow them to do so.
5. Consider making Asia and Europe regions that get 1 or 2 bids to UPAs.
6. Get rid of all residency requirements.
Individuals may only compete with one team in the series. An exempt team must have at least half of the previous year's roster to keep their exemption.

As an aside, although it was a member referendum that put the Canadians in the series, the UPA Board has it within their power to kick them out or to put out a new referendum.

6 comments:

dix said...

"As an aside, although it was a member referendum that put the Canadians in the series"

I believe the thought at the time was we were helping out Canadian ulty (ooh, I bet that bugs Jim) and it's not like they'll ever win anything anyway.

Justin R said...

Although I am not an economist, I am fairly confident that a smaller, restricted market will be less efficient than a larger one. If the goal is producing the best competition in ultimate, restrictions such as requiring US citizenship only make the market (i.e. the level/quality of play)less efficient. That's not rocket science.

The more interesting question, in my opinion, is why Furious George, coming from a smaller Canadian "market", has had any success at all? My own suspicion is that political boundaries do not really matter: Canadian teams and players are able to come to the south and compete in US tournaments. Given the level of tournaments that appear to be in the NW, it is not surprising to see a team like FG emerge and be successfull.

The problem for the United States is that there is not an efficient way of putting together a team representing each nation that is significantly more efficient than the teams that compete from each region. Problems of cohesiveness, practice time etc., that would likely plague any team that has never played together.

So the question comes down to priorities for the UPA. Is having a lower quality "Nationals" tournament just for the sake of deciding who's the best in the USA-only worth it? Given the limited resources facing the UPA and every other ultimate organization, my answer is: probably not, but if someone else wants to do it, then great.

parinella said...

I think it's likely that there will be a Team USA for 2008 or 2012 Worlds, supported in part by UPA dues and by targeted sponsorship. (World Games teams in 2001 and 2005 are supported in part by sponsorship.) That would remove one of the "cons" to having Canada compete in the UPAs.

It'd be interesting to explore further what the "market" really is for cities. Certainly, some US cities have problems attracting and keeping talented young players. DC is famous for being really transient, for example, so they are always rebuilding. The Condors have gotten around the problem by taking players from all over California.

I don't think I would use the size of the recreational league as an indicator of the market. Vancouver has 200 teams in their leagues, but Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal also have well over 100 teams, and none of them have done all that much. Maybe something about how large the "creative class" is. Don't know, really.

A Cdn perspective said...

Eastern Canada is prey to the same transience that you say plagues DC. A ton of young Canadians -- ultimate players and others -- in the post-university phase of their life take off for Vancouver. Possible reasons include quality of life (better weather, confluence of ocean and mountains all in one place, etc.) and work opportunities (film industry in particular, plus chic niches like high tech and alternative energy research).

For ultimate players in particular, the draw is Furious and Prime, who have perennially been the best teams by far in Canada. So if you want to play at the highest level possible, you go West. This is obviously a Catch-22 situation whereby the best talent leaves the East for greener pastures in the West, thus ensuring the Eastern pastures will never green.

Add to that a distinct -- now this is simply conjecture, but is based on some experience -- lack of solid leadership (Ottawa specifically) at the highest levels. Ottawa is still struggling to implement a true development system, and instead annually ends up with a mish-mash of high-level players and newer, not-quite-ready-for-primetime players on the top team (Phoenix) and a bunch of raw players on the B team (Firebird). The top team doesn't include *all* the top talent and suffers for that, and the B team doesn't have anyone to teach the raw players.

It's a year-by-year process, and it seems to be one step forward, two steps back these days.

To make a long story short, Furious is a fantastic team, but Canadian ultimate actually suffers for that. Since they can't find decent competition in Canada, they gear for UPAs and rarely play in Cdn Nats anymore. And they suck the talent from around the country like a vortex. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that; it's just the way it is.

parinella said...

So, East Canada, what do you think Canadian ultimate would look like in 3-5 years if Canadian teams were suddenly barred from UPAs?

Chambers said...

To answer the question--the level of play in Canada would suffer if Canadian teams were barred from UPAs. I've been selected to represent Canada in the open, mixed and masters divisions at a world championship since 1994. I've also qualified for UPAs 3 times 1997,1998(both mixed) and 2003(masters)and everyone in the world knows that the best ultimate is played at the UPAs. Worlds are okay but it's better to play 5 or 10 great teams at one tourney as you do at UPAs. At a world clubs championship there is always at least 3 USA teams in the top 5 and at national worlds you get 2 good games if lucky(and we all know who the best game will come from). Canadian teams and player can't wait around for every four year to try and show the world they can play.