Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Vision

Do you have a vision for Ultimate for the future? If so, what is it? What do you see when you look out 5, 10, or 15 years from now?

I think that for many of us, a vision of the future is measured in terms of events that create a sense of legitimacy. When I was in high school in the late 70's/early 80's, I would play pick-up with the Cornell team. I can clearly recall the discussions in which it was put forth with absolute certainty that "Ultimate will be an Olympic sport in 20 years". Well, here we are, 25 years later, and that hasn't happened. Another pillar of legitimacy is a professional Ultimate league. Again, the failure of the WUSA raises red flags, especially since banking on youth awareness and popularity is crucial to both the WUSA and Ultimate.

It is hard, when considering a vision for the future, to not get caught up in the understood symbols of validity and legitimacy. I actually question as to whether modeling Ultimate on the current vogue constitutes a vision. I think there are folks out there that view adherence to "experiments" such as self-officiating as dooming us to a Promethean existence. There are times, like when I am playing a team of cheaters, that, I must admit, I agree that SOTG seems like an abject failure. However, there are also times when surrendering to the impatience of needing immediate validation fails to cherish the things that differentiate our sport from other athletic experiences. When I go into a school and teach clinics to a room full of 15 year olds that have never heard of the sport, it is helpful to have the self-officiating card to play as a means of getting their attention. I have thick skin, so I don't mind discussing respect and accountability with a bunch of skeptical kids. At least I have got them thinking. Sure, it hurts to be dismissed as "quaint", but, remember, Ultimate is like the rock band that you have discovered that no one knows about.

Media exposure leads to legitimacy, or at least that is what we have come to believe. Sure, it pisses me off to see poker on ESPN. I would love to be able to watch some Ultimate on TV. However, be careful what you wish for. If your motivations are based on wanting the general public to view Ultimate (and you) in a light of your design...watch out. I am not sure that I buy into the perception that sports like football and basketball are the panacea of the TV experience. If your vision for Ultimate is edited to accommodate the rigidity of the TV format, think about the impact and proliferation of TV on baseball. I think it is not a coincidence that the glory years of baseball coincided with the explosion of radio. Have you ever listened to hockey on the radio? I have, and it is terrible. My current thought is that there is great potential in webstreaming Ultimate. As I have said before, the CSTV webstreaming footage is my favorite website. The screen is tiny, the quality is terrible, the camera shots suck, and I have to suffer through Kyle's commentary and Ariel telling me how to throw a flick, but I just can't get past the potential. Can you imagine being able to go to a site and being able to select a quality game like......I was going to say the DOG vs Furious 02 semis, but that is just so obvious. How about the 98 Dark Horse v Red Tide game? Ultimate should embrace the challenge of using its unique assets to differentiate itself. Perhaps a new media, full of potential, is where we should hang our hat.

I do a lot of corporate events for my work. I see corporations struggle with balancing the need to put forth the things that make them different with the need to be familiar. I recall watching a show about Pixar, and the guys are driving around this big office space on scooters. No "veal pens" here. Offices that express creativity and imagination. Of course, the show made me think "If I decided to not be self-employed. That would be where I would want to work". Someone had a vision about a cool place to work. Don't take this time, in which your vision for Ultimate can make a difference, for granted. Finally, if you do have a vision for Ultimate, always view it with a critical eye. To what extent is it a belief system? What assumptions am I making? Is it dynamic and reactive to change? I have been lucky to know folks with vision for Ultimate. I admire their conviction, courage, and perserverance, and I appreciate them serving as role models.

4 comments:

Mr. Pickles said...

George,

I just turn the volume down on the CSTV videos so I don't have to listen to the lousy commentary.

-Kyle

gcooke said...

That's funny. Seriously, it must be hard to watch that stuff with your voice on it.

I think you guys did a fine job......

-G

gcooke said...

Kyle,

Did you guys do the voice-over stuff in real time?

Or was it dubbed in later?

-G

Elizabeth said...

It was dubbed later.

:Elizabeth