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November 20, 2010

Here’s what was on my mind while I flew home to Seattle today. If you want to tell  me about some good pick up or Goaltimate in the 206/425 this week (outside of Marymoore Park tomorrow), that’d be sweet.

Florida Ultimate

  • Looking at who they’re returning and their CCC performance, I think it’s a safe to say that Florida is the frontrunner for the 2010 title until someone proves otherwise. Yes, Brodie shouldered an unbelievable load last year, and his and Chris Gibson’s departure are huge. But so many of their players have been training and playing at a high level for so long. If there weren’t such a stigma against Florida and so much hating on their strategy, don’t you think more people would be pointing out just how full of Championship-level experience the Gators have?
  • I think that a key to Florida’s success is their ability to minimize chaos on offense. Good defenses rely on the secondary effects of pressure to force turnovers, and Florida’s does a great job of neutralizing that by limiting the temptation for throwers to take short field risks. Yes, they are a team of fast, jumpy guys, but so is pretty much every other Nationals-caliber team; what Florida does better than anyone else is make space for their guys to work in isolation so that defenders have to deal with one-on-one match-ups, which leads to either high-reward deep shots or low-risk passes underneath. Playing defense on an island is tough in any sport, and if you can make your opponent do it more often than not, your offense is probably going to be pretty good.
  • On that note, I think that Florida is pretty similar to Chain 2009. They always had just one guy back for the dump, and as long as throwers are well-trained to hit the right window or put the disc to space, doing so makes re-setting the disc easy. Upfield movement is great, but as long as the disc reliably switches hands every ten seconds, it’s gravy.

Old School College

  • I re-watched the 2005 College Final between Brown and Colorado last night. Interesting to remember that the Colin Mahoney-Beau Kittredge match-up goes back a ways. Colin got a great layout catch-block on him in the Finals at Club Nationals this year, and is probably one of the only guys that can cover him honestly (and by that I mean don’t simply back him, let him go in uncontested, and then set a good mark).
  • For some reason the hyperlink function isn’t working. You can watch that video here:
  • There’s a decent amount of old College Nationals footage on YouTube. For instance, check the 2004 Semifinals between Brown and Cal here: 
  • I’ve not seen Josh “Richter” Ackley play much with Johnny Bravo (outside of the 2007 Finals video on The Huddle, Bravo’s a team I’ve not seen much, period), but his impact on that game was pretty noticeable. He just looked very composed with the disc, which is what college teams need: guys that can do whatever is necessary to keep it moving and not turn the disc over. With all of the deep options that they had, I’m guessing that he and Chicken had a pretty good time playing at Colorado.
  • Can anyone that saw both Nord and Brodie play in college comment on their comparative impact? Obviously, the game has changed a lot over the past decade, but I bring this up because I’ve heard a lot of people say that each was the most dominant player they’ve seen play college. I think that I fall into that category with Brodie, but the memory of seeing Kurt Gibson play at 2008 Regionals makes me hesitate to say that I’m sure.


  • College ultimate is really hard to follow because there’s no easy way to keep up with roster turnover. In club, guys stay put for longer, and since the nature of the game places far less emphasis on a few studs, turnover doesn’t have quite the same impact as it does in college. I’m hoping that team Score Reporter pages are up to date once the Spring season starts.
  • USA Ultimate Tom Crawford has openly said that he believes that college eligibility should be taken down to four years, Obviously, that would change the College Ultimate landscape quite a bit, as the list of impact fifth-year undergrad and grad school players on high-level teams over the past fifteen (and maybe farther back?) is extensive. What do people think about this? Does limiting eligibility to four years instead of five do something for the sport? Personally, I don’t really care that it’s different from other sports; I think that’s irrelevant to the cost/benefit discussion in this case. But I understand that a lot of people probably disagree.

Refs and Stuff

With UOA Nationals going on this weekend, it’s not a bad time to continue some of what has been said around here and elsewhere about pushing the envelope on observer responsibilities as well as the possibility of referees in Ultimate. In so many ways, this conversation is so tired. But it’s also so important to ultimate, and the fact that our sport lends itself to talking about the nature of officiating is something that I really appreciate.

  • As a player, I like that ultimate puts the responsibility of rule enforcement on my opponent and me. In the Summer 2010 USA Ultimate magazine, Sockeye’s Moses Rifkin commented that Spirit of the Game “enables a pure form of competition… because a third party… adds a whole other level in which a less talented team can win by being better at gaming the rules.” I really agree.
  • I also think that clamoring for refs just allows teams to place blame on someone other than themselves or their opponents. When two teams square off, I’d prefer that they e the only ones credited for the outcome. Hearing complaints like “we lost because the refs blew it” gets really old, and attitudes like “if I push you while you go up for a disc and it doesn’t get called, that’s the ref’s fault, not mine” are really detrimental to what competition has to offer.
  • I guess that this is where I stand on the observers/refs debate: ultimate is in a pretty unique place because of how it is officiated, and the discussions that arise out of that set up could really push the boundaries of how we approach competition. Personally, I love that, and it’s why I’m not all that determined to see ultimate strive to emulate sports that have refs.
3 Comments leave one →
  1. WeinerMobile permalink
    November 20, 2010 8:24 pm

    Yeah, I’ma really gonna disagree with you on your “anti-ref” reasoning. I think ultimate has a FAR higher percentage of people that would point to “bad calls” as a basis for losing than almost any other sport (and we’re talking about players here, not your run of the mill SEC football fans). It’s just too easy to blame a team for bad spirit.

    It makes for a much less contentious game, as well- at the very least, now you and your opponent have another common enemy, that dumb blind ref. Blind, though, is a much better thing than biased, which is what you’ll always get in player officiation.

    I also think there is something to be said for developing ultimate as a spectator sport. Toad’s dancing girls aside, it was always very uncomfortable for me to have non-players come and watch crappy unobserved tournaments, and the inevitable 5 minute debate, while everyone else stands around.

    Dusty and Moses can claim that the game would change for the worse, having people taking advantage of the ref’s inability to see everything, but I feel that a game of ultimate is far more easily ruined by say, knowingly hucking into contested space, knowing that a shady foul call will always let you keep possession. Florida-Carlton was an absolute disaster last year, until the observers decided to take control of the game and stop bad calls/ overly physical play. And if they hadn’t been allowed to overturn bad calls all game long, I don’t even know what would have happened.

    Outside of that one awful super bowl (steelers-seahawks), I can’t think of a single instance where I felt a team that did not deserve the win got it anyway. Soccer is a bit of another matter entirely, but it’s also an oddity, in that its dearth of significant statistical events means that a) a team can dominate and still lose by getting unlucky, and b)you see a lot more blatant “gaming” the referee system.

  2. Keith S permalink
    November 21, 2010 1:53 pm

    I have a little bit of a hybrid theory on the ref/observer talk. Having been an observer in USAU and UOA system; I very must like what the UOA has going on. At the same time I don’t think that full blown referees is the way to go either.

    The USAU system is tough because you never know when you are going to be called upon and even though you are actively watching the game, you may not be called upon all game then you do get called upon after the opponents have discussed for 15-30 seconds at a crucial moment, it really makes you question what you saw and further gives the athletes the ability to claim the officials took one away from them.

    In the UOA system you are so actively involved that you make calls and move on; as an official you don’t want to ever be why one team or another wins but the more involved you are in the game the more likelyhood that things will balance out for both teams. Not only that but because you are involved in just about every call in the UOA system I feel there is much less opportunity to manipulate the officials like you can in the USAU. For instance, there is no reason under the USAU system to not go to the observer as an offensive player on a travel call, even if you know you blatantly traveled. Also, with the UOA system, because travels are called by the officials you get a consistent ruling that as an athlete you can adjust to. How many times do you see a team not call a travel all game and then start calling ticky tack travels as the game gets late and close. I could go on but you get the picture.

    I do, however, think that full blown referees isn’t cost effective or necessary in Ultimate. I like fouls and picks still called by the players. In order to accurately officiate some items it would take at least 6 officials in my mind and because players are officials that just isn’t practical.

    One thing I have noticed as an observer is it does give players a chance have someone to complain to but as an official you just need to be prepared that that is part of your job description. I personally don’t mind because a lot of times you can nip something in the bud that may become “fighting words” later in a game if they continue. For instance, I had a situation where a lot of trap zone was being played in a particular game by Team A and Team B crashed the cup ALOT, I mean ALOT. Team B’s lead handler was going through the cup basically body up/displace one of the guys in the cup and take a step back towards the disc and get the reset. Team A’s cup player (it happened to be the same dude most of the time) started hand fighting and grabbing Team B’s lead handler to try to keep his position. Eventually both players started calling fouls on one another and both were complaining to me about the other. Because I was a third party I was able to squelch the situation but telling the players A-you can’t displace the guy or that is a foul on you and B-you can’t grab him if he does or that is a foul on you. From that point on both played more cleanly.

    That is a long winded response to how I feel about officials.


  3. November 22, 2010 12:51 am

    “USA Ultimate Tom Crawford has openly said that he believes that college eligibility should be taken down to four years, Obviously”

    This would help small schools and would also help parody. The most important part of maintaining a college program is depth of experience, which is much easier to maintain with 5th year players. When was the last time the best college player was a 4th year player? Zip 2005? Was he even better than Richter that year? I think you probably have to go all the way back to Nord in 2001. I’m inclined to like the idea of 4 years of eligibility because of my small school bias.

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