Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Discussion Revisit- Ultimate: Team Game or Game of Stars?


Early in the season, I discussed the Boston Celtics and asked if their ability to dominate with 3 big stars and a roster full of cheap depth players was the way to go about winning a championship. I also wondered if Ultimate is a game where 3 stars can make all the difference. The opinions were varied.

The Celtics high risk 'win now' strategy paid off. The big 3 played all year and played relatively well in the playoffs. They secured low cost veteran talent (Cassell and P.J. brown) to comtemplate the bench of James Posey, Tony Allen, Kendrick Perkins, Big Baby Davis, Eddie House. The bench played well beyond expection. Rajon Rondo turned out to be a VERY decent starting point guard (He still can't shoot, but his efficiency and speed was well above perceptions of him).

The day after their NBA championship, I really think it was both the bench and the Big 3 that carried the day in the playoffs. The Big 3 gets all the glory, but there were games when Garnett missed jump shot after jump shot, Allen went cold for the entire Detroit series, and Pierce failed to dominate.

Cue the bench.

Back to ultimate. I still see the big guys on top ultimate teams and recognize that they win many games for their teams. But they need a strong supporting cast to do what they do, as much as the bench needs them to win.

What did you think of the Celtics run? Was the Big 3 as big as the media tells us?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Sad Facts About Air Travel and Ultimate


By this time, your team has made a decision about whether or not to attend regionals in your province, with the hopes of going to nationals in Calgary.

With all the positive information I have heard about the Cowtown tournament from those in and out of ultimate, I was originally saddened to realize that the World Championships, happening the week before in the neighboring province of B.C., was going dampen the quality of the nationals tournament. Many worlds players will miss nationals because they can't/won't play in two high level tournaments in successive weeks. Now, it is also rumored that some great teams in their entirety will skip nationals.

Are good teams skipping nationals to imitate Furious George? Sadly, it's not that simple. These no shows might very well continue into the near future.

It's those d@mn airplane ticket prices.

They are killing the growth of our game at the highest level.

I won't make many excuses for the airline companies in this countries. Essentially, we are at the mercy of an oligopoly. Air Canada has managed to endear themselves to no one with inefficiency, constant service reduction and self entitlement when it comes to government support and government regulation. WestJet's reputation as a cheap fare carrier is taking a beating.

However, we all know the cost of fuel prices. They are skyrocketing. It is estimated that trips across Canada cost $129 or more per seat. That's the start of the sunk costs, and we can start to see why players can't afford to come to Calgary and experience a great host.

It's our nature as ultimate players to either b^tch among friends and pay , or bail out on our team with the explanation of cost. If we want to do something about it, we have to do more.

How do other sports do it?
  • A strong national organization that centralizes membership size and strength
  • Early planning
  • Sponsorship affinity programs with the airlines that give strong benefits to the airline.
  • Organized purchases by groups and associations
Much like being on an ultimate team that has to adapt to its opponents, we have to adapt to the way sport business works. The lack of support from government is actually a strength for us, as we are flexible to do business with the corporate world.

It sucks that we are playing in a time where the cost of airplane travel is becoming more of a barrier than an enabler. In such a big country, there is little we can do outside of getting organized, working together and flexing those purchasing muscles of ours.