Thursday, April 30, 2009
Women Love to Huck!
In Ultimate, a long pass is called a huck. In today's NY Times, there is an article that discusses women's ultimate. The basic idea is that this is a fun, competitive sport that is growing in popularity, especially among women. The article does a nice job of discussion the evolution of the sport from hippies to a worldwide competitive sport. I'd like to highlight two aspects of the game:
a) the article underplays the "spirit of the game" that is key to the ultimate experience. The game is largely self-refereed and contact is accidental, not purposive. Kind of like basketball but even picks are illegal in ultimate. The point is simply that the game, due to its hippie roots, largely fosters a fun, friendly environment. True, it can get a bit less positive at the highest levels (I remember playing in a summer league twenty plus years ago in New York against members of the NY Club team that was winning championships--they didn't get the spirit of the game). Still, the spirit largely remains, making it not only a source of physical fitness (the article is in the NYT fitness section), but also emotional and mental fitness.
b) the article omits a key form of ultimate experience--co-ed or mixed ultimate. In college, I played only in open (or men's) division, but since then, I have almost played entirely on teams composed of men and women. Other than softball, I have a hard time thinking of a sport where this happens often. In Montreal, the leagues are composed of co-ed teams, with the traveling/competitive teams taking three forms--men's, women's, mixed. Teams that are sexist and do not use their female players effectively are punished--by the competitive environment--four against seven (usually the mixed game has four men and three women on a side) is going to lose more often than not, even if the four guys are terrific players.
One of the happiest developments in my life over the past year or so is that my daughter is now sharing my love for this silly but amazing game. She is learning my creed: more ultimate is more ultimate!