Friday, February 8, 2008

The Ultimate $lut- Do you love them or hate them?


In ultimate, at the competitive and league levels, we have a unique type of individual that goes from team to team each year in search of the situation that suits them best as a player. Moving between league teams, switching between coed to womens/mens, this person is a mercenary.

We have a nickname for these people- ultimate $lut.

Please see the corresponding poll question to the right of this page.

I won't name any names, but I will give you a past discussion with the most honest ultimate $lut I've ever met. Person X was a very experienced female player that had spent many years playing national ultimate and is known throughout the 3500 member league as a skilled teacher. During one summer season, she picked up in mid season with a team I was on (Her regular top team had no room for her) and stepped in admirably. The team was top 8 in the city, she got a very nice role, and she was quickly a part of the culture of the team. Naturally, I expected her to return based on her efforts and her experience. When I asked her before the next season again, she said:

"No Steven, I've managed to pick up with another team that's going to be good. The experience was so fun... but I'm an ultimate slut...."

Why are these players tolerated/coveted by teams? Simple reasons
  • They are skilled
  • Teams need skill
  • Teams have a very short win now philosophy in ultimate
I'm not saying we should implement a reserve clause in ultimate. Far from it! I do however think that the ultimate $lut can be a harmful thing to a ultimate team and a program that wants to challenge the big teams of the continent.

Is it impossible to expect loyalty from players given that teams in ultimate are also generally disloyal to its players? Is it a vicious circle?

Let me give you a brief quote of what Nicolo Machiavelli had to say about the topic:

Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is deferred only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy. The fact is, they have no other attraction or reason for keeping the field than a trifle of stipend, which is not sufficient to make them willing to die for you. They are ready enough to be your soldiers whilst you do not make war, but if war comes they take themselves off or run from the foe;

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