Saturday, February 04, 2017

Trent Dillon, Conscientious Rejector of Pro Ultimate

Trent Dillon recently shared this principled rationale for not seeking to play in the semi-professional ultimate league. Trent played for Philadelphia Spinners (MLU) in 2014, won the 2016 Callahan Award with Pitt, and, most recently, won a World Championship at WUGC 2016 and played with Seattle Sockeye in USA Ultimate's 2016 club season.

Below is text of Trent's email to Seattle Cascades' invitation to tryout for the AUDL 2017 season:

"I want to let you [know] that I will not be trying out for the Cascades this year and why.

I have not played in either pro league since 2014. My rationale for abstaining has been consistent and singular over the last few years, but have done a poor job of communicating this rationale to the pro league owners and managers in my cities - hence this email. I'm fearful that pro league (and now just the AUDL) are leading the sport down a path that will result in  the loss of important cultural/social values in ultimate. Self-officiation and equal opportunity for men and women have been bleakly represented in the AUDL's current product, and I'm worried that if the AUDL continues to match economic projections without these values, the league's investors will only support a product that looks like what it was built upon—all men, refereed, on a wide field.

I understand that I'm totally preaching [to] the choir here. Although I'm not familiar with what happens behind closed doors-I'm thrilled that you and your siblings have been working for these changes from within the league. However, I just don't see how my efforts as a player can help in this regard. In fact, I think the best (and perhaps only) way to encourage AUDL reform is if men's players abstain from playing and voice their concerns publicly  and also directly to their owners. It seems like AUDL is still dependent on the ultimate community for revenue; if the community can manage to negatively impact the league's bottom line in the name of gender equity and self officiation, it would inspire the league's executives to rethink their dismissal of our community's values in their product.

If the AUDL were to clearly provide a plan or intention to incorporate self-officiation and equal opportunity for women into their league, I would support the league wholeheartedly. However, after five years of the same product, AUDL has done little to show me that they are interested in actually making changes to the league that reflect the preferences and values of the community..."

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