Statement from the USA Ultimate Board of Directors (Jan 2013)

Posted: January 15, 2013 08:01 PM
The USA Ultimate Board of Directors met this past weekend in Denver and reaffirmed their commitment to advancing the sport of Ultimate in the U.S., the Triple Crown Tour (TCT) and the athletes and teams that choose to compete in the TCT. 
The following statement was released by the USA Ultimate Board of Directors following the conclusion of that meeting:
We are very proud of both the history and evolution of our sport and USA Ultimate over the past 30+ years.  We have an incredibly hard working and professional staff, and a diverse and highly committed board of directors, both of which possess a combination of Ultimate and high-level sports business expertise. The staff and board are supported by hundreds of generous volunteers all over the country.  USA Ultimate remains fully committed to not only listening to our athletes and teams, but to creating structural changes in our organization to mature and change along with the evolution of our sport. We also remain fully committed to our goal of increasing the visibility of Ultimate, and believe that USA Ultimate is the organization that is best positioned to partner with both national sports broadcasters and endemic digital content providers. We are committed to doing our best for all of our members and constituents including the athletes and teams, coaches, observers, alumni, league organizers, tournament directors, volunteers, parents, college and university club sports departments, business partners and sponsors, as well as our international community and WFDF.  
Some important outcomes from this weekend include:
Triple Crown Tour and Athlete Representation
The board of directors reaffirmed its commitment to the Triple Crown Tour. The TCT is a creative and inclusive approach to Club division restructuring, which simultaneously allows for a high degree of media visibility for our premier divisions. While we recognize and respect that implementation of a "regular season" may present initial challenges for some, we are confident that the new structure provides a dynamic and fun experience for all the teams and athletes.  Furthermore, we believe the promotion/relegation process of the TCT will create not only interest, excitement, and opportunity, but also add some drama to each season. Based on recent discussions with team representatives, we have already made important adjustments for 2013, including a reduction in the number of required tournaments for the pro flight teams from three to two. We remain committed to implementing future adjustments and modifications to the TCT in 2014 and beyond in order to strike the right balance between giving teams a great experience and growing the sport by achieving the number one goal in our new strategic plan: increasing the visibility of Ultimate.  
Effective immediately, we will create new committee structures to ensure that our top athletes and teams have an opportunity to provide direct feedback and advice into the TCT and its elements. We want to assure the athletes and teams that they will have continual input into decisions regarding the TCT. As part of an ongoing process, we are also restructuring the composition of our board over the next two years to reserve seats for elite athletes, to be elected by fellow elite athletes.  We recognize that many of these athletes have made tremendous commitments and sacrifices over the course of many years to their teams, communities and the sport of Ultimate, and we want them sitting at the table with us, giving a voice and representation to their peers for important decisions about the sport. 
Gender Equity and Increased Visibility
The board reaffirmed its commitment to USA Ultimate’s gender equity policy, which focuses on growing the number of female athletes in the sport.  We are proud of both our policy and the outcomes it has generated, and remain committed to continuing to invest in the resources and strategies necessary for expanded growth in girls’ and women’s participation.  The girls and women that participate in our sport and organization continue to add incredible wisdom, talent, and diversity to our community.  
The board also recognized that the sport has evolved to a point where different Club divisions may need to be managed and organized differently in the future. The board believes that the 2013 TCT structure serves as the best next step in the sport’s evolution for all our Club divisions. Going forward, we’ll work closely with representatives from the various divisions to evaluate components of the structure and make changes for 2014 and beyond to best serve each division.
Given goal number one in our new strategic plan, (Increase the visibility of the Ultimate) the board supports the staff’s efforts to work with national broadcast partners and other vendors to maximize the overall exposure the sport receives, build strong long-term relationships with those partners, and prove to them that Ultimate is a commercially viable product they will want to have on their various networks.  If, despite our encouragement to cover all divisions, the wishes or mandates of these external partners leads to more broadcast exposure for one division at our showcase events, we intend to supplement that exposure with additional partners interested in providing video or streaming coverage of the other divisions.
League and Youth Ultimate Growth
The board was very excited to learn about the launch of the Affiliate Program, through which USA Ultimate will work closely with local Ultimate organizations, investing significant time and resources to help these local organizations thrive and grow, and offering a full spectrum of programs to the local Ultimate communities.  We recognize that gaining visibility is not an effective goal without simultaneously investing heavily in the national infrastructure of our sport.  Thus we are not only committed to continuing to serve the individual members of our community, but to also serving the organizations around the U.S. that provide programs and services on a local level.  They are of equal importance to the long-term growth and viability of Ultimate in the U.S.   
We will continue to direct great energy and resources to the growth of youth Ultimate.  When we compare ourselves (40,000 members) to sports like lacrosse (400,000), rugby (100,000), soccer (500,000), swimming (350,000), and ice hockey (600,000), we recognize we have a lot of work to do. Our goal is to get hundreds of thousands of children playing our sport, and the visibility we hope to gain via the TCT will help drive this growth.  Our sport has everything good about youth sports fully integrated into it. It’s time we got all kids exposed to it and playing it at the local level!
The Triple Crown Tour exists to provide consistent, structured and unparalleled world-class playing opportunities for our teams and athletes, while simultaneously showcasing the sport of Ultimate like never before. It is an exciting time to be an Ultimate player in North America and USA Ultimate is equally excited to launch the TCT and work closely with those teams committed to participating in the TCT to ensure a great experience and the continued advancement of the sport. With the inaugural TCT season fast approaching, we are finalizing our media partnerships as described and are eager to leverage these relationships to increase the visibility of Ultimate.
On Behalf of the USA Ultimate Board of Directors and Staff,
Mike Payne, President, USA Ultimate Board of Directors
Gwen Ambler, Vice President, USA Ultimate Board of Directors
Tom Crawford, Chief Executive Officer, USA Ultimate

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