Colorado Springs, Colo. (December 7, 2020)—As USA Ultimate continues to plan for the 2021 season, the competition working group met virtually last weekend to review community feedback, continue its ongoing discussions and make decisions about competition in a year that is sure to be impacted by the enduring COVID-19 pandemic.
The group – consisting of player-elected reps, national-level volunteers, staff and board members – represents the various competitive divisions of USA Ultimate (youth, college, club, masters and beach). Over the course of division-specific meetings throughout the last several weeks and as a larger competition working group this past weekend, they considered an assortment of topics, including events and scheduling, eligibility, rostering, competition structures and more.
Although several decisions were made, particularly in regards to the upcoming college season, USA Ultimate will continue to remain flexible in light of the sustained uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. The need to adapt competition structures to the current environment will continue to be emphasized until a vaccination is widely available to the general public. Additionally, as sports continue to return, USA Ultimate is in the process of evaluating and updating its Return to Play guidelines in consultation with its medical working group.
“We want to extend our sincere thanks to the entire competition working group for all their great work and input,” commented USA Ultimate Chief Executive Tom Crawford. “Once again, as they do every year, they demonstrated an incredibly generous spirit through many hours of meetings and deliberations, and great wisdom in helping us to continue to advance the sport during very challenging times. We are incredibly appreciative of their efforts and had another great weekend, albeit entirely remote.”
All planning for the youth, college, beach, masters and club divisions will remain flexible to account for USA Ultimate’s Return to Play guidelines, local health and safety regulations and the level of interest expressed by participating teams. Competition guidelines for all divisions are expected to be published in early 2021.
As always, USA Ultimate will continue to prioritize the health, safety and well-being of its members and the greater ultimate community, and consider feedback from its stakeholders when making decisions about future competitive opportunities. As the upcoming season unfolds, USA Ultimate will continue to inform the community about future decisions and updates.
See below for the latest updates to USA Ultimate competition in 2021.
- The postseason championship series has been rescheduled for the fall, including the college championships and any qualifying events, such as conferences and/or regionals. In the coming months, USA Ultimate will review and evaluate the potential challenges associated with this decision (school calendars, weather, competition venues, etc.) and minimize conflicts with the club series. Considerations will be further impacted by the ability to provide broad and equitable playing opportunities, school policies regarding club sports participation and the scope of fall competition leading up to the series.
- Eligibility has been extended by one year for all players who are within their five-year eligibility window in the spring of 2021. (This explicitly includes those who were granted an extension in the spring of 2020.)
- A modified and flexible college season offering alternative playing opportunities with local or regional play is being planned for the spring of 2021, subject to USA Ultimate’s Return to Play guidelines and local health and safety restrictions.
- USA Ultimate will examine ways to encourage and support the sustainability of all college programs, including those that are unable to participate in spring competition.
- Read more about the college working group’s recommendations adopted by USA Ultimate.
- High School and Middle School State Championships will be planned in conjunction with local organizers for the late spring. Based on the local nature of these events, their timing and format can be planned with flexibility to account for health and safety conditions.
- The Youth Club Championships will again occur as part of the U.S. Open in early August. Discussions are ongoing with regards to registration deadlines and flexible eligibility rules.
- The annual USA Ultimate Beach Championships are being planned for May of 2021 with extended registration guidelines, allowing for the latest health and safety information to be considered by organizers and teams.
- The USA Ultimate Masters Championships are being planned for July of 2021 with ongoing discussions regarding regional qualifying and registration deadlines.
- The Triple Crown Tour regular season and the postseason championship series are being planned for the summer and fall of 2021 respectively.
- Team rostering rules and event requirements will provide significant flexibility.