Win the Fields

by | October 22, 2014, 5:43am 0

I just came back to say goodbye.

Over the years that I’ve written Win the Fields, I’ve come to grow surprisingly attached and loyal to you, the readers. The readers who take the time to post thoughtful, insightful comments; the readers who email me with their questions; the readers who find me out in the world and tell me they enjoy my writing; the readers I never hear from…

So when circumstances demand that I quit writing on a weekly basis, I felt obligated to come back one last time to explain myself and to say goodbye.

I began writing Win the Fields out of necessity. The words were in me and they were demanding to be let out, like thousands of hornets caught in a jar, buzzing incessantly and bouncing against the glass. I also felt that ultimate needed what I had to say. There were things happening in ultimate that were bad, bad, bad. Things that were pushing the sport in an unhappy direction. Things that were widely misunderstood. A lot of what was bad about the sport at that time wasn’t what was actually happening (although we were in a pretty rough patch). Instead, it was how people were talking about what was happening. Cheat to Win (Without Cheating) was the first incarnation of this motivation, but it wasn’t the last. Throughout my writing, I have strived to say what was missing from the conversation. Ironically, I’ve had less and less to say because more and more is being said. When I began, there was little to no media coverage of ultimate. Now, two areas I’d written in extensively– straight reportage and analysis– are widely covered by other people.

But really, this isn’t an artistic decision. It’s a time decision. My family is at a crucial turning point: My youngest child entered school this fall and my wife returned to paid work after years of managing our home and homestead. Like all changes, this is a mixed blessing. Our bank account will be happier, but we will be more stressed and more harried. My freedom to say, “I’ve got to write my post tonight, can you cook/feed the chickens/put the kids to bed?” is gone.

I teach school for a living and it is an often frustrating experience. My school is in a small Oregon town and like most small communities, we are struggling economically. I don’t know what ‘winning’ in this situation would be or if my definition of ‘winning’ is even possible, but I do know that I haven’t consistently put time into finding out. Writing, editing and tending the comments takes somewhere between 2-10 working hours per post and another several mental hours composing and considering. Ask your friends who are teachers: “Would an extra eight hours a week help you?” My family and professional pressures had me seriously wrestling with whether or not I could continue to coach Oregon. I’ve committed to the team, but I still don’t know what that commitment will look like and the ways it will be constrained. As a part of this overall time pressure, I decided I needed to shed all my other ultimate-related commitments, of which Win the Fields is one.

I don’t really know what’s next. I have a very big, very ambitious piece in development, but I haven’t even looked at it since school began. I hope to look at it this weekend. I had hoped to look at it last weekend, too. And the weekend before that one. But I have tests to grade, my wife had to go off to a faraway meeting so I’ll have the kids, there’s laundry to do and the dump run, there’s cider to re-rack and forts to build…

…but I know those hornets are still buzzing, buzzing, buzzing.

Goodbye. Good luck. Play well. Learn much. Thank you.

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