Tuesday, August 14, 2007

(continued from Part 1)

You see, despite the fact some our most committed organizers are gone and behind bars, I began to think of the ways that my own personal interactions with ultimate will be affected. And after doing some soul searching, I realized the immediate effects won’t be much.

Thoughts first turned to the Open division of Club, since we’re in the season’s full swing. Without the UPA, there will obviously be no Championship series. But that’s hardly gonna dampen our desire for competition. Since the ‘elite’ nationals qualifying teams are all colluding buddy-buddies anyway, there’s going to be a flurry of emails while they decide which tourney will be the “championship.” We'll probably go with a points-based series comprised of Colorado Cup, Emerald City Classic, and Labor Day Invitational with maybe one or two east coast or larger tourneys thrown in there. The new championship will be held sometime in October at Whitaker fields in Austin hosting Open, Women’s, and Master’s divisions. Due to field constraints the Mixed championships will be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And you better believe the Cultimate TDs are gonna be all over this one.

Then I thought about my high schoolers and the team I coach. “Oh no, their season is ruined,” I lamented. But I gave myself some time to step back and think about how things would really change. Here at Colorado Youth Ultimate no one’s waiting for permission from the UPA to get things going. We’re already forming this year’s league. Captains and coaches like myself are voting on issues of gender divisions or co-ed play, we’re announcing the existence of our teams, and creating schedules, all without UPA oversight. Aside from this season’s trophy not reading “UPA” just before “Colorado High School Championships”, this coming season is going to run just like the last.

Then I thought of my beloved Hodags and the very fun college series. The UPA’s control of the legitimacy of college rosters is not going to be immediately replaceable, unfortunately. This will be a true test of Spirit of the Game, and a test the players of this sport have not always passed. Can 100% of the players be trusted to be legitimately eligible players? Probably not, and history might asterisk the next few seasons till we develop a framework for college validation again. But Easterns will still go on. Centex will draw teams looking to scrap. The Stanford Invite will keep inviting and High Tide will still send an underage college kid or two to detox from excessive partying on a Savannah St. Patrick’s Day. College players will still find ways to play.

The UPA is a repository of information, but it was put there by the players. There are now differing opinions on what the best way to play the game is that throw into question basic well-known rules or even the tenet of SOTG. And sure, in the vacuum of one real governing body of the sport in the US, people will begin to organize their own version of what the game should look like and seek disciples. But I wager when the sediment settles and people have voted with their membership, the body of governance chosen by the vast majority of players today will play by rules that look pretty gosh darn similar to the ones we’re using today.

The UPA does a lot of work, but there aren’t very many of them. I believe that the grass-roots enterprise of this community would pick up the slack and unify in time to pick the sport up and get it running again. New faces, new boards of directors, maybe even new ideas, but the same level of commitment, tenacity, and love for the game. Under-age players will still drink at tourney parties if they’re committed to it, over-age players will still use craftiness to win, and I’m still going to be on the field, as a player, coach, or fan, watching plastic thrown around.