Mixed Emotions in Playing in the EuroStars Tour
Visibility matters, but at what cost?
Updated August 22, 2018
With the EuroStars Tour headed into the second week of their second tour, many fans and players have felt conflicted in supporting the Tour, since this year it is being sponsored and funded by the AUDL. A group of folks have been active in boycotting the AUDL, an ongoing movement that started December 13, 2017. The AUDL then announced that they would be completely sponsoring this project for the next three years (through 2020).
There were mixed feelings from teams, as well as mixed feelings and involvement from individual players. We sent a brief survey out to those teams and these are the responses we got, starting with the team statement from San Francisco Fury and the joint statement from Toronto 6ixers, Boston Brute Squad, Washington DC Scandal, and Atlanta Ozone.
"I am playing because it's an awesome opportunity to play high level ultimate against people I've never seen/met before. I also got to host some players, which was AWESOME. Talking with players from different countries gave me a better sense of camaraderie with international players and a greater connection the women's ultimate movement."
"I am playing because I believe in the mission of the Eurostars tour and want to continue to promote high-level women's ultimate. This isn't something that gets to happen much in Atlanta, and as the coach of both a college women's program and a girl's YCC team, I want us to be highly visible to the next generation. I'm uneasy about this decision given the AUDL's involvement, but I also want to demonstrate to the AUDL that there is unwaivering and enthusiastic support for women in ultimate across the country. I will say that if there is another AUDL-funded Eurostars tour next summer and the AUDL has STILL refused to make any commitment to work towards true equity, I would consider declining to participate. I want this tour to push the AUDL to take women in ultimate seriously and make real change going forward, not to just serve as an equity checkbox."
"I am playing because it is a great opportunity for visibility in the Midwest."
"It is incredibly difficult to pass an opportunity to hugely grow European women’s ultimate via visibility and elite showcasing as well as to pass up the chance to do that on stage in front of my own community. However, I align myself with the AUDL boycott and I do not support an organization that lacks an equitable structure and has yet to present a plan to work towards a more equitable structure in the future. I feel that the AUDLs sponsorship of 8 women’s showcase games is an empty gesture that lacks any sort of commitment to a more equitable professional league. Furthermore, I feel that the AUDL has changed the version of the game that I think best represents the values of the sport we play. I believe we can market our values-based, self-offfiated sport and do not have to transform to be more similar to other professional sports in an effort to gain viewership or profit."
"I have a bit of social capital in my community, especially re: equity issues. To me, my participation is a means through which to learn/reflect and to provide commentary to move us forward. I don't participate in AUDL events where women will not play. To me, these two things, juxtaposed, communicate that: 1. Representation of talented women at the professional level is an endeavor worth my/our time and sweat. 2. I prioritize equity/opportunity above outcome, and that it is both economically and ethically important to define "success" as such. 3. I am not satisfied with the current AUDL model.
These are based on the premise that people (all ages/genders) are ALWAYS watching, even if implicitly. By participating, I can comment on the opportunity, what it feels like to have a privilege, and subtleties regarding the event (for example: who stayed to listen to the spirit circle? who sold our tickets? What do logistics/resources look like when the AUDL sponsors and event compared to when they don't?). I can also contribute to a high level of play to show folks watching how bad-ass my teammates and I are. If I didn't play, I would not be able to use this platform in the same way."
"I am still boycotting the AUDL but I am participating in this game. I see this as an opportunity to provide more visibility to women in our sport. It is also a pivotal point in our season and extra practice opportunities will be huge for us. This is a very hard decision for me but I will continue to speak out on the gender inequities in our sport especially the AUDL’s role in these inequities."
"As someone who is trying to work from the “inside” of the AUDL in order to promote equity – including working towards the goal of gender equity in the professional space – the Eurostars Tour seems like an opportunity that is in line with that goal. Giving women the chance to feel what it’s like to play in front of a crowd and having costs taken care of…and having crowds feel what it would be like to watch elite women play…I’m hopeful that this leaves everyone wanting and demanding more. As a member of the DC Breeze Equity Committee, I do not feel like the Eurostars Tour is nearly enough and the rest of the committee and I will continue to push and push for more, but I am excited to play against such talented athletes in front of my family, friends, and especially younger female athletes, so that all of them can see that we deserve this all of the time."
Washington DC Scandal
"I am choosing not to participate in the Eurostars showcase game. I love playing in showcase games but feel that in the current format, our showcasing of women is not sustainable. I am in favor of a womens or mixed league that puts emphasis on continued support of all athletes."
"I’m playing because this is a great opportunity for the Seattle Ultimate Community and beyond to see us play locally. We rarely get the chance to play in Seattle where it’s accessible for fans to watch us. Additionally, this is great practice for Riot playing in a stadium and in front of a crowd and cameras for when we might be in these situations at other tournaments. I’m playing for the team to get more visibility out there, not necessarily for my individual gain in the sport."
"It was a hard decision to play, particularly because I signed on to the boycott of the AUDL. On one side, I know I’m playing into the hand of an organization that has failed to show any serious commitment to gender equity. On the other side, though this is an imperfect opportunity, it is still an opportunity to showcase women in ultimate. I’m trying not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
What tipped me over the edge in my decision is that a lot of my friends, people and players I deeply respect, decided to play with their respective teams. If they are able to hold the complexity of it, so can I. Best-case scenario, I'm hoping that the tour and the dialogue it sparks will be a platform to highlight the power of women in ultimate as players and as the architects of the future of the sport."
"I'm not playing because I am boycotting the AUDL and this is an AUDL sponsored event."
Boston Brute Squad