Thursday, October 10

The Beginning Begets the End

... I didn't make it to regionals this year.

I never made it to regionals in college either. We were in a 2-bid section w/ 8 to 12 teams (or more?) every year. Never managed to crack through the Princeton Clockwork Orange & Columbia Uptown Local STRANGLEHOLD on those two bids. Rutgrrrrs might have snuck in there from time to time, but when I first played ultimate, Princeton was near-royalty in the region. Always good, never great. Sometimes at nationals. Never who you wanted to play, exactly. Dennis. Bailey. Sparrow. Ryan Reynolds, for that matter.

Point was, you gotta earn it. I'm cool with that. I don't look back a those years and wish the UPA had done something different. I look back and know I could have done more.

"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes..."

This year, I went to regionals to watch Scandal like I used to go to watch whomever was good at college open regionals. Sadly, no competition. I stopped watching those "games". Instead I thought about the torture that the women's division must be for the other elite women's players in the region. The ones toiling away on Green Means Go and Hot Metal (and others I'm sure) and coed teams because their area women's teams aren't any good (YES I KNOW SOME PEOPLE PLAY COED BY CHOICE. I AM NOT CURRENTLY TYPING ABOUT THEM.). Hey Dorko! You made finals and built a women's team in Philly that looks like it might last! Check behind door #2 for your prize: A 15-7 loss! Hooray!

And the men's division? THEY WERE BUSY PLAYING 11 GAMES TO 5 IN POOL PLAY! Wait, reverse that. 5 games to 11. Yep, when I get it right-way-round, it is no more sensical.


Here's a story: We were down 9-14 in the GAME TO GO TO NATIONALS. We won 16-15.
Here's another story: I was playing in a league game and we were down 9-11. We won 15-12.

IF YOU WANT VALID COMPARABLE RESULTS, MINIMIZE THE NUMBER OF DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GAMES. To start, play to the same number of points in ALL sanctioned games. To second: alot the same amount of time for each of these games. To third: Standardize the number of games per day and the amount of rest.

Everytime you fail to do this, you invalidate your results. We can't control the wind or weather or injuries or wedding. We can control the game length.

So... I then asked around as to why there were only 12 teams at regionals. I assumed that a bunch of teams turned down bids. False. The USAU chose to make it a 12 team tournament. And then they ran that fucking awful 12-team 2-pool format. Not as awful as 13 or 14 (15 really isn't that bad though it is unfair.) but awful. This is a dumb decision. Some formats have more flaws than others. 12 has more than 16.

Look, I don't really care anymore. I think club ultimate is stupid. That's why I can have fun when I play. Those weekends are no longer where I prove my right to existence as an athlete. I just go hang out in a field and throw a disc around. My body is still broken. I could never play a full weekend full-tilt any more. Not if I wanted to walk again. But other idiots still want to. Why? It's fun if you can hack it. It is a true athletic feat. But it is also stupid.

Now, for those folks who still take club ultimate very seriously? I salute you. I would also ask the USAU to stop changing horses in midstream. Thus far, since 2010 (my last year) the regular season has begun, the bid system has changed, the regionas have been redrawn, the flights have been established, the format of nationals has changed, and on. Most of these changes have dropped out of the ether to shock the shit out of people and change their paths to what they're seeking. I think some of the changes are dumb. I think some are good. Some are whatever. But the surprise to most players is absurd and wholly unnecessary.

HEY USAU: Paint me a picture of how it is all going to change!! Like a long-term assessment of what changes have come in the last 3 years (A LOT!!), what their goals are, and what changes the players can anticipate in the future. Also, While I'm a member now for the 15th consecutive year... I can't anticipate renewing my membership for 2014. I am no longer your target market. I can't play in tournaments due to my body, I can't show up for random games w/ my friends on other teams because I have to be rostered, you clearly care naught for your magazine (since you auto-choose to deliver via email in the signup process-- I have news for you-- I am waaaay more likely to renew my Harper's and New York Review of Books subscriptions than to renew my membership to get an email from y'all.).

I've bemoaned not buying that lifetime membership before when I first started (it was like 300 bucks). But I'm not so sure any more. You may have outlived your usefulness to me. You've moved masters away from all of the other divisions just as I became masters eligible. You moved it into the summer which is a time that, for the past 15 years, I've used for all of my non-ultimate activities. Now that is theoretically the center of my season. And if I make it to nationals? I have to hang around other old dudes/chicks and watch us all be shadows of ourselves instead of settling in to watch the best of the best in open&women's.

So... what is the service you're going to provide me in the future? Why should I be a part of this organization? It was clear before. Back when I just played and you were just the a player's organization. Now I test the athletic application of my philosophical convictions about ultimate. I work to maintain the depth of my breath and the wholeness of my presence in the moment. I work in ultimate too (though not right now-- I am currently btw ultimate-related gigs). You are changing too. You're not working just to make ultimate possible, but you're working to shape its future. No longer are you working with an unknown, but rather a known quantity. You have responsibilities to represent the sport to ESPN and to the world community. You have a growing constituency.

I've never met most of the folks in HQ. You've never met me. I used to know *everyone* in that office.

So... what do you offer me?
So... what do you get from me?

I never asked before. I never doubted that I wanted to play. Now I doubt what my money is contributing to, and I doubt that I am a part of the group you seek to represent.

I want to play high-level low-consequence games.
You want to make all games consequential.

I want to play in non-series formats.
You want to standardize all formats.

I want to play 2 games at most per day.
You want to play 5 games to 11.

I want to
You want to

Welp... guess I must just be a league player now.
I hate league less than I used to, but i still hate it. Too many idiots working off their dayjob frustrations at the expense of others. It makes me laugh these days.

It all makes me laugh.

And then I remember this one picture... A pile in the background... An airborne TC as happy as I've ever seen an expression on anything ever...

I smile.

This too shall pass.

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