Friday, October 17, 2008

Skip is in town right now. After a conference call between Cultimate and the UPA yesterday afternoon, they met up with the Hodag officers to discuss the current situation. I'm sure it's not the last of the conversations, as many reservations remain, and more will be hashed out when a few more of the players in this play arrive for No Wisconsequences this weekend (which shows good weather now, brisk in the low 60's with slight cloud cover).

Oh boy, where to begin. OK. Carleton and Wisconsin have become a brotherhood of sorts, and through communication have loosely decided to move together in whatever direction they decide. And it seems like the rest of the teams are in agreement: they have many reservations, want UPA cooperation, and demand a say in the final outcome, but are very intrigued about C1. They like the general premise. They think it's a good thing. They're anxious to experiment. And, despite concerns about having to change the approach to the season, having a schedule known months in advance and having every game matter sounds fun. It's exciting.

Who would have thought that in the 5 years I've been out of college Ultimate the Hodags and CUT would be loving each other like an old couple? Even I was on Carleton's campus a couple of weekends ago raising toasts and reveling with Northfield. I'm developing a mancrush on Grant and Kanner. At a house party in Stadium 205 (if i can remember the number...probably not accurate) Muffin, in full Morfin-mode and wearing a white CUT jersey, was approached by a member of Carleton's basketball team that looked like a strapping athletic buck. A paraphrased summary of the exchange:

"Hey, you play on the Ultimate team. I've been wanting one of those jerseys for a long time, I think they look fly."
"Fuck yeah. Ultimate, bra. You should come play for us."
"I've wanted to, I think it's a sweet game, it's just hard to play basketball and Ultimate."
"Are you athletic? Can you jump high? How fast are you?"
"Yeah, I can jump and run."
"What's your vert?"
"Like forty inches." (Not a made up number)
"Fuck! Dude, try out! Man, I will jerk you off so hard if you play for us. We all will, we will jerk you. Come play dude, jump over me! Jump over ME! We will jerk you so hard!"
Dude walks away slowly.
"Come back! Play for us! I will jerk you off!"
So you see, our relationship has gotten so good that even Muffin is helping CUT with their recruiting.

Moving on, there are some idiots that are decrying Cultimate's proposal as an end to spirit of the game. Asking if 5 Ultimate sponsoring this and simultaneous putting something about Spirit (capital S) on their website is contradictory. Talking about how how everyone is going to throw elbows in people's mouths. Assuming refs. Talking out of their ass without a peg-leg of information to lean on. Spirit is within. It's how you play, but more importantly how seriously you take yourself and your honor, regardless of whether there's a rule there or not. You respect yourself and your efforts now, you will respect yourself later, be it in Ultimate or elsewhere. If you come prepackaged as an asshole, you'll remain the insufferable douche you've always been. Cultimate isn't about to create a legion of d-bags that aren't already there.

This whole proposal most directly affects teams 25-32, bubble teams that put together a season magical enough to upset some of the 25 proposed C1 teams early on in the year before fading hard and fast when real shit is on the line. And the best of those teams can play into the final tourney. The proposal has the best 13 teams from C1 play in the championship tournament along with the winner of a play-in game between the best two of these bubble squads. The winner takes the 14th slot, the loser becomes the #1 seed in a 64 team C2 bracket tourney held concurrently with the championship at Devens. The winner of that bracket tourney, as well as the play-in game winner, become part of C1 for the following season, and on and on it keeps growing. You can still earn your way in, same as now. Keep winning, and your competition will keep improving. Sleeping your way to the top still not an option, but you may want to confirm that with Skip.

The teams considering the C1 option also agree that they want a seat at the table: representation and a voice on the Cultimate Board of Directors that will guide the championship league and play. One of the biggest complaints about the UPA is the lack of communication between their board and the players regarding proposals and progress, a big reason why the idea of C1 had a foothold to begin with. In talking with a board member recently, they told me that I didn't get it, how much the UPA does, and how they're talking about innovation, and that there are heated exchanges with people trying to change the sport. Well, that's the thing, no one got it because they're so closed off to communication with the general masses that we're left to make our own assumptions about what is and isn't getting done.

And it's clear from how seriously the proposed C1 teams are taking this proposal that they've filled in a lot of the blanks themselves, and found that they were troubled by how many blanks existed in the first place. And Cultimate is providing a lot of the same answers that have been talked about in dens and living rooms by these players for years. A lot of the snubbed teams are complaining that they want "their shot" at the big teams. That they're entitled to play against the best of the best. But several of the captains on these C1 teams raised a point that seemed to resonate across the group: Are they? Are the teams that play ultimate casually entitled to playing those teams that offer a substantial portion of their college experience and lives to being the best they can be at this sport?

This I think gets to the crux of what this is all about, what I was thinking in the back of my head when I wrote my Splinter Cell post. "Elite" now seems to be a dirty, pretentious word in the Ultimate community as well as the political one. But the fact is there are some teams that don't put in a quarter of the work the Hodags do. That's not an exaggeration, and I'm not arguing that they need to work as hard as Wisconsin or Carleton. They're not trying to let Ultimate rule their lives like that. But there are some teams that do, and have been rewarded with dominance in the sport as a result. No, not all the teams that do this are currently included in C1, and this will need to be addressed. But all the teams in C1 do live this life. They care about being the best. They are willing to make concessions above and beyond what most of the haters on RSD are willing to do. They are looking to play against other teams giving (and giving up) as much as they are. They are not interested in proving themselves against ragtag groups that occasionally get enough players to scrimmage at practice. They want to measure themselves against equivalent foes who have earned the right, through their hard work and dedication.

And as the conversations continue, more of those 25 teams are warming up to the idea. A season where every game matters. Opponents as vested in being the best as you are. Schedules set months ahead of time. Reduced uniform and travel costs. A push toward the summit. It sounds enticing, but most importantly, it sounds like a lot of fun.


Tom said...

Strange that C2's existence would be announced through this blog instead of Cultimate's site, a press release, or even RSD. Seems like this is how rumors get started. Check what you're doing before criticizing people for "talking out of their ass without a peg-leg of information to lean on."

david said...

I love it, Hector "La Maldad", champion of elitism! It looks so right on you! A nice little dab of Hillary Clinton's 'inevitability' strategy there too.
I've got an idea for a role you could play for this new college Super-Elitest Division - you could travel around the country visiting prospective teams to gauge their dedication to see if they live and breathe ultimate sufficiently enough to be worthy to play against the chosen few. This will surely be a better method then a) randomly choosing popular schools or god forbid b) LETTING IT BE DETERMINED ON THE FIELD.
It is reassuring to know that there is no way the captains of the 25 are as arrogant as you (and only you can) make them seem.

Hh said...

There are rumors and there is information that I have.

For now let's say this: after a conference call yesterday between Cultimate and the UPA Board, it has been agreed to not make any more moves on this until after the two parties can sit down together at the Club Championships.

degs said...

Tom, there are plenty of peg-legs of information out there. We are standing on volumes of information. Keg-legs.

Hh said...


If this was not a consideration and they thought like you, all the teams asked to join would have already rejected the entire premise out of hand. Their deliberations and concern, as well as your adamant disagreement, show that a)there is a rift here and b)people are looking for a new way of doing things. They're listening and being careful. It doesn't seem like you are.

But, like i said in the last message, it seems like the two main parties here, Cultimate and the UPA, have agreed to put some things on hold until they have a chance to have face-to-face discussions at Club Natties. I doubt there will be more progress or breakthroughs between now and then. And I think this period to think about all the factors involved and disregard dickhead reactions like yours is good and necessary.

The Pulse said...

"Strange that C2's existence would be announced through this blog instead of Cultimate's site, a press release, or even RSD. Seems like this is how rumors get started. Check what you're doing before criticizing people for "talking out of their ass without a peg-leg of information to lean on.""

Tom: it was mentioned on RSD and ignored, it was mentioned in phone calls between Cyle and the teams, and it hasn't come out because Cultimate hasn't actually made any announcements yet.

Joaq said...

I think the issue of bubble teams is slightly more nuanced than you make it out to be. You say "This whole proposal most directly affects teams 25-32." While it's true that these teams are greatly effective, I think the problem is that it more affects teams 20-40. There is far less consistency from year to year outside the top 15 or so programs, so deciding who gets to have slots 16-25 seems pretty arbitrary, especially considering the lack of transparency in the selection. (it looks like WW was chosen because they should be good this year, but Kansas was chosen because they have a history of being good . . .).

Also, only growing the conference by two teams a year doesn't reflect the amount of change and the growing level of competition in college ultimate given the growth of juniors talent coming into colleges across the country. Anyway, I'm sure this structure will all change after Cultiamte and the UPA sit down face to face.

Sitting and waiting,

david said...

I take issue with your and C1s elitism, not with the concept of change. I am glad to hear my players association is involved - how do you think your supposition that lesser teams don't deserve to play the better teams will fly in that meeting?

Pat said...

Two things:

1. What do you think the "elite" teams desire most? Structure, playing only the other elite teams, having the regular season count, etc.? Or is it to legitimize the sport by using refs, getting sponsors, progressing to deals that will fund the leagues, getting to the point of other mainstream college sports? Or is it both of these things?

2. There are benefits that each potential C1 team will receive. How do you go about spreading the benefits among all the members of the team, including B-team members? Sorry, this is only for the A-team or spread out the benefits? Because then the monetary benefits really aren't that big for big programs. (Organizations of 50+ people)

3. Ballpark, how long will it take Cultimate to get college ultimate to the point of Lacrosse, for example? In your opinion?

Andrew said...

I was thinkin it all over (still am of course) and then I thought about CBS College Sports coverage of nationals and their deal with the UPA. How would this all be affected? I assume this coverage and exposure may be sacrificed under C1's path.

Hh said...


I agree, this whole thing is much more nuanced than any one post or any thread on RSD is going to be. And yes, I'm fairly certain that once people sit down to talk, the final outcome will look different than what we currently have before us.

David, that remains to be seen. Like I said above, whatever final product comes out, I think it's going to be win-win for everyone, and I doubt what we're looking at now is going to be what we'll be facing in February.

Pat, first let's divorce the refs debate from what's happening here. These observers won't be much different from what we already have. Will this enhance our ability to promote the sport now? Probably not, but I think it'll be good in the long run. I think it'll mostly improve the player experience at the top end initially, and towards all teams eventually. But how long it'll take us to be "at the same point as Lacrosse", whatever that might mean, is anyone's guess.

Frank Huguenard said...

"Elite" has been a dirty word for 20 years dude. It's just that you elite fucks never knew any better. I've seen you play. You are definitely not elite.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of getting jerked off, it sounds like these top 25 teams (or at least Hector) are loving getting jerked off by Skippy and Cyle (and the rest of the teams out there that are paying them to do it). Before they blow their wad though they're anxiously waiting to see if the UPA will finish them off with a blow job or even better get double teamed by the UPA and Cultimate.

XTERRA 29er said...

I'm not sure about C1 (but it's growing on me) or this new brotherly love between CUT and that team in Madison, but I enjoy your take as usual.


Hh said...

I will take that as a ringing endorsement Frank, thank you.
And in reference to your email where you asked that I come out in favor of you publicly as you run for the board, it's interesting that you asked for my endorsement then and insult me now.

Also, I am not an elite player, but I've got a good noggin on my shoulders. The teams I have played on, however, have been elite.

As a final aside to you Frank, despite the fact I didn't want you cheering and waving over some public endorsement of your candidacy, I did vote for you for the board. Not that I think you're going to get elected; when I voted for Nader in 2000 I was certain that little crusading nutjob wasn't going to win either. But I did want to express, in my own small way, that I am not very happy with the way things are currently being run.

Anonymous said...

Given the theme of this thread, thought this link appropriate.

Anonymous said... the "moving on" section of this post you seem to be endorsing the notion that refs wont make people into cheaters. are you having a change of heart with this whole dynamic. It sure dosent jive with the "game within the game" philosophy proposed by your "college champ" buddy. What gives h????

Anonymous said...

ben....the only way for ulti to get to the level lax is at would be for it to be takin over by the ncaa. which is somthing that cultimate may be unknowingly(or knowingly) carving the trail for.

and hector....YOU VOTED FOR FRANK BUT YOU DIDNT VOTE FOR ME???? Luckily there is still time to change that vote. Of course i could take your non vote as a vote of confidence that you think there is an actuall chance of me gettin elected.....or that i'm not a "crusading nutjob"......or both, eh?

degs said...

Pretty tough to vote for someone who doesn't leave his name. I guess I could write in "Anonymous"?

Jay Schulkin said...

i think toad's unique writing style is enough of a signature.

phil said...

"Pat, first let's divorce the refs debate from what's happening here."

That might not be so easy, once you cede control of the college series to two guys who can then do whatever they want with it...

I find it amazing what offering uniforms, subsidized costs and a 50% chance of making nationals will make people think is a good idea. And you're not even in college anymore.

Anonymous said...

phil....whats the big difference between 2 guys contoling it and 12 people(upa admin) controling it. The only difference i see is that the 2 guys are obviously way more progressive and have appealed to the people they are administering to MUCH better than those "other" 12 people are and have(respectively).

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's obvious that they have appealed to the people way more than the UPA. If it was obvious there wouldn't be so much debating on RSD right now.

During the meeting, all the UPA has to do is say "NO" on help to eligibility and C1 will become club and lose all credibility.

Funny really, because it would just be a half-assed series bc I'm guessing not all the top club guys would be so thrilled to hand off their seasons to youngsters.

Anonymous said...

funny, i didnt notice the C1 teams arguing amoungst each other.

how would c1 loose credibility (personally, i dont see the big deal about this eligibilitty issue. seems you could just call all the 25 schools and get a verbal clarification on players), i mean arent all the college teams clubs of the college anyways. so in effect, they are ALL already "club" teams.

And the only thing that would be "half assed" would be the div II upa series. And isnt that the big argument here.....that c1 will make minced meat of what the upa has to work with......which i dont agree with at all. Sure it wont be as competitive but wont it be just as valid to those battling it out for THAT title???

Anonymous said...

Toad, there are a lot of things that "you don't see." But that's neither here nor there.

Without eligibility guidelines, enforcement process, and records there is no way for Cultimate to ensure that competition in their C1 is truly collegiate competition.

Even assuming that Cultimate can figure out how to handle the rostering/registrar process for their 25 teams (which would at lest prevent players from competing that don't attend the school that they compete for) without the records that the UPA has they can't ensure that the players competing have played for fewer than 5 years.

So I guess if C1 flies there's nothing stopping you from enrolling at UNCW this spring and getting a shot at another championship or Hector for cleating up for the Hodags (excuse me, the Badgers).

More realistically though, how is C1 going to determine if players like Drew Mahowald, Greg Swanson, Will Neff, and Mac Taylor are eligible or not? Maybe your team just picked up a solid grad student from another school. Is he eligible? Well, why not? I would think that the very foundation of any championship is that there are fair rules that are applied evenly across all teams. There is simply no way that they can enforce college eligibility rules without the UPA's help.

Anonymous said...

yea, i dont see the whole eligibility thing as a big issue. It just might take a little back tracking on the part of cultimate administrators....or they could just make an age limit requirement. That would be a pretty easy solution.

Anonymous said...

oh man, an age limit?! So when is Cultimate going to say:
"Yo Michigan, you can play in our C1 but that 27 year old grad student who is only a fourth year player and a defensive stud for you, he's ineligible" and "hey Carleton, that 24 year old grad student on Wisconsin who is in his sixth year on a national caliber team - yeah, about him, we know you thought he was done, but we don't have any records to prove it so we are just going with a 25 year old age limit and he can play. Sorry, hope this doesn't screw with your national championships aspirations too much. We'll get this worked out in 5 years or so."

Anonymous said...

Promote the sport? Don't you mean garner more attention for the players and teams, many of whose egos have outgrown what the UPA can provide? The worst part of ultimate is having to navigate through the 90% suburban, entitled, never-had-a-job kids to get to hang with the 10% legit personalities. The majority can't sell the sport because they can't/won't do the work required. And the guys who did understand the value of diplomacy and outreach are done playing.

College ultimate might be the least consequential athletic endeavor out there, but it seems to be made up entirely of kids who want to be admired without behaving admirably (on the field or off, by the way).

Give me the C1 money, a mediocre D-II basketball team, three months to teach them the sport and I'll roll through whatever field you want to put together. Putting teams made up of something more than stoners who made honorable mention all conference in tennis or some shit out there will promote the sport, not ninth-year seniors who are putting off real life as long as possible.

David said...

That percent that you speak of is what has almost ruined ultimate for me, until you do go find the other percent that are pretty badass. I would put the percentage at more like 50/50 though.

Ultimate is a preptacular sport at the college level. We roll up to the tourney in cars that barely work to see more Suburbans and Yukons than my whole town.

It's not the basic idea of C1 that really throws me. It is the tone some people use when discussing the matters. It makes one sound childish and arrogant, possessing a fake worldly and well-read attitude instead of a genuine one.
Maybe some of you should go work in a factory for a while to get a little wake up call.