Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Junior party paradox

Well, it's time to start looking back at Worlds and form some opinions. And I'll start with the point that I think needs to be addressed first - the Junior party paradox.

Ultimate is hinged around having fun as well as competing, and this fun, in many cases, is manifested in the party. The parties are associated with alcohol.

Pictured Above: GB mixed in the first showcase game.

Even when you remove the party aspect of Ultimate, you'll notice that major Ultimate tournaments revolve around the beer garden or the keg, and many tournaments are sponsored by beer and alcohol companies. Tales of alcoholic consumption and epic parties are gladly passed on by participants.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with partying or drinking and the association with Ultimate. Heck, if we were getting money I would be happy to sponsored by cigarettes (that statement might not be completely true). The problem is mixing the association of Ultimate, alcohol, and Juniors.

As one of the adults in charge of a group of Juniors, I felt the association with partying and alcohol was inappropriate. A simple solution, I think, is Junior National and World events should be separated from the adult events much like they are in the UPA and off world years.

Pictured Above: Open New Zealand vs. Finland at worlds.

In the back of minds around the world, outcries are forming. Juniors need to be inspired by the high-level Ultimate. Juniors are young adults that if not experimenting with drugs and alcohol, are aware of there existence and role in our modern world. Peter, you're coming from a North American attitude that is more conservative on alcohol.

These all may be true, but I feel that Ultimate is crossing a line on a subject that is a parent's responsibility. Ultimate is good for teaching Juniors concepts such as conflict management, team work, and dedication, but those lesson's are where it should end.



Kyle Weisbrod said...

From my experience it is not difficult to set clear expectations for the Juniors players about what is/is not appropriate behavior at a tournament while underage and have them follow those expectations.

The UPA has conduct forms that the youth players sign that explicitly list out expectations and the consequences of not meeting those expectations.

I know that the players themselves enjoy the WUGC more than the WJUC because of the opportunity to mix with/watch the adult divisions and the larger number of countries represented. It would be a bummer for the Juniors to be separated from the adults when there are much simpler solutions that can be implemented by the organizers of the events and the teams:

- setting and holding players to reasonable conduct expectations
- providing alternative alcohol-free parties for the youth players
- checking id's for alchohol


Simon Talbot said...

It's an interesting issue, especially with the growth of junior ultimate this decade. In Australia we tend to let underage players into the parties, but have a wrist tag system or something like that in place. But teenagers will be teenagers, and they'll find ways around that. More than once I've seen underage players end up an absolute mess at parties/the next day.

I think the problem is that there's no explicit understanding of who is taking responsibility for them - their captains? Fellow players? Tournament organisers?

I like what Kyle pointed out - conduct forms. I believe they're in place here for Youth Nats and training camps and such, but not for Nationals and Mixed Nats.

Might be worth some more thought for us convicts.

Kyle Weisbrod said...

Simon, the UPA requires a chaperone form (and medical authorization form) for minor (17 or under) players at any UPA event. The chaperone basically signs saying that they will be responsible for the player.

Jeters said...

I still feel that regardless of steps taken to make the event have both an adult and young adult stream, we're still confronted with a message.

I would compare this to the advertisement laws that don't allow minors drinking alcohol. These advertisements send messages that societies think are incorrect.

My feeling is that Ultimate organizations should steer clear from this entire arena, and as Juniors and Youth ultimate grow, the simplest solution is separation.


jacko22 said...

As a Junior, I must say that I think my teammates and I, as well as the rest of the Canadian juniors scene, respect the boundaries set for us at the tournaments we go to, where there are very obviously wild parties taking place without us. The truth is that an overwhelming majority of the Juniors I know and talk to do drink, some regularly and some not so much. At Canadian Nats, the juniors get a party after their finals, and this year anyways, there wasn't any drinking. I don't want to be separated from the other divisions, and I really don't think it's necessary.

don't worry, we'll get over not going to your parties.