January 11, 2016 by Patrick Stegemoeller in Opinion with 6 comments
The calendar has flipped to January, and despite its best efforts, 2015 has been relegated to the dustbin of time. If you want to poke around that dustbin, you can find all the proper reflections and eulogies of a year that was probably, what, like a B+? Is that fair? Of course, if you aren’t some weirdo who hangs out in dustbins, then join me as I embrace the possibility of a new year.
Last year, I made a similar list in an attempt to help make 2015 everything it could be. While most of my entirely reasonable requests fell on deaf ears among the powers that be, I can proudly say that at least one item on the list did become a reality, ultimate specific onesies! Five Ultimate wisely answered the call to give the people what they want, and took steps to fill the work hard/play hard hole in the ultimate apparel market.
Deep down, I think the ultimate onesie was what I wanted most out of 2015. The fact that it is now a real life thing that I can buy inspired me to make a wish list for 2016, which will hopefully have an even greater impact. (Also, Five, I’m ready to accept those royalty checks whenever. I’m on Venmo, hmu).
But enough about the past; time to look towards the bright horizon.
All Star Skills Competition
You ever wonder whether George Stubbs has a bigger flick bomb than Jon Nethercutt? Spend hours pondering whether or not Sandy Jorgenson is faster than Kami Groom? Have your attempts at sleep become restless nightmare chambers because you don’t know who has the best hammer in ultimate? In 2016, we can change that.
Honestly, I can’t believe this isn’t already a thing. At Club Nationals, in addition to all the action on the field, USAU should organize a skills competition (think NBA All-Star Weekend) featuring the best players in the game showcasing the individual skills that makes them elite.
The competitions could include cut and dry throwing challenges like biggest huck or best upside down throws, as well as pure athletic contests such as the 40 yard dash or a deep ball drill. If we’re lucky, we could see the combination of the two in a more nuanced contest. Imagine a give-and-go “obstacle course” where the contestants compete to complete the course in the shortest amount of time, or a “knockout” style breakmark drill to see who is the best in the game at the point of attack.
Maybe they could even incorporate fan involvement, and let spectators try their hand throughout the weekend to beat the best times, distances, etc. of elite players.
Please USAU, make this happen. The thought of watching Freechild and Kolick go head to head in a give-and-go competition is dizzying, and there isn’t an ultimate fan on the planet who wouldn’t love to see it.
Increased Team Spotify Presence
At this point, virtually every college and club team has a Twitter account. For the most part, they are either A) a poor attempt to copy PoNY’s aesthetic or B) an over tweeting D-III team that floods your feed with multiple tweets per point about “Lincoln City Layout” or whatever random fall tournament they are attending. Ultimate Twitter is starting to plateau, and there needs to be some serious innovation.
In 2016, I’d love to see teams expand their social media imprint by letting us in the loop on their music tastes via team Spotify accounts. Think about how much fun it would be to debate which teams have the best pre-game pump up mixes, mock Jojah for only playing mid-aughts T.I., and speculate whether the sequence of Miguel into Boyz II Men into Ginuwine you saw on Machine’s feed last night happened because someone on the team was using the account while they had sex.
Having a window into top teams is one of the coolest parts of our sport. Warming up, working out, and getting down to the same tunes as your favorite players would be awesome.
All Ultimate Booth for ESPN Games
We are now three years into USAU’s ESPN experiment, and on the whole I think most people would say it has been a positive change in the way we consume ultimate. However, there are certainly some improvements that need to be made in 2016 if USAU is really going to get its money’s worth, and that includes the commentary booth.
Since the first ESPN broadcast of ultimate at 2013 college Nationals, the broadcast organizers have elected to go with an ultimate specialist on color (the incomparable Evan Lepler) and a rotating cast of non-ultimate guys on play-by-play. Lepler has been a revelation, bringing a professionalism and passion to broadcasting that the sport just didn’t have before. The other end of the equation, however, has not matched his performance. While there have been instances where an outsider to the game picks it up quickly, for every solid pro like Shawn Kenney there has been a Jim Barber.
While it was cool to get the perspective of people seeing the game for the first time, and always (if predictably) validating to hear ultimate spoken of with high regard by an outsider, there are only so many ways an announcer can say “You know, I had no idea how much athleticism the sport required. Also, I didn’t know it was a sport” before the thrill gets stale.
In 2016, let’s get the product right and move to an all ultimate booth. Lepler can take over the play-by-play (which he does already for AUDL games) and the color commentator spot can go to an ultimate insider with broadcasting experience like Ian Toner or The Lord and Savior Lou Burress. Alternatively, if Lepler wants to stay on color, someone like Bryan Jones could step in for PxP.
Perhaps USAU wants to lend an air of authority or legitimacy to the product by having the games called by all ESPN crews, but after three years I think it is safe to say that the “legitimacy” of a non-ultimate broadcaster is not a good enough reason to warrant the risk of a Barber-sized disaster.
A Fitbit Modification That Tracks Your Throwing
Fitbit training is pretty in these days. While I don’t have one, the girl at my gym who sometimes wears this shirt that says “I’ll squat your whole family” is always wearing one so I’ll take her word for it. To be honest, I’ve found that distance hasn’t been that hard of a thing to track in my running workouts. But if there was an app or modification that could help me track my throwing, I would be very interested.
We could call it a “Flickbit” and it would count how many flicks, backhands, hammers, etc. you throw during your workouts so that you can precisely keep track of what you are working on and what you need to invest more time in. Maybe it could even measure how powerful the motion on your throws is, which would be useful for players trying to add distance to their hucks.
Admittedly I have no idea how any of this would work since I struggled to operate a graphing calculator when I was in high school, but you have to admit, it’s a pretty good name.
High Profile Ultimate Power Couple Tabloid Drama
Okay, so this may be more for the benefit of those of us in the ultimate media looking for storylines to push, but some big tabloid drama could be just the thing to give 2016 the spice it needs to outshine last year.
There was a lot of talk after Nationals in 2015 about a spark missing from the weekend. There just wasn’t quite the level of dramatic action and juicy storylines that people were looking for. Sure, that may have been because of the format or the weather or a whole host of legitimate reasons, but those issues are all complicated and don’t have easy answers. All I’ll say is that when the Brad Pitt – Angelina Jolie – Jennifer Aniston scandal went down, Mr. and Mrs. Smith made almost 500 million dollars.
There is a lot of romantic cross contamination, so to speak, in the ultimate community at every level. Ultimate is no stranger to relationship drama and I’m sure we all know of someone on our college team who got caught up in a romantic entanglement that bled over onto the field. Wouldn’t it be perversely fun to see that play out at the highest level?
Of course, rubbernecking over the emotional anguish of a member of the ultimate community does seem sort of morally suspect. But man, think of how much more drama it would add to the equation if two of the involved parties met in the elimination rounds of Nationals. And if this whole debacle went down in mixed, then double or triple that drama.
Mostly though, it would be super fun to give Nicky Spiva or whoever a nickname like “Mr. Steal Your Girl” and maybe if we’re lucky have that end up on ESPN.
A Callahan Video Set To Countdown
In 2015, I wished for a Callahan video set to Ante Up and the mashup song in Qxhna Titcomb’s video had Ante Up in it… so… sort of!
There are plenty of bangers I would love to see in a video this year. Big Rings would be dope, Bad Girls would be super dope, and if someone figured out a way to make Cannon work it would be so lit that I’d probably need to go on dialysis1.
This year though I’m looking for something a little different. I’m for something that is part banger/part weird but great/part emotional journey. That’s pretty much Countdown in a nutshell. It would definitely be a challenge to pull off, but so worth it. Also, at one point Beyonce manages to rhyme “sing,” “chain,” “change,” and “brain” in succession, so there’s that.
I’ll set forth the same promise as last year: I don’t care if you are just the team’s stat keeper or if you tore your ACL and missed the entire season, if you make your video to Countdown I swear you have my vote.
Seriously, we may need to collectively reassess Freeway’s career based on that verse ↩