Monday, June 10, 2013

The State of Ultimate Frisbee

Eli, a friend of Sludge, penned a great article on the current perspective of Ultimate.

A World of Flying Discs In Pursuit of Ultimate [The Classical]

...Ultimate is, fundamentally and in its actual bylaws, a pickup sport. In a pickup game -- hoops, soccer, whatever -- you don't hack the shit out of people. You don’t not-foul people, either, but there's a certain self-governing thing at work, there. You play to the game, what the market will bear. Are people fouling and not calling it? Are they calling picks? Are they pushing off and bumping on the mark? You go with it, whatever the case may be. You have to know the rules, but you also know that everyone in the game has agreed to play by them. Thou Shalt Not Be A Dick is the prime directive, the one supreme commandment. It works, but it works both because everyone is implicitly obeying the same rule, and because it's just a pickup game.
The word amateur's Latin root, "amo," means love. That seems worth mentioning. But it seems most mentioning because of ultimate's slow but unmistakable transition into something governed by a force other than love. USAUltimate, the sport’s governing body in the United States, just inked a long term deal with ESPN to air college games -- at least 23 games from the championship series will run this spring, with undisclosed terms for the future. Viewers drive ad dollars, and ad dollars will drive sponsorships. The same could be true with the Triple Crown series for club level teams in the fall.
The number one mistake the magazine cites are logos "designed by an amateur." I'm a graphic designer, and I recently reviewed all 20 of the logos for the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) and Major League Ultimate (MLU) for a site called Sludge Ultimate.

What I found was that not just the logos, but the overall branding was amateurish in 19 of the 22 teams. In addition to that the forward face of these teams and the leagues, and their websites, were still, mere days from the start of official competition, littered with broken links; a goodly number were technically "under construction", and "coming soon." ...

Ultimate is not a sport unlike any other. It is, in fact, a sport a lot like other sports; that's the appeal. We run, we leap, we chase, we defend, we score, we strategize, we feel the wear and tear on body and on soul, and become familiar with the joy that comes with a good play, and the downer that comes from an opportunity lost. Ultimate is many things to many of us, and will remain so in its amateur and professional incarnations. What Ultimate is not is the perfect sport, or the ideal sport, or the sport to save all sports; it doesn't serve ourselves or the game we love to tout it as, well, the ultimate sport. But it works, and has worked for years. Whether it can be more than what it is, and has been, is a question without an answer just yet.

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