Reverse Pull: The Art of Argument

by | October 8, 2011, 6:00am 0

We can all agree that Ultimate is a sport that tests your physical and emotional abilities. At tournaments, every match you play gets just a little bit harder as the competition stiffens and the games become more and more important. As Ultimate players we must train ourselves to play through torturously long days and the most brutal atmospheric conditions. Even with all of this training, every team consistently overlooks one of the most important parts of the game, and that is the importance of arguing.

Ultimate is uniquely different from just about every other sport in that you make your own calls. It’s a fun concept, like a dog that can skateboard, but lends itself to many inherent problems. For one, the rules can be vague. You will often hear the phrase “best perspective” said more times than Fox News can reference Hitler. But in the end, this is completely arbitrary. Legitimately, every person on the field could potentially have “best perspective,” because after all perception is flawed.

The biggest flaw in self-officiating is that nobody wants to admit they are wrong, so even if every player has the rulebook memorized, drawn out arguments are inevitable. You know what I’m talking about, when both players “know” they are in the right and will dramatically re-enact every bit of the play. “You see I was going up for it, but your hand got in the way of my view so I missed the disc. That’s why it’s a foul.” Sometimes it’s worth the arguments getting even more drawn just to watch these thespians try desperately to prove that they are in fact correct.

A Golden Spike player gets animated at Club Regionals 2011. - Photo by Scobel Wiggins

What is also one of the more entertaining aspects of rules is just how unhinged people get when a call is made. You say the word “travel” around an Ultimate player, and watch as they wince slightly, like when you accidentally look at a picture of Susan Boyle. People explode over the simplest and most meaningless calls. The best part of the outburst is that in the end, there are two options: “contest” and “no contest.” This simple fact is often forgotten, and players will harangue each other until the proverbial cows come home.

If the play itself doesn’t matter, then heed some of this advice. You must present your argument soundly and without flaw, otherwise the other player will pick it a part like a teacher in a debate class. You must choose your words carefully, always ensuring that you do not contradict yourself. Lastly, you must also be absolute and confident with it, don’t use words like “maybe” or “unsure,” say things that are definite. I have seen players who were completely in the right give up on a call because the opposing player argued with them so tactfully they eventually relented.

So what does this mean? It means the essentially truth is irrelevant and that rhetoric reigns supreme. I’m not saying that there aren’t right and wrong calls, because there obviously are. I’m also not saying that you should cheat because you are not accountable, I’m just pointing out that just like real life, truth is obscured by perception. Ultimate Frisbee is unique in that you are responsible for your own calls and that you have to argue skillfully to get your point across. I’m not saying it’s a good or a bad thing, I merely find it amusing. Lesson learned: take a debate class, become a better Ultimate player.

Well, then again maybe an acting class is more important, it’s ALWAYS necessary to re-enact every aspect of a call. Always.

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