Monday, September 01, 2008

Is Canadian coed Juniors a problem?

This is a topic that one of my friends, Tom Walsh, started discussing with me. In Canada, the Junior competitions are mixed competitions with exception of the World competitions. This is true in high school Ultimate in Toronto, and I assume throughout Canada. The USA, in contrast, has a mixture of Open, Women's, and Mixed in their YCC competition and high school leagues. Other than Great Britain, I know very little about Junior programs throughout the world.

Pictured Above: Team USA Juniors in a pregame high five session.

The question is, as you may have guessed, is this predominant mixed program in Canada hurting the strength of Canadian Juniors in world competition, and potentially, in the transition from juniors to Club and College systems.

Let me start off by stating, the mixed division in the evolution of Ultimate has in many cases been a population thing. For example, if their are not enough players to form a womens team, then it's best to have a mixed team to involve everyone. Based on the sport not being that popular throughout the world and Canada, Canadian Junior teams are mixed because we don't have the numbers.

This is changing in major centers (Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Montreal) as the popularity of the sport increases within the high schools. As the numbers make it possible for both mixed and single gender, the question is should we be opening up these options over the next few years?

I don't feel that the division that Juniors play in is a major factor for the men on the team. The women, however, like in the mixed club division can be left out or forced out of the key instances withing the game that need to be experienced. The one thing that the jr. men might miss out on is learning to play secondary roles on the field (this, however, I believe is minor in terms of development).

Therefore, my stance on junior development is that the Jr. women will get the greatest benefit from splitting up of teams. In terms of competiting on the World stage, it's more important that the juniors get as much experience playing Ultimate and other sports as possible. If this experience is focused on developing fundamentals of good Ultimate, then things are better. After that, sheer populations within the game are the biggest factor in deciding how teams will do in major competitions.



The Pulse said...

Short answer: Yes

Longer answer: Coed teams are unfair to both the girls and a group of boys who want to start a team at their school (or in their area). Forcing a split of coed teams forces the rise of more girls teams and allows groups of boys who want to play to do so.