1. MLU Playoffs Set
With the DC Current beating the NY Rumble this past weekend, the playoff field is set. It certainly looks like the MLU is ready for the championship game, but first we’ve got two conference finals this weekend – both on Saturday. First up is the Seattle Rainmakers vs. San Francisco Dogfish game in the Western Conference, a matchup we’ve seen coming for a few weeks. They’ve split the last two games against each other, both with close finishes. It’s definitely a toss-up as to who the better team is, and who will win the game, but will either team be able to take down the Boston Whitecaps? The Whitecaps go into their game against the DC Current without a single loss on the season, while the Current have struggled just to get here. I’d say the Whitecaps have a very strong chance of taking the Eastern Conference. To add to it, the whole Muffin situation now resolved (he has served his suspension, and apologized), giving the team full focus on simply continuing to win.
2. AUDL Playoff Race
So here’s the AUDL schedule, and the standings. In the Eastern Conference, the Dragons sit one game back of the Philadelphia Phoenix. The games remaining for Rochester include a back-to-back with the undefeated Toronto Rush this weekend, and the NY Empire the next weekend; their three stands in contrast to the two remaining that the Phoenix have, the DC Breeze and then the Rush. Over in the Midwestern Conference, the Cincinnati Revolution sit two wins below the Indianapolis Alleycats, but are at a severe disadvantage in that the Alleycats have one more game to play in the next two weekends than them. While the Dragons still have a chance going into this weekend, it doesn’t look good for the Revolution.
It’s of note though (again), that not every team in the Eastern Conference is playing an equal amount of games and thanks to the late resurgence by the Dragons it could create some interesting scenarios. Out of the four possible finishes for the Dragons now, three of those could give them the same number of wins as the Phoenix. What would the league do? I couldn’t find anything on their website to suggest what. And there’s no other professional sports league to compare this to because, well, because I can’t think of one that schedules more game for some teams more than others during the regular season.
3. National Recognition
Pretty cool to have ultimate appear in not one, not two but… wait no it was just two. First it was the Washington Post, with an inside look at the DC Current and the sport as it determines the need and responsibility of referees. Perhaps more interesting though, was the line attributed to USA Ultimate CEO Tom Crawford, “… the MLU is playing a sport that isn’t, by the strictest definition, ultimate.” The article does go on to describe some similarities, and an actual situation which makes the MLU seem to have integrated referees perfectly, but the quote that sums it all up is from Current co-captain Dan Kantor, “it’s [the MLU] different from club or college play.” Which, I think, is a good thing for the MLU to establish a distinguish so much so that it’s players have started to notice as the club season has started to pick up again.
The second article is from NPR, is also very interesting. It takes a similar tone, how the MLU is setting itself apart from the typical view of a Frisbee and USA Ultimate. Included, are some interesting quotes from both WFDF’s Rob Rauch, and Tom Crawford, and to me their tone comes across as a bit more… harsh, about the MLU as a whole. Either way, I like the quote from the MLU’s Nic Darling, “The greatest thing about the sport? Anyone can play. You can go out and play. All you need is a disc.” No matter which league or entity is promoting the sport, it is good for the sport and for its growth because it’s extremely simple to play, you just need a disc.
4. Fighting for Two Trophies
Now for some speculation: anyone else think how the championship weekend’s turn out for each professional league could be a strong indicator of how bright each league’s future is? The MLU has been promoting their championship game like crazy, while the AUDL has been getting each team to promote their offering a bit to counter it. I’ve seen some speculation on Twitter that it’s been a while since we’ve seen the AUDL appear on a SportsCenter Top 10, while the MLU seems to get an amazing play on each week – suggesting one league has been doing a great job of simply promoting their games on a week to week basis better as well.
Last year, we remember the disaster of the championship game for the AUDL. They were expecting a lot of money to roll in, and fans to attend. It didn’t turn out that way at all, but that was also under different management of the league offices. They (hopefully) aren’t going into this year’s championship weekend with the same sort of expectations as last year, and the same could probably be said for the MLU. In the MLU’s short existence though, it’s seemed like they’ve learned and built upon a lot of the prior mistakes the AUDL made. The championship weekend is a great time to show potential sponsors how great their product is, and that’s on top of the already great sponsors each league has already gotten under their wings. It’s also a good time to show fans of the sport who haven’t come out to any games in their city, or picked up the sport on YouTube, how exciting the sport can be at this level.
Adding on to how each league’s championship turns out, how they handle the offseason could be an indicator as well on each league’s future. The AUDL, at last check, is still planning on expanding the number of teams, to even as far as the west coast. If the MLU follows suite, the first question is where? You have to think markets like Raleigh, Atlanta, and Denver and maybe even Austin would be first considered before places in the Midwest if the AUDL sticks around for one more year. It all starts with the championships weekends, and whatever buzz inside and outside of the sport it generates – with sponsors and fans paying close attention.
5. Bus Rolls On, ECBU Starts
With only three games played on the season, the NexGen team has notched their first win on the season. They beat Doublewide, take a look at the highlights – but soon after lost to Atlanta Chain Lightning. They played Ring of Fire yesterday, a week before the U.S. Open kicks off. It’s important that they notched a win early here, taking a look at their schedule the first few games seem like some of their toughest.
And lastly, coming out of ECBU is a live stream with help from friends Playo.TV, and coverage from the Skyd reporters on the ground. So far I haven’t been able to get a great connection when I try and get a higher video quality, but it has still been nice to watch even if a bit choppy; and watching makes me wish for a sunny beach to go play some games on. Can we get a beach ultimate tournament between the 50 states going? It looks like a lot of fun.
6. ‘5 Months of Thinking’
Lou Burruss has posted another article here on Skyd, take a minute to read it. I did miss Lou, I guess that’s a casualty of his coaching duties during the college season. The thoughts on defense are most interesting, though suggesting the college season needs more required games in order to become Nationals contenders is too. Only problem I can see with that is, what happens when someone with less than the required amount wins a bid, or even a region?
7. U.S. Open Convention Look
While both the tournament and convention schedule have been posted, since the event is next week I thought it better to take a look at the convention’s lineup first instead. And just like last year, there are a lot of interesting discussions taking place. None more interesting though, than the discussion of the future of the sport by WFDF’s Rob Rauch and USA Ultimate’s Tom Crawford, coming at a time when the MLU and AUDL have stepped up their game, and the Olympic committee recognizing WFDF.
Two other topics which would be interesting to hear include the “Show Me the Money” topic, with Dobyns, BVH, Tina Woodings, and Gwen Ambler leading off the panel discussion, and “Growing Ultimate”, with two USA Ultimate employees and a board member sharing the USA Ultimate plan. The first topic comes in the heat of the discussion on how the sports growth, and the money involved with it, affects the spirit of the game and the founding principles. While the second, as the description provided says, comes as other sports in similar situations are seeing growth at higher rates than ultimate is – this topic reflects on the USA Ultimate plan to combat that and to continue ultimate’s reign as one of the fastest growing sports in the nation. Here’s hoping that there are videos taken, and later shared with the ultimate community that (unfortunately) cannot be at the U.S. Open to witness these talks, and games.
Photo by John King – Ultiphotos.com