The VUL Attitude Problem Rant

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This is a rant. Fair warning.

I almost chose not to play this year, because the attitudes of many in this league make the game not fun to play. I have many friends who have quit playing for the same reason. But loving Ultimate, and wanting to stay in shape, I signed up to a low-div team and had our first games last night.

My team is awesome, a great group of people. Our skill level is, surprisingly, higher than expected and we dominated both games. When pulling together a team with a bunch of "never met before" players, this can happen.

After our second game the captain of the opposing team came to our captain and complained that I, personally, was cheering too much. She's giving us a low spirit score, because I had too much spirit. Every comment I made was 100% positive, I cheered on good plays for both teams, I gave away a point on a play that should have been stopped (opposite field's disk came into play, my check left as I yelled for a stoppage and stopped to pick it up). In short, I was a happy, positive, gracious, fun-having guy.

This is just one example of people misunderstanding what "spirit" is, and the rules of the game. A common one is getting told "you can't make calls from the sideline". Sure, you can't affect play or make any official calls, but you should be communicating with your team, letting them know what's going on. Telling a teammate from the sideline "Watch your check's feet, he's traveling" isn't against the rules, or etiquette. Perhaps the issue stems from many people in the VUL having never played competitive sports before. And while ultimate is unique in many ways, we are still playing in a "competitive" league. This means strategy, communication, effort, and trying to (strategically, through your play) exploit your opponents weaknesses. As long as you are doing this fairly, respectfully, and positively, it's okay. I've seen teams complain when a man checks a woman, for it being unfair. If a woman on your team is the best person to mark a male on the other end of the field, then it's the correct choice to make that decision. It doesn't make you a bad, poor-spirit, team to do this. The same goes for choosing to put your fastest male player on an opposing woman whom runs circles around everyone else on your team.

Finally, my final note is my dislike for the "carbon flip". I love the idea, and the spirit in which it was created. But in reality all it does is punish teams for having players living outside of central vancouver. There is no way for a player from burnaby to leave work and make it to a 6pm game on a bicycle. While I love teams being awarded for trying to be a positive force, this is only rewarding those who can afford to live in town.

That's the end of my rant. I love this game, I'm constantly trying to get more people to start playing, but it sucks when people are jerks.

My rebuttal:

I played on the opposing team in the second game mentioned above and completely disagree with the comments being made.

We played two games last night. The first of which was competitive, enjoyable and what I see as wholeheartedly embodying “the spirt of the game”. Both teams made safe smart plays. Both teams encouraged their own players and showed great sportsmanship throughout the entire game. The game was close and came down to the last point to determine the winner.

The second game was completely different. We were “dominated” as atari so elegantly put it. As a Div 8 team we were turning over the disk, making incomplete passes and plays, and not in complete synch since it was out first night of the season. Our opponents were much better. It seemed like they were better all around skill-wise. It is my understanding from their captain and also from atari’s post above that it was a mix of new and old players. It is completely understandable that when throwing together a new group that you don’t know what the end result will be. In this situation it resulted in a really good team coming together. Unfortunately for us they came together in Div 8, so while we were still trying to learn (and some team members were playing in their first games ever), the opposing team was connecting well and playing at a level far above our own. I have no issue with this whatsoever. It’s bad luck for us, it happens.

My issues now, and my issues last night were 100% with atari himself. I have played in other Ultimate leagues outside of the VUL and play multiple other competitive team sports. Now I am assuming that what I consider competitive is much different from what atari does. I base this simply on the fact that I would in no way consider him to be a “happy, positive, gracious, fun-having guy.” I would call him intense. In any sport or game I consider it to be fun and competitive when the teams are evenly matched and both teams have an equal opportunity to win. When the scores are close and the teams are evenly matched, I find this to be enjoyable. When the teams are lopsided and one team gets “dominated” then I don’t find this to be an enjoyable experience. As someone who always plays hard and plays to win, I find if I’m on either side of the landslide, that it’s not a fun game. I much prefer it when both teams are playing well, having fun and are equally matched.

As mentioned above there are times when an imbalance happens, and at these times I think you need to exhibit good sportsmanship. You recognize that the other team isn’t as good, and you adjust your attitude. I don’t think you should let the other team win, or that you shouldn’t try your best in this situation, however I feel like you change your attitude and actions. This I feel is a fundamental difference between atari and myself. When the score was 10-0 he continued to yell loudly and cheer obnoxiously when his team scored a point. When a teammate of mine was holding the disk and I made a cut while he was covering me, I told her to hold off and not throw to me, of which his reply was a very loud “yea good call” (of which his intentions were probably good, but the delivery was not). After his team pulled the disk he chased it down the field yelling loudly “I’m coming to get the disk back” as he ran at the handler.

My issue with the post above is primarily the statement, “Exploit your opponents weaknesses. As long as you are doing this fairly, respectfully, and positively, it's okay”. I personally, nor would anyone on my team, describe atari’s actions during our game as respectful or positive. He was intense, loud, and obnoxious. I think my perspective of his actions comes from the fact that we’re in the lowest Div. It’s supposed to be an environment of learning. It’s not supposed to be an intense in your face division. I think it can be competitive much like our first game was, but the intensity that atari brings to his game belongs in a higher division. And the sportsmanship that I feel is an integral part of “the spirt of the game” was completely lacking in his actions last night.

While this is a defense for my team’s side of atari’s rant above, it is also my hope that if anyone reads it, that it can also be a reminder to check yourself in a game situation. Be aware of who you are playing against. If you are “dominating” another team then show some class and be a good sport about it. You know you’re winning by a landslide, I can guarantee you the other team knows you’re winning by a landslide, you don’t need to act in an intense unsportsmanlike way. Much like fouls called on the field; you, your team and your opponents may have a different outlook on your play and your actions. Try to be aware of the others around you so that while your playing competitively, you’re also not being “that guy”.