When My Boycott Will End
By Ben Snell, December 15, 2017
I signed the boycott, played in the AUDL the past 3 seasons, and acknowledge that this is a vastly complex issue. These ideas are only representative of myself.
My boycott of support, consumption, and participation in/for the AUDL will end when the AUDL makes a statement that it intends to work towards true gender equity on a reasonable timeline.
I am not naive to the fact that change takes time. I never signed the boycott with the immediate "all or nothing tomorrow" intent that some have interpreted the statement to be nor do I want to shy away from future conversation with the AUDL. I don't want to destroy the AUDL. I don't think its owners/employees/players/fans are wrong or bad people by supporting it. My boycott is not meant as an attack on the AUDL but a vocal removal of my support that hopes to help influence positive social change.
I signed the boycott because my belief is that we have an opportunity to stop the perpetuation of gender inequity in our sport in the (relatively near) future. I have the immense privilege to be able to have a small influence in this matter by choosing to attach my name to this boycott and vocally advocate for the league to change its policy. I signed the boycott because female athletes deserve the same opportunities as male athletes and I value seeing them on the field. I signed the boycott because if I was a woman, I would want to have the same opportunities as my male peers.
I currently do not believe the AUDL, as a whole, intends to work towards being a truly equitable league and I believe that the current version of the AUDL, even with the beneficial steps it is taking to promote women in Ultimate, will continue to increase and solidify the gender gap that we witness presently in Ultimate and certainly in other sports. I have a true appreciation for the franchises and owners who have been working from within the AUDL to make gender equity a reality. That being said, they need help influencing those who do not share this belief. That is where the market - both the players and the fans - can step in to help shift internal perspectives in order to create a change in the product. I see the boycott as a meaningful way to attempt to influence the market until the product represents something that aligns, or will align eventually, with the values that I support. I choose to vocalize my dissent with the hopes that enough other potential-AUDL-supporters share my belief and together we can enact change at a realistic point in the future.
If the AUDL was to release a formal statement with an action plan to work towards true equity - not just the promotion of women's Ultimate - I would return to supporting the league (and consider once again trying out to play in it) for as long as it maintained its course toward equity. I understand that the AUDL is an extremely complex for-profit business and if it decides to not strive towards equity in the future then that is their prerogative but it will come without my support.
Finally, my personal opinion in regards to the way to create equity is that the AUDL should go mixed. It seems to me to be the most viable business option that aligns with equity. From a player perspective I would be as invested in an AUDL mixed team (if I was selected) as any open club team I would/will play on and would happily promote the league to friends and family already within the community and outside of the community. I would opine that many players who are members of the boycott would do the same.
Ben Snell plays for Seattle Sockeye, has played with the Seattle Cascades, and coaches Ingraham High School and Seven Hills Red boys teams.