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‘Our athletes are in control on the field’

‘Our athletes are in control on the field’

By Bill King, Senior Writer

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Tom Crawford
USA Ultimate CEO


In eight years as CEO of USA Ultimate, Tom Crawford has raised the sport’s profile dramatically, gaining acceptance by the International Olympic Committee and U.S. Olympic Committee and securing distribution of its three premier events on ESPN platforms, including ESPN2 and ESPNU. Now, he’s turning his eye toward the future — which might be coming to a sports multiplex near you.

“Kids are getting tired of the really competitive nature of some of the other sports at a very young age.”
Courtesy of: USA ULTIMATE
On the fit with today’s family: Kids are getting tired of the really competitive nature of some of the other sports at a very young age. You hear it a lot now. Youth sports is starting to fail. Kids are getting injuries. They’re getting burned out. They’re stressed out by coaches. We don’t have that. It’s still competitive and athletic as can be. But it’s a fun culture and sport for the kids.

On the benefits of playing without a ref: Our athletes are in control on the field. That is really special. It’s a very high level of responsibility that you don’t take on in other sports that we believe translates to kids. You’re learning conflict resolution while you’re having fun. So you end up believing you can resolve conflict in a friendly manner in an intense environment. If you can do it on the ultimate field, you can do it on the playground, in the classroom, in a city, in a company. The translation of that is really appealing to some of the brands we’re talking to [about sponsorships]. And also to the kids and parents. It is quite different.

On why it’s not Ultimate Frisbee: It’s strictly a trademark issue. It’s Wham-O having the trademark and us being careful. We had to label it ultimate to stay away from the trademark. … But stay tuned.
— Bill King


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