So firstly an explanation of why there has been so little posted on here over the last 6 or 8 months.
It would clearly be pretty blinkered to suggest that I was so busy with WFDF World U23s in London that I was unable to find a few minutes here and there to put some thoughts down on the blog – no one is that busy 24 hours a day. Closer to the truth is that I was busy enough (and behind enough) that any time sat at a computer doing frisbee things had to be spent on real work, otherwise the guilt would descend… The level of time management required to set aside some blogging space is quite definitely beyond me.
But we’re done now, and I’m just going to put down some unordered thoughts about an astounding week. Proper posts on abstruse theoretical frisbee topics coming soon… 🙂
There were some amazing and wonderful incidents.
Top of my list is the GB Open team, who suffered through a Japan comeback from 9-12 to 13-12 in a matchup that decided a Bronze medal on the world stage, but still made the right call. A floaty hammer went up, and every GB player could see there was a chance it would drift out and rescue them from the horrors of the Japanese comeback. The emotional stakes could hardly have been higher. But the Japanese player made an astounding grab and toed the line, and although many GB players initially felt the catch was out of bounds they unflinchingly accepted the perspective of a neutral spectator and shook hands on an incredible game. For me, that moment is worth more than a bronze medal. The players might not feel that way right now, but I’d say it’s very definitely worth more than any Bronze they might have earned through a dodgy call in that last point, and the doubts they’d have carried with them every time they looked at it. Huge congratulations to them for stepping out of the moment and making the call they can be proud of for ever.
Not far behind is the Spirit time-out in the Open final. Lots of you are doubtless thinking it pointless (how could talking about it help?) or complaining that Game Advisers were interfering with the game, or complaining about the delay to the game you were enjoying watching. But here’s the thing:
That Spirit time out was called by the USA Spirit Captain.
That’s right. It wasn’t the GAs stepping in, and it wasn’t even the Canadians stopping the game to make a point about some of the bids that were happening. It was the USA themselves recognising that they weren’t on the same page as the Canadians regarding some of those attempts and choosing to talk it through properly. There could hardly be a more shining example of what our sport is all about.
I firmly believe that the vast majority of players want to play a clean sport, and that any attempts we make to crack down on that tiny element who feel otherwise risks losing so much of what makes our sport special. I thought the GAs were a huge success this week, and whilst of course it wasn’t all perfect this first time*. I really do think we have the basis for a sustainable officiating model
What a venue!
We already knew that the UCL sports ground was a fantastic venue for ultimate. But anyone who stood in the changing block at 1am and watched that thunderstorm drop enough rain to leave three inch deep puddles over the whole venue – but then found the pitches in perfect condition next morning – should have a whole new appreciation for Adrian the groundsman.
It frankly beggars belief that he’d deliberately put enough ‘product’ on the show pitch – to help it cope with the rigours of 3-4 games a day all week – that he had to cut the grass every morning as it was growing so fast. Or that he was out there filling in any divots and tidying it up whenever it was empty, or that he relined it three times during the week.
The pitch that he spent all that time on was dug up this Monday to make way for a laser-levelled super-pitch for the Premier League football team who share the ground. All his hard work was purely to make sure that our players had the best possible pitch to play on. He could have let it turn into a mudbath and it would have been dug up anyway, but Adrian is a hero.
If you’re attending WUGC in London next year, you could not be in better hands.
What a team!
I guess many readers won’t be interested, but I simply can’t help mentioning the staff† and volunteers who made it all happen. From the lead volunteers pulling 36 hour shifts in the lead up to the event, all the way to the last of the volunteers smiling their way off the site 2 days after the event finished, it was literally incredible. A special mention from me to Ben, Dan, Wayne and Rich who sat cooped up in our little tournament office for 16 hours a day making it all happen. If you ever see any of our volunteers anywhere on your travels, buy them a drink.
What a community!
The players were respectful, of each other and of the volunteers. Everyone had fun, and no one did so at someone else’s expense. Watching the USA genuinely celebrating the Spirit award for India was wonderful. Even though we feel the event went well, there are always things that aren’t perfect – but any complaints were minimal, polite, and constructive. Thanks to you all.
If I were to pick out something that offended me a little (because I enjoy discussing the negatives more than the positives!) I was very disappointed by the behaviour of one of the Open squads supporting their Women’s team. They chanted a wall of noise, which amounted to something rather like booing, whenever the opponent had possession. It felt like a deliberate attempt to intimidate. They were then respectfully quieter when their own team had possession. I’m sure (I hope?) they didn’t mean it that way, but it was a horrible atmosphere. There’s a big difference between supporting your team and trying to intimidate the opponent, and I really don’t think it’s a line we want to cross. Spirit of the game, including respect for the opponent, applies not only when you’re playing.
Do me a favour. I’m rarely so black & white about an issue, but the US-style hard cap is just wrong. Comebacks are wonderful things; the winning team scoring the winning point is a wonderful thing. We just ran a World Championship with no issues at all. True, we had enough spare pitches to cover any issues, but then we also ran London Calling at the same venue – 98 teams on 30 pitches, 6+ games each over two days – and we had no problems there either. UK Ultimate run 10+ events each year at somewhere between 3 and 4 teams per pitch, and we never have major issues. I’m the scheduling guy, who is affected more by the risk of overruns than anyone else, and I’m saying to you that unlimited soft caps work fine.
Worst case is that one of your games will start a few minutes late – is the very occasional risk of that really worse than having your games decided by time (or time-wasting)? Is it worse than having games peter out aimlessly while you finish a point that affects nobody? Wise up.
I don’t look like an Ultimate player
Some Dutch U23 lads were trying to throw to knock a toilet roll off some boxes from a few metres away one evening. Of course, I couldn’t help wanting to have a go, and felt really smug after nailing it first time. Until one asked, ‘Oh, do you play?’
What do you think?
One of the downsides of being the schedule guy is that you interact with fewer people (many would say this is a good thing, in my case). And whilst so much of what I did hear was positive, I’d really appreciate some more insights into the week from the perspective of players and spectators – what did you like? What could be improved? Comment away…