Welcome to the mailbag edition of Seven On. Questions were a lot more wide ranging this round, but once again a lot of fun. Once fall rolls around, expect another one of these unless Lou creates a strangle hold on the ultimate-mailbag market, which could possibly happen.
1. “You get to show one video of any length to someone to prove ultimate is awesome. Which do you choose?” – Keith R.
This is a tough one, considering there are a lot of great longer-form videos of the sport either out or coming out. That immediately puts to mind videos like I Bleed Black, Blueprint and Chasing Sarasota – part highlight video, part getting across the story of our game. Sorting through all of the highlight videos ever gets a little difficult. I know which one I’ve been showing when trying to recruit freshman to the school (found here), and that’s worked quite well – you know, getting kids to join because they want to be in a video like that too, making plays and having a good time. Luckily for me, the Skyd staff recently exchanged messages over which highlight video was our ‘go to’, and nominations included the 2007 UPA Club Champs Remixed video, the ‘Second Place’ video, Brodie’s 2010 Callahan video, and the video from the UOA’s Ivy League tournament. All great videos for either the plays, the music, the feeling they bring to you, or how they sum our game up. The Pittsburgh 2013 highlight video that was floating around for a while (RIP) was great for almost all of these reasons, with the interviews added into the video adding a great touch to explain their championship season. NexGen has been producing great videos since the tour started, in hopes of promotion of their products, and with videos like this from the 2012 tour, or this from the 2012 college season, they’re probably very beneficial, because those are sick plays over good music. And then keeping with NexGen, the video that came out of their game against Southpaw in 2011 from an independent source is also a great look at the game – both the plays, and the sideline antics.
While all of those videos are great, and definitely more than just strong considerations for that video, and I want something more out of this video than what we’ve already got. This is probably a cop out, but I want some cross between the NHL commercials for the playoffs about history being made, and the cup raise plus the highlights and summaries that the fantastic CBC montages that come before the games in the playoffs (seriously, if you’re an American hockey fan and don’t know about these, enjoy). With these videos, you get the emotion of the playoffs, the emotions of victory and of defeat. You also get a little more of a narrative to it, to go along with the four to five minute video of plays that can hold our attention these days. If anyone knows of a video like that, I’m all ears (and eyes I guess).
2. “If you could make a starting seven with one representative from any 7 animal species, which would you choose?” – The Middlebury Pranksters
The Pranksters and I, along with Nathan Jesson, had a great back and forth on Twitter about this. So before moving forward with what I think would be the best non-human line ever created, there are some ground rules. First being that Air Bud is off limits. Yes I know he’s a golden retriever, a dog, but let’s all be honest with ourselves; Air Bud is not just a dog, he’s a sports superstar. There are films that have our dog-hero tackling basketball, football, soccer, baseball and volleyball along with others that have the offspring (yes, it’s a thing) saving other dogs, flying rocket ships, imitating Indiana Jones and saving Christmas… twice. That’s not a normal golden retriever, the two I know well would much rather take a nap then even think about donning football pads, or traveling around with Santa Claus. The second and final rule, is that aquatic animals are okay, as long as they wouldn’t be out of place in a cartoon world (like Finding Nemo). A good rule that allows us to imagine the tricks the creatures of Sea World perform as something more than a side-show to the shark tanks. With that, my starting seven includes each of one of these animals, as follows:
Dolphin, Cheetah, Orangutan, Dog, Bluefish Tuna, Bear, Lion
Instead of defending each choice, here’s where each would fall on a position chart. The dolphin and cheetah are your perfect receivers – both have the speed, and while I think the dolphin would have the greater ‘hands’, if the cheetah could catch the disc every time there’d be no stopping the potential pull plays. The dog and bluefish tuna come in as your defensive standouts but for different reasons. With the dog, you can assume it’s going to be great at following the disc around, and staying right with its man – that as the ‘rabbit’ in a cup? Just great, plus there’s a good dogs eating rabbit joke in there somewhere. And the tuna is known to other fish as one of the greatest predators in the sea, because it’s not only one of the fastest fish once it’s accelerated, but with superior navigation skills, following an opposing cutter around. To handle the disc for the team, I nominate the orangutan and bear – both are going to be able to pivot unlike any of these other animals, and I feel both fit two common stereotypes for handlers in the game. The orangutan is a small, potentially quick handler that can bend all over, and the bear is the big oaf of a handler who’s got the throwing ability and short bursts of speed, but lacks the endurance for a weekend of games; together though, these two would make a great team. And lastly, we need a moral leader, and someone who can fit any of the other positions well – that goes to the lion, the king of the jungle. If the lion can manage all of the jungle, I think they’ll do just fine with whatever an ultimate team could throw at them.
There’s the team; honorable mentions go to gorillas, other big-cats, wolves, and salmon. Once we have a field site, we have to find an opponent. Your move now World Games squads…
3. “Recently the top 10 party colleges list was released, think that correlates at all to ultimate success?” – Justin P.
In short, no, because how could you really prove that – but let’s take a look at the list anyway and see how the teams did this past season. Coming in at #10 was D3 school Lehigh, they finished tied for fifth in Milwaukee at Nationals this past season; Penn State at #9, finished third in their region just out of reach of a bid to Madison for D1 Nationals ; Wisconsion-Madison (the Hodags) were #8, and finished just below that at tied for 9th at Nationals this season; Ohio University was #7, and finished tied for 17th at Nationals but were the ones to deny Penn State at Regionals; University of Florida was next at #6, and they just lost out on a bid, losing to Florida State for the last spot from the Southeast; Syracuse University is #5, and they were eliminated in pre-quarters in the Metro East regionals; #4, and former champ of this list, West Virginia didn’t make it out of Conference play; #3 is the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who finished tied for 17th at Nationals; #2 is UC-Santa Barbara, who were knocked out of the backdoor bracket at Regionals; and lastly was the University of Iowa who were finished just below the North Central’s cut for Nationals. So once again, no there isn’t a correlation, as shown with all of those varying results.
4. “Top five candy choices. Go.” – Mitch W.
Easy as pie: 1. Hershey’s Cookies N’ Crème Bar 2. Gummy Worms 3. Starburst 4. M&M’s 5. Junior Mints. In this list, I think I’ve created the right mix of sweet, chocolate, and artificial flavorings – the perfect combinations for any candy lover. I hope my dentist doesn’t read this.
5. “At this point in the club season, who do you like to make it to the quarterfinals of Nationals this year in Texas?” – Bill C.
Well Bill, the locks for this right now have to include Revolver, Ironside, Doublewide, Johnny Bravo and even PoNY. All have shown strong play for the majority of games we’ve seen thus far, and some improvement is expected in the area’s they’ve struggled in. But just because I have them as locks now, doesn’t mean that I don’t think they’ll come in playing each other, or as a lower seed to one of the other teams – just with their strong play thus far, it’s hard not to think they’ll make it into the elite eight in Texas. With that leaving three spots open, I think Sockeye, Ring of Fire, Chain Lightning, GOAT and Machine can’t be overlooked to take one of them. GOAT, Ring and Sockeye would be my favorites for the spots though – they have looked bad at times this season, but I think their best play is yet to come.
6. “In his most recent Win the Fields, Lou was describing how national teams tend to have the same character across divisions and age groups. Do you see the same effect occurring on a smaller scale between established club teams and their feeder colleges?”
Going back to this 2012 article on Pittsburgh’s college team and club team, an interview with coach Nick Kaczmarek, there’s a sense that there is a character crossover, but more so through learning about the team and what’s going to be successful. A different sort of crossover, with the same strategies being used, but to different levels of effectiveness and success, which ultimately – at least in the case of Pittsburgh, and perhaps other teams – leads to change, and new strategies for the teams.
“a. Perhaps this is more a question for Lou, but to what extent are the smaller/less populous countries employing (successfully or un-) underdog strategies? I.e. is it a conscious decision for Japan to play a lot of fast-paced small ball + saggy zone + touch throws in response to American/Canadian size advantage, or, if Japan was regarded as the best national team in the world, would they still have such an offbeat way of playing?”
b. Do other sports’ popularity in other countries affect their style of play? USA is similar to basketball, Colombia is like a frenetic, physical soccer team, Germany always struck me as a patient soccer team…” – Andrew F.”
Lou is starting his own mailbag you know with Win the Fields just FYI, but I think I can answer this while pointing down to your next question Andrew. In that next one, you’ve noticed that different countries exhibit different styles of play in sports like soccer. Just the way each country plays the game; their own unique style. Why would that change in our sport? The small ball, fast-paced style of play is just Japan’s style and as we’ve seen at both U-23’s and the World Games, that is how they play the game for the most part, with very little deviation.
And for question b, I think it can definitely have an influence, yes. Especially since a large portion of players don’t enter the game until after having already played and learned from their countries dominant sports. So when you and I have already played through a few seasons of little league football, we’re going to think of those experiences when we lace up later on.
7. “Do you think USAU will change the structure of the Triple Crown Tour next season?” – Andrew F.
Ultiworld put out an article saying that in the future, they’d like to condense the season a bit, and move the series into the summer – so there’s that. Other than that change, I think what was said between two PoNY players about Colorado Cup a few weeks ago (tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3) would be a good starting point for any changes USAU would make to the TCT. The criticism from Markian Kuzmowycz and Christopher Mazur center around there being a lack of observers at the event, and the result of that on the field, but Mazur also points to other promises USAU made for this new structure that have yet to be delivered upon – later taking up points against the ESPN coverage, and the copyright enforcement USAU has started recently. I think if you read those criticisms, from players on one of the hottest teams in the sport right now, from the biggest media market in the country, and then consider that USAU is considering moving the series to a time that would directly combat with the professional leagues, and you’re USAU there is only one clear move to make for next year’s tour. You have to make sure the players and teams are happy. Short term, that could mean more availability of media for their purposes of securing sponsors, etc. , and better quality at tournaments in both competition, amenities and having observers for every game. Long term, that could mean providing means for subsidizing, at the least, some of the player costs if they’d like them to choose their club series over the professional leagues, along with solidifying all other options.
Looking at what I just wrote though, those are minor changes. Every product will need improvement, never perfect the first time, and faces criticism as well. USAU isn’t perfect, and will certainly implement some changes going into next year to fix upon what the players are saying is wrong with their product (since you know, without the players the product is pretty bland). But overall, I would say the Triple Crown Tour isn’t this big bad thing that some are making it out to be.
Photo by Kevin Leclaire of Ultiphotos.com