February 14, 2013 by Carson Mailler in Opinion with 19 comments
Ed. Note: Michigan had a rough showing at QCTU, failing to make it into the championship bracket and losing their first round on Sunday. The poor showing was compounded by some angry players and negativity on the sideline, including vocal disagreement with calls from the observers.
A Michigan captain also yelled obscenities in front of the tournament director, Michelle Ng, due to the Sunday format, which left Michigan with two byes after their Sunday loss (because a team dropped out). This post is partially in response to these incidents.
I joined MagnUM in 2009 as a graduate of the Amherst Regional High School Ultimate program. I was immediately enamored with the team at Michigan because of how much like that program this one was: a team that cared as much about spirit as it did about winning. Here I found the same ideals, the same drive for greatness and respect for the game that I had grown up on, and I loved it.
But MagnUM has always had its rough patches. Just like everywhere else in the college Ultimate world, athletes are snatched up out of tryouts, taught the basics, and thrown out into games to represent their teams and their universities. But something is missing. As many times as we say the word “spirit” it just doesn’t mean the same thing to someone who just picked up the game as it does to someone who grew up breathing it.
When I ran for captain earlier this year it was on a platform of spirit and respect. I sent an email to the team detailing why these words are so important to me and why we had to be better. Last weekend, I realized my efforts to get this idea across had been insufficient.
Disappointment is a part of any sport. As much as we’d love to win every game we play it just doesn’t happen. But my disappointment from this weekend went far beyond that when I reflected on the tournament and realized how negatively other teams had perceived us. I was disappointed in my guys for letting their emotions get in the way of our games and disappointed in myself for ever letting that become a possibility.
For this, MagnUM owes some apologies. We apologize to the observers and TDs at QCTU who were just doing their jobs. We apologize to the other teams that outplayed us and outclassed us. We apologize to our alumni, our fans, and our university for misrepresenting them in our actions. I promise to all of you that next time you see us we will be a better team, both in performance and in spirit.
I want to use this opportunity to let other teams learn from our mistake, whether they’re a group of new Frisbee players or the highest level club athletes in the world. Don’t let spirit die. It is not enough to refrain from having bad spirit; teams need to actively make a positive impact with the way they play the game and treat each other—the way it was meant to be. Maybe the sport is going in the direction of full referees and maybe it won’t look the same in years to come. But no matter what happens, Ultimate will not be Ultimate without Spirit of the Game. We need to take Ultimate Frisbee back to its roots, to remember what makes our sport so great. Let’s not let spirit die.