Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ultimate coverage in the news... some musings

So i was looking around to see the last time the NYT covered ultimate, and stumbled on a few things...

the 1989 New York Times...

Running, diving, catching and striving constantly to move downfield toward an opponent's end zone. The game is not football, but Ultimate Frisbee.
the 1999 New York Times...
MOMENTS before the start of their regional championship match two weeks ago, players from the world champion Ultimate Frisbee team Cigar huddled on the sidelines. They sized up their opponents, plotted defensive strategies and reviewed the rule on interference from pine trees in the end zone. Then they each grabbed hold of a white disk. ''All this talk is making me dizzy,'' they chanted. ''Yo, baby, yo, baby, let's get busy.''
Complete with wonderfully quaint mis-characterizations and almost-truths such as this...
Soon, the Discraft -- considered more stable than the Wham-O Frisbee that gave the sport its name -- sailed the length of the field and was caught by an opposing player.
A two-fer ladies and gentlemen - the discraft flew through the air, and also, Wham-O Frisbee gave the sport its name. But alas, coverage of any stripe in the world's most widely read newspaper is acceptable. As the saying goes - any press is good press. And as the saying goes in ultimate: "wait... press? what press?"

Well here's the trend, nationals seems to get covered with a full article of some length about once every 10 years, so where are ya New York Times, its about time for another article?

What's more interesting to me are these paragraphs...

The pace is similar to that of a soccer or lacrosse game, and thus requires a great deal of athleticism from its participants.

To explain the game, players often use a medley of analogies to other sports. ''The sprinting is like in hockey,'' said Dan Haar, 40, a member of Ashtray and a business writer for The Hartford Courant. ''The scoring is like football, the offensive flow is like soccer and the defense is like basketball.''
In the 40 years since the sport was created we can't figure out a way to describe our sport to non-players in a way that does not invoke another sport. Why is that? Do you ever try to explain baseball to someone by comparing it to another sport? I would say rarely, you explain the objective and the rules.

But here is the kicker....

But some wait for the day their sport will be played on a bigger stage. David Chaiken, who learned to play in Prospect Park in Brooklyn 20 years ago as a teen-ager, recalled a trip to Germany in 1989, when the Miami team for which he was playing performed in an Ultimate demonstration for the World Games. This year, World Games officials decided to include Ultimate as a medal sport at its 2001 competition in Japan. ''It took 10 years for that to happen,'' said Mr. Chaiken, who when not tossing Frisbees is the executive chef at Johnney's Fish Grill in the World Financial Center.

Yet Frisbee, as a sport, remains unfamiliar to many people. ''The perception that it is something you do on the beach with dogs is still out there,'' Mr. Chaiken said. ''It's still a grass-roots thing.''
Ok two things here.

1./ a personal pet peeve - and some ultimate players love this - "haha we play ultimate, with dogs!!" stop. just stop. this is done, when someone says this to you, kindly inform them of the sport you actually play. take your sport seriously. that article was from 10 years ago. the same joke is still funny now? that quote is from 10 years ago. 10 years ago.

It didn't help people realize that what you do doesnt involve a dog, and repeating it now wont help either.

2./ yes, ultimate is growing - there are more high school teams now in many cities than ever before. but...
The event was the culmination of sectional and regional competitions involving about 500 teams nationwide
That was from 1989... 20 years ago. There aren't that many more club teams now, which is very interesting to me. High school is exploding, college is as well to an extent. Summer leagues are more packed in my experience, but it seems club teams are remaining around the same level give or take?

What does this show - that roughly the same number of people want to play competitively? That most new additions to the game of ultimate have been recreational players?

This is a long and winding post, i realize. But i hope it spurs some discussion, ultimate in the media is a valid topic of discussion. Is ultimate-validity something that can be achieved by a conventional PR campaign by the UPA? (not that this has or will occurred) or is it something that is possible via a viral or street team style campaign? (something along the lines of youtube videos and posting the ten simple rules on light posts and city walls)

Or is it something that is just not achievable?

Let's hear some thoughts