Thursday, January 9, 2014

Culture. Change. Women. Leaders.

by Mario O'Brien
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Watching these conversations unfold about women in Ultimate makes me so happy about where our sport is going. It might be easy for some to dismiss them as pointless online bickering. I’m not in that camp. I see this as growth, on so many levels. THESE CONVERSATIONS ARE CRITICAL TO THE GROWTH OF OUR SPORT AND COMMUNITY.

  • I see shoutouts to leaders (i.e. Gwen, Michelle, Miranda), evidence of the work they’ve put in over so many years.
  • I see those same leaders active in this conversation, they know its importance. They understand that this process is necessary for change. They’ve been on the front lines, leading the charge.
  • I see my peers (i.e. Ebae) learning without asking for it, that once you step into the light of the media, you have to be ready to take the heat, and also respond appropriately. Boom.
  • I see the Ultimate media, thanks for the platform, Ultiworld, keep it up.
  • I see the phrase “pro-ultimate”?!
  • I see us trying to find comparisons and similar models to other sports and businesses. We’re trying to understand it, because we want it to succeed.
  • I see myself now, and also my college self in 2002 who had no idea who Carleton or Sockeye were, and I see my vision of my role in Ultimate in 2022.
  • I see people and organizations all over the ultiweb blasting their support, taking a stand… for their friends, for themselves, for their community, for people who aren’t even born yet.

I’m once again reminded of how dope the Ultimate community is. There are so many levels to this whole picture, all of it makes me proud. That’s one thing I’ve started saying over the past few years, that I’m proud to be an ultimate player. That, for me, differentiates Ultimate from other sports. I never said to myself I was proud to be a basketball player, or proud of basketball as a community, even though I devoted most of my teenage years into it. I’m proud to be an Ultimate player, for all the reasons above, and for all the reasons I continue to pour myself into this community.

Cultural change (for a community or for an Ultimate team) doesn’t happen over night. It takes time and patience. It takes grit and courage, it takes conflicting ideas being confronted. It sometimes takes feelings getting hurt. It takes meaningful conversations. It takes leaders stepping up at the right time, saying things they believe in, taking action, inspiring others.

Ebae, you’re a baller, in so many ways.

Always Building,

Mario!