The OSC Interview: Former UFL Writer Dusty Sloan
by Fran Stuchbury
August 24, 2012 - United Football League (UFL)
OurSports Central contributor Fran Stuchbury had the chance to speak to former United Football League Chief Content Writer Dusty Sloan. Sloan worked for the UFL during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Fran Stuchbury: How did you get involved with working for the United Football League?
Dusty Sloan: I was extremely fortunate to know Nation Hahn, who was the UFL's Director of Digital Media Enterprises and who started the fansite UFL Access, when he joined the league. We both have a love of alternative football, and I started to write for Access in 2009. When Nation joined the UFL in 2010, he said he would do what he could to get me in the league, knowing my writing expertise and alternative football knowledge would be a benefit to the league. I joined the UFL in July of 2010 as one of a few writers, then quickly proved myself and became the league's Chief Content Writer in August of 2010.
FS: When you started writing articles how would you describe your experiences dealing with coaches, players and front office people?
DS: That experience over two seasons and an offseason was great. It was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to work for a league like the UFL, and to be able to call Head Coaches like Jim Fassel, Dennis Green, Marty Schottenheimer, etc., and get their thoughts on the league and football in general was very exciting for a football junkie like me. The players were awesome, too. They were courteous, they were accommodating, and I can't recall a time when I was turned down for an interview. Front office people, both at the league and team level, were helpful, as well, as we were able to give fans a better look at the inner workings of both levels when I was able to speak to those folks.
FS: Describe your experience when you were flown down to Omaha to cover the UFL Championship game.
DS: Being from a small town (Ashland, Ohio) and knowing just the small-town newspaper life, flying to places such as New York City for a PR meeting or Las Vegas or Omaha for games was foreign to me. Being in the middle of the action for a professional football league was intoxicating. The experience of seeing an entire week's activities in Omaha for the 2010 title game - from media day on Monday to the staff dinners to the Thanksgiving outreach at a local homeless shelter to the game itself - was something I never will forget. It was a great time.
FS: What is the time period when you started being owed money by the UFL? Did it start during the UFL second season? Also how much money does the UFL owe you?
DS: I was an independent contractor during my entire time being employed by the UFL. Being paid monthly for more than a year's time (working from July 2010 to October 2011, minus a six-week furlough), I can count on one hand the number of times I was paid in what I would consider a reasonable amount of time. But, eventually, I always got what I was owed - until the end of last season. I am owed $5,000, for the last two months I worked for the league - September and October of 2011.
FS: What kept you doing work for the UFL during the third season, when you were not getting paid for it?
DS: I never had a thought that I wouldn't get paid eventually, because I always did. So that wasn't an issue - I've been a professional sports writer for more than half of my life, and I always approach every job the same. Perhaps, in the future, I will have a little more reticence because of my experience in the UFL, but I hope not. I'd hate to have that in the back of my head.
FS: How much of a strain has the money owed to you by the UFL put on your life?
DS: This is the part of professional sports a lot of people don't see. Due to my earlier furlough and the uncertainty of the UFL going into the 2011 season, I was forced to get a second job at the Domino's Pizza here in Ashland, and I did both jobs during the 2011 UFL season. When I started that job, we were $4,000 in debt - due in large part to the UFL's financial issues. I heard God telling me that I needed to work both jobs to get our financial house in order. I did, but the UFL didn't keep its end of the bargain. Through hard work (both myself and my wife, Mandy, work at Domino's), we got our debt down to a manageable level, and paid off all money we owed our relatives. But then, we had a $2,400-plus tax burden, federal and Ohio combined, we had to pay by April 17 this year because of the self-employment tax levied on me for being an independent contractor. Once again, we had to scratch and claw with the money we were making in order to pay that tax bill on time.
If the UFL had paid me in full for what I had worked for, the debt and the tax burden both would have been much less of a non-issue.
FS: I'm sure you reached out to the numerous times to the UFL asking about getting paid the money owed to you. Did you ever hear back from anyone?
DS: I have, and had gotten little response until recently. I am told they are trying to making things right. I don't know why they haven't been able to until now, and that is something I would like to know - if those who run the UFL honestly can't pay their debts off, why is that? If it is a legitimate reason, that's fine. If it is because they don't want to lose any more money, that is unacceptable. Who knows who among those who also are owed money might have a worse financial plight because of it than we do/did? The right thing to do is bring everyone caught up financially, and I have prayed that not just for me, but everyone.
FS: Did you have discussions with anyone else that is still owed money by the UFL?
DS: I knew of at least three people who still are owed money, but it's not something that comes up in conversation much.
FS: Do you feel the UFL should play a fourth season only if all past debts are paid?
DS: Yes. Because one can say a fourth season could allow the league to bring money in to pay down debts, but did the second and third seasons do that? The UFL would be well-served to get its financial house in order, get even with debts and play season No. 4. And if they do, I will watch the games I can, and probably go back to tracking every transaction and statistic for the historical record. If a fourth season is played without myself or anyone else's debt being paid, I won't watch a down and won't waste my time keeping track of anything - which, trust me, is a difficult thing for me to do.
FS: What advice would you give anyone who wants to work for the UFL or a UFL team this season?
DS: I would tell them that it is a great job opportunity, but I would ask a lot of questions about the financial stability of the team in general and the league as a whole. Anyone who works for the UFL going forward, until the league proves it has financial stability, should have another job and a lot of money saved up in the bank.
The UFL did not return a call seeking comment.
• Discuss this story on the United Football League message board...
United Football League Stories from August 24, 2012
- The OSC Interview: Former UFL Writer Dusty Sloan - OSC Original by Fran Stuchbury
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.