Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fan Experience at DC's Pro Ultimate Games

Saturday, April 20, 2013 marked the first time professional Ultimate was played in the Washington, DC area. DC Breeze (AUDL) played in the afternoon in Anacostia, while DC Current (MLU) played at night in Silver Spring. View the remaining schedule for the DC Ultimate teams.

Guest post by Bucci

I enjoyed both pro Ultimate games for different reasons...

DC Breeze Game [April 20 @ 1pm]
As this was my FIRST official pro game, I was very excited. It was a gorgeous day, I knew several of the players playing, and quite a few folks in the stands. There was a small contingent of Rush fans who traveled from Toronto to see the this game.

Directional signage for DCB v TOR game.
To begin, the players came running down the stand stairs to take the field. Fans quickly lined up to high five all of them as the players came down (in cleats no less). I could tell some of them were quite nervous, and I hoped our high fives and go get ems would help alleviate the nerves. Some good friends had brought their little boy who was quickly given a "frisbee camp" handout. Chuck Yu (Breeze #11), who had been my captain in WAFC's Night Owl League, had quite a contingency of shirtless fans on hand, who had letters on their chest which spelled out "YUUUUUUUU!" and yelled the same each time Yu took the field.

A beautiful rendition of the National Anthem was sung, but without a U.S. flag,  and then after a brief confusion, 'O Canada' was played over the loudspeakers. They also had a fresh DJ who played one of my favorites, the Humpty Dance, which always brings a smile to my face. In one end on the stadium  hot dogs, sandwiches and water were for sale.

I liked the handout we were given; it was nicely printed, and had the much needed player roster. I was glad that I attended the game with someone who knew the official rules for professional Ultimate, and informed me of the quarters, and the "penalties" concept. I was amazed that the referees, whom I didn't recognize from the ultimate community, actually knew the rules and were ready to officiate! I enjoyed being able to follow the score on the scoreboard (even though the Breeze weren't doing so hot) and I liked the game clock counting down for each quarter, since that was a new concept for me. The emcee was a bit corny, but injected excitement during Breeze scores.

Halftime also was super awesome as fans were allowed onto the field to throw and Spikeball was setup on the field. They had a contest in which 4 fans attempted try to get a Frisbee through the goal posts! (Again, how fun!) Two dudes were great using hammers and even a Frisbee novice had a shot at it. At the end of half, they also threw discs into the stands. Even though the Breeze didn't win, I loved the camaraderie in the stands, and how everyone's love of Ultimate shined through.

DC Current [April 20 @ 8pm]
This game was located in a great location from my house. (Hello, less than a mile away, I could bike there!) I had been told beforehand that this was the "game to see", and that this match-up would be closer than the afternoon game. There was a large parking lot adjacent to the stadium which gave fans space to play Bendercup &, I think croquet before the game's start.

DCC v PHS handout. Rosters on reverse-side.  
The crowd was bigger, and I got to catch up with folks I hadn't seen in a super long time. I liked that the ticket taker allowed me to show her an electronic version of my ticket (yay environment!). This game had a moment of silence for Boston, but skipped the National Anthem. Here, the players were already on the field and ready to go. (SIDENOTE: Props to the blue Philly Spinners uniforms with the snazzy stripe.)

So, this competitive game constantly had a one or two point differential - DC being ahead by one most of the game. The plays were pretty exciting. A few key moments were: 1) huge jump and D by Delrico Johnson (Current #55). Awesome! 2) A DC player (not sure who) caught a score and then celebrated by throwing the disc high in the air, resulting in them having to get a new game disc. Hysterical!

There was no halftime entertainment, except for the players throwing on the field. Fans found some space off to the side of the field to play pickup during halftime as a way to keep warm during this chilly night. T-shirts were also tossed into the crowd.

At this game there seemed to be more refs, and there seemed to be familiar ultimate faces in the crowd. Thank goodness I sat near someone who made sure everyone around him knew what the score was, since no one else was keeping track, and the scoreboard didn't work. I really thought the Current was going to win, and was sad when they did not, but thought they played really hard.

The DC Breeze game was more fan-friendly even for folks who aren't in the Ultimate community. The DC Current game had a club tourney atmosphere, and focused only the game as there was no fun music between points and no concessions. The biggest drawbacks for the DC Current were the technical difficulties - the scoreboard didn't work, and the public address (PA) system had an incredible amount of feedback which was seriously rough on the ears, not to mention, you just couldn't understand the announcements.

Ratings (Best = ***)
DC Breeze
DC Current
Anacostia (DC)    
Silver Spring (MD)   
   Estimated Attendance   

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"less than a mile away, i could bike there!"..? ah :/ so not jealous. ;p great review, interesting 2 hear. i think 2nd season MLU will come a ways. thx 4 giving us a sense of Pro-Ulti, 2013 :) sounds like u had fun!