The Back Pages: Scenes From The Sideline In Cincinnati

Ultimate is weird. Even at the elite college level. Whenever he saw or heard something noteworthy, Tad Wissel wrote it at the end of his notebook. These are the back pages.

A skydiver lands on the field at the 2014 College Championships.
Photo by Kevin Leclaire — UltiPhotos.com

Editor’s Note: The following article contains NSFW language.

Ultimate is weird. Even at the elite college level. Whenever I saw or heard something noteworthy, I wrote it at the end of my notebook. These are the back pages.

Oblivious Parental Banter

The National tournament brings out both ends of the Ultimate parent spectrum. There are the parents that go to all the tournaments, hate every other team, and really know what’s going on. Then there are the parents who know absolutely nothing. For the clueless parents, the kids sort of let them know that this “Nationals” thing is kind of a big deal, so even the most absentee parents come out of the woodwork to see what the scuttlebutt is about. Here are some of the more adorably annoying parental quotes I heard on the sidelines last weekend.

“We could really use an interception here, guys!”

“They say the ‘picks’ are just like picks in basketball but they’re not. They’re nothing like basketball.” – A parent explaining picks to another parent

Dad: So what just happened?
Son: Our offense just got scored on.
Dad: [stares blankly]
Son: That’s really bad.
Dad: Ohhhhh…

Also terrible: when a team just gave up a break and everybody is walking back to the line all pissed off, and some dude’s mom tries to recreate a popular team cheer – only in a really unbearable mom voice. Shudder.

The Idiot Rookie

I was watching a game and somebody attempts a greatest that falls incomplete. A random rookie I was standing near excitedly says, “Hey! Did anybody just see that Callahan attempt?”

Collectively, his teammates all exhale in disgust. “Goddammit, Steve! It’s called a GREATEST. Jesus Christ… Learn your terms.”

Every team has a Steve. I was a Steve once. Just some doughy, faceless rookie who didn’t know shit about shit and needs to be constantly guided (via intense verbal reprimanding) at every turn.

Who Wore It Best?

Lou Burruss was straight up striking at Nationals last weekend. There’s no other way to put it. The pants, the bow tie, the fedora… just a sharp dressed man. He looked like Viggo Mortensen playing Tom Landry in a period piece about the 1970s Dallas Cowboys, which is pretty much the highest praise you can offer another human being.

I wrote about this in one of the round recaps, but in case you missed this from Michigan vs. Dartmouth in round five of pool play:

An errant plastic bag slowly blew across the field during the Michigan O point like a tumbleweed. The mind wanders to weird, fantastical places in situations like that. Like somehow the bag will create a turn. These feelings were corroborated by an awkward moment when the bag caught on Michigan’s Yoni Rafael’s cleat. The bag was removed without incident.

Burn It.

Central Florida was up a couple breaks and resting some starters at the end of a pool play game against Dartmouth, so they put out a D line with a bunch of young guys. They get a turn and they’re moving the disc, moving the disc, and at some point somebody gets the idea to call a time out. The disc got dumped, and rather than cut, everyone in the stack was just screaming “BURN IT! BURN IT!” instead of actually cutting. When someone finally did call time out I just kept thinking about that scene in Braveheart where William Wallace says, “Burn it.

Observer Nonsense

This “no rushing the field until the observers take 10 seconds to signal goal” stuff needs to stop.

It happened all weekend. A team is looking for a crucial break. They’re working it down the field. Somebody catches it in the end zone. There’s some cheering. Then everybody goes, “WAIT! STOP CHEERING. IT MIGHT NOT BE A GOAL.” Then, finally, the observer signals for the goal and people are allowed to rush the field. It’s the ultimate equivalent of the blue ball and it needs to stop. It’s like reviewing every touchdown in football BEFORE the ref creates the uprights with his arms.

How to Bore Someone

During the Pitt vs. UNCW game, I looked over the scorekeeper’s shoulder and notice that he’s spelled Pittsburgh wrong, by omitting the “h” at the end. This kid is probably 16 years old. I tell him that he has misspelled Pittsburgh. He doesn’t care to change it. I begin to explain to him the cultural significance of the “h” and how most burgs don’t spell it the same. Still, he doesn’t feel the need to add the H. I start to go into a little more detail about the H. He finally surrenders and hurriedly changes so that I will stop talking, as I am clearly annoying the piss out of him.

Clichéd Heckling: Be Part of the Solution

This is a subject I feel very strongly about. There was a lot of really bad heckling this weekend, folks. Was it in direct correlation to alcohol being banned at the fields and inside Mason Stadium? Probably. But there’s no way to know for sure. As the level of play rises, so too must the heckling. Somebody bumps somebody on the mark and a foul is called. You can’t yell “take him to dinner first!” Bad pull immediately followed by “Not a puller.” This isn’t some fall tournament where people drink Natty Light and dress like Pirates. This is Nationals. Remarks like “Hammers win games” should be cause for swift ejection.

Swearing Technicals

I saw about 12 of these over the weekend and I have some questions that need answered. Can we start keeping this stat? It’ll be like penalty minutes in hockey. I want to know who the Andrew Dice Clay of college Ultimate is. Also, what are the banned words? There needs to be a list. USAU should sheepishly reveal a list of the words you can’t say during a game. That way teams can start practicing with the inappropriate words you can say.

In 2017 you won’t be allowed to say “BOB SAGET!” without getting T’d up.

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