Sunday, December 31, 2017

Do Over: Ultimate in 2017

The 2017 calendar year was a hectic 12 months! Here are some memorable moments:
[in no particular order]


Best Reaction: A high school player received an autographed photo from Jesse Shofner.

Best Offer to Help: Madison reaches out to Atlanta Falcons.
[Honorable Mention: Mickle-Kocher RT match]

Worst Trend: Premature Spiking, like this and like that.

Best Correction: The Washington Post's Sports Bog.

Coolest Product: Motivational posters from Upwind Ultimate

Best Tribute: Madison NOISE's club season uniforms

Best Ultimate Exhibition: EuroStars Ultimate Tour (July-August 2017)

Best Twitter Exchange: Rico & Rachel (June 2017)

Best Fundraiser: The Sky is Red, the untold story of the push for gender, race, and class equity in the growing world of ultimate frisbee from 1968 to the present; at year's end, 1,066 backers pledged $76,919.

Best Highlight Compilation: Video posted by BENT

Easiest Burn: Jeopardy! Host Alex Trebek

Biggest Oops: Sachin Raina (Toronto Rush)

Best Mascot: San Francisco FlameThrowers'  THE FLAME

(Oh, and THE FLAME speaks.)

Best Ultimate Video: Roller...

Biggest Shock: USA Ultimate CEO Tom Crawford's estimated price tag for AUDL partnership.

Best Modification: Seattle Mixtape USA Ultimate mixed division club trophy.

Fun Fact: World Beach Ultimate Championships logo.

Biggest Upset: Russia's 11-10 win over USA Women at WCBU 2017.

Best Meme Application: By Liam Rosen

Best Acting: Little Babbitt in the various promotions

Best Innovation: Cascades Cup: San Francisco @ Seattle (April 14, 2017)

Best Fashion Statement: Denver Molly Brown

Best Exposure: Canadian PM Justin Trudeau's ulti swag

Best Commentary: Ultimate > Football

Best Spokesperson: Rena Kawabata for being a regular voice of reason (thank you very much!) and champion of gender equity.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Bill Nye's Opinion of and Prediction for Ultimate Frisbee

Bill Nye recently sat down to answer a few 'Future or Forgotten' from the Inverse.

American Ultimate Disc League posted the positive forecast

Though, AUDL should remember in Bill Nye's past opinion about referees for the ultimate game. Specifically: Nye said: "...the game just doesn't need referees."

Friday, December 29, 2017

Riptide (AUDL) Ripped Away from Vancouver

Jim Lloyd, Managing Partner of L2 Sports Management, posted an announcement regarding the status of the Vancouver Riptide.

In summary: the Vancouver Riptide will cease operations on December 31, 2017 and will not play in the 2018 AUDL season. The franchise is planning to transfer to "Rip City" (Portland, Oregon) with plans to restart play in the 2019 AUDL season.

In four American Ultimate Disc League seasons, Vancouver Riptide posted 19 wins and 37 losses. In Vancouver's most recent season (2017), the Riptide went 1-13 in the West Division; their only win was a 1-goal victory in OT win at home versus San Diego Growlers.

L2 Sports Management also owns two other AUDL franchises - the Toronto Rush and Ottawa Outlaws.

Of note, there was an American Basketball Association team named the Oregon Riptide, which was based in Portland, yet never played a game in the ABA.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Best Of in 2017

Time to air out our B.O....

What a year of ultimate! This blog published 300+ posts this year covering topics related to the sport of ultimate. Let's reflect on the year's most popular posts.

As always, many thanks for reading and supporting this independent blog.

2017's Best-Of based on traffic
Top 20 Posts in '17

20. This Is Fine: USA Ultimate College Logo edition

19. Canadian MP Justin Trudeau wears ultimate swag.

18. Interview with Ex-MLU Stats Guru Luke Ryan

17. Recap: EuroStars summer ultimate tour.

16. Memories of Washington DC Current [MLU]

15. Boston Melting Pot Wins First Women's Division title (1983)

14. Stats Comparison: AUDL MVP candidates

13. Backstory of designing of U.S. ultimate team jerseys for The World Games

12. Rivalry History: Boston Brute Squad versus Seattle Riot

11. Charts: AUDL Tools Survey

10. USA Players stats at World Championships of Beach Ultimate 2017

9. Comparison: Seed vs Finish of Club Teams at 2017 USA Ultimate National Championships

8. What's Jimmy Mickle's autograph worth?

7. Record Comparison: AUDL teams 2016 vs 2017 seasons

6. Game lines for AUDL games

5. USA Players ultimate stats at The World Games 2017

4. Sludge blog announcement.

3. Review: AUDL jerseys (2016 season)

2. Chart: Performance of 2017 Nationals Qualifying Club Teams by Region and Division

1. Madison NOISE uniform tribute honoring Kelly Donovan

Past B-O's: 2016 .. 2015 .. 2014 .. 2013 .. 2012 .. 2011 .. 2010 .. 2009 .. 2008

Got more? Post your favorite(s) in Comments.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Remembering Major League Ultimate

Today (December 21) marks the one year anniversary of Major League Ultimate suspending operations after just four seasons.

History: MLU started on September 28, 2012 with a meeting between Jeff Sander, Nic Darling, Skip Sewell, Marc Stackowski, and Lindi Sadloff. AUDL-Owner/Coach-turned-MLU-Commissioner Jeff Snader began building a 12-team sports league that would rival American Ultimate Disc League. MLU sought to model itself after Major League Soccer's shared revenue model.

Seven months after that initial meeting, MLU's first season would start on April 20, 2013 with a 10-game schedule for 8 teams (eventually dropping San Jose Black Hats and New Jersey Founders) in 2 divisions on the coasts.

"The league contracts the players, the league covers travel costs, the league covers uniforms and equipment, everything."

Logo: What a creatively designed logo by Skip Sewell!

The combination text-based logo with the full company name of the startup league is effective for easy recognition. Major League Ultimate is strong sounding; and inclusionary of teams who are outside of the American headquarters.

Storytelling: MLU did an excellent job of hyping each and every game; providing an instant reaction to each and every game; recapping each and every game. Regardless of record, an MLU team was going to be covered by the MLU. UltiPhotos as the official photographer of Major League Ultimate aided MLU's storytelling with action photos.

MLU's podcasting was another way for MLU to communicate - for better or for worse - about the league. "Cleats" (Nic Darling) & "Cufflinks" (Jeff Snader) debuted on February 2014, changed up in November 2015 after Snader's departure (September 2015), and continued with Dusty Rhodes for the 2016 season.

Cleats & Cufflinks recorded its 50th podcast episode in the summer of 2016.

Stats: Truly a game changer. MLU's box score and interactive data were major improvements to an already robust stats system. Beyond goals and assists, MLU started tracking analytical data for its 2015 season. MLU began using live updates for their stats in 2015. Collected stats were applied to field visuals in 2016 for Week 10 & Week 11. You didn't need to be a stats geek to appreciate the summary of game results. [NOTE: MLU stats were taken offline on May 3rd, 2017 @1:33PM.]

Collected MLU stats were a major source of these yearly snapshots - in 2014 and in 2015.

Another element MLU borrowed from professional sports world was the weekly injury update. Sure, it become a sponsorship opportunity, but the injury update also provided value to the weekend's scheduled games to understand which players would not be playing.

2,200 accounts were created for MLU Fantasy in 2014.

Streaming: MLU Live via YouTube showcased a weekly game from each division in 2013 through 2015. By 2016, MLU boldly attempted to livestream all of its entire 2016 season...for FREE.

MLU Live offered multiple camera angles, instant replays, well-informed broadcasters (Dusty Rhodes, Geoff Poster) plus halftime and postgame interviews. The media arm of MLU provided plenty of eye candy, but was occasionally hamstrung by poor internet service.

Staffing: There was a clear understanding that the success of the league would require local teams to operate successfully. As such, MLU advertised 20+ jobs (paid, unpaid, internships) to support team operations and logistics.

Uniforms: MLU unis brought a sense of distinguished style to the semi-professional sports league.

2013 season: The 3/4 length sleeved jerseys produced by Five Ultimate were especially awesome. They were uniquely tailored and eye-catching.

2014 season: The form-fitting Puma kits.

2015-2016 seasons: The V-neck collar Canterbury kits.

Another distinguishing feature of the players was MLU prohibited players to wear hats.
MLU was all about making things look uniform, hence the potential of a backwards baseball hat ruining that MLU player image was removed.

Player Advisory Committee (PAC), a group of MLU player volunteers that worked with the league to provide input on rules, schedules, contracts and other matters concerned with the MLU's long-term goals.

MLU video game: This was no EA Sports FIFA, though it was a pivot in the right direction as a portal for getting the MLU product, teams and players in front of more faces (and could have been another platform for advertising). 'Championship Ultimate' was one-of-a-kind video game that was a tad clunky in mimicking the real-world action of a frisbee game. Hey, remember there was an option to select a women's squad as your team?

MLU-designed lined field
The decreasing lines beginning at half-field are meant to signify the approach to the end zones.

MLU Executive Vice President Nic Darling: "The overall idea was to create a field with the markings we need within a minimal, open design to highlight the unique flow of ultimate. We wanted the functionality of the yardage markings without the rigidity of football's gridiron."

Half-field pulls
The MLU was willing to bend the rules in the name of competition. MLU played with this new rule impacting the pull in the 2015 season. Instead of pulling 80 yards away from an opponent, the pull was thrown 40 yards away at midfield when the pulling team called a timeout before the point started. The pull from midfield (or half-field pulls) were an exciting addition to the pro game. Teams with the lead used it to keep their pressure; teams that were down utilized the tactic to help with a comeback attempt.

New Ultimate Disc
MLU's business decision to work with Pulsar seemed justified. In college basketball and soccer, using a different brand for the essential equipment piece is commonplace. Alas, the Innova Pulsar may be symbolic of the MLU - it was slightly different, yet people did not buy into it.

In the End:
The business model is at the core of any successful startup, because no matter how cool an idea is or how unique something may seem, a startup must have a viable way of making money that is worthy enough for future investment and to sustain itself.  Like any startup, operations are at the whim of its investors. The MLU completed 4 seasons (2013-2016) and seemingly were on its way to a 5th (2017) until the league's investor's made the decision to suspend operations on December 21, 2016.

[NOTE: Links to Major League Ultimate's website do not work since it was taken offline.]

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How the Yellow UltraStar Became the Official Beach Disc at WCBU 2017

In March 2017, the World Championships of Beach Ultimate (WCBU) announced the official game discs for its international beach ultimate competition in France would require a fluorescent yellow UltraStar. Here's the backstory of how the bright yellow disc was adopted for beach ultimate play.

Sludge made an inquiry to BULA boss Patrick van der Valk and he referred me to Mike Palmer (previously of

Patrick warned: 
"I hope you are not expecting a research paper :)"

Patrick explained that Mike Palmer, from Australia, did a very basic heat absorption test by putting a white, yellow and pink disc in the Aussie sun for 10 mins. Pink was most floppy then white and surprisingly yellow was most firm! Good enough for us because it is still a Discraft. Filming test (done by Mike as well) showed that the yellow looked much better on camera. IMHO the WCBU proved that last point. I didn’t hear any complaints yet from players so that is a positive data point.

I was curious about the 10-minute Aussie sun/heat test of Discraft ultimate discs, so I contacted the disc manufacturer.

When I asked Discraft directly, they replied: "No hard data for you, but just as the white of the arctic reflects light & heat vs bare dark tundra, so goes a white disc vs a dark."

According to the Ulti Show (Ep 1), the Discraft representative spoke to why a different colored disc was being used at WCBU.  "Beach Committee contacted Discraft in fall 2016 asking their expert opinion about a different colored disc for filming that might show up better.  Yellow, orange, and pink discs were all tested as well as white. And yellow ended up being the most...(pause)...easiest to find in the sand. Yellow Discraft UltraStars were then experimented with at the Australia Beach Championships."

Caz Malone then asked about an incident when the yellow disc in the first WCBU 2017 match "got bent out of shape."

Pad Timmons (Discraft) explained: Someone fell on the disc. But the's really, really warm here. Heat absorbs with color.  The more color you add, the higher the temperature the disc actually is.

Interview with Mike Palmer
I was now more interested in the absorption test, so I contacted the person responsible for conducting the heat tests in Australia.

SLUDGE: What kind of ground were the discs on when your test was performed?
Mike: On grass.

SLUDGE: What was the temperature during the 10-minute test?
Mike: Temp 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) in full sun.

SLUDGE: What was done first: watching the colored discs on video or the heat absorption test?
Mike: The absorption test was conducted at Aussie Mixed Nats in October 2016 in Sydney before the film test.

SLUDGE: Were you surprised at the final "floppy-ness" results?
Mike: I handled the disc and I was surprised the yellow was less floppy that the white. I had someone else feel them as well to confirm.

SLUDGE: What else should I know about the disc absorption test?
Mike: It was not very scientific but it is a fair test!

My thoughts
I support the effort to discover a different ultimate disc to better the ultimate game on sand - for players and spectators.

1. Future experiments of sun effects on discs should be conducted in the environment of the disc use - on the beach/in the sand.
2. For spectating, the yellow disc blends into light tan colored sand, rather than standout for visibility.
Yellow disc (circled) barely visible on the sand.
Example:  This pass at the 12-second mark gets completely lost.
In flight yellow disc completely lost during up field pass.
3. Beach tournament directors should consider:
    1) Storing game discs in a shaded or in a cooler and not on/in the sand to reduce sun effects on the           plastic disc.
    2) Introducing a new game disc at the start of the 2nd half.

Monday, December 18, 2017

AUDL Player Feedback Survey for 2017 Season

If you played in the 2017 season of the AUDL, then you are invited to participate in the following survey.

The online survey is meant for AUDL players of the 2017 season only.

Collected data is expected to be shared generally in 2018. Thank you in  advance to AUDL players for your time to complete the survey.

Friday, December 15, 2017

11th Anniversary of the Sludge Blog

Today marks 11 years since the very first published post - way back in 2006.

Much appreciation to all visitors and/or readers (?) of this blog. Things have changed since last year, yet the blog continues with sporadic output.

Thank you!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cannons Move to Orlando for AUDL 2018 Season

The Jacksonville Cannons announced they are relocating to Orlando for the 2018 AUDL season.
UPDATED Cannons logo by SLUDGE
Per the Cannons: The Cannons will be moving to Orlando for the 2018 season! We want to take a moment to thank all of our fans and the City of Jacksonville for three awesome years in North Florida. You’ve been so supportive, and we are deeply grateful to call each and every one of you part of our team. The Cannons have always been Florida’s team so we hope you’ll continue to cheer us on as we transition to our new home in Orlando. BOOM!

Nearly 150 miles separates Orlando and Jacksonville. There's no word yet on any logo update or whether the Cannons will become the "Florida" Cannons to avoid any future changes. In the meantime, the Cannons could consider this alternative logo...
The move will force a jersey update since their previous uniforms paid tribute to Jacksonville in many different ways.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Ultimate Frisbee and You

A helpful age-based guide updated by SLUDGE...

[original by Pearls before Swine]

Friday, December 01, 2017