Monday, November 2, 2009

An Ultimate Epiphany

When I started playing ultimate more than twenty years ago, the folks I played with tended to be athletic but not athletic specimens.  These days, increasingly, I play against people who are amazing athletes, which means, even if one discounts the disadvantages that come with age, I am often significantly mis-matched.  I was never very good at out-jumping other guys, so people are always surprised when I manage to catch a disk that is above the scrum.  I used to think of myself as an average or (when significantly deluded) above average defender.  I have not been able to fool myself about that for quite a while.  I can still get open most of the time, but if a dedicated athlete really tries to shut me down, he can.

So, I often wonder what life would be like if I was born later, but it is clear that I would not have developed my comparative advantage--my wide array of throws and pretty decent reading of the fields--if I started now.  I would have far less playing time, getting fewer reps, so I would have developed my skills less.  This is what Malcolm Gladwell tells us in Outliers.

And that would be unfortunate for me as ultimate is the best match of people, spirit, silliness, and competition that I have encountered.  Just last night, I had one of the best catches of my career--running into the endzone and catching the disk after it had already passed me, as I dove.  Oh, and I was wearing a cowsuit at the time and yelling "moooooo!"  Probably focused too much on the moo, as I landed badly on my shoulder--not a permanent injury, but not a great idea. Still, even after all of these years, I can still lay out, even if it means landing on my udders.

1 comment:

Steve Greene said...

Good for you-- what I'd give to see a video of that catch.