Down under, we are facing some growing pains.
In the old days, if you wanted to compete in an event, you pretty much could, whether that was league, or playing for Australia. No broken hearts back then, but no World Championship medals either.
But now some of our players and teams who make a concerted effort (time, effort, money, dreams) are missing out. There is more competition among players seeking to play at certain levels: leagues, club teams, demo games, representing Australia, even getting to play the Melbourne Hat.
We have partly addressed or dodged this problem at times as our sport grows: increasing team numbers at AUGs, larger Nationals, more players per team, more Australian representative teams (six this year compared to two in 1998).
And it isn't comfortable to turn away someone when Aussie ultimate is such a social community, the player is a mate, and they are used to playing if they want to.
But I do feel we can move to accepting the systems where teams and players have to qualify to play. It will require bringing more professional approaches into our volunteer organisations: documenting and publicising qualification requirements, using late fees to encourage early payment/deposits, giving volunteers clearly defined job descriptions and responsibilities, writing selection policy, etc.
I've missed on Australian teams and Green & Gold teams. And I know that not all my friends can be selected to represent Australia at WUGC2008.
So how to deal with not achieving a goal which lies partly in the hands of others?
I feel that Americans often embrace the story of the comeback - a player who doesn't make the cut on a sports team recognises that competing for spots makes the team strong, and will work hard to qualify next time. And this is a good thing. Many of their cultural stories and touchstones relate to falling short then getting back up again: Michael Jordan, John Travolta, Al Gore, Apple and Steve Jobs. Writers can even see such stories coming and how they will turn out.
So for the individuals missing out on qualifying for Nationals/making an Australian team/playing Division 1 league, what now?
There are others in the same boat - chat with them.
Get feedback on how to improve your chances next time.
Readjust your goals. If your team doesn't qualify for Nationals, plan for NZ Open, Kaimana, or Walkabout events. If you don't make an Australian team in 2008, think about joining the support teams, or going to Asia-Oceania Championships or Beach Worlds (as some folks did). Or reset your focus on the next opportunity to make that team/tournament.
And keep working.