Monday, May 09, 2005

trends that didn't happen

Ten years ago, an observer might have looked at ultimate and seen a few areas that were about to explode. Among them:
  • Masters
  • Sponsorship
  • Officiating

But they didn't.
Masters. In 1994, the US Tampico team from the Bay Area was the only team to beat Double Happiness all year prior to the Nationals finals (although rumor has it that Double was drinking during Sectionals), and looked pretty damn good, and had some pretty good stats. Masters age was only 31 at the time, I think, and it looked for all the world that a real division would develop. A couple years later, the UPA thankfully killed the Women's Masters division (fewer than 10 teams participated in the series, and the winning team one year was an older club team that got knocked out at their Women's Regionals but got recruited by the UPA for Nationals because there were no teams in the Region). Now, it's just a callfest. Sure, they play hard, especially when there's something at stake, but the fact that there is just one token Masters tournament outside of the UPA series (Masters Easterns in Boston) says to me that there is no real division. In what could have been the ruin of my reputation, the Board nearly passed a proposal authorizing a UPA Grand Masters Division. (Oh, there is a GM tournament of sorts in the Hamptons in the spring.) Perhaps the presence of Mixed as a B division has sapped the energy from Masters.
Sponsorship. Cuervo spent $100K from 1991-1993 to sponsor a series, then decided (or the UPA decided) that it wasn't going to work out. Jockey kicked in $50K in 1999. Nortel spent $25K on some college tournaments around that time. Heck, goign back to the early 80s, Crown Royal sponsored some tournaments, and in 1986, Wham-O did a series of Hacky Sack/Frisbee Festivals all over the country. One might have expected that by now, there'd be Ultimate at least on ESPN2. I do like the job that CSTV has done with the college tournaments, though. (The UPA and ultimate probably couldn't have handled big sponsorship 10 years ago, though, but now we're in good position to take advantage.)
Officiating. The Certified Observer Pool formed around 1990. In 1995, a Red Card/Yellow card system was put into place after some bad events at Mid-Atlantic Regionals. But now, there is still little observing going on in the club game, and what there is is of dubious quality. To be sure, the College game is a whole 'nother matter, but not in club. Despite an occasional reffed game, the NUA never caught on, and most of ultimate, even elite ultimate, gets by just fine without observers, most of the time. And the rest of the world is even more anti-observer.

1 comment:

dix said...

Ten years ago, an observer might have looked at ultimate and seen a few areas that were about to explode. Among them:

* Masters
* Sponsorship
* Officiating
* Parinella posting every day