Friday, April 19, 2019

Sportsbook: 2019 Pro Ultimate Games - PUL

Betting lines - point spreads - for semi-professional ultimate games are for entertainment purposes. Spreads by SLUDGE.

View the full Premier Ultimate League 2019 schedule.


WEEK 1
Saturday, April 20
Atlanta Soul @ Medellín Revolution (-7.5)
Columbus Pride (-2.5) @ Nashville NightShade


Comparison: AUDL and PUL Inaugural Seasons

The Premier Ultimate League beings its inaugural league tomorrow (April 20). Similar to the American Ultimate Disc League, PUL will have 8 teams competing in its first season. There are two locations that have founded teams in each league – Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana; not necessarily known ultimate frisbee hotbeds, but certainly well-positioned cities in the Midwest.

Revolution is the one team name shared among founding teams in the AUDL (2012) and the PUL (2019) - Bluegrass (Lexington) Revolution [AUDL] and Medellín (Colombia) Revolution [PUL].


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Medellín Revolution 2019 PUL Roster

Medellín (Colombia) Revolution is the only international team in the Premier Ultimate League. Overall, 15 players from the 2018 Revo club team that won silver at last year's WFDF Ultimate Club Championships are also on their 2019 roster for Premier Ultimate League.

As predicted in January, Medellín Revolution rostered some U.S. club players for their 2019 PUL squad. Calise Cardenas (Seattle Riot), Claire Chastain (Denver Molly Brown) and Kayla Helton (San Francisco Fury) are currently listed as members of Revo for the PUL season. At USAU Club Championships, Fury won and Molly Brown and Riot tied for 3rd place.


Revolution's season opens on Saturday, April 20 when they host Atlanta Soul.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

PUL Successfully Pulls In $120,000

Via a Player Sponsorship Program, the Premier Ultimate League raised $120,000 in less than a week.

$120, 000 = 800 sponsorships (4 per player x 200 players) @ $150.




PUL's pilot season begins April 20, 2019.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Logo for USA Ultimate College D-III Championships 2019

The USA Ultimate D-III College Championships will take place May 18-19 in College Station, Texas. College Station is located in eastern Texas, and is home to the main campus of Texas A&M University.


Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Westcoast Women's Professional Ultimate Announced

Westcoast Women's Professional Ultimate will debut in southern California with games in May and June 2019.

The schedule for the logo-less league along with participating teams were announced yesterday. Per their website, the Westcoast (<--one word) Women's Professional Ultimate [WWPU] is "an unprecedented competition series to bring professional women's ultimate frisbee to the West coast." WWPU is not (yet) associated with the Premier Ultimate League (PUL), though PUL is listed as a sponsor.

The current schedule billed as "2019 Southern California women's professional ultimate series" reveals 3 WWPU teams - Los Angeles Ninety-Nines, San Diego Wolfpack and Seattle Cascades. Rules, disc type, streaming, and rosters have not been posted.

WWPU website indicates Portland and Vancouver as additional sites without a team name reveal. The Cascades are planning to participate in a northwest women's ultimate series against teams from Portland and Vancouver.


A total of 8 games between 5 teams are estimated to played as part of the 2019 season of Westcoast Women's Professional Ultimate.

Learn more about WWPU at westcoastwomensultimate.com.


Logo for USA Ultimate College D-I Championships 2019

The USA Ultimate D-I College Championships will take place May 24-27 in Round Rock, Texas. The event logo takes the shape of a solid guitar headstock or peghead.


[via UPLA]


Friday, April 05, 2019

Sportsbook: 2019 Pro Ultimate Games - AUDL

Betting lines - point spreads - for semi-professional ultimate games are for entertainment purposes. Regular season lines are sourced from AUDL's Pick'Em challenge. Postseason spreads by SLUDGE.

View the full American Ultimate Disc League 2019 schedule.

WEEK 3
Saturday, April 20
Philadelphia Phoenix @ DC Breeze (-1.5)
Chicago Wildfire @ Minnesota Wind Chill (-1.5)
Detroit Mechanix @ Indianapolis AlleyCats (-9.5)
Pittsburgh Thunderbirds @ Madison Radicals (-6.5)
Atlanta Hustle @ Tampa Bay Cannons (-1.5)
Austin Sol @ Dallas Roughnecks (-2.5)
Los Angeles Aviators @ Seattle Cascades (-1.5)
San Diego Growlers (-1.5) @ San Jose Spiders


WEEK 2
Friday, April 12 
San Jose Spiders (-3.5) @ Los Angeles Aviators

Saturday, April 13
DC Breeze @ New York Empire (-3.5)
Dallas Roughnecks (-2.5) @ Austin Sol
Raleigh Flyers (-2.5) @ Atlanta Hustle
San Jose Spiders @ San Diego Growlers (-2.5)

Sunday, April 14
Madison Radicals (-1.5) @ Indianapolis AlleyCats


WEEK 1
Friday, April 5
Raleigh Flyers @ Dallas Roughnecks (-2.5)

Saturday, April 6
Raleigh Flyers @ Austin Sol (-1.5)
Atlanta Hustle (-2.5) @ Tampa Bay Cannons
San Jose Spiders (-1.5) @ Seattle Cascades
Los Angeles Aviators @ San Diego Growlers (-3.5)




Season 8: AUDL 2019 Starts Today

The American Ultimate Disc League starts its 8th season today. Twenty-one teams across four divisions play 12 games over a 15-week regular season for a chance to advance to AUDL Championship Weekend (August 10-11, 2019) in San Jose, California.


Thursday, April 04, 2019

Summary of Best AUDL Players in 2018 Season

Evan Lepler continued his annual "Tools Survey" concept for the American Ultimate Disc League and learned the best players in the  2018 season - as decided by each division's coaches - in 20 different skills categories. One player from each division - East, Midwest, South, West - was recognized in each category.

Compilation List of "Tool" Recognitions by Trait



[Data via AUDL; compiled by SLUDGE]


Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Ultimate Mixed Division Awareness Day

Join the ultimate community by celebrating Mixed Division Awareness Day.

Mixed Division Awareness Day 
is celebrated today on 4/3 (April 3rd)!

Mixed is one of the most common divisions in the sport of ultimate and a leading cause of the genders playing ultimate together. Ultimate's Mixed Division affects people in all demographics and is most often found in people playing ultimate competitively and recreationally.

Ultimate at The World Games is played as a mixed (coed) competition. Mixed gender beach ultimate is the favored format for ultimate in the Olympics.

Did You Know? "GENDZONE" is the endzone where gender ratio is dictated from. [source]


Let's use this day (4/3) to raise awareness about the Mixed Division and take action toward appreciation. Spread the word!


(Mark Your Calendars: 2020's holiday to be celebrated on March 4th)


Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Women's College Ultimate Game Involved 'Rare Move'



In February at Presidents' Day Invite 2019 during a women's college ultimate quarterfinals, UC-Santa Barbara Burning Skirts and Colorado Kali played a close first half. The halftime score was UCSB up 8-7, then at 9-7 this happened:

"In a rare move, both teams used their captain’s clauses to request the observers leave the game. The teams felt the game was being bogged down with technicalities and calls."

Per USA Ultimate's 11th edition, the Captain's Clause states:


UCSB would eventually win the game 11-8 over Kali and finish 2nd while Colorado Kali finished 6th. Event host UC-San Diego finished first at the college ultimate regular season event in La Jolla, California.

[via @UltiworldLive]


Monday, April 01, 2019

Ultimate Puzzle

Follow each instruction in order.

Do not skip ahead.

And...go!




Your answer should be the two-word name of a game invented in New Jersey that is popular around the world. ULTIMATE FRISBEE

Friday, March 29, 2019

Khalif El-Salaam Re-Signs with Seattle Cascades

Khalif El-Salaam began his AUDL career playing with Seattle Cascades in 2017 and now returns to the Seattle AUDL squad for the 2019 season.




Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Jonathan "Goose" Helton Joins San Diego Growlers

San Diego welcomed Jonathan "Goose" Helton to the Growlers 2019 roster earlier this year. 

This will be Goose's 5th AUDL team in 8 AUDL seasons. At this rate, Goose will have played for every AUDL team by the year 2059.

Also, this won't be the first time Goose plays in the Western Division; he played for Indianapolis AlleyCats in 2012, which at the time was considered the "Western" Division of the AUDL.


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Part 3: A Conversation about Major League Ultimate with Nic Darling

Below is the next portion of a multiple-part series documenting our conversation with Nic Darling, Executive VP and Founder of Major League Ultimate (2012-2016). In this installment, Nic talks about launching MLU, what he's most proud of about MLU and its legacy.

Part 1: https://sludgeonline.blogspot.com/2018/12/part-1-conversation-major-league-ultimate-nicdarling.html

Part 2: https://sludgeonline.blogspot.com/2019/01/part-2-conversation-mlu-major-league-ultimate-nicdarling.html 

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.


Launch
SLUDGE: Take me back to the lead up for the MLU launching in April 2013.

Nic: I don't know if you recall the time frame we did this in, but it was insanity. We started this idea in, I don't know, August [2012] maybe? And we launched the league in April [2013]. And in the course of that time raised a ton of money and signed all these different types of partners and people that we needed. And I still look back on that as one of the biggest accomplishments that I've had - getting from there to go live. I also look back on it as potentially a mistake. I think we may have been better served by taking an entire year to build before we launched, which is something I had argued for early on, but was convinced otherwise of.

I think MLU may have been better served by taking an entire year to build before we launched, which is something I had argued for early on, but was convinced otherwise of.

SLUDGE: Talk about what convinced MLU to go live.
Nic: Part of it was that we had gotten the money that we needed to go live. Well, we made the decision to go live pretty early, September [2012], something like that, but part of the reason was we had gotten the funding that we thought we needed to go live, and we were concerned about the run rate of working for an entire year without any revenue. Even though, again, I stand by that it may have been the right choice, in retrospect. There were concerns at the time that we needed to show something. Some beginnings of work more quickly. So that's what pushed the date. There was also a competitive attitude, these are all frisbee players, everybody just wants to go and get excited about it.

There was also a competitive attitude, these are all frisbee players, everybody just wants to go and get excited about it.

SLUDGE: Was there a AUDL angle as well?
Nic: At that point, that wasn't as big a concern as you might think because they were in a tough spot. But it was there, for sure. I think my argument was that it didn't matter. Our product needed to be good when it came out. In the end, I think we put a decent product on the field, when we first came out. But I think it would've been tighter and more complete if we had had more time to work on it, for sure.

Proud
SLUDGE: What would you say you're most proud of about MLU?
Nic: If you wanna take a big picture look, I think that we elevated people's expectations of what the sport could look like and should look like. I really do. And I think that the AUDL has probably picked up some of that, and even USAU. And I think we've pulled people along in that respect. I don't know if we'll get credit for that in the long run but I think MLU took a step into professionalism that didn't exist before. 
MLU elevated people's expectations of what the sport could look like and should look like.

Also, 2017 was a year I was proud of because we reached a point where the people that worked with us in the office were paid like normal employees, with benefits and a regular operating manual. And we had gotten the league to a point where it was running more like a real business, at least in the central office. Obviously the teams were still very much part-time people and a lot of people putting in extra work, but we had started to get away from this exploitation of our people that always bothered me, and that I think that any aspiring company has to get past in order to be taken seriously. And we did that and it put us in a good position to go forward, but other factors derailed that before we actually got there.

I'm also proud of the fact that I built something that my kids could come out and see and remember and still talk about, which is pretty cool. My son thought he was going to grow up and be a Spinner. He would tell all the guys on the team. "So you play for the Spinners, I'm gonna be a Spinner."

We made the players' conversations a lot easier when they went home for Christmas and people were like, it used to be, "Ultimate Frisbee? What is that? Is that the dogs?" Now their relatives had seen them on ESPN and it was a little easier to explain. I would get so many texts every time 'cause everybody felt they had to tell me, which is great. I loved it.

The other thing is there's so much in there. Once I can get past the things that hurt about it, 'cause there's definitely those, there's so much in there to be proud of. There's so many things that we did, so much new ground we broke, so many people we introduced to the sport, so many guys who worked for us who are now off in good jobs doing cool stuff and they learned how to do that stuff working for us. That makes me really proud. All the places people landed and all the cool stuff they're doing now that they wouldn't have gotten to do otherwise.
There literally was not enough money or people to do what MLU did.

There literally was not enough money or people to do what we did. Not even close. So the only way we were able to do it is we had crazy people working for us who were willing to do insane things to get this thing done.

Legacy/Challenge
SLUDGE: What do you think will be the legacy of Major League Ultimate (2013-2016)?
Nic: That's a tough thing. I would say that... And I don't think anyone that knows me will find this surprising, I tend to be kind of a pessimist. I think that the work that people did and a lot of what we accomplished deserves some kind of legacy but I'm pessimistic about there being one; or much of one. Even from where we started there is a lot of interest in us not being part of the story of Ultimate. And I don't think that's from everybody at all, but I think that there is an element of what we are doing is not what people wanted Ultimate to be about. 

I think that people don't know this probably, but there was a lot... I mean, people know that there was some negativity to what we were trying to do, whether it was based on gender equity concerns, or referees, or rule changes, or the disc we were using. Any of the other stuff that people were worried about. What I think they don't realize is how personal some of the attacks based on that got. And the kind of hate mail that [chuckle] I would get, I think would surprise people. I got accused of ruining children's lives and morals by introducing referees.

I got accused of ruining children's lives and morals by introducing referees...that just gets draining when you're also trying to keep a company afloat.

 And the thing is, is that just gets draining when you're also trying to keep a company afloat. It's a very challenging environment. It's not a simple product. It's not a simple marketing challenge, there's all kinds of other challenges without the frisbee cultural issues that we also had to tackle. And if we had started a professional, name another sport, we would have had an easier task. Because there's so many things built into frisbee players' understanding of their sport, and their ownership of it, which in a way I still will argue is positive in the long run. It's just a higher hurdle to cross when you're trying to do something with it. Because the engagement level of those players is so high, the people who play it are so into it, that that's positive in the long run. But in the short term, when you're trying to make adjustments that you feel like are necessary, it pinches everybody the wrong way.

SLUDGE: So, what would you hope for MLU’s legacy to be?
Nic: If I had one legacy out of this, one thing that kept and hung on when Ultimate's the big professional sport it should be, I hope there are refs. And I don't care what form they take, 'cause USAU has refs. They just call them observers. I don't care what you call 'em. We have thought about calling ours observers, just because why not? I mean who cares, same thing. They're refs! The other thing that I hope is that no one's wearing hats. [chuckle] ...you're not baseball players.


I hope there are refs. The other thing that I hope is that no one's wearing hats...you're not baseball players.

Care
SLUDGE: There are a lot of sports options available and plenty of other attention distractors. What was your approach in getting people to care about the sport of ultimate?
Nic Darling: So, I think there's a couple of things in my mind. When we thought about Ultimate, we were thinking about was it has to be easy to understand—on some level. I don't know, you can't ask too much of people from an entry standpoint. And that goes back to things like refs, field size, those sorts of choices. Let's package this in a way that's palatable and people can get. So, that's part of it. I think you have to make the barrier to entry low, or lowish. Not dumb though, you can't dumb it down to where it then becomes banal and boring, but you can make it accessible. But then, behind that accessibility there has to be a density to it.  If you start getting in, there has to be some place to go. So, there has to be history, there has to be stats, there has to be a storyline.

If [a sport game] is just happening out of context, you would never watch it. It's the context that makes it matter and if you're not telling stories and if you're not building statistics, you're not building all this other stuff, you have no context. You have no story.

That's what sports is. Sports is stories and I think this is what a lot of people get confused about. Oh it's got to be exciting. It's got to be this, it's got to be that. Sports that are not exciting: football and baseball are boring, right? If it's just happening out of context, you would never watch it. It's the context that makes it matter and if you're not telling stories and if you're not building statistics, you're not building all this other stuff, you have no context. You have no story. So, we really thought a lot about, how do we amplify stories? And we weren't super successful all the time. Or any of the time, but we knew it was important and we were trying to do it. We were trying to find the stories, the rivalries, the "what-happened-last-week-and-what-matters-this-week?" hook. Why should we care about this game versus the last game?

Cause even watching at bars with strangers, which I did a lot because it was on Comcast so I would go out and I would watch and people were like, what is this? Explain or what's going on now? Did they beat this team last time? This is Philly right? They're playing DC, did they beat DC last time? No, they lost to them last time. What the fuck? Why? Let's talk about it. Because this guy right there. See that guy, that guy keeps catching all these goals and these guys can't figure out a way to stop him. Well, how many goals did he get? Well let me look, he had six goals last week. We're just like, now you have context, you have story and that's what makes sports interesting. It's a soap opera, just like anything else, it's just built around a live game that's happening.

SLUDGE: In the MLU inaugural season at a Philly-DC game, there was a guy wearing a, um, custom shirt.
Nic: Greatest shirt ever. That guy cares.

Like when I would get shit from Ultimate players about calls. I was like, 'Okay, I get it.' But when I would get stuff from fans about calls after games... People who clearly were not frisbee players, just guys coming up to me, they're like: "what was that? That was garbage."  Like, I love this, you care. Anytime where you saw that hint of people starting to care was just the best.

That shirt is a good example.

Monday, March 25, 2019

How Long Will You Be Playing Ultimate Frisbee?

Dave LeBeau says playing ultimate frisbee makes his heart happy and lets his soul soar. Ultimate had never hurt LeBeau until a winter ultimate pickup game in March 2004.

Listen to LeBeau, a Trap Door storyteller, recount the time ultimate frisbee...almost (spoiler!)...killed him.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Premier Ultimate League 2019 Schedule

The Premier Ultimate League has been slowly releasing their schedule for their 2019 pilot season. Eight PUL teams will be competing in the regular season from April 20 through mid-June; PUL playoffs (PULayoffs) are tentatively scheduled for the last weekend in June.

WEEK 1: April 20
Atlanta Soul @ Medellín Revolution
Columbus Pride @ Nashville NightShade

WEEK 2: April 27
Atlanta Soul @ Austin Torch
Indy Red @ New York Gridlock

WEEK 3: May 4-5
Medellín Revolution @ Atlanta Soul
Medellín Revolution @ Raleigh Radiance
Columbus Pride @ New York Gridlock

WEEK 4: May 10-12
Medellín Revolution @ Columbus Pride
Medellín Revolution @ Indy Red
Nashville NightShade @ Austin Torch

WEEK 5: May 18
New York Gridlock @ Raleigh Radiance
Indy Red @ Austin Torch

WEEK 6: May 25
Indy Red @ Nashville NightShade

WEEK 7: June 1
Austin Torch @ New York Gridlock
Nashville NightShade @ Atlanta Soul

WEEK 8: June 8-9
Raleigh Radiance @ Nashville NightShade
Raleigh Radiance @ Columbus Pride
New York Gridlock @ Atlanta Soul

WEEK 9: June 14-15
Austin Torch @ Raleigh Radiance
Columbus Pride @ Indy Red

PLAYOFFS: June 29/30

PUL 2019 Season Schedule


Monday, February 11, 2019

DC Breeze 2019 AUDL Schedule

The 12-game American Ultimate Disc League regular season 2019 schedule has been published for Washington, D.C. Breeze. This will be DC's 7th AUDL season.



April
13: @ New York Empire
20: Philadelphia Phoenix @ DC

May
5: Ottawa Outlaws @ DC
11: @ New York Empire
18: @ Ottawa Outlaws
19: @ Montreal Royal
26: Montreal Royal @ DC

June
1: New York Empire @ DC
[8: All-Star Break]
15: Toronto Rush @ DC
16: @ Philadelphia Phoenix
22: Philadelphia Phoenix @ DC

July
6: @ Toronto Rush


In 2019, DC starts the regular season in the AUDL East on April 13 and ends on July 6. The Breeze have no cross-divisional games this year. The Breeze play New York and Philadelphia three times each plus the three Canadian AUDL East teams twice.

Both of the Breeze's back-to-back games consist of one road trips to Canada (May 18-19) and a home/away weekend over June 15-16.

DC Breeze game tickets are currently available. All home games are planned to be played at Catholic University in NE D.C.

Friday, February 08, 2019

UPDATED: Boston Sports Titles Since 2000

The Boston area has been very successful in their sports championships in the 21st century. Boston teams' good fortune go beyond the major sports. 

Boston Whitecaps (MLU) in 2013 and 2015. USA Ultimate Club championships for Boston Brute Squad in 2015 and in 2016 along with Boston Slow White and Ironside.




Thursday, January 31, 2019

Part 2: A Conversation about Major League Ultimate with Nic Darling

Below is the next portion of a multiple-part series documenting our conversation with Nic Darling, Executive VP and Founder of Major League Ultimate (2012-2016). In this installment, we chat about the future of MLU, versions of MLU and MLU as a business.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

MLU II
SLUDGE: Is there any chance for MLU to be resurrected in some form?
Nic: I don't know why it wouldn't. It's by far the most powerful brand around the sport. If we're gonna keep calling the sport Ultimate, then what else would you call the league, but Major League Ultimate? There's no other name for it that works.
[MLU] is by far the most powerful brand around the sport. If we're gonna keep calling the sport Ultimate, then what else would you call the league, but Major League Ultimate?
And I think that the assets still have value, there's still followers on everything, a decent number of them. They don't go away. If you kick those things back up, you reawaken that machine, it's still there. Until these platforms die, those things are still there. People don't unfollow anything.




Facebook likes: 73K; https://www.facebook.com/MLUltimate
IG: 17.4k followers
Twitter followers: 14.8K;  https://twitter.com/MLUltimate
YouTube Subscribers: 28K; https://www.youtube.com/user/MajorLeagueUltimate/featured
There were a couple of people who came and approached, and I don't know where this has gone, because I haven't been involved, but I know that people have come and approached the investors about the Twitter page, Facebook, and using them for new projects. Maybe that's moved along, I don't know, but I know that those conversations have happened. I would love to see the brand rise again, as it were. I think it's a really strong brand and a really strong name. I think the logo's strong. I would love to see somebody do something with it to be honest.

I would love to see the [MLU] brand rise again...I think it's a really strong brand and a really strong name. I would love to see somebody do something with it to be honest.
[NOTE: This conversation happened prior to the UUL and PUL announcements]

MLU Mixed and MLU Women
SLUDGE: Was there ever talk about the MLU transforming into a mixed league?
Nic: One of the things that we talked about and researched pretty heavily over the 2016 season were ideas for a mixed Ultimate. We looked at a lot. And I don't mean looked at like, "Oh, we thought about it and talked about it." I mean I went to sponsors, I went to Comcast, I went to TV partners, we talked about it in depth, got feedback from their marketing departments and got some feel for how we might think about approaching that. And it seems like a big lift, still, but compared to...starting an Ultimate League. I guess it's not that big a lift anyway.

what we thought about all the time was there may be, again, like Ultimate in general, there may be a more difficult path that has a higher return, which is why we started talking about mixed as an idea.
So when you go pitch sponsors and pitch people like that, they're much quicker to listen (and I'm not crediting this with any value, but investors, sponsors) because we were pitching a men's league. And that's just the way it is. That doesn't mean that that's right, and it also, what we thought about all the time was there may be, again, like Ultimate in general, there may be a more difficult path that has a higher return, which is why we started talking about mixed as an idea.

Could we make that jump? It would be difficult, we would lose some things, but we would gain other things in the process. It was possible, and there was definitely some interest.


SLUDGE: What about a women's MLU?
Nic: Yeah, so mixed was just one of the ideas. There were a couple of other ideas. One was to have a mirrored women's league that would play sort of same travel schedule, same stadium kinda thing, double-header approach, there were a bunch of different ideas. There were different ideas constantly, so it's hard to separate these out.


SLUDGE: When did this start?
Nic: From the early days, we talked about how do women play into this on the field, because from the first days Lindi Sabloff, MLU Chief Financial Officer, was on our team. She was one of the primary founders. She helped me draw our initial corporate structure, all of our initial finances. She helped us put together. And so, from the beginning, we talked about how in the long run does this play out.

David Kucherlapati was also big on bouncing ideas around. And it was always a long-term thing anyway, that that would be part of the way that this would play out.

SLUDGE: How close did it get to becoming a reality?
Nic: It was just constantly in the conversation. Because innovating sports is what we needed to be able to do on some level. And in the beginning, we weren't really doing that. We were mimicking sports that existed.

Some of the brands we talked to had interest in a women’s MLU because they wanted to reach that audience very, very badly. Again, we come back to the real time thing. Sports is the best way for brands to reach audiences in real time in a lot of ways, and that audience is largely 18 to 45-year-old men demo.

And so reaching women of that age range is really challenging in any kind of live real-time aspect. And so there's some attraction to that idea. It was also just a good time to start having that conversation, women's soccer, with the accomplishments that they had, actually finally getting some massive TV audience behind a women's sport, in a way that hadn't been seen before. There are a lot of things that have been turning over. And the women's part of the game is something we talked about from day one. We couldn't wrap our heads around how to tackle it in a way that was manageable from our perspective.

There were no shortcuts in it, whereas the men's game had more shortcuts into raising money and things like that. There were people who were ready to do that that weren't necessarily ready to go for a mixed or women's. Mixed has its own enormous challenges, when you start thinking about it as a professional sport. You obviously have to make decisions about how you treat gender, which we were pretty clear about. So we put a presentation together, put it in front of the Board of Investors as a pitch for the 2017 season.

When you get into the boardroom, the on-the-field product didn't have much to do with the discussion. Not really. It makes people feel good if things are going well on the field, and that's nice because it adds a little bit of positivity to the conversation, even when you're looking at numbers that are tough.

But in the end we had investors and we had people working for us who were there to try to make this financially viable. And you can have a great game... We had a couple of games where there were a lot of people [in attendance] but the revenue wasn't right. Too many tickets given away...the concession deal wasn't good...the stadium was too expensive. Then when you run the numbers in a year, you're like, "Oh, that felt like a great game when we were there. Energy was good, it was a good crowd, the game was great. But on the books it's a bad game."

SLUDGE: I definitely think that’s how the casual observer might misperceive semi-pro ultimate as a viable product.
Nic: Yeah. The last [2016] championship game [between Philadelphia Spinners and Portland Stags], we probably did five times the revenue that we did at any normal game. But I don't think we made much more money on the game.

SLUDGE: Five times?! Was this revenue compared to other championships or other regular season games?
Nic: To other regular season games. We did probably five times the revenue, but probably similar above the line. So not much more than any other profitable game. And profitable is hard to pinpoint too. Because no game's been profitable. It just depends how you draw those lines of profitability. Does a game make money? Or what are you factoring into that game? Are you just including the stadium costs and the refs? Or do we include travel? (The most expensive thing out there.) There's all these different elements that we did, and it's hard to make a distinction.

SLUDGE: I always thought that the business model that the MLU had was sound. And, I always envisioned that one day that AUDL and MLU would go in front of the Shark Tank, and pitch their idea, pitch their leagues, and have the sharks would pick which one to go. That didn't happened, but...
Nic: It didn't...I feel like we would have won that battle...I know we would have won that battle.
We lost a bunch of others though. [chuckle]

I think the failure in the model was one of vision. I think that if I could do one thing differently in the last year, I would have spent less time on operations, and a lot more time selling this idea to investors—and to people with money, basically. Because the one thing that we underestimated is how much money it really takes to do this. If you wanna get to profitability, it takes a lot of money. And we accomplished a lot, with very little. We still had a lot of money by the standards of the sport at the point it was at, but we weren't even close really to the level of investment it would take to click over. And I think that that was the main flaw in the model. And it wasn't an unknown one, we kind of knew it was there, but there was always, we need to get just a little further before we go, find that cash, we need to go a little deeper before we find it. But I really, particularly in retrospect, wish I had spent a significant amount more time over the last year finding other money, and more money. But I got very hung up in operations, and not in that job, which is the job I probably should've been doing more.

We were looking at how to name a League Commissioner after the 2016 season, but we ended up going more in the marketing. We ended up investing the money we would have spent there in marketing company that helped us develop the sponsorship outreach that we were doing, and in the ticket sales department, which had already started to really kick things up. It was really cool actually watching them. And that was the other thing is if you look at the company, we never invested the money that we needed to make the money we needed to. If you wanna sell tickets, you have to sell tickets. You can't just expect people to buy tickets. You have to sell them. Once we, just even started selling them, we were like, "Oh, okay, this is how this works."

But you need to invest a lot of money into those programs. Into building them out, staffing them, giving them the materials they need, writing scripts, putting someone in charge who really knows what they're doing. And we just, frankly, needed to invest more and that meant we needed to go get more and that meant we should have been selling more.


[MLU] still had a lot of money by the standards of the sport at the point it was at, but we weren't even close really to the level of investment it would take to click over. And I think that that was the main flaw in the model.


SLUDGE: Was MLU - as a company - a success in its inaugural year (2013)?
Nic: I wouldn't call it a huge success. We didn't come out of the gate and surprise anybody. And in some cases, there were probably surprises that were negative, things would cost more than you think they're going to. You learn a lotta lessons about where you're gonna lose money and where you're gonna make money. A company like this has to be prepared to lose money for 10 years. You just have to be ready for that kind of thing.

A company like this has to be prepared to lose money for 10 years. You just have to be ready for that kind of thing.

SLUDGE: As a startup?
Nic: Yeah. And particularly as one that's trying to do something as big in scope as this is. Even though we're not paying people much, we were doing payroll for 400 and some people every week, every other week.

SLUDGE: Would you say MLU overachieved for that first season?
Nic: No, I don't think we did. I think there were a couple of games here or there. A couple of wins maybe, starting the sponsorship with Innova and things like that, I think, were really positive, but no, I definitely wouldn't say we overachieved.

SLUDGE:  What do you remember as being the end game for MLU?
Nic: I think there were a lot of differing opinions on what that was gonna be. There were a lot of people that wanted this really boot strapped slow growth, invest as little as possible, try to just build a little bit of revenue here, a little bit of revenue there. I was much more in the camp of the tipping point for this company is when we get a major brand invested and that should be the only thing we're trying to do. Until we have a major brand partner whose capable of putting money in and drawing all of the fish smaller than it into the pool, we don't have a chance. We're not gonna get by on selling tickets to events, we're not gonna get by on selling merchandise, the money is in our content and that's why our focus was so heavily on content.

Until we have a major brand partner whose capable of putting money in and drawing all of the fish smaller than it into the pool, we don't have a chance. We're not gonna get by on selling tickets to events, we're not gonna get by on selling merchandise, the money is in our content and that's why our focus was so heavily on content.

On social media, on websites, on the video stuff, on statistics and all those pieces were coming together to a point where we were getting conversations. I got to go to Detroit and sit down with Fiat and all their head marketing people and have a conversation. And I had to pitch Zappos....I had to go to LA and meet with Red Bull. I got to do these things because, while everything was pretty raw it was all there and when we'd pitch these brands they could look at it and they could see it. They could see the numbers, they could see the impressions, the views, the engagement and they could buy into it.

The way I always thought about MLU was that we were a media company that produced our own product. We didn't cover somebody else's, we made our own.

The way I always thought about MLU was that we were a media company that produced our own product. We didn't cover somebody else's, we made our own.


##

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Way-Too-Early Premier Ultimate League Rankings for 2019

Rosters are not all yet final. Tryouts aren't over. The PUL pilot season schedule is not published. What better time to rank Premier Ultimate League teams!

1. Medellín Revolution
This dynamite club team finished 2nd at Club Worlds in 2018, and have demonstrated skills on offense and defense against the top US club teams over the last few years. Costs of travel from Colombia will be an issue; I would not be surprised if Revo picks up some elite U.S. club players from PUL-less cities. (paging Jesse Shofner…)

2. New York Gridlock
The newest team to form with an tremendous upside as they could potentially roster from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Plus, players will want to seek out to play for HC Eileen Murray who brings coaching experience from the AUDL.

3. Austin Torch
The ATX club team (Showdown) missed out on Nationals 2018, but players have experience playing and winning in last year's 2018 mini-season. Expectations will be high for already established fan base.

4. Atlanta Soul
The Soul appear to be organized and prepared for a 2019 season. If they bring back their athletes from 2018, the Soul have an excellent chance to be better in 2019 than in 2018. The club team (Ozone) in Atlanta finished tied for 9th at 2018 Nationals.

5. Raleigh Radiance
A solid core of players return to this year's roster which should give Raleigh a chance to shine. The North Carolina-based women's club team finished 14th at Club Nationals in 2018.

6. Indy Red
Indy is favored to poweRED from last year's experience. They are smartly recruiting from Indy and nearby Cincy to bolster their 2019 roster.

7. Nashville NightShade
NightShade will be an intriguing team to watch in 2019. If they're able to recruit beyond Nashville, they might be able to make some noise.


The PUL pilot season is planned ot be from April-June 2019.


Friday, January 25, 2019

Distance Chart of Premier Ultimate League Teams

Seven total teams are planned to compete in the pilot season of Premier Ultimate League. Six of the 7 teams are based in the Unites States; Revolution - a club ultimate team - is from Medellín Colombia. The six American PUL teams are not just geographically dispersed within the country, but there's one team from South America in their league!


NOTE: Distances based on city points, not stadium locations.

Travel is a significant cost for any sports league. PUL will need to be creative with their scheduling while balancing the want and need of teams to host events in their own city in order to showcase PUL to their fans. The PUL (2000) proposal had 2 teams travel to a 3rd team's city where 3 games would be played. The UUL (2018) proposed to have 4 teams play at one host team's event.

Atlanta Soul, Austin Torch, Indianapolis Red, Nashville NightShade, and Raleigh Radiance were established  last year and participated in a multi-game mini-season. Of note, Detroit Riveters played games in 2018, but are not listed in the 2019 PUL pilot season. New York Gridlock is the newest team that has recently formed. Revolution visited Austin to play a showcase game in May 2018 which Revo won 14-5.


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Premier Ultimate League Launches, Announces 2019 Pilot Season

The Premier Ultimate League (PUL) launched today!

Per their mission statement:
PUL seeks to achieve equity in the sport of ultimate by increasing accessibility to and visibility of womxn* players through high-quality competition, leadership experiences, and community partnerships. Our league strives for gender, racial, and economic diversity in the sport of ultimate frisbee.


PUL (yes, the same acronym from an unaffiliated proposal 19 years ago) has been recycled as the Premier Ultimate League which will debut in spring 2019.

Seven Eight teams - Atlanta Soul, Austin Torch, Indianapolis Red, Medellin (Colombia) Revolution, Nashville NightShade, New York Gridlock, and Raleigh Radiance - have been announced for the April-June 2019 season  which has been self-described as "professional ultimate." League commissioner of PUL will be Bonesaw from Austin (Torch). Columbus Pride were announced later.

PUL is setup as a non-profit organization and, as such, will be governed by a Board of Directors. A Steering Committee will be setup with invites to USA Ultimate, AUDL parent company, WFDF, Upwind Ultimate, and EuroStars.


Friday, January 11, 2019

The New York Times' Illustrated Recap of Club Nationals

Agnes Lee published an interactive [desktop version] storyboard about USA Ultimate Championships in The New York Times. Bids, Blocks and Fun: A Weekend at Ultimate Nationals is a fantastic animated storyboard which captures snapshots from the club championship that was held in San Diego.


It probably helped that the local (New York) club team won this year's USA Ultimate championship in the men's division.

The NYT piece concludes with:
"Ultimate is a small but growing sport. With an ethos of good sportsmanship, which was on display at the national championships, it should continue to grow for another 50 years."

In the printed(!) Sunday(!) New York Times, the black-and-white piece appeared in the sports section:

My only knock against this magnificent storyboard is the foul demonstration incorrectly shows the hand signal used by players and observers. We look forward to reading this again in the NYT Corrections section.


Tuesday, January 08, 2019

[Cross-Post] A Statement from the Detroit Riveters

The following is a cross-post of A Statement from the Detroit Riveters

The Riveters is Michigan's semi-professional women's ultimate team, which was loosely affiliated with the AUDL Detroit team (Mechanix). Detroit Riveters began their season on April 21 and played 5 games during the summer 2018.

--------------------------------------

[December 26, 2018]

When the Mechanix leadership announced that they would be the first AUDL team to support a women's team, many female players in the Detroit-area community were ecstatic. This development provided an additional opportunity for high-level play for female-identifying players, as well as visibility on a large stage.



Mechanix leadership, with the best of intentions, made many promises about equal treatment and support before the season began, but were unable to meet the agreements put forth when the team was created, including player compensation, game promotion, or basic organizational support. As of the date this statement was published, no Riveters players have been paid.

Beyond our disappointing experience with the Mechanix infrastructure, the lack of an overarching league structure contributed to a dysfunctional experience and left dangerous gaps in liability. These concerns were highlighted at the Nashville Cup during a gritty, physical game the Riveters played against Nashville NightShade. Dangerous oversights and inequalities between the men's and women's division put Riveters players' health at risk. This included:

No Athletic Trainers or Medical Resources: There were no trainers or designated medical professionals available for the women’s games. Two Riveters players suffered serious injuries during the game — a concussion and a torn ACL — but no trained medical professionals were on site to respond.
No Insurance for Accident Coverage: The host team"s owners did not secure accident coverage insurance for the women’s games featured at this event, so the women’s division players had no support for the injuries they sustained there, while the men’s games at the same event did.

In the months since that game, the management of both AUDL teams involved have shut down and gaslighted Riveters attempts to surface information about insurance coverage and discuss these inequities.


We agreed to play for the Riveters under the understanding that we would be paid and insured, but these basic expectations were not met. Our experience demonstrated the need for many internal changes to our relationship with the Mechanix, as well as an overarching league structure and governing body. Our relationship with the Mechanix is by no means representative of professional women's ultimate, but we feel it is important to share our experiences with the community.

Women's ultimate is too important to be treated as an afterthought. While the Riveters appreciate and are grateful for the contributions of the Mechanix leadership, it is clear that the past season's model is unsustainable. For the upcoming professional seasons, the Riveters plan to pursue equity and playing opportunities on our own terms.

Signed

Anna Kilbourn
Meg Duffy
Molly Barlow
Jenna Ray
Tracey Lo
Becky "Tots" Moore
Grace Denney
Mya Hernandez
Jordan Rosefigura
Tessa Champoux
Theresa Zettner
Laura Soter
Nina Janjic
Kari Paine
Tia Esposito
Becca Ostman
Chelsea Zhu
Vivian Chu
Sara Nitz
Hannah Gannon
Julia Weinert
Maria Aristizabal
Mary Boyd
Brittany Wright


Note: When provided a preview of this letter, the Mechanix leadership revoked Riveter players' access to their team website and social media accounts, prompting the creation of this Medium page.
##