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The Costs of Playing Club

by | June 4, 2014, 9:44am 64

With the advent of the professional leagues, the high cost of playing club ultimate has once again been thrust into the forefront of ultimate discussion. The USA Ultimate championship series, played at the top level, can be very expensive.

Last year, Revolver released their 2012 season expenses in an article that highlighted the realities of how costly it can be to play ultimate for an amateur athlete.

I plan to go one step further by breaking down my personal budget, expenses, and the cost of the Sockeye season to see what it takes financially to play.

Putting my personal information out to the public is a bit scary. Here are reasons I feel like it’s the right thing to do:

1. It’s a worthwhile story.

2. It may allow others to open up to share their own financial struggles to play. I would be curious to see a current college player’s budget or an international club player’s budget.

3. The awareness of this issue is important to me.

My season starts in April and ends mid-October, so long as Sockeye qualifies for nationals. The season is long due to early training for injury prevention, annual tryouts, tournaments spread out from June to October, and necessary team development. 23 weeks out of season, 29 weeks in season.

Occupation: I work full time in a residential facility for children with PTSD as a “Behavior Specialist.” I help these kids through day to day routines in a therapeutic environment to help normalize and stabilize their own behavior. In 2013, I earned $24,000 after taxes.

Living expenses: $14,204

Rent – $650/month (includes utilities), $7,800/year

I currently live in Shoreline, Washington, just outside of Seattle where rent is actually cheaper than in the city. If you ask anyone who lives in Seattle, they will tell you their rent is higher than $650.

Transportation (gas) – $15 per week out of season, $25 per week in season. $1074 for the year.

Food – $80 per week out of season, $110 in season. $5,030 for the year.

Clothes – $300 per year. I don’t shop much and our Patagonia sponsorship keeps me normal looking…sorta. Once a week I wear Sockeye gear/costumes to work.

Sockeye predicted expenses:

Worlds – $2,969.27
USA Ultimate Club Season – $1,991.67
Total: $4,961.29

A detailed breakdown can be found in the table below:

 
Overhead
Tryouts
US Open
WUCC
Labor Day
Regionals
Nationals
Cost per player$375.36$90.00$485.00$2969.27$414.17$27.14$600.36
Number of players28282427242828
Tournament fee$25$20.83$48.49$20.83$7.14$60.71
Player fee$15.00$243.60
Hotels$40$66.67$504.00$66.67$98.21
Flights$350.00$1700.00$300.00$350.00
Ground Transportation$10.00$20.83$200.00$10.00$53.57
Field Reservations$42.86
Coach Expenses$178.57$16.67$77.78$16.67$17.86
Banking Fees$9.64
Field Supplies (food, ice, etc.)$21.43
Website$14.29
Photographer, trainers$21.43
General supplies$7.14
Team apparel$80.00

After the above expenses, I have $4,796 left over for entertainment, travel, medical costs, gym, phone, and any emergencies. Needless to say, I do not have a savings account.

When I look at my own budget for the year, it’s hard for me to say that playing for Sockeye is sustainable. Actually, it isn’t.

If it weren’t for teammates who help front money for the team, lend me money personally, or allow me to pay dues later than those who can afford to, I wouldn’t be able to play. It didn’t take me writing my budget out to become aware that the sport is biased towards the upper class, I’ve felt aware since I started playing in high school surrounded by peers in private education, college funds, and the luxury of “traveling across the nation to ultimate tournaments.”

I unfortunately don’t have a solution for sustainability and inclusiveness for lower income players (this includes youth and college), but I do think I am asking the right questions.

What are we doing to prepare youth players to be able to pay for college and travelling tournaments during the college ultimate season?

What are we doing to prepare graduating college players to be able to pay for $5,000 club seasons?

What are we doing to promote localized high level youth competition (USAU’s State Championship model was a great step to helping make the “travelling” hurdle much smaller)?

Are we (elite players) modeling inclusive and financially sustainable behavior?

Is the idea of one right way to play ultimate worth keeping the sport exclusive?

These are compelling questions that need to be asked about where our sport is headed concerning the topics of inclusiveness, financial sustainability and the underserved populations. Nobody is going to ask them unless we all stop treating each other like we all have the money to afford to play.

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64 Responses to “The Costs of Playing Club”

  1. Guest says:

    Does sockeye focus time on team fundraising to help reduce the financial strain?

  2. Guest says:

    Overall I like the TCT but I have to say that the travel associated with participating greatly increases the costs of a season. Not to mention the outrageous $900 bid fee for Chesapeake.

    • Bruce says:

      $900 bid fee is outrageous? Doesn't that come out to like $36/player? I'm sorry, but that is not outrageous. That is probably barely allowing the tournament director to cover their costs of putting on the tournament.

      • Guest says:

        Regular season tournaments average $500 so $900 feels steep in comparison

      • Joe says:

        If that is the case, how do the other tournaments cover their costs when their tourney fees typically range from $350-$500? What extra costs does Chesapeake incur that other tourneys don't? Expensive fields? Awesome party or other above and beyond amenities?

        • robluhrs says:

          This is Rob – one of the TD's of Chesapeake.. As teams who asked were told, we operate at break even only. Zero Profit/extra/etc. it's 99% field costs that drive the price up. The final 1% is the "little things" we try to get right by having an extra gator so that while water is going to all sidelines, we have one for emergencies with the trainer/Observer budgets/etc.. but yeah.. we WISH we could charge less, all of us are or were players too, but to get the high quality fields we want/need, the costs are what they are.

  3. Matt says:

    Kudos to you for making it work, I have to ask though is it worth it?

    It's certainly not sustainable… What about cell phone bill, school or car payments, car maintenance, special occasion spending (weddings, or going out on the weekends), car and health insurance, not to mention all sorts of incidentals. Best of luck sir!

    • Gahh says:

      My bad! I didn't see your $4,700 you put aside for everything else. I feel like I'm frugal and I dont stay under $400 a month on those type things…

  4. Bradley says:

    I would be curious to see how these costs compare to those of other amateur sports. I have no idea if this is cheap or expensive unless it's juxtaposed with other sports.

  5. Guest says:

    Good stuff

  6. It's one thing to love your job and especially to not have a BS job… but man, get a better job. You aren't earning much above minimum wage (and if you work in Seattle, probably less after the recent news)

  7. sionscone says:

    Brave and interesting Sam. I do wonder whether the model of making tournaments as profit-making ventures really works when there are so many of them; gone are the days of cheap tournaments it seems. WUCC in particular has some outrageous fees; assuming a squad of 20, the team & players fees are 4380 euros. That's for one team. There are 161 teams here http://www.worlds2014.org/wucc/tournament/teams/

    That's an income of over 700,000 euros to run a tournament. That, by the way, does not include accommodation, food, etc, which have additional (outrageous) charges (125 euros for one meal each day, and approx 30 euros per night for a dormitory bed). And I'd be surprised if the tournament organisers do not profit from food & accommodation in some way.

    I've never run a tournament anywhere near this scale, and I'm sure that the costs are not low. Still, I hope that the accounts are closely checked by WFDF, because it feels like WUCC is being used to generate a lot of money, rather than being accessible to the best players in the world.

    Of course, the long term solution is to attract sponsorship. I just wonder when the current model will break; you only have to look at Paganello, formerly one of the most popular tournaments in the world, to see what happens when costs rise to unsustainable levels… the players vote with their feet.

  8. sionscone says:

    Brave and interesting Sam. I do wonder whether the model of making tournaments as profit-making ventures really works when there are so many of them; gone are the days of cheap tournaments it seems. WUCC in particular has some outrageous fees; assuming a squad of 20, the team & players fees are 4380 euros. That's for one team. There are 161 teams here http://www.worlds2014.org/wucc/tournament/teams/

    That's an income of over 700,000 euros to run a tournament. That, by the way, does not include accommodation, food, etc, which have additional (outrageous) charges (125 euros for one meal each day, and approx 30 euros per night for a dormitory bed). And I'd be surprised if the tournament organisers do not profit from food & accommodation in some way.

    I've never run a tournament anywhere near this scale, and I'm sure that the costs are not low. Still, I hope that the accounts are closely checked by WFDF, because it feels like WUCC is being used to generate a lot of money, rather than being accessible to the best players in the world.

    Of course, the long term solution is to attract sponsorship. I just wonder when the current model will break; you only have to look at Paganello, formerly one of the most popular tournaments in the world, to see what happens when costs rise to unsustainable levels… the players vote with their feet.

  9. sionscone says:

    Brave and interesting Sam. I do wonder whether the model of making tournaments as profit-making ventures really works when there are so many of them; gone are the days of cheap tournaments it seems. WUCC in particular has some outrageous fees; assuming a squad of 20, the team & players fees are 4380 euros. That's for one team. There are 161 teams here http://www.worlds2014.org/wucc/tournament/teams/

    That's an income of over 700,000 euros to run a tournament. That, by the way, does not include accommodation, food, etc, which have additional (outrageous) charges (125 euros for one meal each day, and approx 30 euros per night for a dormitory bed). And I'd be surprised if the tournament organisers do not profit from food & accommodation in some way.

    I've never run a tournament anywhere near this scale, and I'm sure that the costs are not low. Still, I hope that the accounts are closely checked by WFDF, because it feels like WUCC is being used to generate a lot of money, rather than being accessible to the best players in the world.

    Of course, the long term solution is to attract sponsorship. I just wonder when the current model will break; you only have to look at Paganello, formerly one of the most popular tournaments in the world, to see what happens when costs rise to unsustainable levels… the players vote with their feet.

  10. sionscone says:

    Brave and interesting Sam. I do wonder whether the model of making tournaments as profit-making ventures really works when there are so many of them; gone are the days of cheap tournaments it seems. WUCC in particular has some outrageous fees; assuming a squad of 20, the team & players fees are 4380 euros. That's for one team. There are 161 teams here http://www.worlds2014.org/wucc/tournament/teams/

    That's an income of over 700,000 euros to run a tournament. That, by the way, does not include accommodation, food, etc, which have additional (outrageous) charges (125 euros for one meal each day, and approx 30 euros per night for a dormitory bed). And I'd be surprised if the tournament organisers do not profit from food & accommodation in some way.

    I've never run a tournament anywhere near this scale, and I'm sure that the costs are not low. Still, I hope that the accounts are closely checked by WFDF, because it feels like WUCC is being used to generate a lot of money, rather than being accessible to the best players in the world.

    Of course, the long term solution is to attract sponsorship. I just wonder when the current model will break; you only have to look at Paganello, formerly one of the most popular tournaments in the world, to see what happens when costs rise to unsustainable levels… the players vote with their feet.

  11. Ben says:

    This is a great article. It gives a really good perspective. Thanks for your openness.

  12. Shy says:

    Yo Harkness, here's a similar blog post I wrote in 2011, but focused less on the aspects of ultimate, more so on a few ways folks can create community food sharing/dumpstering/foraging. At the time I also was not traveling to tournaments and played with a local team only making for less travel but I find that it still remains almost all exact when compared to today. Might be interesting for you. And as a person who doesn't make much (also back in community college for PT school pre-reqs and working part-time) I feel your situation.
    http://dmchazin.blogspot.com/2011/10/frugality-re

    Much love, see you on the field,
    Shy

  13. Shy says:

    Yo Harkness, here's a similar blog post I wrote in 2011, but focused less on the aspects of ultimate, more so on a few ways folks can create community food sharing/dumpstering/foraging. At the time I also was not traveling to tournaments and played with a local team only making for less travel but I find that it still remains almost all exact when compared to today. Might be interesting for you. And as a person who doesn't make much (also back in community college for PT school pre-reqs and working part-time) I feel your situation.
    http://dmchazin.blogspot.com/2011/10/frugality-re

    Much love, see you on the field,
    Shy

  14. Shy says:

    Yo Harkness, here's a similar blog post I wrote in 2011, but focused less on the aspects of ultimate, more so on a few ways folks can create community food sharing/dumpstering/foraging. At the time I also was not traveling to tournaments and played with a local team only making for less travel but I find that it still remains almost all exact when compared to today. Might be interesting for you. And as a person who doesn't make much (also back in community college for PT school pre-reqs and working part-time) I feel your situation.
    http://dmchazin.blogspot.com/2011/10/frugality-re

    Much love, see you on the field,
    Shy

  15. guest says:

    Nobody ever mentions the cost of the time put in. To me that would be bigger than any financial expenditure, and it's one reason the pro leagues can be a bit overrated if one measures purely by financials – so much travel time for so few games.

  16. more like Boyzell says:

    This from the guy who just posted, on May 1, the following on his facebook wall:

    ""Prices are rising on the very things that are essential for climbing out of poverty" – It is almost as if moving between social classes is getting harder. But given that we have democracy and capitalism and meritocracy that can't possible be true.

    can it?"

  17. @UltimateGav says:

    Question – does sockeye make profits at all? They hold events such as showcase games here and there and I wonder where that money goes, i can only imagine with the number of people that do attend there is some money there? Also selling gear – what or how does that money help players, if at all?

    • I'm a little bit more interested in knowing how "corporate" Riot/Sockeye have gotten. At nationals last year they had identical uniform kits, save the front logo. But same colors, same sponsors, same manufacturer.

      • Tyler says:

        This is one of those comments where you are completely wrong as to your assumptions, but then I wonder, why didn't we think of that?

        And FWIW, both teams are currently doing our best to fundraise so that our players can get to Worlds. It's an uphill battle, I can tell you that.

        Tyler Kinley

        • Dane O says:

          TK, I must say that your efforts thus far are impressive in their creativity. I never thought that your strategy of posting articles on Skyd with lead photos showing Sockguys posterizing top level club ultimate players would pay off, but now I've got Goose in my ear asking to match his donation to the Sockeye Worlds fund and I'm beginning to see the brilliance in it. Anyhow, I'm looking forward to seeing which poor sap the Sharkness is taking to school once the pic is updated.

  18. dascher says:

    I could not agree more about the outrageous costs of elite level Ultimate, but what is never discussed are the high level Ultimate, medium, and begginner Ultimate. College Ultimate is pretty rough on its players. My college team competed at sections every year with the hope of going to regionals and doing well there. In order to "earn" more bids to regionals for our section, we needed to play in 10 usau regular season sanctioned tournament games. The regular season goes from Jan 1 to April 1. Within our geographic region there are no tournament sites within 400 miles that open before April 14th. That means in order to have a chance of making regionals, we would need to travel more than 400 miles at least twice in the spring. It is not financially viable for a student to pay for that. This isn't a complaint about the weather, it is a complaint that 90% of players are paying $50 a year for a series that they can't afford to play in. Let our membership dues go to the planning of tournaments within our geographic region, regardless of whether it is indoor or outdoor.

    • guest says:

      Where is your college, Alaska? There were tournaments in every part of the country before April.

      And if you feel like you don't have enough of a shot at making regionals to make participating in sectionals worth it to you, then don't play. Nobody is forcing you to do so.

      • Anne says:

        "then don't play. Nobody is forcing you to"

        Wow. That's pretty shitty.

        For many (and obviously for you), it is easy to attend USAU sanctioned tournaments. For those in Alaska, Montana, and other parts of the country, it is incredibly costly. So a rule requiring a certain number of sanctioned games ends up being prohibitive. But you know all this… You just don't care.

        As a player who played for 13 years in an amazing Ultimate city, I am frustrated by my current remoteness, difficulty accessing quality ultimate, and my expenses related to attempting to participate in this community and sport that I love. But if only playing in a single-game sectionals once per year should be enough for me (as your post implies), then I guess I'm just wasting my time.

        • guest says:

          You do not have to play 10 sanctioned games in order to participate in the series. And yes, if you don't think sectionals is worth it, by all means skip it and play in any tournament that's not part of the series that you can get to. If there aren't any, that sucks but it's not USAU's fault.

  19. dancher says:

    90%? Where did you come up with that number?

  20. collegeplayer says:

    as a college player on a national title contending team and nationals club team. Money has always been a strain and i've been so lucky that my parents can help me out and the school helps out a bit. I estimated that 2014 college season cost me and my parents around 1500$.That is with a national elite tournament and hour and half away. That is with the school paying for hotels and gas reimbursements. I work 25 hours a week and take a full course load every semester. The only reason I'm playing club is because some of the older guys said they could help me out and loan me money.

  21. Pretty sure our costs here in the UK are comparable, i've always wanted to figure that out – so thanks!

    I earn about the same amount that you do in the UK. However, I always need to remind myself that playing sport is a privilege, not a right – and only possible when you have extra energy and money to burn. This is true as both an individual/player and when representing a country i.e. the more spare cash the country has or is willing to invest in sport, the better they will preform. As I see it, winning international competitions generates pride and respect for countries, between countries – if your sport is recognised, pride is valued and people will invest in you.
    Unless of course, your economy is very poor and then I guess you just have to rely on incredible genetics and a great opportunity to arise or you are going to spend all of your cash and energy on surviving.

    However, having been sponsored myself several times as a junior player, I totally want to give back and help support juniors to get to tournaments and be able to provide some money to help them wherever I can. Thankfully, being a smart bunch (exemplified by your letter) perhaps we will be able to make this possible and make Ultimate (and World Championships) accessible for everyone by keeping the costs low and/or forcing our countries to take interest and invest in our sport.

  22. Joram says:

    As an international college and club player I can amend that the financial burden that Ultimate puts upon people that want to invest in their skills is huge.

    The government hands me about 280 euro's a month, and I loan 550 (maximum) extra to cover the expenses of this worlds year.

    My rent is 320. And food expenses about 120 a month (going up because of trainings).

    I visit about 11-14 tournaments a year, the most expensive ones the international countries tournaments (Worlds, Europeans). Each costing me about 700 euro's when in Europe. and more outside of it. The tournaments in the Netherlands and Belgium are relatively cheap (between 80 and 100 euro's). I evade the higher priced tournaments (300 euro's) whereas I really want to go to them, but I just don't have the money. Splitting my interests between Beach and Grass makes it even harder as for beach we usually travel further. On top of this I pay 100 euro's contribution to the club for fields etc. And the government has granted every student to choose when they want to travel for free (during the weekends or during the week). During the week I travel for free with public transportation which saves me about 50-60 euro's a month. During the weekends it could save me just as much or more yet I have to spend it now for trainings.

    During the winter I save up money and try to get jobs. But I owe a big thanks to my parents, my financially more stable teammates and the government, for otherwise I would be nowhere in this beautiful sport.

  23. joram says:

    Talking about giving perspective. That's helluvalot of money. For what? Volunteers, fields, tents and TD time, Fruit and water down the line? Wow.

    • Also insurance, first aid workers, opening/closing ceremonies, awards and probably a lot of things we haven't considered. I am not saying that it isn't too much money but there are normally a lot of things going into a tournament that tournament goers aren't aware of. Would be good if they would release the budget publicly for this type of event though.

  24. guest says:

    i was told ultimate is the cheapest sport – all you need is cones, a field, and a disc…

    • guest says:

      and plane tickets.

    • Hess says:

      Yes, to play ultimate recreationally, that's all you need. To play elite level and international caliber competition you need to pay for travel, event entry fees, national organization membership dues, etc… just like every other sport in the world. Even then, when you compare those costs, ultimate is still probably way cheaper.

  25. guest says:

    Pro ultimate is completely free for the players. The idea that amateur is better than club is wrong. Pro teams have just as much talent and play in a way that is sustainable because people actually pay to watch pro ultimate. Amateur ultimate is a luxury. Sam you are prioritizing amateur over pro which is free. Before I can see your problem, but I think all of the sockeye guys are selfish, keeping your talent away from the fans that want to see you. You do not own this game, others will replace you.

    • Pato says:

      Fans can watch amateur ultimate as well

      • dusty rhodes says:

        Yes… and…

        here's an interesting question:

        Is is cheaper for a fan to watch (in person) club ultimate or MLU/AUDL ultimate?

        consider entry fees, travel, time commitment, accommodations, food…

        I'm not sure how it all shakes out…

        but let's say I want to watch DC Scandal play their best competition:
        How far does an average resident of DC need to travel to get there? How long does the competition last? Are there entry fees? How many opportunities do I have to choose from over a year? Does it fit into my schedule? Do I need to fly or drive? Can I bike? What different types of seats/views are there? Can I reasonably go the length of the competition without eating or drinking? Do I have rosters to identify players on both/all teams? How likely is a blowout victory or loss? How likely is an upset? How many other fans will be there to create an environment?

        If I want to watch the DC Current:
        How far does an average resident of DC need to travel to get there? How long does the competition last? Are there entry fees? How many opportunities do I have to choose from over a year? Does it fit into my schedule? Do I need to fly or drive? Can I bike? What different types of seats/views are there? Can I reasonably go the length of the competition without eating or drinking? Do I have rosters to identify players on both/all teams? How likely is a blowout victory or loss? How likely is an upset? How many other fans will be there to create an environment?

        Let's change DC Scandal for DC Truck Stop… does any of it change? Why? How much?

        Again… I don't have an answer… and I'm sure there are other considerations… but as there are more Fans/Spectators, the thought experiment is relevant.

        • Boss says:

          Well, there is no one answer. If I'm an ultimate fan living in Dallas and want to watch high-level ultimate, I can pay zero and go watch all the best men's, women's and mixed ultimate teams in the country play at the national championships. If I want to go to an AUDL/MLU game, then I have to hop on a plane or drive for days. What if I live in Alaska? AUDL/MLU and club ultimate spectating costs the same. What if I live in Madison where there is an AUDL team, but no major club tournament. The AUDL is cheaper? You can't really compare costs of attending one over the other because there are too many variables. If you're a women's ultimate fan, then it's really cheap to go to an AUDL/MLU game

          • dusty rhodes says:

            Good points– Thanks for sharing.

            So you live close enough to the Soccer Complex up in North Dallas to get there for free?
            Didn't seem like a lot of folks live 'round there… but then again, all distances are bigger in Texas… So maybe it is normal to drive 30 miles (or whatever) to get somewhere.
            That said… I just biked 45 minutes to play pseudo-goaltimate… maybe you live close enough to do that, but replacing Pseudo-Goalty" w "Nationals".

            Definitely no one answer… and on aggregate, it is difficult to make blanket statements…though on an event v event basis, cost-compare can be done. It is far cheaper and easier for me to go watch the DC Current or DC Breeze (both under 45min by bike) than to get to the Chesapeake Open (I biked to those fields last year for regionals– that was about a 3 hour bikeride). And I don't need to spend all day there!

            Did you skip the $5 per day entrance fee for spectators?
            Did you pay the $2 for a program?
            That's all info from 2013… 2014 may be different… but the only way to watch Nationals for free in 2013 was to be a player on a competing team, or a team staff member. This was a change from when Nationals was in Sarasota… not nec. for better or worse… but def. a change.

          • Boss says:

            Again, too any variables… but you're incorrect regarding nationals, the first two days are free, the $5 charge kicks in on the last two days when you go to the stadium where I can see four games on Saturday for $5 and three on Sunday for $5. If I wanted to go to 7 DC Current games, will that cost me $10? No, so the bang for my buck there is to suck it up, spend $2 in gas to drive 30 minutes to Frisco, watch 10 games for free on Thurs. and Fri. and then 7 more for $10 on Sat. and Sun. $10 for 17 games is a much better deal for me. My point is that it is different for everyone depending on where you live and what type of fan experience you want to have.

          • dusty rhodes says:

            wait… so that little dude who took my $5 every day at the entrance (And reminded me that I shouldn't take those LoneStars in with me) next to Scandal's field was scamming me??? Should I report this?

            Now we're at the next conversation: Do I actually want to watch 4 or 5 games in a day? Mileage (As for the rest of this conversation) varies. I do not want to watch 4 games in a day. Nor even 3. 2? Sure, that works. If you give me a break in between the games. Watching ultimate from 8am to 8pm? I don't think that's even physically possible (At least for me) without falling asleep. Or drinking heavily… which is not approved at the FC Dallas complex.

            And your point is clearly correct and inarguable that it is different for everyone. I'd rather see one game and have the rest of my day free. I didn't know that's what I preferred until it was an option.

          • Boss says:

            "I'd rather see one game and have the rest of my day free. I didn't know that's what I preferred until it was an option."

            So if you go to nationals, it's mandatory that you watch multiple games in a day? That's crazy! How does USA Ultimate enforce that? What happens if you try and leave the stadium or field complex before all the games are completed? Do they really not allow people into the stadium after the first game is completed? It's interesting that until the advent of the pro leagues a couple of years ago, no man has ever just watched one ultimate game at nationals because it simply wasn't an option.

          • dusty rhodes says:

            c'mon "Boss"… let's be somewhat reasonable:

            If I fly to Dallas, or Sarasota or whatever else… where should I go for the rest of my day? To the club? To the bar? To the beach (oh… no beach in North Dallas/Frisco) Sightseeing? I should fly/drive to a place that I would never ever visit w/out ultimate and then… not watch ultimate?

            I always thought that I would prefer to watch a full day of ultimate, close or far, until I had the option of watching a single game close by. That was a surprise to me. That your options do not include single games close by… is interesting to me.

            If I go watch nationals, that's half a week. If I go to watch a high-level club tourney, that's my whole weekend. If I go to watch one MLU/AUDL game, that's far less time. I'm biased 1000x ways b/c I'm in a city w/ TWO pro teams and I'm paid to watch one of them (MLU) and proffer my opinion on it. The thing is… I always thought I'd cleave to club. I was wrong.

            Happy you got to avoid the toll-takers in 2013. It was $5 per day for me to watch. Every day. Happy you got to be so close to Nationals that it wasn't a whole vacation! For you, that option and choice doesn't exist yet. Apples to oranges, but still interesting.

            If you're going to pick apart my words and sideskirt the potential for an actual conversation, use a real name. Preferably yours, "Boss".

    • Gabe says:

      Sam plays for the Rainmakers?

    • Bruce says:

      Amateur is better than club? What do you mean? They're the same thing… club is amateur ultimate. Also it's a little premature to say that "pro" ultimate as we know it with the MLU and AUDL is sustainable because there are a few hundred people attending games. Both leagues have significant private funding which is keeping them alive at this point. Amateur/Club ultimate has proven to be sustainable since it's been around for 30 years

    • common sense says:

      "Pro teams have just as much talent and play in a way that is sustainable because people actually pay to watch pro ultimate." No, it's currently operating because of massive private funding. Until you can show accounting statements for at least one of the leagues making an operating profit, your use of the word sustainable is irresponsible.

      • Indigo says:

        Sustainable. I do not think that word means what you think it means. You can't call something sustainable until it has sustained. Two years of existence does not a sustainable pro ultimate league make.

  26. Playing Ultimate means spending money on travel etc. One thing we must not forget however is: How would we spend our time if we didn't play Ultimate? It is a fair assumption that we would definetly be doing sth else on the weekends/holidy. Maybe bikeride, bar crawling etc. Instead of WUCC we might go on a vacation elsewhere.

    To really get a good understanding of the costs of being an Ultimate player we would need to evaluate those "extra" costs.

    What would I spend being a noneplayer compared to what I spend as a player. Pretty sure the only major difference is travel expenses. But what if you chose to go to Mexico for 10 days instead of Worlds or Paganello or sth?

    Props to Sam!!!

  27. Steve Kotvis says:

    Yes, and it is quite expensive to photograph the sport too. And in the wisdom of the WFDF, last year I was told i was not able to sell photos without paying a $500 vendor fee on top of my $2,000 travel and lodging expenses for Toronto. While I don't expect to sell much (certainly not $500 per event), especially given the expenses ultimate players already endure as described in this article, I appreciate the opportunity to at least offer the photos for those who occasionally wish to purchase them. I spend my 14+ hour days shooting ultimate and the countless hours afterwards working on the photos to publish some fun memories and spark additional interest around the sport because I absolutely love to do it. But, it would be nice if organizers did not create additional barriers for the shooters dedicated to the sport.

    • guest says:

      Seems shortsighted on WFDF"s part. Can't they just ask for a cut of the revenue instead? What is USAU's policy on this sort of stuff?

  28. Mitch says:

    Sam, thanks for sharing. I think a more appropriate title is The cost of playing at Worlds" given 60% of your listed expenses are for that one tournament. Certainly real money for a tournament many want to play in, but the costs for playing as a low level (sectionals, maybe regionals), high level (regionals, maybe nationals), elite (nationals, maybe worlds), and actually going to worlds are all very different, yet all playing club. But, again, very insightful information. Thank you very much.

  29. guest says:

    There are many sports with higher equipment costs and expensive venue fees just to play at a local level. If elite level ultimate makes you happy than this is the price you have to pay but it is your choice to play at that level. Ultimate is a very affordable sport for the average player.

    • Sam Harknsss Sam Harknsss says:

      True, I am lucky enough to be able to make a choice to play elite club or not. There are those who do not have that as a choice available to them though. I don't think it's fair to showcase and call ourselves as the top competition but only allow those who can afford to be apart of it.like somebody said up above, it's about the untold stories.
      Every sport I played in middle school and high school, travel was provided by the school and you could go to districts, metro, and state championships all on the schools budget. Equipment may have cost more, but high level competition was available to me without having to pay to travel far. Ultimate even in the youth level is more expensive (again if you want to compete at the top) than other sports due to little to no school support (aside from private schools).

  30. Given the WUCC budget alluded to by Brummie, it seems incredible that accounts from such large events wouldn't be required to be publicly available. Looking at WFDF's last set of accounts (http://www.wfdf.org/about/meeting-minutes/doc_download/358-2012-wfdf-audited-financial-report) there are many questions that might be asked at the WFDF AGM, including:
    Why does WFDF need more than $250K in cash assets?
    Is this money generating any interest?
    Can more detail be provided on large WFDF Event expenditure items (especially contract services and travel = $56,769 in 2012)?
    Does WFDF's event sanctioning process lead to inflated costs for players?
    Could this process could be changed with a view to reducing costs for players?
    Should accounts for WFDF events be required as public information?

    • Sion Scone says:

      I think it is fair and reasonable that efforts to legitimise Ultimate in the eyes of larger bodies (WADA, IOC, national governing bodies, etc) will result in costs being incurred to the players.

      It is just unfortunate that, as a sport, the only way to raise money is through players themselves (i.e. I'm assuming that advertising through ultimate, sponsorship opportunites, etc are virtually zero).

      Whether or not the ultimate community as a whole are happy being used as the cash cow that drives Ultimate to a better place is up for debate. There is a moral issue here which may well split the community; there's no reason why overall costs cannot be kept down and a request for contribution requested from elite players, so that they know exactly where that money is going. Sure, less money is raised overall, but if that's what the community wants then we know that WFDF are serving the interests of its members, not its board.

      Personally, I'm actually ok with an event such as WUCC making a big profit *if* and only if that profit is made by WFDF, and it is then funneled towards further projects. If, on the other hand, external companies (this includes companies being run by ultimate players) are running these events & making huge profits from Ultimate players in a way that does not further the sport, then I feel that WFDF is letting us down. At the very least, I'd like to see the accounts being made public.

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