As part of our 2014 Skyd Fundraiser celebrating 3 years of Skyd, we wanted to turn the page back to look at all of the great ultimate work our awesome contributors have put together. The Skyd Staff and contributors will be counting down the days of our fund with their favorite pieces.
Skyd Fund 2014 is presented by Breakmark Ultimate!
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Celebrate Skyd with Skyd Fund 2014
Day 26 – Los Angeles
Investigative reporting is relatively new in the world of ultimate. For much of our history, players and fans cobbled together whatever we could from haphazard tournament reports and gossip-mongers on rec.sport.disc. Skyd, as the first ultimate website to take reporting the sport seriously, gave me the forum to tell a story that is familiar to anyone that has lived and played ultimate in Southern California. Outside of the area, however, our ultimate scene is a relative unknown. The piece describes one city’s inability to produce an open team that could make, let alone compete, at Nationals. It seems almost unthinkable that Los Angeles – the second-biggest metropolitan area in the United States – could have such a difficult track record.
Telling the tale was difficult. I played with and was coached by many of the people in this story and would have to walk a fine line between respect and objectivity. What emerged was historical context, inter- and intra-city rivalries, a group of upstarts, and one man coming to terms years later with one of the most difficult experiences of his life. In the end, the feedback I received was tremendous. Without Skyd, their stories would have never been told.
“My father loves to tell the story of his journey from Boston to LA in 1970. He had just attended MIT during the Vietnam War campus upheavals. Boston was boiling over with protests, teach-ins, arrests, and police brutality, a city at the eye of the hurricane in a country bitterly torn apart by race riots and social protests. When he arrived at UCLA to begin his PhD studies, “virtually no one seemed to care at all. The focus was on the sun and surf. I felt like slapping everyone and telling them to wake up! Don’t you know there’s a war going on?”
Suffice it to say, “sticking it out through adversity” is an alien concept here. Toughing it out is what people in Boston and Philadelphia do, provincial cities that live and die with their sports teams and hardscrabble nothing-to-something stories. Los Angeles is a city that rewards and praises instant success, unlike cities such as New York where old money is venerated and new ideas are met with entrenched skepticism. It’s a city that accepts only championships for the Lakers, Kings, UCLA mens basketball, and USC football teams, where Dodgers fans show up in the 3rd inning and leave in the 8th to beat traffic, and where unknown actors from small Midwestern towns become megastars overnight.
The fact that I really can ski and surf in the same day (were I deranged enough to brave the commute) and enjoy 75 degree weather in the middle of February lends itself to a more than a bit of front-runner syndrome. If I am a promising young ultimate talent in Los Angeles, why would I spend the 3-5 years hunkering down with my peers in an attempt to build something from the ground up when I could defect to the best thing currently available?
It seems ironic that in a city where “content is king”, open ultimate has lacked it. But success on the national stage, unlike the movies, cannot be created ex nihilo. In other words, LA doesn’t have an ultimate program because it doesn’t have an ultimate program.” – Original Article