The Place Where Surf Meets Sky

by | August 21, 2011, 10:41am 0

In the late 1990s when the Pacific Northwest-oriented mixed division (then called co-ed) was introduced to the National Championships in the United States it brought with it a high regard—both in principle and regulation— for the Spirit of the Game.

Teams were encouraged to have fun, express themselves and bring back a love of the game that didn’t necessitate winning. Spirit scores were tallied assessing whether teams played fairly and “spirited.” It seems commonplace now but at the time it was both controversial and neo-revolutionary.

More importantly, the new free-spirited division brought back the joy of play and the camaraderie of the worldwide ultimate community.

Co-ed teams were organized around groups of friends and not captains and juntas making cuts. Costumes, parties and general amounts of silliness were encouraged and rewarded. Co-ed brought a different way of thinking to the competitive North American arena of the Open and Women’s divisions and thrust summer fun tournaments to the forefront.

In much the same way, the World Championships of Beach Ultimate—a spin-off of the high-spirited, rollicking beach party tournament Paganello—calls upon that same level of fun and fair play.

It’s not a coincidence that WCBU was founded by the Beach Ultimate Lover’s Association (BULA) and its leader Patrick van der Valk, an energetic, ebullient man known for peculiar headwear (a fake horned Viking helmet) and playing with a bacchic, pleasure-seeking Paganello team that proudly sports sleek banana hammocks when not playing in costume.

So even as beach tournaments have multiplied around the world in the short decade since BULA’s founding (I would estimate perhaps 100 beach tournaments now and less than 10 in 2001) the emphasis on good parties, Spirited play and beach malarkey has remained.

If you’ve been to Van der Valk’s supremely ecstatic Bar do Peixe tournament in Portugal you would see all of this in action as Van der Valk truly believes in the power of the party to expand ultimate’s base. He is now the chairperson for the Spirit of the Game committee of WFDF and reminded WCBU teams to keep SOTG high on the priority list with this recent Facebook post:

During the WCBU, at the end of each day, all SOTG scores are evaluated. Teams with significantly low spirit scores will be talked to in order to understand the facts and for them to have constructive feedback to improve.

Teams that do not improve low spirit scores during the event run the risk of not being eligible to play in the semi finals. We think this will not happen, but I wanted to make sure everyone is aware of this BULA rule.

Denying a team a chance to play in semifinals would never happen under Patrick’s watch and would be considered shocking at any BULA event. In fact, I doubt van der Valk’s sense of Spirit of the Game would even allow such a thing to happen!

Or as Lukas Kahwe Smith posted recently on the WCBU page:

We meet next week to celebrate sprit of the game, winning medals is just a sideshow. So captains, encourage your players to give it 110% when it comes to spirit. Players speak up if your captains forget and when in doubt .. give a hug .. see you all there :)

So leave the real world behind and join us on the beach where the surf meets the sky and the horizon is endless.

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