For those of us on Revolver playing for the San Jose Spiders in the AUDL final, there was little time to bask in the glory of winning. We left Toronto and immediately drove back to Detroit to spend the night in a classy airport Super 8 so we could fly back to San Francisco the next morning.
When we got back to San Fran, no welcoming party was there to greet us the way one might hope– no fans going crazy, no parade. Twelve hours later, we were off to Italy. The silver lining to the terrible amount of flying a 6’4” person like myself had to do: Emirates. Great airline. Their economy class is better than United’s business class, and I got to watch Snowpiercer during my slow motion teleportation from San Francisco to Milan. I am going to [mostly] fast forward through Milan since I know nothing about leading fashion except that it is expensive and seems to repeat itself. Here is a short description of what’s in style for men in Italy so you can prepare yourself if you ever go: popped collars, rolled up cuffs on pant or short legs plus inseams that won’t let you squat past 45 degrees, and haircuts that preside somewhere between a mullet and a faux hawk. The must-have fashion accessory at the moment seems to be decrepit dogs. If it’s so old you have to drag it along, you are winning.
Before we get into the actual Worlds tournament, it’s important to note that expectations should never be set before you do some exploring. I made the mistake of doing this. As person who gets bored easily, let me tell you: Italy put my sense of boredom to the test. Being in Italy is like being in Vegas casino, except for instead of betting money, you bet time, and Italy always collects. Show up to lunch, or any event, really, with couple hours to spare, and leave with none. Getting things done in this type of environment proved to be as hysterical as it was frustrating, which is the joy of traveling.
Let’s move on to ultimate, which we all try to play the same way no matter where we go.
Observers and Spirit
There are a lot of people at Worlds tried to convince me that observers aren’t necessary (they aren’t used in WFDF competition). In a Disney world, they would be right. Unfortunately this ain’t Disney. Both my parents are still alive (I think), no one sings along with me when I start random songs in public, and players can’t always view plays objectively when emotions run high.
Yes, self officiating is amazing when it works, and when that happens good observers become invisible. However, there were quite a few times at Worlds when an observer would have been wonderful. Below are my two favorite examples from Worlds of why I prefer observers over the flesh-filled rule books that WFDF calls game advisers:
In the Revolver vs Bravo semifinal, I was covering–or trying to cover– the mountain known as Hylke Sneider. A huck goes up to him. We are both running, I catch up, getting ready to lean my lean frame against his Herculean body. I am staring back at the disc when all of sudden what I think is a forearm darts out and catches me in the side, and I go tumbling. I thought it was a foul, and he didn’t. The problem was I was looking back at the disc the entire time so I have no idea what actually happened. Hylke is a large boy, so his tree trunk forearm might have just been there as a shield that I ran into. Personally, I usually try to keep a defender from tripping on my feet by using my forearm, so it is quite possible he was doing the same. This is a case where I think we both would have been content with a ruling from an observer if he or she was able to see the whole thing. In blunt terms, how can you trust me if I know I can’t trust myself to make the right call because I can’t see everything that occurred.
Regarding the Ironside vs Buzz Bullets quarters game, I am not here to say the two Buzz calls right at the end were right or wrong. Given all the video and photographic evidence I have been shown, I can see the argument for both sides considering WFDF rules are different from USAU rules. I am here to say that the Boston players probably would have felt a bit less bitter towards Buzz if those two calls had been sent to observers. I am impressed by Boston’s coach, who calmed them all down before shaking hands, but you could still see the strain between the two teams. I guess in blunt terms, I would rather hate an observer for a bad call than my opponent.
That being said, teams can hate each other and still share respect. The Sockeye vs Revolver final proved this. We really go at, and there is no love lost on the field. Yet there were plenty of cases where Spirit of the Game rose above hate. And keep in mind: I use “hate” in the most romantic way possible.
Someone asked me if winning Worlds or Nationals meant more to me. I would have to say Worlds even though I think Nationals is a harder tournament. At Worlds, every good team has a shot at beating the top teams. I never would have guessed how close our Clapham game would be, and every Worlds I have played in has had an unexpected team that really shows up to play. Four years from now, I bet another team will rise to the occasion, and I hope I will be there to see it. As someone who invests so much in our sport, it’s great to see ultimate growing up in so many areas of the world– it’s probably the closest thing I will ever feel to being a proud parent. You can read into that as you’d like: either I’ll never have kids, or I won’t be proud of my sucky kid.
Worlds in Words
Now, lets end this blog with a poem that I’ve titled Worlds in Words.
Divided by country
United by sport
We strive for our best
knowing our best may fall short.
We breathe the same air
We chase the same disc
With each athletic bid
we share the same risk.
Grappling with adversity
Staring at defeat
We understand it’s on us
to accept a loss before we cheat.
Whether you cheered or played
Whether you lost or won
One thing is for certain
We’ve raised our sport by what we’ve done.
Alright. Thats it for now. Thanks for tuning in.