FAQ: Advancing Gender Equity - Summer 2022

How is OCUA advancing gender equity in Summer 2022?
In support of our new Gender Equity Vision, OCUA is launching two new initiatives for the Summer 2022 mixed gender leagues:
1. Introducing new gender roster categories that are more inclusive of diverse genders 
  • Women, Non-Binary, and Two-Spirit (WN2): may include women (cis and trans), non-binary players, and two-spirit players
  • Open, Non-Binary, and Two-Spirit (ON2): may include men (cis and trans), women (cis and trans), non-binary players, and two-spirit players

2. Adopting WFDF Rule B (Endzone Chooses) as the default play format for 7v7 leagues

To learn more about gender and gender equity, please check out the resources listed at the bottom of our Gender Equity page.

How do the new gender roster categories create a more inclusive community?
Sports typically operate within a gender binary framework: women’s divisions, men’s divisions, and co-ed leagues. These new gender roster categories acknowledge that gender is a spectrum.  OCUA does not distinguish between cis- and trans- for purposes of roster categories.  Non-binary and two-spirit players may participate as their authentic selves, without having to conform to the man/woman binary in order to play Ultimate.  Instead, women, non-binary, and two-spirit members will have the choice of joining WN2 or ON2 based on their preferred and most appropriate match-up on the field.*
OCUA respects the gender identity of each of its members and will never require proof of gender.  We trust our members and expect gender identification and preferred match-up selection to be made honestly with Spirit of the Game in mind, and never with the intention of gaining an unfair advantage. 
*Please note: Our online registration system is currently unable to accommodate these changes, but we do not want this technological barrier to restrict positive change.  We are working hard to implement these changes on time for Summer registration but ask members to please bear with us as we make these adjustments. In the meantime, we encourage teams to start adopting these terms in practice (for example, while assembling team rosters and arranging for subs).

Why is there a need to change the on-field gender ratio?
7v7 mixed gender Ultimate has been played at OCUA with a 4O:3W on-field ratio (4 open players and 3 women players) for many years.  Inherently, this means that men and women are not afforded the same amount of field time.  A change is necessary to provide equal representation and playing opportunities for both genders.  Creating more opportunities for WN2 players will allow for organic growth of our WN2 membership and provide equity opportunities for all genders.

What were the possible solutions for on-field gender equity?
The World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF), the international governing body for flying disc sports, has introduced Ratio Rules A and B as two mechanisms for improving gender equity on the field that allow for both 4O:3W and 3O:4W ratios to be used as follows:.
  • Rule A (“prescribed ratio” rule):  At the start of the game, after the first disc flip, an additional disc flip happens with the winner selecting the gender ratio for the first point. For the second and third points the ratio must be the reverse of the first point. For the fourth and fifth points the ratio must be the same as the first point. This pattern of alternating the ratio every two points repeats until the end of the game (half time has no impact on the pattern). Ref WFDF Rules A6.2
  • Rule B (“endzone decides” rule): At the start of the game, after the first disc flip, an additional disc flip happens with the winner selecting which end zone is "End zone A", with the other end zone becoming "End zone B". At the start of each point the Team that is at End zone A must choose the gender ratio. This process applies for the first half. For the second half, at the start of each point the Team that is at End zone B must choose the gender ratio. Ref WFDF Rules A6.3
Both of these options offer advantages and disadvantages.  Rule A ensures that there will be gender-balanced play time within a game but may be difficult for some teams to fulfill without providing the flexibility and time to adjust rosters.  Rule B, by contrast, provides more flexibility but does not guarantee gender equity should teams continue to opt for the traditional 4O : 3W ratio.

What are other organizations doing?
There is a growing trend of Ultimate organizations in Canada choosing to advance gender equity in 7v7 mixed-gender play. Several, like OCUA, have chosen to implement Rule B: Toronto Ultimate Club (TUC), Vancouver Ultimate League (VUL), and Victoria Ultimate Player Society (VUPS), for example.  Peterborough Ultimate League (PUL), Waterloo Organization of Disc Sports (WODS), and Manitoba Organization for Disc Sports are using Rule A.  Many Ultimate Canada and WFDF sanctioned mixed-gender events follow Rule A.

Why was Rule B selected for Summer 2022?
OCUA is committed to achieving gender equity and plans to continue improving the recruitment and retention of women to the point that Rule A can be broadly adopted.  OCUA members have expressed a desire for gender equity but also requested time to adjust their rosters.  This is why OCUA has chosen to adopt Rule B for Summer 2022 as the first step of a transition plan towards Rule A in the coming years.  Rule B will move our organization in the right direction while providing flexibility.  From Summer 2023 onwards, the percentage of league offerings using Rule A will be increased in line with what is sustainable by membership demographics.  

How do the new gender roster categories affect the adoption of Rule B?
OCUA will incorporate our new gender roster categories into Rule B such that WN2 replaces Women and ON2 replaces Open.

What does adopting Rule B as the default play format mean?
Starting Summer 2022, OCUA will begin its shift towards truly gender-equitable on-field play:  Rule B, modified to use our new gender roster categories (ON2 and WN2), will replace the traditional 4O:3W as the default format of play.  Summer 2022 will begin our move towards on-field gender equity, encouraging equitable play time while providing flexibility and time for teams to adjust their rosters.  Rule A may be implemented to further advance gender equity using the Captain’s Clause if both teams are in agreement.  From Summer 2023 onwards, the number of Rule A league offerings will be increased in line with what is sustainable by membership demographics.  

How will the implementation of Rule B impact my existing team?
Teams are encouraged to build their roster so that they can comfortably field four WN2 players for at least a portion of each game.  Some teams will be ready and eager to have four WN2 players on the field already, while other teams may need time to adjust their rosters.  For most teams, Rule B will be more sustainable in the long term with the addition of one WN2 player to their normal roster, but it should be manageable most of the time without major roster adjustments.  Teams are encouraged to accommodate the players that each team is able to field so that games remain fun, safe, and inclusive.  Looking ahead, teams should plan to adjust their rosters to accommodate Rule A in the coming years.

What happens if one team has only three WN2 players available and the other team opts to play with 3 ON2 : 4 WN2 throughout the game?
This is a difficult situation, but we recognize this may occur from time to time for various reasons, including injury or illness.  Generally, we encourage teams to strive for on-field gender equity and use the 3 ON2 : 4 WN2 ratio often.  However, with Spirit of the Game in mind, we encourage teams to work together to find a solution.  
Choosing to play with 3 ON2 : 4 WN2  when the opposing team has only three WN2 players available would force the team with three WN2 players to play with only 6 players (3 ON2 : 3 WN2) as they will not be permitted to play with a fourth ON2 player. 
Note that points forcing a team to play with only 6 players could maximally happen for half the game, given that Rule B allows for setting the ratio at the beginning of each point and the team making the selection will alternate.  We expect these cases to be rare and are confident that teams will be able to work together to find the best approach.
To help avoid this situation, teams are recommended to have a minimum of four WN2 players attending each game.  Captains are encouraged to use the OCUA Spares List Facebook group to facilitate the recruitment of WN2 players as needed.  

Can the Captain’s Clause be used to change the gender ratio rule?
The simple answer is yes. 
  • The Captain’s Clause may be used to play Rule A if both teams prefer to implement full gender equity beyond the default Rule B.  We actually encourage this!
  • The Captain’s Clause may technically also be used to override Rule B. However, if both teams are wanting to play with a traditional 4 ON2 : 3 WN2 ratio, the Captain’s Clause is not necessary: Rule B already allows for this.  

How can teams efficiently communicate their gender ratio choices?
WFDF has created arm signals that can clearly indicate the gender ratio selection.  The team in the endzone deciding the gender ratio should have at least one player show the appropriate arm signal as early as possible as players head to the line.  Teams may wish to designate one player to be responsible for showing this signal throughout the game.  

How will OCUA know if teams are using Rule B to advance equity (as opposed to choosing the traditional play format)?
When submitting spirit scores after each game, there will be an additional question asking about the extent to which the game used the 4 WN2 option.  The answer to this question will have no impact on the spirit score; it is simply a convenient way to collect this information.
We are also planning a survey at the end of the summer season, to gather feedback about both initiatives. We look forward to hearing from you about what worked well and what else we can do to ensure this initiatives are successful.

Other questions?
Conversations about equity, diversity, and inclusion are constantly evolving.  We are collectively learning and striving for better within our organization.  If you have a question that has not yet been answered in this FAQ, please contact us at inclusion@ocua.ca.