“I believe that women and men should have equal representation at the highest, most visible levels of our sport – including professional play. If the AUDL does not ensure that women and men have equal representation in 2018, I will not support it. This means I will not be playing in or attending games, and will avoid consuming related media and content.”
Who We Are and Why We’re Writing:
Today we released a list of names of players committing to the above statement and action. This effort was organized by Claire Chastain, Trent Dillon, Elliott Erickson, Hannah Leathers, Mario O’Brien, Markham Shofner, Jesse Shofner, and Nicky Spiva.
We write to you to provide our own perspective on what the boycott statement means to us, why we view it as necessary, and what we hope to accomplish. We also provide some information on some ways that you can support change, as well as our recommended next steps.
Though we are united in the above statement and action with those who signed onto the boycott, the below statement is ours alone and does not necessarily reflect the beliefs or positions of the individuals who signed on to the boycott statement.
What does “equal representation” mean to the organizers?
In our internal discussions, we had different impressions of exactly what equal representation meant; however, we did agree that equal representation cannot occur without equal visibility and equal opportunities for women. Visibility and opportunity are not easily captured by any single metric, but some insufficient, yet useful proxies are the amount of filmed games/content of men/women and the number of men/women players able to compete in a full season for free (or with some compensation).
This is a difficult question and one that should be asked and discussed at length and in an ongoing way. We find the conversations best when discussed in a diverse group, and we especially encourage men to engage with, listen to, and amplify women’s voices in these conversations, while also not leaning on women to do all the work.
Why didn’t the boycott statement include a detailed implementation plan for the AUDL?
The above statement is about values and commitment, and intentionally does not address details of implementation – for example, whether AUDL should go mixed or start a women’s league. We believe that those implementation decisions are absolutely critical, and that there are multiple ways to achieve or fail to achieve equal representation. We also believe that those implementation discussions come after the decision by the league to ensure equal representation for women and men. At this point in the conversation, those details often serve as a distraction intended to derail change. League leadership has not and currently does not ensure visibility and opportunity for women commensurate with what they finance for men. Until that changes, or league leaders view a league with equal representation as a better business deal, talking implementation feels somewhat hollow.
We aim to encourage the AUDL to ensure equal gender representation, visibility, and opportunity in their league. We also aim to spark conversations and discussions about gender equity, what equal representation would look like, and what responsibility we and others have when contributing resources, time, and energy to grow the sport in accordance with our values. We hope that this collective action will contribute to the past and future work fighting for gender equity in our sport.
Next Steps for the Ultimate Community
We encourage members of the ultimate community to join our community petition, in which you can demonstrate your support for equal representation of women in the AUDL. This will help communicate to the AUDL both the support they have in shifting to a structure that creates equal representation for women, and the lack of support they have for continuing on an inequitable path – check it out.
Also, talk about this stuff! Engage with your communities. Change will not happen without dialogue.
Response to the AUDL’s Recently Proposed Plan to Address Gender Inequity
Though the AUDL’s plan would be an improvement over years past, it still is incredibly inequitable, especially when considering the visibility, playing opportunity, and representation of elite men’s players financed by the league compared to that of women. We believe this continues and perpetuates gender inequity in our sport, even if it is better than where it was last year. Also, we do not know the details of the AUDL’s tentative TV deal – until that and additional information is shared, it is hard to evaluate the league’s commitment to addressing gender inequity.
- True gender equity cannot occur without equal gender representation, visibility, and opportunities.
- By committing to gender equity, our sport will find a new path towards growth that does not inherently favor male athletes.
- Visibility and growth should not come at the expense of equity and our values.
- Franchise owners and league leadership can make this change.
Next Steps for the AUDL
We encourage AUDL leadership to adopt and implement a policy ensuring equal representation, visibility, and opportunity for women in the league. We encourage the AUDL to develop this policy in consultation with the ultimate community, especially women, and existing groups working in support of gender equity such as the Gender Equity Action Group, Upwind Ultimate, and others.
Organizers of the AUDL Boycott