Thursday, June 12, 2008
This is a rebuttal post.
I am going to make various points regarding several arguments Match has made about: our sport in comparison to basketball/football from his latest MSSUI article, decision makers and people of influence in our sport, and the validity and importance of the Callahan award from another MSSUI article he wrote. It will be difficult, because as I re-read the two MSSUI articles and his comments on my blog here, I found few cogent arguments and many contradictions, false assumptions, and non sequiturs.
Let's begin with "One and Done," an article entertaining only because at its end I wasn't sure if it had been written by Match, or Jim Carrey on the set of his box-office bomb The Number 23. Like the Lincoln-Kennedy assassination coincidences, Match declares a conclusion and then sets about desperately looking for signs of 'proof.' And of course, he finds them. Let's examine a little more closely what he found.
He begins similarly to our RSD MI5 spammer, "the similarities are endless and the more I think about the two sports the closer they get." Then he proceeds to make comments that do nothing to further his argument.
Unlike football or soccer the better team cannot be decided in one game and one mistake (on offense) in football or soccer is not the end of the world.Match, you say nothing here. One offensive mistake in football or soccer is not the end of the world: agreed. Guess what? Same in Ultimate and basketball! Breaks and turnovers happen. Peyton can throw a pick, Ronaldo can miss a shot, Parker can overthrow a receiver and Nord can spike a disc outside the goal — and victory is still possible. You've done nothing here to differentiate the sports from each other. You go on:
Peyton can throw a pick and the Colts can still win, Ronaldo can miss a shot and Manchester United can still win. Offensive production is not assumed the way it is in Ultimate and Basketball. The game start to finish matters more in those two sports and a single match is a good indication of who is better.
This isn't to say that a game can't come down to single play, but the impact of that single play losses [sic] its significance if you look at the game as a whole. Take football, a kicker could miss the game winning field goal, but what about a stalled drive in the 2nd quarter or a pick in the red zone in the 3rd?Again, you're chasing your own tail. Everything you write in that first paragraph about football applies to Ultimate, and basketball. Your D gets scored on and the game ends, but what about your poor resets that helped your Offense get broken earlier? You miss the last second shot to tie in basketball, but you were out-rebounded all game. No one play, in any of these sports, determines the game's outcome. Who wins and loses is a lengthy sum of small mistakes and breaks. And I barely even understand your second paragraph. How is that an argument for or against series play? If you got broken 5 times in one half, I guarantee you by the end of the game I've pretty much seen enough to know which team is better.
Getting a big lead early is nice, but your offense must still grind it out over the course of the whole game. Maybe you don't get 5 more breaks in the second half, but you still have to score. Football and soccer don't work that way. If you go up 21-0 or 3-0 early, you don't have to score anymore if your defense does their job.
A series to determine the champs? Sounds interesting, I'm listening. But your article does nothing to convince me one is inherently better than the other, and for all your comments devolving competition down into nothing but winning, you sure sound eager to discredit a championship earned on "one and done." At least, when you have "objectively" determined the best didn't win.
Let's take a look at your own objectivity, Match. We should, because it seems central to your arguments in your article "What Would Hank Think," as poorly conceived as "One and Done" but unforgivingly fraught with 'theory of mind' assumptions about who Henry Callahan would vote for based on your goals.
You claim boldly, "As for being objective, I think I am objective because I have no emotional investment in who wins or loses." You follow that up with comments such as:
My frustration over single matches started with Brown/Colorado in 2005. In Corvallis, Colorado was the better team. Yes they lost 14-15, but come on.That sure seems like you are emotionally invested. If you weren't, you'd take the outcomes as that: the outcome. Instead, here you are bemoaning all the times the 'better team' lost. You are not allowing the score to determine it, you're going back and giving your opinion on who you think should have won or lost. Doesn't sound too objective to me. (For that matter, I objectively think that Wisconsin '06 beats Florida '06 7 of 10 games. Oooh, see what I did? I said something was objective so that made it so! Just because I think I know what I'm talking about!)
Yes Zipp was awesome, but Brown capitalized on luck...Yes Brown was better then, but had they played a series, Colorado wins Nationals.
Gibson was easily the best player but people did not like his publicized attitude, especially towards his teammates.
Same thing with the Sockeye/Furious George Final in 2006. Sockeye gets a world's greatest and the unbelievable Skip play? Those two plays were pure luck and they completely erased a great offensive game by Furious, and Sockeye won 15-13.
Your Callahan article was likewise full of false assumptions and contradictions. Take for example, these two comments from the article:
In watching the last few Callahan Award winners come and go from the podium, it really seems like the award is nothing short of a popularity contest.You claim the award was a popularity contest, but for 4 straight years the winner played on the eventual championship team, '04-'07, and Wiggins was a finalist in '03. And Richter, winner of a popularity contest? Did you even play in San Diego? No one liked Richter in college but his teammates; everyone feared him. He won not because his team won in '04 (irrelevent: the outcome of the Callahan was decided before Nationals) but because he was dominant. Dominant. Ask your former teammates on the Squids about how popular Richter was.
Despite his amazing talents, Richter got the award because he was the nomination when they won it all in 2004.
You propose a a more 'objective' means of electing the "real MVP," the NUMP, of which you are a member (did you forget to mention that?). And yet, how objective is the NUMP? A quick glance at this year's members shows that of the 34 members, 22 are current players or coaches of college teams. It also shows 34 of 34 once played Ultimate for a college team. How objective is that? At least most sports writers, who you assume guard the sanctity of objectivity when selecting other sports' MVPs, never played competitive college athletics. They are people who travel and study and watch game after game after game. And even then, they cant' agree on what "most valuable" means. Look at the Hall of Fame and steroid scandal in baseball; there's no consensus on what to do because of differing opinions. Objectivity has no opinion, Match. But why do you think the NUMP would do a better job of deciding the MVP than Callahan voters? Your response:
Athletes are responsible for playing, nothing more and nothing less. It is not their job to hype the sport, or write about it, or even discuss it because frankly it detracts from your ability and there are more objective people out there who can do a better job.I see, Match. Is the NUMP really the "body of intelligent, objective, and focused people" that you say it is? It sounds like there's a thorough vesting process to become a NUMP member. How does one become a member?
The future of the MVP is the NUMP. Having a body of intelligent, objective, and focused people is a great thing for this sport and their choice for MVP is better than the Callahan.
What’s also great about the NUMP, is that it is purely volunteer based. It’s not like people are turned away, anyone can volunteer for it.Wait, so you're saying anyone can be on the NUMP, including people who are unintelligent, biased, unfocused, or generally don't watch more than a few tourneys a season? Make up your mind already, but do so before you start putting down the Callahan award and calling its namesake "Hank." One last quote:
What Rob or Skip or Rodney or myself have done for the game was simply because we as individuals wanted to make a difference. We did nothing special, we didn't survey people, we weren't amazing players (well, skip is), we just knew we had a good idea and we were brave enough to put in the work to see it through.And here is where I think your true intentions lie naked for us to read, as you list yourself along with Rob, Rodney and Skip; it's not that you think players' votes shouldn't count, but that you want so desperately for your vote to count, for you to have a say, for your opinion to matter. "Please listen to me, I'm on the NUMP, I'm unbiased, I know what I'm talking about, I flew to Centex this year" is scrawled along the margins of all these writings claiming objectivity.
I'm happy to read your opinion on who you think should have won the Callahan or the Championship, but you have failed to convince me that your opinion is any more valid than a kid casting his ballot having played in 4 tourneys against many of the nominees. And in case you're wondering, this year I was at Vegas, Stanford, NW Regionals, and Natties. I'd be happy to share my opinions with you too. In fact, I think I have.
Match, this sport is at a stage where, by pure virtue of you writing a lot (and often), you get a seat at the table of discussion on a national scale. Good for you. You put in the time, as you said; you earned it. Now, do you have anything substantive to add, or is merely braying and being heard enough for you?