TCT Event Schedule, Gender Ratio, Roster Limits, More Discussed

Colorado Springs, Colo. (January 31, 2020) – USA Ultimate’s Competition Working Group met in Denver in early December for its annual meeting to discuss various aspects of the sport’s competition structure across its five primary divisions – youth, college, club, masters and beach. The meeting included 10 USA Ultimate staff members and 29 key volunteers, including national and regional directors, two members of the board of directors and representatives from several of USA Ultimate’s state-based organizations. Following the meeting and beginning with the club division, we are releasing summaries of each smaller group’s discussion. The youth competition, beach, masters and college recaps will be released in the coming weeks. 

The club working group consists of USA Ultimate Manager of Competition and Athlete Programs – Club Carolina Gonzalez-Llanos; three national directors – National Women’s Director Kate Wilson, National Mixed Director Remy Schor and National Men’s Director Adam Goff – and two elected player representatives from each gender division: women’s division representatives Amber Sinicrope and Akina Younge, mixed division representatives Madison Olesen and Sarah Meckstroth, and men’s division representatives Andrew Francis and Chris Novielli.

2019 Club Working Group
L-R (standing): Goff, Wilson, Francis, Novielli, Olesen, Younge
(kneeling): Schor, Sinicrope, Gonzalez-Llanos, Meckstroth

The Club Working Group discussed the 2020 Triple Crown Tour (TCT) schedule. The 2020 schedule will look similar to the 2019 calendar, with the regular season ending the weekend before Labor Day for teams not participating in the Pro Championships. After discussing the 2019 event schedule, the number of major TCT events and required events for each flight will remain the same. The group discussed potentially adding events or splitting some of them geographically. However, after analyzing player feedback surveys and evaluating the potential effects of adding more events, the group decided it was more important to focus efforts on finding accessible, high-quality event sites rather than changing the event structure. The group also wanted to leave space in the calendar for local, independent events to continue to operate as an important part of the TCT’s regular season schedule. TCT events for 2020 will include Pro-Elite Challenge, Select Flight East and West, U.S. Open, Elite-Select Challenge and Pro Championships. The TCT major event dates and locations will be announced later this winter. 

The group agreed to begin a transition for the mixed division’s gender ratio rule. In 2019, the “Genzone Decides Rule” was in effect, based on the World Flying Disc Federation’s Ratio Rule B for the mixed division. USA Ultimate’s genzone rule reads as follows:

15. Mixed Division Gender Ratio

  • a.  The gender ratio for the mixed division of the Triple Crown Tour regular season and postseason will be 4/3 (four men and three women or four women and three men). 
  • b.  At the start of the game, after the first disc flip, an additional disc flip happens with the winner selecting which end zone is the “Genzone.” At the start of each point, the team that is at the genzone must choose the gender ratio. This process applies for the entire game (the “Genzone Decides Rule”).

The Genzone Decides Rule will continue to be in effect for all TCT events, with the exception of the U.S. Open in 2020. The U.S. Open will utilize WFDF Rule A, which is consistent with WFDF’s move to Rule A for 2020 international events and allows top U.S. teams to gain some experience with the rule. Rule A creates a more equitable gender balance on the field in mixed play, and will create incentives for more gender-balanced mixed rosters. The rule is as follows from WFDF’s Rules of Ultimate Appendix: 

A7.2.1. At the start of the game, after the first disc flip, an additional disc flip happens with the winner selecting the gender ratio for the first point. For the second and third points the ratio must be the reverse of the first point. For the fourth and fifth points the ratio must be the same as the first point. This pattern of alternating the ratio every two points repeats until the end of the game (half time has no impact on the pattern).

USA Ultimate will be exploring a move to Rule A for future years, potentially including all major TCT events in 2021, and will look to expand further in 2022. An informed decision on the transition timeline will be announced after further analysis of club rosters across divisions and assessing the potential impact on participation, and will also include outreach to teams for feedback. 

Additionally, event roster limits were adjusted for all club events. Starting in 2020, mixed teams must have a minimum of five man-matching players and five woman-matching players for all sanctioned regular season and postseason events. The club working group would also like for USA Ultimate to consider increasing the roster minimum from 10 players to 12. This recommendation will be discussed with the college, youth and masters divisions’ working groups, as well as the medical working group, to ensure all divisions have similar expectations for regular season and series events. Additionally, all event rosters will have a new maximum of 26 players (previously 27). This allows for gender balanced rosters in the mixed division and moves the roster limit down slightly, working towards a potentially lower limit in the future that could support the formation of more teams over time. Season roster limits (30) have not changed.

This year, at the U.S. Open Club Championships, USA Ultimate will start incorporating international games into the rankings algorithm, and those games will count towards a team’s final season game count. This change was made after consultation with the rankings working group, and will both add data to the rankings of teams at the U.S. Open and help mitigate the rankings impact for U.S. teams with games scheduled against international competition. 

The group agreed to continue inviting up to 16 teams to regionals in the women’s division, regardless of the number of teams at sectionals (i.e. not using regional scaling). The rule helps address the small size of some of our regional events and the quality of all sectional events. The rule only applies to the women’s division. 

For all postseason events, the group has commissioned the start of a separate task force to explore sliding scales for bid fees based on the distance needed to travel. This task force will be headed up by the National Mixed Director, Remy Schor.

Sectional boundaries in some regions are being reconsidered. Sections being looked at are in areas where the number of teams in a section is low, and combining sections would not create inconvenient travel for teams attending. Any changes will be evaluated with the relevant area coordinators and communicated to all affected teams well in advance of the beginning of the regular season and before any sectional events are set. Regional boundaries will remain the same. 

The working group began exploring the possibility of adding more teams at the National Championships. The group is aware of the logistical challenge of adding more teams to any venue, including the impact on competition schedules, media coverage, the spectator experience and the TCT flight and event structure. This discussion will continue with input from a variety of stakeholders. 

Player rep elections will be adjusted in several ways, with the goal of increasing equitable participation in the process and the effectiveness of the player rep role:

  • Starting with the 2020 elections, club working group player representatives will serve terms of three years (previously two years) to allow more continuity in discussion from year to year. 
  • Voting will take place two out of every three years. 
  • Nominations and voting will now coincide with postseason rostering.
  • Voting will move from a strict one-vote-per-team submitted by a team manager, to a weighted voting system where player votes will carry a percentage of their team’s overall vote. 

Stay tuned to for more updates from the 2019 Competition Working Group meeting.

2019 Competition Working Group