The Disrespectful Sky Index: 2018 College Season, Pt. 1

A light-hearted but also very serious look at some of the best skies from the first few months of the regular season.

The aftermath of one of the most disrespectful skies of the first half of the college season. Photo: Natalie Bigman-Pimentel —

This writer won’t be breaking any new ground to tell you that ultimate is a game of matchups. With the exception of an extremely windy day, many high-level games are played in a manner where the team that can win the most one-on-one matchups will win the game. That’s why the sky is such a hallmark play of the sport. It’s the tangible evidence of a matchup win. It’s a notch in the belt. It’s a tally mark. It’s an important point within the hundreds of smaller points that make up the actual points that determine a winner and loser of an ultimate game.

That’s why I’ve taken it upon myself to chronicle some of the biggest skys of the 2018 college season. There are a lot of ways to account for what makes a “big” sky truly BIG. In my humble opinion, the most important determinant of a big sky is the amount of disrespect that comes with it. Disrespect is a fluid and elusive idea to define in the world of sport, but if you follow along, you’ll get an idea of what disrespect means to me.

Hopefully some of you reading this are already prepared to be outraged that some writer from Ultiworld is stealing content from The Ringer’s Shea Serrano. Unfortunately for you, I’m going to cop to the theft before your indignation has time to truly ferment. Serrano’s Disrespectful Dunk Index and disrespectful dunks in general are some of my favorite things about the NBA. Similarly, in ultimate, there are not many things that more greatly please me than a good, respectful1, disrespectful sky.

For that reason, and in homage to the work that Serrano does, I’m hoping to compile a rating of some of the most disrespectful skys of the 2018 college season. First, I need to explain the rating system—which, again, I’m chiefly ripping off of Serrano’s framework.

Category 1 – How difficult and/or impressive was the catch? (20 available points)

There are two sides of this coin: 1. What is the level of athleticism required to make this catch? and 2. How likely did I think it was that that the receiver was going to complete this catch when the throw went up? The answers to those two questions do not necessarily wield equal weight. A shockingly athletic catch made by a receiver that I’ve come to expect great things of2 may not garner the same amount of points as a catch from a quieter player.

Category 2 – What did the receiver do immediately after the catch? (20 available points)

I am a purveyor and appreciator of all types of celebration. Few things get me more hyped than a good stare down or look back at a defender. Few things make my jaw drop further than when a player makes a mind-blowing play to only walk back to the sideline ignoring his/her teammates’ screams of ecstasy as if nothing greater than a stoplight changing from red to green just happened. Few things make me feel the essence of ultimate more deeply in my bones than when a player executes a spike so hard that I can swear I feel the impact of the disc on the ground from where I’m sitting. The better the reaction, the more points awarded.

Category 3 – How hard did the defender try and stop the catch? (20 available points)

People love “Beau Jumps Over a Guy” and yes, it’s a truly remarkable athletic feet, but here’s the first of many hot takes you’ll find in these pieces: it’s not even close to being the elusive Perfect Sky. The SDSU defender in the video doesn’t even leave the ground. Kittredge so outmatched the young man on the opposing team that he probably didn’t even have to jump to make this catch. It’s an impressive play, but in the Disrespectful Sky Index it would have received 0 points in this category.

Category 4 – Is there a backstory between the skyer and the skyee? (20 available points)

Unfortunately, in ultimate we aren’t yet to the point where backstories are really a thing. Many times, this may be contained to just the single game in which the sky takes place. Have these two players been guarding each other the entire game? However, in the rare occurrence that a backstory does exist, you better believe it’ll be taken into account. If Sandy Jorgensen Mosses on Jesse Shofner at Club Nationals next year,3 that will be full points in this category.

Due to the limited exposure that we get to true backstories exclusively between skyers and skyees, I’m going to expand this category to include any unnecessary drama that may add to the disrespect in a given sky. This is an expansive idea that may reach from bad calls, dumb celebrations, and even offensively unnecessary ultimate accoutrements.4

Category 5 – What was the game situation? (10 available points)

A disrespectful sky at 1-1 in pool play of Stanford Invite is great and should be lauded, but does it deserve the same amount of points as a disrespectful sky on double game point in bracket play at Nationals? The answer is quite obvious.

Category 6 – How did everyone who was not directly involved in the sky react? (10 available points)

Because this is ultimate, one of the most important questions here is: Was there a crowd at the game? Even if it’s just a few local high schoolers, that can make all the difference. After that, it’s up to teammates and opponents to determine how many points are awarded. Does a teammate faint? Does an opponent look away like he just saw someone Gordon Hayward themselves? Those things can mean a lot to the total amount of disrespect in a sky.

So. Let’s begin.

  1. Spirit of the GameTM of course 

  2. Here’s looking at you, Verzuh. 

  3. For reference. 

  4. Here’s looking at you neckies and hoodies up during play… more on that later. 

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  1. Michael Aguilar

    Michael Aguilar is a reporter for Ultiworld. He began playing ultimate in the summer of 2008 at the urging of a few University of South Carolina players. He played for USC in the spring of 2009 and for LSU in the spring of 2011. In his spare time during those years, he ran one of the first ever ultimate news blogs, Movin' On Up. He was the head coach of Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, LA, from 2011-2016 and the assistant coach in 2017. He owes all his success to his loving wife Kendall.

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