The Los Angeles Organization of Ultimate teams (LAOUT) believes that every individual should have opportunities to play the sport of ultimate. As such, LAOUT will promote, create, and consider programming and partnerships with the goal of making our community and sport more equitable for people of all genders.
How is equity different than equality? Equity acknowledges the historic and current conditions that have marginalized people, and attempts to amend these past and current injustices and biases. Equality, however, assumes that everyone comes from the same playing field and deserves equal treatment. Equality fails to acknowledge that others come from disadvantaged and marginalized positions.
Is this a new problem? Why are so many people talking about this now?
Gender inequities exist in many areas and have existed for centuries, ultimate is not alone. However, because ultimate has grown exponentially in recent years (think ESPN, Pro leagues), in many ways, gender inequities have also become more visible. Female athletes have tried for years to bring attention to this topic, but only now has it gained traction and critical mass from the community.
How is gender inequality playing out in the Los Angeles Ultimate Community?
Across LAOUT’s leagues, the participation by gender is approximately 70% male and 30% female. And we’d like to see this change to grow and retain more women.
I’m not actively part of the problem because I am not sexist, does this really affect me?
The problem is that inequities exist between female and male ultimate players. Gender inequity is a system of power relations where one group is thought of as superior to the other. Just by participating in this system as is, you’re contributing to these inequities. So, even if you don’t use slurs related to gender, you are still participating in a system that discriminates based on gender. It is also important to recognize that overt and subtle forms of sexism exist.
I want to take steps to make womens and mens ultimate more equitable, how do I do this? There is no single answer, **but we’re glad you’ve asked. The LAOUT Gender Equity committee has prepared the following 10 suggestions as a way to start educating our captains and our community on how to move towards a more equitable sport.
#1: Get to know the women on your team, offer to throw with them, and after the game make sure they’re invited to the bar.
#2: Amplify what a woman says in your huddle like ‘I agree with Jane, we should…’
#3: On the line, ask a woman what offense or defense she thinks you should run and have her to call the positions.
#4: During a set play, give a woman a central role to play, like the ISO.
#5: Identify veteran players and ask them to mentor newer players. Designate them a single sideline buddy and filter the team’s feedback through that person so the new player doesn’t get conflicting messages.
#6: Throw to the women on the field, and then, give them space to throw. Don’t assume they need a dump right away, yelling for the disc and clogging their throwing space with your defender.
#7: Trust your newer players. They won’t improve unless they’re utilized. Encourage them that it’s OK if they throw it away — we just want them to throw it.
#8: In front of your team, praise a woman for her contributions on the field, like a great cut, awesome defense, or difficult catch — even if it wasn’t perfect, or resulted in a turnover.
#9: When a woman makes a call on the field, back her up, and encourage opposing teams to do the same.
#10: Identify female leaders on your team and encourage their honest feedback and contributions early on. Ask them what you’re not seeing on the field.
#11: If you get feedback that makes you defensive, instead of responding, consider why it makes you feel that way and what you can do to improve.
If you have questions or want to get involved, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
* Source – Upwind Ultimate
** Source – Dallas Ultimate