I find it hard to give out words of kindness, so I prefer to type. It’s why all conflict conversations with my girlfriend are resolved with a keyboard. I have some written praise to give to a small, 165-pound section of the AUDL.
I understand that appreciation and respect from the general ultimate community come as begrudgingly as free water at a Vegas nightclub, and that’s fine by me. Water and respect weigh me down and can cause bloating, which often results in me staying holed up watching Justified and wondering if I could possibly be as hot as Raylend Givens when I am 46. Speaking of 46 or somewhere around there, the person who gets my rice grain of applause is Steve Gordon, the AUDL commissioner.
In my own mental courtroom, I am a decent judge of character and have a fine nose for the smell of BS. Something about wallowing in it gets you acquainted with the aroma. Now, I readily admit I have no telekinetic powers, but to the best of my BS-detecting ability, I have concluded that the AUDL commissioner is a good guy.
This conclusion came after careful analysis, me having studied him in various conversations from across the room while I hid behind one of the full-bodied ferns that lined the walls. All of his mannerisms pointed towards businessman: the well-tended words, the smile that betrayed a readiness to jump into the conversation, the steady eye contact that treated everyone’s words as equal when we all know that’s not true. But when I approached and engaged this man I had been observing, I found that behind the finely-groomed image was someone with actual compassion, a rare commodity when wealth and power wiggles about in the seams of one’s pants.
Like many of you, I spend more time energy on ultimate than many parents spend on their kids. (Which is not saying much for my excessively absent dad. Sorry, gotta talk a little trash where trash is due post-Fathers Day.) I love our game, and it’s rare that I meet someone who shares my level of infatuation. So imagine my surprise when Steve opened his mouth and started finishing my sentences about the ultimate for me: there was the quintessential awkward pause in the conversation that happens when a person steals the thing you were about to say, and like the bad guy who rap battles Eminem in 8 Mile, I stood there scratching my cornrows before timidly repeating basically what he had just said.
“Yeah, I also want to see ultimate grow and spread about like that annoying fungus on a toe.”
Thankfully, unlike 8 Mile, there was not a crowd of tough gangsters to boo me so my street cred stayed intact; the conversation carried on without any Grammy-winning songs. We chitted and we chatted, and by the end of the conversation I decided this guy is the decent sort with values I can relate to. I have talked to other humans and they feel the same way. Of course, there is the small chance Steve may be a lizard person, in which case I apologize for this letter of recommendation.
Okay enough of whatever that was. Let’s find this guy and coax out some answers to the questions about the AUDL that have been brought up in comments to my previous posts.
Steve, what do you say to people who say the level play from teams in the AUDL is worse than the MLU and far worse than the USAU?
I suspect the comparison is being made based on competition in the Western Division, which is in its first year. For teams and divisions within the AUDL that have been around a year or two, the competition is good and getting decidedly better each year.
What can you tell me about expanding the league to ultimate hotspots like Texas and Denver?
Since UXV purchased the majority position in the AUDL, we have been doing a tremendous amount of due diligence to determine which markets our expansion plan should include. Our plan calls for expansion to 32 teams by 2018 and will see us placing additional teams in the Northeast, expansion to the Southeast, a strong presence in Texas, managed growth in the central region, Denver and the Southwest. Markets such as Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Raleigh, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Diego are just a few of the markets where we will have a strong presence.
Anything you would like to say about where you think the AUDL is heading?
The AUDL has already made huge strides over the last 18 months, and look for that to continue as our strategic approach unfolds. We’re getting bigger and better, and players are beginning to talk about the AUDL as the best place to play. I believe that sentiment is going to grow exponentially as we continue to grow and improve and as players are further exposed to the culture we’re procuring. We have challenged ourselves to quickly become the standard by which ultimate is judged and the destination for the country’s best players. Our intent is to be exactly that.
What about the ultimate players? How are you wooing them? They need so much wooing.
We have developed a strong initiative built to continually attract the best players in the country over the coming years, a defined plan that sets a high bar for performance and consistency in officiating, a solid and specific expansion plan that will focus on optimal Ultimate markets across the US and Canada, an integrated youth and collegiate alliance program, a coordinated marketing, social media, and branding initiative, and we are developing strong relationships with strategic partners and sponsors. In addition to all of this, we will continually elicit feedback from those that have the most enlightened point of view – our players.
Alright Steve, now for the fun one. Can you pick one of the responses from one of my blog posts and give it an honest response? I completely understand you don’t have time to address every crazy idea, but there should be one response amongst them that wasn’t dreamed up while on peyote. [Steve choose the following. Austin, please contact email@example.com for your prize.]
“I would like to see shorter overall games. I always felt that the crowd was into the game at the beginning but then was ready for the game to be done around halftime, or definitely by the end of the third quarter. Games are currently around two or two and a half hours long from what I can tell, and I would prefer games about 1.5 – 2 hours instead.” – Austin
We have a Board and Rules Committee that go through a specific process when considering any potential changes from year to year. I thought I’d respond to one that has already been discussed at length, and that’s the comment regarding the length of our games. In 2013, our games averaged between 2 hours and 15 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes, with some lasting longer. Our research shows that’s too long, as suggested. Our immediate goal is to keep games at approximately 2 hours, and there are obviously multiple options to achieve that. Amongst many, options include shortening quarters, reducing time after scores, shortening halftime and even just starting games promptly. When we reviewed our approach at the end of last season, we identified that before making any dramatic changes, we could do a better job of holding firm with the amount of time before the subsequent pull after scores. In fact, we could shorten it. We’ve done that and the average game time has decreased about 15 minutes to an average of approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes. Our longer-term goal is to shorten it a bit more, but we’re happy with the results so far and are heading in the right direction.
That about wraps it up. Today we learned that even though Steve gives business-y answers– probably because it’s his job– he still gets an atta-boy sticker in my book. Don’t get me wrong: my book is full of forgotten pages, misplaced pictures and scratch-n-sniff stickers that smell of fermented formaldehyde. Shoot, while I am at it, tune in next time where I give out more stickers of varying kinds to various people. Should be fun.
Thanks to all responses to the last blog. The winner is Teesao with the small book he wrote on building a team. Tessao, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for your prize.
This week’s question is simple: who can tell the best joke that has something to do with ultimate? Go.