Monday, June 30, 2014

WSJ on New York's Two Pro Ultimate Teams

The Wall Street Journal published this article featuring the AUDL's NY Empire and MLU's NY Rumble. Back in 2012, Izzy and Chris Mazur played on the same AUDL team – the Connecticut Constitution.

Pro Frisbee Puts New Spin on N.Y. Sports Scene [WSJ, 06.27.14]
"No one's making a living off Frisbee yet," Mr. Isaiah Bryant said, over coffee recently near the Midtown office where the 29-year-old Columbia University graduate works a day job as an ad salesman.

What may come as a surprise to many sports fans is that people are even trying. Interest has grown across the country in ultimate Frisbee, the laid-back sport long popular in college intramural leagues, which involves two teams trying to advance the disc down a field to a goal zone. For two seasons, New York has had not one, but two, teams playing in rival pro leagues.

Like most pro athletes, Mssrs. Bryant and Mazur said they train and study game video most days of the week. They just have to do it around their day jobs, since players, as a rule, earn such paltry paychecks. Players, most in their 20s, have to pony up for most of their gym memberships.

To the average observer, their professional matches could easily be mistaken for pickup games among particularly athletic young men, albeit in slightly spiffier game attire. On a recent Saturday, the Empire faced off against the Montreal Royal, in front of a crowd of less than 300—including many family and friends. Mr. Bryant was active on the sidelines, advising his teammates and giving them plenty of back slaps and high-fives.

But even the most devoted Frisbee fans question the viability of these teams. Average game attendance hovers well under 1,000 people, with ticket prices around $10. And New York City has no shortage of sports teams to follow.

Both leagues are funded by private backers—league operating expenses range from $400,000 to $1.5 million—who hope the sport will be the next big thing...

Read the full article.

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