Word spread like wildfire over social media this weekend that Duncan Toys has made the decision to remove a huge number of players from their “Duncan Crew Worldwide” team of sponsored players, and reboot the team entirely.
It took ’em long enough.
Started 15 years ago by yours truly, Duncan Crew was a motley assemblage of who I considered to be the best and brightest players of the day. Old, young, seasoned and noobs all came together to form a worldwide group of players who inspired an entire generation of serious yoyo players and comptitors. I’ve always taken great pride in what I created, but I have to admit that I was disappointed when, after I left, someone didn’t burn the entire thing down and start over.
See, the thing about Duncan Crew is that it was my crew. I assembled it, I curated it, I managed it. It worked for me, because it was an extension of what I wanted yoyoing to look like. I could manage it, because it was created to suit my own strengths. When I left, I fully expected that the Crew would be disbanded entirely, or at least whittled down to just a tiny handful of people and then built back up later by my replacement. When Brandon Jackson was finally brought on board to fill the National Sales & Marketing Coordinator Position, I personally looked forward to him completely tearing down the entire Crew and building a new team that would carry Duncan forward with whatever vision he personally had for the company. Instead, the team got bigger.
Then Brandon shifted positions, and Augie Fash was brought in, and I got excited again. I spoke with Augie plenty of times when he took the job, about the Crew and about my recommendations for how he should manage it, and my recommendation was to kill the entire thing and start over with his team. Make it his own, make it an extension of what the brand and company looked like now, and make it relevant to the players of today. Every time I brought it up (usually over tacos at my house on Tuesdays, a standing tradition), he turned red and stuttered and got really embarrassed. Because he knew I was right but holy crap….who in their right mind wants to cut an entire team and start over? It might be the right thing to do but it’s pretty daunting to let go of that many people.
And as we can see, people really freak out when you do it. I have no idea what conversations or decisions at Duncan led to this massive carving down of their roster of sponsored players. Augie likes to chat about yoyos over tacos, but he’s always been very good about keeping Duncan’s business at the office. (Brandon did too, for that matter. Good guys, those two.) I don’t even want to get into a conversation about if it was handled right, as people are currently debating elsewhere. Maybe it could have been handled more gently, maybe it was good to just rip the bandage off quickly. I don’t know how I would have done it in his place, so I’m not going to question how Duncan chose to do it.
But what I do want to say is this: it was time.
It was time for Duncan Crew to be smashed to bits and made ready to become something else. It was time for a lot of players to get back out there and prove their worth again. It was time for a lot of the old gang to accept their new roles as mentors and advisors and organizers. And it was time for Augie to have a team that was his.
I don’t yet have the list of players who are moving forward with Duncan. I would imagine a couple of players who still have a spot might choose instead to give it up. It’s going to be a minute, I think, before things settle down and we get an official word from Duncan about what their team is becoming. But I will definitely say that I support progress, I support Duncan shaking things up a bit, and I absolutely support a Duncan team that is new, fresh, and ready to truly make the same level of contributions as the original Crew did. I’m super proud of what I created for Duncan…and I’m even more proud to see it turning in to something completely new.
Congratulations to Augie on doing a difficult job well. Congratulations to the players who remain. All my love to the players who held it down and supported one of the oldest brands in the world for the past 15 years.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.