I’ve had money on the mind lately. There’s no real reason for this, it’s just a weird confluence of little odds and ends that keeps turning back on itself. Speaking of turning back, I think it’s a little too late for us to turn back now. When we turn and look back we will see this 4-5 year stretch as a critical one in the development of the sport and it will be the money that made all the difference. Let me try to explain.
The Fryz had 205 kids show up for try-outs last weekend. What’s this got to do with money? Seattle has a lot of it. The assistant coaches and middle school coaches get paid more in a single season than I have in ten total years of coaching college ultimate. The middle school sports teams where I teach in rural Oregon have volunteer coaches for all sports – even the biggies like football. I know every city in the country would like to emulate Seattle’s amazing youth program. The hidden key? Pay the coaches.
A MLU “fan” blog popped up last week as well. Take a look – does that look like fan work to you? It looks suspiciously like a social media marketing campaign to me. I don’t really have a problem with it, but it is another sign of how different the MLU approach is by way of comparison to the traditional ultimate way. We should be very clear that these differences: social media campaigns, big time sponsorships/partnerships (Puma, Dick’s Sporting Goods), the influence to get placement on local and national broadcasts; these things aren’t about ultimate. These differences are about money. They are about the influence that money can buy and the weight it carries.
At this point I was going to segue into a really cool connection I found on Grantland in a conversation between Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell. And then pesky Charlie had to go and scoop me. Dammit. I’m going to have to start posting on Mondays. Anyway, for the most part I agree with what Charlie says. What I think he misses is the larger point Simmons and Gladwell are making: despite being unbelievably well payed and unbelievably respected for the work they do, the NBA’s stars are still getting bilked by the owners. Avoiding this is what made the NexGen-league so attractive to me; it kept elite ultimate owned by the players.
I tried to avoid sounding whiny when I wrote this, but I’m not sure how successful I was. In a situation this complicated, it is really easy to get caught up in one little piece of this argument (refs, professionalism, air time…) and to ignore everything else. It’s also really easy to ignore the costs that come with the kind of change we are experiencing. And to be fair, it is just as easy to ignore the benefits. Hm. Still thinking….
Feature photo by Alex Fraser – UltiPhotos.com