Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I'm Back.... CUPA name Change.. World Clubs


I apologize for a huge blog vacation I took. There has been a lot going on in Canadian ultimate during the off season.

Please note I'm probably going to be pretty terse in this review. Apologies in advance to my more "diplomatic" readers.

CUPA becomes Ultimate Canada

Just wanted to bring it to everyone's attention that Canadian Ultimate Players Association is now legally called Ultimate Canada.

Excited about the name change, and I am glad my friends in sport will stop asking me why the national sport organization sounds like a players union. :)

World Ultimate Club Championships

This issue was simple: WFDF had decentralized the roster rules for teams/countries for the upcoming championships in Prague, Czech Republic. They left the rules for composition of teams up to the national organizations. Teams representing our country can look as much or as little as the club that won the right to go to WUCC. (In canada, you had to be at CUC 2009).

Personally, I find this decentralization of roster requirements for a world championship a major mistake by WFDF. Downright stupid really. I still am struggling to find the reason why.

Having this thrown on the NSO's, Ultimate Canada assigned the task of handling roster rules to our competition committee. The committee, which I chair, is made up of competitive players of varying experiences both on and off the field. We had extensive discussion on this, and tried to cover every single point and counter point.

It would have been EASIER if WFDF had told us we had to set roster requirements, and we could have set clear rules before CUC 2009. Of course, WFDF couldn't do this. That would take some leadership.

Teams had to play in CUC 2009 in order to qualify for World Clubs. Teams knew this heading into the summer season. Despite this, some teams ditched nationals to play at the Emerald City Classic. Should we allow players who didn't attend nationals to be part of the World Club Experience? Opinions from those outside the board were polarized, ranging from giving Furious and GOAT their own bids and private jets to shutting all non CUC 2009 players out altogether. (A little puffery there on my account regarding the private jet.. just trying to keep this discussion light)

If we make rules too easy for roster requirements, good players who went to CUC 2009 and qualified for worlds would be ditched for better players who did not attend CUC 2009. If we make rules too strict, we'll get tremendous flack and we'll handcuffed captains/coaches of teams going to Prague.

In the end, we came up with a decent solution. Moving forward, I believe we need to make world clubs bids and player eligibility contingent on CUC series participation (regionals and nationals in the year leading up to World Clubs). Executing these incentives, in partnership with changing the culture and quality of the CUC series, will be vital to ensuring better attendance at our national championships from our elite teams.


Provide rules to support Canadian club teams attending the WUCC instead of all-star teams. In doing so, rules should accommodate the regular changes a team’s roster undergoes from year-to-year. Provide a policy that is fair to all Canadian ultimate players.

Please note that while Ultimate Canada may not have any roster restrictions for the number of players from a certain player class, the WFDF has a roster limit of 28 players.

Canadian teams attending the WUCC must have a number of Class A players equal to the lesser of the following numbers:
a) 12
b) 50% of the number of players on the team's 2009 CUC roster.

Example a) If a team's 2009 CUC roster had 26 players then they would require 12 class A players (50% of 26 is 13, so we use the lower value of 12).

Example b) If a team's 2009 CUC roster had 19 players then they would require 10 class A players (50% of 19 is 9.5 rounded up to 10 which is lower than 12).

Class A (Regular players): A member of the club who was on the club’s 2008 CUC series roster and/or the club’s 2009 CUC series roster. There are no restrictions on the number of Class A players on a team’s WUCC roster.

Class B (Practicing players): A member of the Club who:

a) has been playing with the Club since May 1st, 2010, and has not
competed in that team’s division (i.e., Open, Mixed, Women’s, Masters,
Juniors) at a National Championship or WFDF Sanctioned Regional
tournament or series with any other team during that time.
b) practices with the team and has attended two team events (training
camps/ practice weekends or tournaments) since January 1, 2010, with
at least 1 event being a tournament.
c) meets one of the following criteria: Canadian citizen, Canadian
permanent resident, Canadian work visa holder or Canadian student visa
There are no restrictions on the number of Class B players on a team’s
WUCC roster.

Class C (Other players): A player who does not meet the requirements
for Class A or B. Class C players must meet one of the following
criteria: Canadian citizen, Canadian permanent resident, Canadian work
visa holder or Canadian student visa holder. Teams are restricted to
three (3) Class C players.


Batch said...

I agree that WFDF passing on complete control of roster rules to the NSOs is a bad idea. This will create huge imbalances in the way teams are assembled for WUCC.

The only justification (and I don't think it's even that good) is that they are letting the NSOs create the rules because it is ultimately them that have to enforce the rules. WFDF can't do roster checks at every tournament all over the world. The way, NSOs can create rules that they can enforce/verify.

Really, WFDF should be making the rules, and NSOs should be finding ways to enforce the global rules, not the other way around.

T1000 said...

Don't forget, Batch, that the NSOs currently have vastly different systems in place, such that defining "clubs" and even "divisions" for the whole lot becomes considerably non-trivial. Unless WFDF convinces everyone to standardize their systems, drafting global rules will always be a bureaucratic failure. This year, they took the easier of the two roads (not that I condone the move).

Consider Australia, for instance, where the AFDA membership is less than 5000, and where all the elite Open and Women's players also play elite Mixed in a separate national championship.

Greg King said...

A friend told me that the same system (of players playing both Open/Women's and Mixed) exists in the UK as well. Let's just say there are going to be a couple of really strong co-ed teams from the UK in Prague.

I don't see any attempts at WFDF telling people they can't play more ultimate (i.e. standardizing the system) going over very well... Although that assumes that one format is better than the other.

Sport Management Steven said...


Sometimes a national or international body has to make decisions that "don't go over well" for the best interests of everybody.

That's leadership baby!

I've heard of the countries that have players taking part in both coed and gender divisions. Great for individual players and teams, but also limits the number of players who get to play at nationals.

It seems like a source of great debate.

parinella said...

I'm in favor of the change. The local rules for who is on a club varies so much from country to country that any one-size-fits-all rule is going to result in a lot of bad outcomes. At one point, there was a rule "can't play for any other team in three months prior to World Clubs". Taken strictly, playing at Potlatch would have disqualified you from World Clubs.

Do you think anyone is going to get cut from local teams in order to add Furious players? Sure, they would play less, but I'd think the teams would be balancing "win" with "reward players who qualified".

What you came up with is similar to what the UPA has done, though you are laxer. UPA groups class A and class B players together and allows 3 or 5 others to play. UPA has a different definition for class B, linking it to the fall series participation for that year. (How are you going to enforce your class B rules? Require them to show a photo of them at a practice holding a newspaper?) Class B is enforced in UPA by not allowing those players to play with another team in the fall series.

DoG's 1999 Club Worlds team would not have met your requirements. We had 20 or 21 in 1998. At Worlds, only 8 of those attended, plus 5 who were on the team that fall, plus 3 others (only one of whom had hoped to play with us in the fall but was cut; the others were pickups to get to 16).

The one thing you'd want to avoid is a team qualifying for Worlds and then essentially giving that spot to someone else using their name. Other than that, I think it really ought to be up to the team to decide who is on the team. They won't burn bridges by cutting class A players.

T1000 said...

I don't think anyone was afraid of class A players getting cut or mismanaged.

WFDF provided clear guidelines to all the NSOs expressing their intent, and their view of what constituted a club, with the expectation that we would respect and adhere to those guidelines as closely as possible. It was that mandate that motivated the final version of the rules.

I could make a detailed breakdown of the many considerations, but it could prove quite long-winded.

Ryan Todd said...

I don't really see a big difference between Class B and Class C. Are there any "National Championship or WFDF Sanctioned Regional tournament or series" events between May 1 and July 3? If not, then isn't the difference between class B and C simply a practice and pre-season tournament?

UPA rules are here: http://www.upa.org/international/2010WUCC

With the exception of 3 players (who still have a bunch of restrictions), a team’s players must be on that team’s roster for the UPA Club Series immediately preceding and/or following the WUCC. Interesting that if the team's 2010 UPA roster would retroactively make that team ineligible for WUCC under the guidelines (i.e. you said they were a 2010 player for WUCC purposes but they're not on the UPA roster 2 months later), the team and player(s) in question are disqualified from the UPA series.

parinella said...

I don't think anyone was afraid of class A players getting cut or mismanaged.
SMS:If we make rules too easy for roster requirements, good players who went to CUC 2009 and qualified for worlds would be ditched for better players who did not attend CUC 2009

Ryan, I'm not sure what that last clause does. Individuals are already prohibited from picking up with a team (unless they're a certified ringer), but I guess this clause will get the team in trouble too. So it would prevent you from adding five players who play with you at Worlds but don't play with anybody in the fall.

T1000 said...

Sorry, Parinella, I missed that remark. Well, I guess we're all entitled to our own fears.

Jeff said...

still think it's a problem when it's in the best interest for players who "ditched" cuc 2009 to play internationally instead of for their own country.

Daniel said...

Jeff, why is it in your best interest to play for a non-Canadian team? And if you think the current rules are a problem then what do you see the solution being?

The fact that you can just decide to go and play for a team from another country proves that WFDF dropped the ball by letting the national organizations set the rules. Ultimate Canada is attempting to set rules that are fair to the teams and players that they represent. The country who you will "represent" obviously set less restrictive rules regarding eligibility and there is something that just isn't quite right about the fact that is even possible.

Jeff said...

Dan, it's not necessarily the best interest but I think it can be argued that finding and joining a team that has even a slightly better chance of winning is in the best interest of the player (assuming no past experience with either team). Another reason is that the top Canadian team(s) that can compete are limited to only 3 pickups from these teams (I haven't looked really, but maybe everyone can fit as class B players somehow? that would slightly negate this argument. My understanding before was they would fit as class C but from actually reading the rules maybe they can fit B).

please don't take from it that i don't think mephisto or other canadian teams worth picking up for, it would completely be worth it and i know goat is encouraging all their players to try to find a team to go to prague with but that doesn't mean it's not more worth it to pick up with another team instead.

Jamie said...

Jeff - I'm not sure I fully understand your position or what more CUPA/UC could do to solve the issue?

You lament that it is unfortunate that it is in your "best interests" or more worth it to you as a player to play for a Non-Canadian team at WUCC based on your perceived best chance to win.

From a CUPA/UC perspective it seems they have done everything within their control to provide a fair system that gives you an opportunity to play with one of a number of teams from Canada.

It seems to me that the real problem is the lax/inconsistent rules being applied by other NSO's (e.g. which ever one is overseeing the non-Canadian team that you may choose to play for).

If each NSO at least mirrored the rule that CUPA has applied for Class B and C players that they have Canadian Citizenship/Permanent Residency/Work Visa/etc. - then this "problem" would be largely taken care of because this would provide a significant enough of a barrier to playing for a non-Canadian team....

As an aside, I should note that personally, I don't feel all that strongly about the issue. While fundamentally, I agree that it is unfortunate (perhaps embarrassing) and reflective of the lack of development of the sport that Canadians would choose to play for International teams.....Ultimately, I just want as many of the best players in the world there as possible and if that means Furious/GOAT guys end up picking up with other teams (Canadian or International) - as a competitor, I'm fine with that and looking forward to the competition on the field.

Batch said...

I think what Jeff wants is Ultimate Canada to relax the rules, to allow our teams to have more pick-ups and be stronger teams hence more able to compete. I could be wrong.

jhaig said...

With teams allowed to carry as many class B players as they want these rules are already fairly relaxed. Gaining status as a class B player isn't really that difficult. As I read the rules your class B status won't exclude you from CUC 2010 or the 2010 UPA series which are after the WUCC. And even if 1 tournament before WUCC is too much for you, just make sure that you're awesome enough that a team will use a class C spot on you.

Jeff said...

no in fact i disagree just as much with the lax rules that apparently allow for major changes to teams.

it's club worlds, it should be the actual teams not pickups. if a team can grab half their team from a different team that's dumb to me... it's CLUB worlds not a national team. the exceptions should allow for players new to the club team that plan on playing with the team in at least the foreseable future (or have been in the past), not just worlds! i.e. players who are trying out for mephisto from magma, moved to montreal for good, etc. i don't really think you should be allowed even 1 player to pick up from another club team that plans to continue playing with their previous (i.e. a top goat/furious player to mephisto who will just go back to goat/furious after worlds). But that doesn't mean I won't take advantage of the rules as they are anyway. also - that should be a wfdf requirement - cupa should be looking at ways to make their players/teams the best and taking advantage of what they can just like player like me will take advantage of what they can(in my opinion), where wfdf should be trying to obtain integrity in club worlds.

my problem is with cuc and the rules being made to force entire teams to go to canadian nats instead of fixing the issue which is canadian nats. (that is - high cost, focus on the party, focus on public transportation which is another high cost, multiple days off work, same day as ECC/other top tourneys - which is the biggest issue to me, lower relative competition compared to cost, not having it in major cities people want to go to, etc etc etc). I am not saying those are all problems that are anyone's faults but they are still the cons in the list of why teams don't go.

to me the solution is: talk to the teams that aren't going for these reasons, find a way to find a solution i.e. get them to canadian nats. Neither GOAT or Furious is unreasonable but they are not charity organiziations either. They will make sacrifices to help Canadian Ultimate, but the cost is currently too high. the fact they would both give up a bid to prague really makes that clear! Until some of the issues are at least looked at find a way to get these teams to represent canada by maybe allowing them to qualify via other ways such as UPA nats.

to me the vibe is top teams VERSUS cupa & other teams, it should be top teams, middle teams, and cupa together.

Jamie said...

Jeff - I completely agree with all of the problems you enumerated concerning the current state of CUC and the clear disincentive in place right now for many competitively focused teams to attend given the opportunity/financial cost - not just those that are "elite" by the way - whatever the hell that really means. We (phoenix) also would have attended ECC last year instead of CUC if we had the option - no question.

CUC does need to be fixed so as to contribute to raising the overall level of competitive ultimate in Canada and the quality of competition at CUC will deteriorate in the future if some of the items you mentioned aren't addressed. I just didn't realize that was the topic being discussed in this thread, that's all.

My point is - those errors in scheduling, etc. for last years' Nats vs. ECC and the problems with CUC overall have been around for a long time – with respect to its’ impact on 2010 WUCC, that ship has sailed. All parties knew the implications of their various decisions to attend CUC 2009 or not at that time.

Given the set of circumstances we are know facing for WUCC 2010 - it really seems to me that CUPA has done an excellent job of setting the rules around player eligibility. It allows teams that earned bids to attend with the option of adding some GOAT/Furious guys to fill out their roster if they are so inclined – thus giving access to those guys to play for a Canadian team at WUCC if interested. It seems that this is necessary as not all teams likely have the luxury of 100% commitment from “their” players given the time and cost considerations of going to Prague for a week long tournament.

Interestingly - for our own reasons, our team actually applied the philosophy that you outlined in your description of what World Clubs should be in that every player on our WUCC roster is playing to some extent with our program this season.

For the future CUC needs to be fixed and that will presumably have a fall on effect on how future National teams are selected and upon qualification for future WUCC’s. I assume that is part of the mandate of the competition committee going forward.

T1000 said...

We know how you feel about the attendance requirement at CUCs, Jeff, but we've been over this before. This is what WFDF requires of Ultimate Canada:

"If the country of that team holds championships in the division in question, the team must have participated in the most recent championship."

Jeff said...

Alex, just wondering, did anyone ever ask wfdf?

cause i asked wfdf and the response I got was cupa can do whatever they want.

In fact a direct quote is

"It is not up to WFDF to determine who will represent each country, that is up to the National Federation, in this case CUPA (or Ultimate Canada)."

T1000 said...

Jeff, I'd say that's WFDF's standard bureaucratic blow-off line. The language of the mandate is written in that handy sort of notwithstanding-speak that says, "the NSO gets to decide, but within these guidelines, and if you don't conform to these guidelines, we might veto your ass" (the glibness is mine).

So when someone like yourself calls them in frustration, they re-route you back to Ultimate Canada, making UC the complaints department for following their mandate.

I can't speak for the executive director, the board, or the competition committee on this, but I am in touch with a WFDF official on a regular basis. So I know the intent of the rules. And I know that some countries are not following the guidelines as closely as they should have. Will WFDF have the spine to enforce their own rules? I hope so, because Canada acted in good faith, and it's disappointing to see other NSOs act in bad.

That said, I'm not going to blame WFDF 100% for UC's position, because I do personally believe that WUCC bids should be distributed at CUCs. I'm open to criticism; I made good on my earlier promise and evaluated a couple of "contingency plans" (in the event that top-ranking teams miss Nats) based on quantitative methods, but I have yet to see one that would pass muster.

But I fully agree with you that we need to make CUCs a better deal and more attractive to our constituents. And if you ever have an idea for a specific improvement, you can send it my way.