Life vs. Ultimate: A Real First World Problem

by | August 20, 2013, 5:00am 23

While growing up, my parents helped me mature in a lot of ways, but they never indicated how impossibly hard it would be to set up your priorities. Obviously, there are the necessities like pay your bills on time, take care of yourself, and call your mother once a week to let her know you are okay. Then there are the secondary concerns which you can’t really rank; each has a significance that mixes around from time to time. Right now I’m in what Socrates might say is a “dill of a pickle” when it comes to a decision on my priorities. One of my friends is getting married in Poland, which happens to be at the exact same weekend as club regionals.

This decision is an unbelievably hard one to make. In all logical sense, there is absolutely no reason for me not to go to Poland. I have more than enough money to get there, I love to travel to new places, some of my best friends will be there, and it is a rare opportunity I will likely not be afforded again. On the flip side I am the captain of a club team, this will be my fifth club regionals, and likely my 80th or so lifetime Frisbee tournament in which the odds of us going to nationals are seemingly small. By sheer reason alone, it seems Poland is the only clear choice, yet my hesitancy leads me in another direction.

Obviously, Poland would be amazing for a plethora of reasons, but ultimate’s gravitas cannot be understated. If we look at this in a utilitarian sense, I have put a vast amount of time this year into getting better; hours of working out, practicing, and an incalculable amount just thinking about the sport. For me, regionals is the pinnacle of our season, it is what we are working towards from the beginning and it is the one tournament that could keep me out of Europe. If I were to go to Poland, it feels as if I were just throwing away a complete season of work to miss the biggest tournament of the year. Most importantly, I don’t want to let my teammates down who have put as much time into the season as I have.

The “what ifs” are what is really driving me crazy. What if we make nationals? What if Poland is the greatest trip of my life? What if we do terrible at regionals and finish dead last? What if Poland is not what it’s cracked up to be? It seems that no matter what decision I make will be a gigantic regret, and there is just no way to around it. Eventually, I have to make a decision one way or the other, and this is what ultimate players have been doing for years.

You will always see those shirts that say “ultimate is life;” but in reality ultimate is just a part of it. What do we do when life and ultimate intercede? How do we compensate one way or the other? I have made sacrifices on both sides; I’ve missed tournaments for weddings and weddings for tournaments. It is a similar decision all of us have made and we’ve had to live with it. The decision will be a pyrrhic victory; meaning no matter what I will not be satisfied knowing I missed out on something tremendous.

At this juncture, I have gone against all reason and decided to play regionals, but it was not one made with great confidence. I still may change my mind and end up going overseas, but at this point in time I am set up for the tournament. If I were just to tell any sane person that I could either go to Poland or play eight games of ultimate in what will likely be crap weather, they would think I was insane for even considering the options. But that’s what ultimate is, a big chunk of my life that I cannot just exorcize. Ultimate may not be life, but it certainly has a lot of influence in it.

There is the third option: The regional coordinator helps a brotha out and moves the tournament…

Feature photo by Jeff Bell –

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  • Jedi

    As this is an Ultimate Website, there will be enough people to agree with you on going to Regionals. I hope you will still come to Poland (maybe a few weeks later) and have a nice time here. Also, don't miss the opportunity to play a tournament or two in europe ;)

  • STa

    Come on, we are not talking about missing Club Worlds, ie "a lifetime opportunity".. no reason not to attend the wedding.

  • Guest

    If you back yourself as a captain then there is absolutely no need for you to be there. You've instilled in your squad all they need to know to be able to compete, you've distributed responsibility and have trusted vice captains who can make on pitch decisions the same as they would have done to you if you'd been there with them.

    The hours you put in on the pitch and gym have already reaped their reward by pushing and encouraging your team mates to be the best they can be in the run up to regionals.

    Unless you are the lynch pin to your team theyre going to do pretty much the same without you. If your team cant compete without you then you probably shouldnt have been captain in the first place.

    Also, gym work + brides maids = worth a flight to Poland

    • Poleish

      What this guy said.

      • JRK

        Yeah, you gotta show those bridesmaids what a real pole is like.

    • ignorant

      vice captains??

  • anon

    Best of both:

    Zywiec is a great option, but I always go with Warka Strong.

  • DrewC

    What would Ken Dobbins do… That is what we all need to ask ourselves.

    • peter

      who is Ken Dobbins? is he any relation to Dobyns?

      • Paul


    • Jake

      What she said.

  • Guest

    I've had to make this decision twice this summer. One time, I'm lucky enough to be able to do Saturday wedding, Sunday tournament. Once, I completely backed out of the wedding, and almost started crying on the sideline when my dad sent me a picture of my friends celebrating without me. You've said exactly what I've tried to articulate minus one thing: Nothing anyone else says will help you make your decision. So go ahead, shell out any reasoning you have. We all have to make our own decisions and trust that our teammates and friends will love us either way.

  • Skut

    Divorce rates are rising. I'd make your friend sign a contract guaranteeing a reimbursement of expenses and compensation for the stress you felt as a captain being halfway around the world from what might be the last tournament of the season. Or tell him that you are exercising "ius primae noctis".

  • rrudnic

    If being able to afford the trip to Poland isn't an issue as stated then I'd go to Regionals and go to Poland on my own later. Weddings are all the same, been to one been to them all. Plus the wedding will take up lots of time and dictate your schedule on the trip so it won't be as fun of a trip as if you just went. Its Regionals, its the pinnacle of the season for most teams, either trying to get there or trying to upset someone while there.

    Ultimate, God, Family, Job, Girlfriend

    • Guest McGuesterson

      Wow…this is probably someone that has never been married.

      Beyond the fact that most weddings are fun, for the couple being married it is the only time where they have the opportunity to have all of the people that they love in one place to celebrate and bear witness to their love. It is is an incredible moment and one that is never replicated.

      It's shouldn't be that difficult a decision. If it's a close enough friend, no tournament should take priority. One of my good friends declined a spot on the US World Games team (in 2005) to be a groomsmen in a wedding. There's a lot of life beyond Ultimate.

      • Skut

        Jesus was never married. Are you saying Jesus wasn't fun? You know who was married? Pontius Pilate.

      • Mike Petersen

        I might have rescheduled my own damn wedding if I had a chance to go to worlds and it was on the same weekend. Don't tell my loving wife.

  • ignorant

    omg. didn't even read the article. deal with your own problems, Eric.

  • 1. What team are playing for?
    2. What city in Poland is it? If it's Krakow, you go to Poland. If it's Warsaw you go to Regionals.

    • He plays for Climax out of the North Central.

  • a guy named steve

    This Skut guy is a fucking genius. Weddings are bullshit, go play frisbee

  • The point about making or not making nationals is a double edged sword. If you think that your team has a chance, even a small one, to make nationals, then you will feel as if you let the entire team down. However, if you have no chance, then this is the last time you will lead your team as the team it is now. Another interesting note, which connects a little to the race to legitimacy: if you were playing you played on say, a baseball team in the same predicament as your ultimate team, would your friend have a different view?