This interview appears in Skyd Magazine Vol. 1, Issue 1 – now available on Amazon.
Beach ultimate is the best bet for a successful professional ultimate league.
When I came up with that sentence I thought it sounded like click bait. Then I thought about it for awhile and decided it wasn’t.
Remember: this is about professional ultimate. The important word was italicized for your convenience.
What is the point of professional ultimate? Money. We are in that “wonderful” emerging sport crossroads where technology, accessibility, skilled athletes and exploitation merge at a stoplight. At this point most of the cars at the intersection are powered by love of the game, yet people have begun setting up toll roads to make money on ultimate before any real money actually exists. Successful sports work upon the age old trickle down theory: a few already rich people at the top make more money, then maybe sprinkle some down to the ones actually playing the sport (unless of course you are a college athlete, where all roads lead to exploitation).
As an artist, writer, ultimate player, and creator, I am the last person you should come to for financial advice. Luckily, I know a few rich people, and let me tell you that most of them will not spend money unless their investment can make money. It’s that concept that probably got them rich in the first place. So if you want to build a successful pro franchise it is going to have to make money eventually.
“How do you make league that makes money? was the question I asked to one of these people, someone who plays the real world as if it were Settlers of Catan. The following is what he said. As per usual, the answers have been spiced up with added Beau-ness.
Create good content. Watching Beach Worlds brought upon this article because in general, it was surprisingly pleasant to watch. Things that were good: teams, venue, commentating, coverage. Things that were bad: wind, self officiating. We can’t get rid of the wind, but we can fix the self officiating with the four letter word that causes more anger than a curse word. refs. Once that is taken care of, the good things can be improved upon with a bit of trial and error.
Create good teams. It’’s easier to craft a good team for beach. You need fewer good players and the sand creates a unique playing field that can be an equalizer for the normally dominant American height and athleticism. One of my favorite teams in ultimate right now is the Boracay Dragons. They live, breathe and eat ultimate and their commitment to always becoming better is something I can relate to. They are proof that being small in stature can be overcome by size of heart, training and skill. Their game against the USA in semis was sweet. Although, before you tell me to get a room already, I think their calls towards the end of that semifinal game were worse than eating an ice cream cone dipped in sand. It’s just more proof that when you are so invested in sports, it’s really hard to look at plays objectively.
Side rant: some of the commentators were trying to spin the spirit circle timeout at the end of the game into positive thing. Nope. That’s like a group of grown men taking a break from beating a baby seal to talk about how they are really beating the blubber out of that little seal. They circle up humming hymns about the beauty of petite seals, while a select few really get to go to town on a poor baby seal in the background. After some long minutes of bludgeoning, the select few grow so weary of pummeling, they are forced to leave the unrecognizable carcass and invite the rest of the group back to join them on a harmonic stroll through nature. Of course, within a few minutes, they stumble upon another young seal named Tiny Travel, the clubs come unsheathed and the bludgeoning begins. Don’t tell me I should enjoy a bunch of adults standing around discussing the utter destruction of a poor baby seal. I love baby seals.
Smaller field is a better field. Tighter windows. Better action. Easier to film. Closer to the fans. Heckling is heard by all players, resulting in terrible decisions and lifelong humiliation.
Less players. I am not good with names, and less names means less failure for me. It also puts a bigger role on every player. I reckon you could get away with 10 players on a team. 6 teams is enough for a trial league. That’s 60 good players needed. And most importantly, it means less people you have to pay.
Star power. With the small field, a good thrower can hit the endzone from anywhere, and a good receiver can make a scoring cut from anywhere. Slowness in sand enables infinite layouts with a smaller risk of injury. The stars will more likely put their body on the line, and a body horizontal is always a treat for the human eye, due to our nonstop determination to fly.
Incorporate the old people. Old people who want to keep playing ultimate can extend their careers by making the switch to sand. Because of the sand, wiliness, body position and skill play a much larger role. Old people are also more likely to have money and power and love the idea of beating young whippersnappers at anything they can. Note: as a masters-eligible player I am now eligible to talk trash about old people.
Sex appeal means sponsors. ultimate players seem to hate the idea of being objectified. I don’t. If it was up to me, mens beach ultimate would be played colored shorts, just enough to differentiate between teams. Pecs, abs and sand sticking on sweat would be enough for us to get a deal with Abercrombie. I think a beach volleyball-type outfit for women would meet the required level of hotness to get American Apparel on board.
There you have it. If anybody takes this idea and makes a super successful thing called Cash Cow Beach League I will probably play for you and collect all spilt milk, as long as the spilt milk looks like a dead president.