Canada’s Saskatoon has a unique way of playing Ultimate on Friday nights. The league, referred to by players as Parity, is specifically designed to create equality throughout the eight-team winter league by keeping statistics on individual players’ performance.
PULSE (Parity Ultimate League System Experiment) has been around for three seasons in Saskatoon, beginning in the winter of ’10/’11. PULSE was met with enthusiasm as 54 players took part in the 5 vs 5, co-ed, statistically-accountable league. After each game, statistics are entered into a complex functional program that determines a point value (salary) for each player. At the end of every round, the GM’s meet, similar to a NHL trade deadline, to keep their teams on par with the required salary cap. Each player’s salary is based on fantasy-like statistics with weighted values for points, assists, pre-assists, d-blocks, and throw-aways. Players that may not touch the disc as often still receive a plus/minus record as another value in the system; being on the field for a score would result in a +1 just as being scored against would be -1.
Ultimate has blossomed in the past decade, and PULSE is excited to deliver a fresh idea not only to fuel the growth of Ultimate, but also to provide an experience that is unique in the world of sports. PULSE was developed to create balanced teams in order to provide an equal level of competition on any given night; on paper there should not be any ‘blow-outs’. Since players sign up as individuals, PULSE is a positive opportunity for new players to feel welcomed onto teams. It gives the newer players the opportunity to play with A-level experience where they wouldn’t previously have had the chance. There is sideline coaching from the leaders who develop team strategy. PULSE has succeeded in reaching out to new players as 24% of players this winter season have played for one season or less. In one turn-around season (winter ‘10/’11 to ‘11/’12) PULSE has seen growth from 54 to 108 players.
PULSE is more than just numbers; it has managed to create a stronger Ultimate community. Players have become more familiar with one another as they open the lines of communication. More communication on all skill levels increases the environment for learning. Having a strong community coupled with strategic competition fosters positive growth in player development.
According to GM’s and players, PULSE has made a dynamic impact on the scene in Saskatoon. The underlying tone on Friday nights is not only team vs. team competition but more so the inner drive of playing better than the week before. “I only had eight assists tonight, I was hoping to beat my record of ten” says a member of Arms of Chaos. As a member from the team, Sleipnir, put it, “I like that you get the chance to play with people that you never would otherwise, especially all the experienced people. They have great input and have been (very) helpful.” After the conclusion of the playoffs, there is a Parity party held to showcase the winners of certain awards. Because of the complexity of the stats, there are not just the typical awards for most points, assists or d-blocks. There are awards for best duo (handler → cutter), best 3-way plus/minus, and most consistent (or inconsistent) player. These awards are a great method of culminating the season into a fun, positive experience.
Kevin Korecki and Jarrod Stewart from Saskatoon have taken this directive from the ground up, putting in countless hours of score-keeping and data entry. PULSE has been a work in progress for just over a year, and because of the combined efforts from Kevin, Jarrod and volunteers, the commissioners are looking for a full release of PULSE scheduled for winter ‘13. The release will include a mobile application for ease of statistics recording.
For further information and to see how your Ultimate league can progress in player recruitment, player development and strengthening your community, Kevin and Jarrod can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to check out their website at parityultimate.com.