We take a quick break from our 2018 Un-Draft for a reader submission from Sydney Suns player and Australian representative Mike Neild with his thoughts on the upcoming AUL draft.
You know that thing people say about the line between sport and entertainment being blurred? It’s some kind of debate or discussion about whether amateur sport is for the players or the fans. Amateur participation sport as opposed to professional spectator sport.
It’s not a discussion that Ultimate Frisbee has historically had to worry too much about. For example, the only time Alex Ladomatos and Eshan Wickrema were asked any questions on camera during their 2016 Dingo campaign was when they were pulled into a product review commercial for conditioner on the streets of Santa Monica while waiting to catch a plane to TEP in Colombia.
The general public is only aware of Sarah Wentworth’s incredible level of hand eye coordination and physical speed because she was skilled enough to win $50 000 on Channel 7s Minute to Win it a while ago.
And, they still haven’t made any baseball style player trading cards for Tim Lavis to collect, of himself.
There has been very little blurring of the sport/entertainment line in Ultimate. Now though, oh yes now, things are starting to change. The AUL is here to shift our little sporting world sideways, and hopefully forwards, into the bright lights of entertainment.
People are clicking ‘like’ and purchasing subscriptions at a rate that has never been seen in Australian Ultimate before. I’m excited, I am also however, concerned. I’m concerned about the league’s ability to bring enough entertainment to justify the support. I’m concerned that all we really know how to do is the sport bit, and the show time, the intrigue, the entertainment, might be left a little underdone.
The solution is Rod Phillips.
The Melbourne Flames should select Rod Phillips with pick number 12 in the AUL draft next week.
As you all know there is only one royal family of Australian Ultimate Frisbee - The Shepherds; Owen, Ken, Warwick & Yvonne - Royalty.
After that though, Australian Frisbee’s darling family is probably the Dowles? Pretty incredible, 9 Dingo Caps, 4 Crocs, 1 Barramundi, plus all the teams that Nick played on.
Anyway the point is that Rod has a lot to add to a team, seriously. He’s been to a lot of frisbee stuff with Michelle and Cat, and he has a great vibe about him. Positive yet uncompromising, and a handshake with a healthy dose of eye contact. Actually though, it’s good, you can feel that he really supports your effort, but also that his expectations of performance are quite high. It’s a great thing to have around a team.
It would also be a first class power move by a team. It’s kind of like saying, ‘we are so confident in the calibre of our roster that we can afford to pick the middle aged father of one of our players as our 14th member of the team despite the fact that his ability to compete on the field is unlikely to be high enough to ever put him onto the line’. Power. Move.
I could genuinely respect the audacity and straight up confidence of a team willing to make that statement. You know that if Joan Tulett was available in the draft the Sydney Suns would do it.
Finally given that four of the four AUL organisers live and operate in Melbourne, it is kind of incumbent on them to provide the hype and narrative required to shift this whole thing into the entertainment category. Rod Phillips selected on the Melbourne line up is that hype, it is that narrative.
They could do it, they should do it, they must do it.