At the moment there are few concrete answers and many, many questions surrounding this proposal. Will it work? How will it be run? Perhaps the most important question: Will the players go for it?
We talked to Mr. Smith, one of the players on the Florida Open team. We were interested in why he thinks this is a good idea, and why his team has signed up.
Broderick "Brodie" Smith has been playing Ultimate for four years, and has two years of eligibility left at Florida. He plays Ultimate for the constant action and the ever-present chance for a big play. The Huddle does not necessarily support any of Mr. Smith's claims (we disagree categorically with some) but we do feel that understanding the college players that are going to be making these decisions is important, and that Mr. Smith presents a clear picture of what at least some college captains are thinking.
Why did Florida decide to enter into Conference 1?
Ultimate has been stagnant for too long. Main reason: no referees. All the top sports have referees, even my intramural games have referees. In order for this sport to grow and become more legitimate it needs to do away with the "Spirit of the Game" and get referees. Conference 1 will have officials that will make some calls and stop all the nonsense talk between players and I feel this is a step in the right direction.
I think that having officials will make the game better also for the players because we won't have to worry so much on calling our own game. Conference 1 will take college Ultimate from a pick-up game or intramural game to something more legitimate.
How does the potential Conference 1 season differ from your normal, UPA-based, season?
The past couple seasons we have gone to basically the same tournaments: FWC or Florida Warmup, Vegas, Stanford, Centex, and the series. Biggest changes: most of our tournaments will be on the East Coast which will help with traveling. We will have our regular season schedule ahead of time so we will be able to see who we are going to play and work on strategy. No more having to play lower division teams. I like the set up they have where we go straight into Nationals and no more sectionals and regionals.
It makes every game during the regular season that more important and that more exciting.
How does this change your team's financial situation?
We will be traveling to basically the same number of tournaments throughout the regular season, but with Conference 1 they will be mainly based on the East Coast. Also there is no Sectional or Regional tournament to travel to. Through the partnership of Five Ultimate and Cultimate, tournaments and uniforms for the regular season will also be a lot cheaper for us, so overall much better than with the UPA.
Do you think other teams should join in? Why?
The UPA is not changing. Their main concern is not on the growth of the sport, but perserving something that is setup to never go anywhere. I don't want people asking me where my dog is anymore. I want the sport to be known and loved by many and I believe that Conference 1 also wants this.
The goal of this conference is to legitimize the sport and make it for college athletes. The inclusion of officials and the implementation of a regular season schedule is evidence of this. This is how college sports work, and if other teams want to become true college athletes then they should jump on board.
Imagine December rolls in, and half of the top 20 teams in the Open Division have decided to enroll in Conference 1. Will you stay in, or will you return to the UPA Series? What do you think about the possibility of a split Championship?
If Wisconsin decides to enroll in Conference 1 there will not be a split Championship. You can't declare yourself the champion without going through the previous champion.