Free beer is gone from nationals, a telling and damning sign. The apocalypse is surely at hand! No, not really. Plenty of fun times were to be had and I don't think the elimination of free beer is going to ever end those.
However, the National Championships, which if you're keeping at track at home have gone from "Nationals" to the "UPA Club Championships" in order to indicate the inclusion of Canada and pump up the UPA brand, now to the "USA Ultimate Club Championships" with a logo/design actually featuring a map of USA, Canada not included (even though Canada was well-represented here as usual, of course) which means they might soon be called "Nationals" again -- anyway, the Championships are now one step closer to corporate.
Not such a bad thing and we've been going that direction for a long time and this is really what players seem to want: increased media, increased tournament size, observers, accountability, etc etc. In order to do this the UPA had to evolve into a non-profit entity and soon they will become an Org with sponsorship and advertising and this isn't a bad thing.
ESPN.com was at the tournament, CBS Sports paid a visit as well as many potential (and lucrative?) sponsors and advertisers.
If we get there, this is a good thing. The sport will grow up. But remember something unique: the Ultimate Player's Association no longer exists. It's true the Board, elected by the membership of USA Ultimate, chooses the CEO which is Tom Crawford and i think Crawford is great for the role. The Board is almost exclusively made up of ultimate players and this may never change.
But the captain's meeting at Nationals this year wasn't a traditional captain's meeting at all that I could tell. Captains didn't get to choose rules or come to agreement on terms. They don't usually at Nationals and perhaps this might have been done online but in the rules of the game the "Captain's Clause" allows for just about any rule of the game to be voted on and agreed to by captains. Heck, they could have voted for free beer, yes?
Yes, I believe they could have.
But that didn't happen. And this is fine. But someday if sponsorship comes and advertising comes might there be the return of the UPA but this time the UPU -- Ultimate Player's Union? For the players, that is, and not the administrators?
Would be many years in the future. There aren't going to be Ultimate Team Owners in the near future, or at least I doubt it, but it's something to think about.