With top men’s teams currently considering a move from the USA Ultimate Triple Crown Tour to a league run by NexGen, news is developing rapidly. Skyd’s Lou Burruss has tracked the discussion on his Win the Fields blog, and last night Ultiworld published a letter from USAU’s Will Deaver to top teams that discouraged them from joining the NexGen league along with comments that he provided to Ultiworld.
More open information will allow for more well-informed opinions and hopefully a stronger solution given the variables at hand. With that in mind, the following is an email that Deaver sent to Pro and Elite Flight contacts in all three divisions on Thursday, December 20th. It states USAU’s timeline for setting TCT guidelines, events and their respective dates, and a broadcast partner. It also establishes means of more thorough communication between USAU and Pro and Elite teams, forecasts some of the options for 2013 tournaments, and discusses these teams’ crucial role in the visibility goal of USAU’s new strategic plan.
Hey Pro and Elite Flight Men’s, Mixed, and Women’s Team Contacts,
As we approach the start of 2013, we wanted to reach out to you again to be sure communication lines are open and that teams feel as informed as possible about the upcoming season, in particular about your participation in the Triple Crown Tour (‘the regular season’) and the National Championship Series (‘the post season’). In November we addressed questions in the context of the various flights, and we’ve talked to a lot of teams and answered a lot of questions over the last month. Now we want to be sure to communicate specifically with each gender division.
First, we wanted to provide some more details about the schedule for information release and commitments to the 2013 season.
-January 31 (or earlier) – Season Guidelines posted, including information about rosters, deadlines, eligibility, qualification for World Clubs, etc.
-January 31 (or earlier) – Triple Crown Tour Pro and Elite Flight events posted, including dates and locations. This will also include US Open and Nationals.
-January 31 (or earlier) – Announcement of our national broadcast partner (we have two competitive offers on the table from two premier national sports networks)
-February 15 – Deadline for Pro and Elite teams to commit to the Triple Crown Tour.
-February 28 (or earlier) – Announcement of final slate of teams in the Pro and Elite Flights and the launch of our national PR campaign around the teams and Tour.
Next, we are going to set up a couple of mechanisms for USA Ultimate and teams in each gender division to communicate over the next month, including the following:
-Google+ Community (private) – This will allow 2-3 representatives per team to interact online with USA Ultimate staff and each other about the coming season on an ongoing basis, in a written format where the information is accessible. To receive an invitation to the g+ community, send your team name and Gmail addresses for the 2-3 people on your team to firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Division Call – We would like to set up a phone call with each gender division to have a live, in-person discussion about the upcoming season. We’ll shoot for the 2nd or 3rd week of January and send out a Doodle poll the 1st week of January to try to nail down the best time for everyone.
-As always, feel free to call or email us personally with questions.
Finally, we wanted to let you know how excited we are about the upcoming season and how much time, energy and resources are being put into making it a great experience for your teams and a really positive step for the sport. Here are a few highlights we wanted to share:
–Event host bids – We have a great set of bids to host Pro and Elite Flight events. Local organizers have expressed a great deal of enthusiasm for hosting these top-level events and are looking forward to the opportunity to make them an incredible part of your 2013 season. We also have several great potential host sites for the US Open and Club Nationals and are working with local organizers to find the best fit for the coming year. Experiences like Nationals and the US Open don’t happen without an enormous amount of planning and resources, which we are committed to providing in conjunction with local communities. We will work hard over the next several weeks to put together a season of events for you that will provide the best blend of travel, event quality, and opportunities to promote the sport and your teams. Our effectiveness will be greatly enhanced by knowing which teams will be attending which events well in advance of the season.
–Additional tournament opportunities – As a sneak peek into how the rest of your season might round out, we will be including in the season guidelines the following requirement for Select events. Select events will have to initially reserve 75% of their bids in each division for Select teams, but will be able to fill the remaining 25% (or more depending on Select interest) of the event with teams from any flight. This will allow Pro and Elite flight teams, who are interested in additional playing opportunities, to take advantage of local or other events that they would like to include in their season. This will also provide TD’s the opportunity to enhance the level of competition at their event and/or allow local or up-and-coming Classic teams to get access to events where they will be able to compete against teams in the higher flights. These opportunities will help teams at all levels round out their schedules, continue to develop and improve, take advantage of local playing opportunities, and help influence the rankings and bid allocation system for the post-season.
–Media and sponsorship – Based in large part on our ability to describe a set season of events and top teams, we are now in a position to consider multiple broadcast partner options for 2013. We are excited about this in part because of the enhanced playing experience this brings for participating teams. But even more importantly, we’re excited about this because it provides an important building block to achieve other goals for the sport. Visibility is one of our top strategic goals for the next 6 years, and broadcasting opportunities for our top teams and events are key to creating that visibility. In turn, positive visibility to people like parents, school administrators, and media will lead to opportunities for growth. And it will lead to opportunities for new sponsors to bring revenue to help grow and develop the sport (so that the burden doesn’t fall just on the players). This will not happen overnight…but because USA Ultimate brings together the capacity of the whole ultimate community, the organization is in a position to invest heavily in laying this foundation and then to build on it to achieve our shared goals for the sport.
Another exciting example of this organizational investment is the upcoming hiring of an additional communications staff member, who will add capacity to both enhance coverage of the sport and to reach out to partners and sponsors to support it.
We’ll leave it there for now, with more communication and discussion to come in early January. Thanks to everyone for your dedication to the sport and for your involvement in this process. We know that change is often tough and requires adapting, and we sincerely appreciate your support and cooperation. We are also very confident that you will not only be rewarded with an amazing season of competition and community, but will be also be contributing to the advancement and growth of the sport.
Happy Holidays from everyone here at USA Ultimate!
We at Skyd are rooting for open and honest communication and, in all likelihood, compromise. We hope that our comments section continues to serve as a forum for constructive discussion.