Saturday, May 7, 2016

Professional Ultimate Witnessed!

Last night was the opening game of the American Ultimate Disk League in Ottawa--the Ottawa Outlaws vs. the Montreal Royals.  They played for this first game of the season in the big football/soccer stadium in town.  They had free tickets for those who play in Ottawa's ultimate leagues so I took a colleague, David Long, who had introduced me to curling--turnabout is fair play!

So, how is professional ultimate different from regular ultimate?  In more ways than I expected:
  • in normal ultimate, violations and fouls are self-called and usually lead to do-overs.  In the professional game, there are referees, and violations and fouls can lead to ten yard gains or losses or even turnovers (traveling is a turnover!).  
  • the professional game consists of four quarters, twelve minutes each, with the clock stopping after every score.  This means that the game is high scoring and longer than the normal ultimate game--about 2.5 hours last night.  In normal ultimate, games are either up to 15 or 18 or 21 or they are whoever scores the most in an hour or hour and a half.  

  • There is entertainment during the halftime: kids playing ultimate.

    Otherwise, the game is mostly the same.  The offensive strategies (mostly horizontal but some vertical stacks) with heaps of hucks and the defensive strategies (a bit of zone but mostly man to man with some forcing to one side going on) were basically the same.  The key, as always, is the team that turns over the disk less wins.  According to the program, the Royals did well last year despite having a high rate of turnovers, and last night the turnovers killed them.  Some bad choices, some bad throws, and some very bad choices.  Both sides showed impressive athleticism and effort, and the game was very entertaining to both me and David.  Is it more fun to watch than Curling? For me, absolutely ;)

    I have played with and against a few of the Montreal Royals players over the years.  This makes professional ultimate completely different from other sports, as very few ordinary folks get to be on the same field as people who end up being pro's.  Could I play with these guys now?  Alas, no.  My throws are probably almost as good as these guys (and probably my throws were close to as good as these guys a few years ago), but there is no way I would get open on a regular basis nor nor would I be able to cover any of these guys for more than a second.  

    For video of one point of the game, go here.  And, yes, I will probably be going to more professional ultimate games, both to support the enterprise and because it is a fun game to watch.

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