Wednesday, January 2

"Why [Ultimate **]ck[ed] in [2012]"

-DJ Shadow.


Well, where do I play, where do I aim to play?
What are my dreams for myself in this sport as I begin my journey?
What about my opponents?

These questions, answered, are the basis of an ultimate player's mindstate.

Well, how do I want "ultimate" to be used within society?
How do I want "ultimate" to affect humanity and in what contexts?
To what degree for each person who comes in contact with it?
Fan, player? Coach, Owner? Young Fan, Old Fan? Historian?
First-Time Viewer/Encounterer/Player?

These questions, answered, will reveal idealogical associations with this sport.

What are the investments required for each? What are the returns on those investments?
How much time does it take for a player to compete? How much does that opportunity cost?
How about the fields, the organizers? How much time does it take for them?
What does it cost? What about food, what about training, what about money?

These questions, answered, are the basics of a couple different types of organizations. Or governing bodies. Or... however people are related to "ultimate" in the future. The natural result is an alignment of interests.

A National Governing Body for the sport. USABasketball-style. US Lacrosse.
A Professional League. NBA-style. MLS. Minor Leagues of semi-pro sports/levels.
A Players' Association. A Union, in some cases. An outside "Club" sport atmosphere. Sometimes the sport gets associated with Colleges (NCAA) at the highest levels.The NCAA is a beast unto itself.  (Ultimate should steer as far clear of the NCAA as possible...)

There are also international sports which are (More) profitable in other countries (Soccer, Handball) or require international travel (Skiing, Surfing) or whatever. These are all asports at which, to some degree, you can "make a living". Ultimate is not that yet.

Back to the point, There Once Was an Organization called "The UPA". I have some of their literature here. Some "Magazines" and some on actual "newspaper" stock.
I have some memories of mine about them here. Or from its world. The last of it. Or what there was here before this.

Nothing but Flowers, said the Talking Heads.


The morning started with 16 teams in 4 pools. winners up, losers down.

We were a late-arriving for a our second-round game team of recently-ex-somethings as some seasons were over and (Gone 'Til November) now free-agents, and other careers were over years ago and others and others who were once recently or not-so-recently something of a something at this sport. And then there was Johnny Pivotfoot himself.

Two fellas show up. Say someone on our team sent them.
Rosencrance is not on the team any more. Judsonstern is.
Either way, they were sent for. Do not offend the ultimate gods.

Sometimes the ultimate gods do not smile upon you.  But you must never not-smile upon them.  Lessons from Evil-Genius JG, rephrased.  Respoken.  Repeated until nothing but mumbles.  A mantra, then.  Or now.

This determines who enteres the next round robin!

First round, well, we had to call a timeout to introduce ourselves, and we were playing like we didn't know we were any good. And it was rather windy. And the other team was runnning, and most of us were getting on the field right after getting out of the car. And and and something something something.

Either way, the other team played better. They won, we lost. We then got distracted by something shiny. Next game.

We win this one by playing be(tt)er ulitmate from the jump because unlike at the beginning of our day, our sideline is full of enough folks that unless you go on a run of *D* points, you won't get to stay on. Many people don't seem to realize this. If you trot back on offense, you're not likely to play any points. Which is good. Although the time on the sideline can get cold. And if everyone takes 1 "its windy" turnover, well, we'll throw a lot of turnovers. There is a percentage completion rate below which if you fall as a thrower/team, you need to move on to "if there is a chance it is incomplete it should be as far away from my/our endzone as possible."


The Best Rule In Ultimate: The Pick-6 or "Anchor" Rule. If you intercept a pass on D, until someone on the other team touches you, you are not required to set a pivot foot. If you run into the endzone, your team scores one point.

Huh. Anchor Rule.

I'll take the patent, Thanks.
And the Hashtag: #AnchorRule

Just call me the ultimate godfather.


On different teams, this takes different forms w/r/t strategy. Some teams have throwers who love over-the-top/intermediate breaks to some-what covered teammates. Some teams have dominant deeps. Some teams are disproportionately good at coming down with "hospital passes" (those plays where there are a handful of players stand at the disc's landing spot and some late-arriver comes to sky the shit out of them) Some teams are great at realizing that in a lot of these situations, there are tipped discs. Tipped discs can be anticipated to differing percentages and planned for/practiced.  Shout to RIOT who was the best team I saw in 2012 at effectively playing these tips.

This is the beauty of sport-strategy. There are a finite number of possibilities. You practice them. You design for them. You build your team around that core understanding of what it is that we do and how it is that we do it. These are the things that happen in ultimate. These are the ways that we approach them. This is us. "Thank the Lord fahlettinwe be weselves" @wzzntzz.

This is our flow of energy,
This is how we impose it on you.

"We don't all get one!" Screamed a possibly apocryphal Monkeyboy Rickets at some point in the past (wait, isn't every story about the past? Or at least a future imagined in the past? What is the constant? Well, it is the same constant between people. Over time and space. So they say. So say we all?)

Then we played the last round, and we were up something like 7-3. Then we were down 12-8? A good anti-run. Well, by the team, at least. I went on a 3-0 run to start the game. Had another 2-0 run at some point. Not sure what everyone else is doing. That's right, I talk smack to Pivotfoots. Oh wait, I recall:
This was fueled by some #fuckface who showed up as a replacement for my ex-teammate from 2006 who I'm pretty sure we didn't need a replacement for. His play was less-than inspired and presence less than humorous. Not good.

Anyway, we lost the game.


This determines who enters the next flight of play!

Maybe they were thinking about it, maybe they weren't. But in each division,a couple of things have been set now:

1. The teams that can use the US Open as the best tryout tourney of the season are decided.
No, USAUltimate, we don't care about your July tournament. The real championships are in October. Stop pussy-footin' around with tournaments that are fun and all, but carry no weight. If this is gonna be a showcase, it needs to be when teams are in-tune w/ one another. Not when they're tuning up and haven't yet set their rosters. Double-peak is a real issue. Single-peak, annual competition is what sports rely on. Ultimate isn't like tennis.

(Well, it is, but there is a Majors Season and a "rest of the year". We currently have one real championship and a bunch of major/minor tourneys. Like a Pyramid Scheme. Any proposal I had for the perfect way of playing "amature" ultimate would sound a lot like a Pyrimid Scheme.)

Unless we start playin one game per every other day over a fortnight. That would be cool. Then we could cut rosters down to 20 or fewer. Maybe "active roster" per game of 17, total roster of 20? Now we're talking NexMaudLU. Be careful. Yours is a vertical game, USAUltimate. Pro-ultimate is a horizontal game. Look at the field size!

Or is it the diagonal game that truly makes The Wider Field so different?
For all of ultimate, is is the relative usefulness of various arcs stretched over the field.
And of course that peksy "overhead/hammer" helix and re-helix, in the parlance of our times.

A model for(AND/OR)of complex particle interactions, for sure.

2. The teams that get to choose (upward/downward) their level of play are decided.

You can play at whatever lower level tourney you want, but you can't play at higher level tourneys. I would hav eliked the USAU to so something more like mandating a useful power-pool/play-up tourney format for non-series events. If we're going to make the rewards for playing well in 2012, what happens to you in 2013, we should at least work to mitigate this for the sense of competition on a year-to-year basis. Sometimes teams really drop-off (because people move from place to place in the US at the same age that they're best suited to play ultimate) and other random teams really improve. Even over the course of a single weekend, sometimes very good teams just play terribly and other mid-level teams play great. IOn a given weekend, everyone should get a shot at the top by working their way up *at no built-in-format disadvantage of playing more games on the weekend.*

This last bit is important. If we want to ecnourage a balanced tournament/season, we must work to get teams that are relatively close in rankings/strength to play one another. The idea is to increase games played amongst similar-strength opponents to determine how they rank by the end of the season. This way we can make valid rankings AND tournaments to, generally, please the competitive urges of those involved. That's why we're all here, right?  Which teams these will be cannot be determined by the results of the previous year!

Anyway, established teams tend to have deeper benches. By adding on extra game to the end of the day for a team that fought their way up fromthe bottom while dropping a team down from the top pools is that the team from the top generally has guys at the bottom of their roster who haven't played much, even though they're good. The team on the way up has likely exhausted most of their top players as well (not that they can't still play at a high level, but that they're "tired", no matter what they say), but their lower-level players are on that team for more of a reason than the established team. Recruiting over time is funny thing in ultimate. If you consistently tilt the recruiting advantage over local talent slightly in the favor of one team, welp... they get really used to exerting that pressure successfully. So too with the inability to overcome the local "NAME" team.

3. The teams that get start from the bottom are decided.
AKA: "Coed, stop having fun with your names. If you want to keep being funny, go play with the Masters teams in the summer". Which, the more I think about it, is a great idea. Not everyone wants to play coed, Not everyone wants to play open/women's, but some people want to play really competitively at both. Pull the trigger, USAUltimate. This idea has been around for ever. Coed&Master's' are different that Open&Women's. My teammates can't all help me in Coed. In Master's', it is simple people who can't/won't do what they used to do for the sake of their play. It can be as simple as not going ot practice or being unable to play all of the games in a weekend or just... whatever, man. Both are fundamentally different than Open&Women's. Open&Women's Oh wait, Men's&Women's are two separate highest levels of the sport. The women's games at Natioanls were high-skill affairs. more balanced than the Men's games int he wind because there were fewer full-field 50/50 rips and more mid-range 67/33 shots. There were more passes completed in women's games because the defenders are unable to help-d on high a % of the field/air-space. "Bombs" are slightly more often not-goals and zones can be picked apart because all throws are still valid. Matchups matter more because Isolation is more possible.

Also, other teams who just like to name different teams every season? Forget it. No more of that, Madison. That is too ultimate. Your location doesn't identify you, the name you come up with and use does. "Club" is it. Don't worry, the ugly pintglasses at 2012 Nationals just say "CLUB" on them in big letters. You get a recruiting tool too!

So, how about the method used to determine these teams and these distinctions btw/teams across the field of the three divisions, let alone the across any given field?

How might strategies change if teams knew this going into the season?

What does it mean for Showdown and Ring of Fire?

How does that taste for teams that spent unrewarding years in what would now be a cozily ensconced world of no upsets becasue now you don't have to play those losers?

Why lay this on the club memebership as a "surprise" right before the tournament that the teams themselves have already spent a YEAR for, under a coherent (though inevitably flawed) set of assumptions?


First we were using last years results to determine who makes nationals. Then we changed to a regular season. to determine it. Which, while I had some criticisms (I still think a set # of bids at 2 per region provides the best spread of consistency at nationals and excitement during tournament play. 7 regions w/ 2 bids, then 2 regular season wildcards? 6 regions, 2 regular season wildcards, 2 tourney-win invites? 4 regular season wildcards?) was at least based on the current roster, rather than the roster you had last year.  Then we went back to basing things on *last-year's results at Nationals*. What the shit is this?

Okay, teams from *last year* are not the same as teams from *this year*. This is an apples to oranges fallacy. How many times to make this point before it is taken as truth?


This is in some ways forward-looking in an attempt to change reality through legislation. Ultimate is not a pro sport. It is, at its best, a semi-pro sport right now. The UPSAUltimate is not moving toward a pro version of the game. The MaudLU is. Those teams will eventually have contracts which keep teams together in locations over years. There will be loyalty to organizations over a larger area of the US. But right now? Why are we looking at "Player movement" as something to discourage? If I move from DC to Philly, why should I be encouraged to travel 2 hrs for practice rather than stay in Philly and practice based on how the Philly team didn't make it last year? Why should the DC team (who is historically good to very good) have better opportunities to play than the Philly team (who is historically good to very good). Or how about Pittsburgh? Or how does this affect second-tier teams in places like Boston? One team has all of the conferred advantages of USAUltimate, while the second has none.

Or, shoot, the TEAM IN NYC! This is a hub of a high-population corridor. CT, NYC, NJ. Philly is 2hrs. These are all places where the *Current* generation of ultimate players provide a base for interest, fans, unpaid progenitors and teachers and coaches and all at the youth level for thsi sport. More acceptance at more levels of the educational system means more everything. Interest, money, acceptance, media, space requirements, negative/positive publicity. And so on and so on.

I go back to Mr. Parinella's point of "why do we really care what region a player is from"? If that individual is capable of making the commitment to any team, and the team will have him... why would the UPSAUltimate care how I spend my money? Then, to look at it differently, why would the UPSAUltimate care if a team doesn't want to travel much (due to money, wanting to be home, work... an amalgamation, let's say) but maintains a high level of play? I want the UPSAUltimate out of my checkbook, aside from dues. Really. And of all players. Establish a fair, flexible system that inherently favors strong teams rather than a strange hybrid system that entrenches teams in flights. It ain't pro soccer. This is a player-perspective...


What about a coach? A Fan? A Teacher. A father, a mother. As we start to look at sports for what they actually do and contribute to in society (Concussions in football, for example, start the conversation of "would you let your child play sport X" and lead into "which sport is the ideal sport to play?" Well, ideal for who?? In what context? How many can benefit? Is there money to go around? Is it something inherent in sport? Is it "competition" is it health? Mental attitude? Fortitude? What is more challenging than acting ethically in moments when we are most challenged? The expression of that ability is (awe-)inspiring at times. At others, it is evolutionarily disandvantageous. You can get kilt via restraint. In you punch and the other guy shoots to kill...

Then again, since we have memories, we live on past our deaths. We all do. We are in the memorys and dreams and past of those who exist past us. Those whose breaths are breaths of our exhaled breaths, lifes, souls, acts, deeds. This is heaven. We slowly become saints who did eveything as we pass into history. The great collapse into true myths. The rest of us slowly fade to the white background.

Can you remember the difference between the Ninja Turtle Artists? Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello? Now lumped together by a force they could never have imagined.

Perhaps I am too down on the imaginations of the Ninja Turtle Artists. But I can't imagine them having had imagined it. Now just a pixel flash in your memory as your life expires eventually.


Then, while everyone was thinking about next year's regular season, and nationals teams were figung out how to play at nationals under one set of assumptions about the long-term implications of the results at nationals (and for the season and playoffs they just played) the USAU change up the implications of those very results?

Not at all distracting for the Championship contenders. (Teams expected/likely to make Semis)
Pretty fucking crazy for the teams battling for "legit power" status (Quarters and so a slightly lesser extent, PreQuarters).

Even more disappointing for teams that lost in the game-to-go. Like Southpaw.
Even more disappointing for teams whose regional bid allocations shrunk after their strong showings at 2011 Nationals. Like Oakland.

Pretty much, the USAU's plan could not have done a better job of cementing the current national powers in each area and defining the also-rans based on an admittedly outmoded/expired model of determining who gets to determine which teams play at that very tournament.

What's a better way?
Well, maybe look at score distribution btw the different divisions. Where are the true drops btw top [Small Number] and top [Smallest Relevant Tournament Format Double Digit Number] and top [Second Smallest Relevant Tournament Format Number] exist. Or replace [ ]'s with groupings that seem relevant.


Best Size for National Tournament is relevant.

16 is probably it. This is a very balanced format, giving all teams a shot at the title from their starting positions given that the strength of the teams on that given extended weekend are unknowable before the tournament. That is why the game is fun to play and reasonably-ruled. I would argue that a slightly wider field would make a significant improvement in all of this, as well as a thorough discussion of what "Traveling" is with an increasingly ambidextrous set of players.

That is, if I catch a disc and fake a lefty throw before my second ground contact, does this establish my right foot as my pivot?  Why do we assume that all righty throws have a left-foot pivot? There is a large greay area of no-pivot land btw the catch and the establishment of the pivot... I have more on this, but... Fakes can happen faster than ground contacts.  then again, what constitutes a fake?  A Shoulder tilt? A Change of grip?  An Elbow getting cocked?

Best Size for "Selective" National Tournament is relevant.

That is, what is a good showcase tournament for a weekend of ultimate? It would be at least 6, at most 16. Multiple relevant games from a good vantage point (3-4 fields in use at a time) with a format that rewards the best team on the weekend with a chance at a title while the rest of the teams get to play tight games against evenly matched opponents on the weekend.

What is the ideal format for a tournament like this? Something aht auto-adjusts without pre-selecting. If this is the part of a larger tournament, a chance to play down and play up is ideal. Even if it is for 2 teams from the larger tournament, this is the right thing. Give a team who is hot for a weekend a chance to take down the Big Dog. how else would we ever come up with stories like "Roots took half over Ring 8-7, but lost"??

Best Size for "National tour for Cash" is relevant.
Best Size for "Most Hyper-Competitive National Series" is relevant.
10 is probably ideal right now.
16 is a good bet if the legs under it are strong.
24 is probably good withing 10 years if the legs have endurance.
From that point... we see how ultimate compares to other sports. Only time will tell.

"Most Number of Games per Day" is relevant.
4 games? you need the option of at least 23 players in men's. Womens might be less. Might not. 27 seems like the right max.
3 games? you need the option of at least 21 players in men's. Women's might be less. Might not. 25 seems like the right max.
2 games? you need the option of at least 18 players in men's. Women's might be less. Might not. 21 seems like the right max.
1 game? you need the option of at least 16 players in men's. Women's might be less. Might not. 17 seems like the right max.

"Most Number of Days of play v Rest" is relevant
(And when considered in the context of "games per day")

If you're playing 8 games on a weekend, you need at least a 2 weeks of rest.
If you're playing 6 games on a weekend, you would really prefer at least 2 weeks of rest.
If you're playing 4 games on a weekend, you need at least 1 week of rest.
If you're playing 3, 2 games on a weekend, you need less than 1 week.

If you're playing 1 game on a day, you want 1 day between games.
If you're running a regular season, 2 games in 3 days is reasonable 1-2 weeks per month.
If you're running a regular season, 3 games in 4 days is reasonable 1 week per month.
More than 3 per 4 days should be 1 per 2 months, or 2 per 3 months.
More than 4 per 7 days should be 1 per 4 months, or 2 per 5 months.

"Best Size of Field" is relevant.
The men's game needs a wider field if it wants to truly reward better throwers. Give more space to them to throw into. 40 yards is not enough. Football fields (55.33) are, after seeing only one seeason, are too wide. Maybe 48 yards? The relevant times are when trapped on the sideline, we want to give throwers a few more seams to *try* to throw into. The other is that we want slightly larger cutting lanes, whether we divide the field into 3rds (13.33 to 16) or halves (20 to 24) or even quarters (10 to 12). Finally, it keeps a few more discs in-bounds when thrown deep. Which ones? The ones that tail away for every and then sit for a moment and give the streaking receiver a chance to bid on it. Everyone likes these. Same with a few more non-hospital jump-balls.  That is, when the help defenders are spread out, the hanging/floaty throw is more of a weapon to exploit matchups than a way to cause a pile-up.

Well how about the depth? Maybe 110yds? 20yd endzones, 70yd field? 96, 12, 72? 100, 15, 70? We're right near it but we haven't nailed it down yet.


By having the very depths of the field unreachable for many throwers (And we will be getting better throwers as ultimate grows) we reduce the number of "point-ending" throws. That is, the possessions are longer because throws are more often unable to reach the endzone. The difference between the women's game and the men's game at the club level are in part due to this. More throws to get from point A to point B increases the "Ambient Turnover Level"

The total number of turnovers that are poorly executed near 100% throws. This number is very misunderstood in ultimate. It can be manipulated to mean different things. It can, in small sample sizes, pervert data in very strange ways. Can we actually determine which passes are easiest for different players in different contexts? Can we actually reduce "throws" far enough from the background noise (wind, position on field of all other players, rate of their movement, direction they are looking, their differences from other players, mentally, physically, what the thrower is thinking .... .... ....) to assert an individual throw's rate of turnover over time?

Anyway, no matter what happens, if you increase the number of throws per point, there are more chances for unavoidable errors. More chances for a crazy D. More turnover chances.

Anyway, the UPSAUlimate game has not quite found that balance. The field is very vertically-oriented, yet a too-large percentage of the total field is taken up by the endzone. Short-range scoring under intense pressure is not that easy in field sports. Especially with a shallow endzone. Which is one of the reasons I never understood the theory behind putting 5-6 offensive players in the endzone, with their defenders. Or the idea that having all of them there is better than converting the warning-track huck on the first 1-3 post-catch passes. More space to throw and run into is easier to exploit as an offense. Expand the space by shrinking the field. like a diagonal through-ball in soccer, slicing the gordian knot is the art. The goal is the icing.

American sports tend too much toward the icing. Not enough cake.
The deep-level interactions between the complex ingredients with heat over time. The frosting just ties it all together.

Icing : Cake :: Rug : The Dude's Room


"*Quickest*" and "Fairest" method of on-field arbitration is relevant.
The UPSAUltimate official version is worse than self-reffing. The MaudLU version is less fair, but still evolving. Ideally, the paternalism of the ideal MaudLU version would mold with the communalism of the ideal UPSAUltimate version. That is, all players are refs, but the external refs step in quickly (without having, necessarily, to talk to each other, for example) and forcefully *for the benefit of the (flow of the) game*.

Now, this is different than considering the sport as an idealogical battlefield. Which is what many of us do.

I want to challenge players.  I want "ultimate" to be hard mentally, physically, emotionally, morally and in all other ways.  I also want it to be as hard as possible to cheat.  Empower the players to make calls, and encourage strong official oversight&review.  Increase penalties for *intentional* violation of rules, but do not levy penalties for "honest" fouls.


Collective Decision-Making is Important.

This sport has always been player-driven. Largely player-officiated. The players need a voice at all relevant tables at the (semi-)professional level. The highest levels. On all decisions. This is a separate thing from the UPSAUltimate leaders. That is no longer the *Players* association. The dues are not going to what the *players* are asking for. The dues are going to what the organization is asking for, possibly in light of what it *thinks* the players want. This is a different organizational foundation.

The Players need an organization. Not an organization for the development of ultimate in the US. Not a body for the governing of the sport in the US, but an organization of the *players* at the highest X levels of play. Someone to actually negotiate benefits (travel, lodging, schedule, rules, health care, player discipline, whatever your heart's desire... depending upon the level of play). The players need an advocate. The players need a... UNION.

Backing the sport and promoting the sport are different than playing. Owning/managing/coaching a team are different than playing. Steering a league or flight or whatever is different than playing. There didn't really used to be anything other than *players* involved in ultimate. The Ultimate Players Association was by and for players only, if only because there was no one else.

Now there are others. There are valid perspectives w/in ultimate about ultimate that simply didn't exist before. Contrasting plans and hopes and dreams for the sport from different perspectivess can lead to conflicting aims. A compromise cannot be reached until we accept that there are different voices and views. Welp, there are more now than ever before.


So, there we were on Day Two of Mosh. Drinking THE Breakfast Stout from approved containers with subpar (though not un expected) WEReed pours. He claims he couldn't walk like a normal person. Which is rather just as bad. We also drank a case the night before at Ms. Su's place. Also had my first Bourbon County Stout (Goose Island). That's a great beer. Great texture. Marshal Zhukov's Stout (Cigar City) is better w/r/t texture, but not w/r/t aftertaste. This was a really tasty beer. Followed by a 2-yr-old bottle of Pumking (Southern Tier). All hop & alcohol flavors are gone. Only Pumpkin Pie flavors remain. There were some other tasty lighter brews, as well as some small things from small places in Belgium.

That was a good night. I think I slept on a hardwood floor like a kid in college again.

In the first round we played... Hmm...

Someone. We won. Pretty sure we had a few fewer players on Sunday. which turned out pretty well. We were a little more coherent. A little less fun. A lot less... expansive. The thing is, when you have a mixed level of players, as we always do, the players need to self-organize and self-select into appropriate roles. Unless you're the sort of "fun" team who calls lines. We ain't that.

Sometimes this process of self-selecting and understanding roles and style/ability of players takes a while, sometimes it is quick. It was slow at MOSH 2012. That whole second day was easier because there were fewer players who didn't know who they were in this context. In this context. Context.

So important a concept in developing a team: Context.
So important a concept in developing anything...

In the last round on Sunday, we were in the Ninals vs the Other Johnny of MOSH: Mr. Johnny Handblock. They eventually won, which was fine for all of us. It was close. Venose was still very fast and scored at the end. I think it was a 7-9 or 8-9 victory for them. At least we didn't totally besmirch the name of Johnny Pivotfoot. We'll probably be seen as worth having back and not ranked too poorly going into next year.

The thing about Johnny Pivot is that it is echo of a particular style of relaxed fake intense non-caring. So so NYU. Like attracts like. NYC is not Philly is not DC. 


Next year, next year, USAUltimate wants us to think so much about *next season* when we're planning *this seaon*. We should be planning long-term for our team (not our area-- because a name change invalidates all progress) and build some sort of stability. Well, why? You play *one year at a time* in recreational ultimate. Life interrupts recreational ultimate. Hell, even in the pro levels of US sports, we play for *this season* no other season. At the start of each year, we start from even. This is emblematic of a rather strongly held US myth: We all start equal. There is no *relegation* in our leagues. That is a particularly European notion. This, in sports, is tied into the barrier to ownership. There are a lot of mediocre teams who get to play against Arsenal, Barca, & the other giants. They play so many different groups of competition. Not so in the US of A. The Clippers never play anyone who isn't in the NBA. There is no inter-league play for US professional sports. In part because we play sports that no one else takes as seriously (Baseball, Football, NASCAR. To a lesser extent Basketball, and then there's Hockey) in part because we're a giant country. Which is recreational ultimate more like? Which should it be more like? What about Semi-Pro Ultimate?


I'm happy I played ultimate exactly when I did. It was a time of great growth and change. It was the end of the end of the laim assed hippy shindig years. The level of training increased rapidly. The number of college, high school, middle school players skyrocketed. Coaches starting being usual though not ubiquitous. Semi-pro play actually happened. Observers became normal. Refs became a thing. Refservers too, and all in-between. More and more players were well above any given threshold of 1000(00...) hours of throwing, playing, running, thinking and all else about ultimate at younger and younger ages. The strategies of the game have evolved as a higher and higher percentage of players on every team can actually throw.  Heavens, and some with both hands!

Take a breath, folks, Everything is About to Change.
Exhale, folks, Everything Always Remains the Same.

This ultimate now will be more like soccer. The jury is still out on the refs, but this ultimate will be more like basketball. There will be plays on which contact occurs (and we all will be able to anticipate them), but is accepted and expected. This is not a dangerous or collision sport, but it truly is a sport. There will be a division between outdoor and indoor play such as doesn't exactly exist now. The stall will be lower. There will be more completions per second.

I want to play beach ultimate. On bigger fields.
I don't think those things are unrelated.

The field is not used effectively yet. It is not used against the defense as a whole. It is worked piecemeal in stop-time, like claymation.

This ultimate is a 3-D HD movie. It is even better than the real thing (Forgot how crazy the beginning of that video was).
We're even better than our true selves. Our true selves are even better than us.

This path of ultimate is a strange one. What other sport has emerged along with The Internet? What sport has become self-consciously fragmented in a developmentary stage in an age of all knowing all? With understandings of mass social media of... mass information... of... well, anyway, it is an auspicious time in the history of ultimate. In the history of sport and in the history of humanity.

We all may always feel this way, but I've not really felt this way before. I hear my train a comin'. I don't know what its saying, but I know howling winds bend ears to shout their whistles.

The tracks go off in this direction
The track goes off in this direction.
The off-track is in these directions.
The new direction goes off the tracks.


I've been thinking how ultimate is in 2012 of late. I play a bit. I stay up late. I type a bit. I get up early. I type a bit. I play a bit. I go to bed early. I get up late. I play a bit. I type again. I stay up late. I get up early. I play abit. I stay up early. Gets down late. Too late.

The year has run out, this post fails to cohere, and there are all of the other things I breathe in and out in a day. This "ultimate" weighs on my shoulders. I can't lay my finger on it. Not to put too fine a point on it, but They Might Be Giants, boy, They Might be Giants.

I dash this out, unfinished. Unvarnished. Uncoalesced. Unorganized. Written over time and never cooked down into a gravy. Or a sauce. A Reduction remains possible. But this something means something to me. I think there's a multi-pathed way here. Or a multiwayed past there? But, the days they shrink away to hours. The time passes. It is no longer 2012. This is near-timely and near-irrelevant. This moment. This cliff is all of the other cliffs. Or rockface. Or bluff?

The point was, we were sent for.

1 comment:

AMW said...

And this is why I keep you on my feed...