Week 11: November 12th-November 18th

Yet another week of work pushes forward this week and takes us to the much-anticipated weekend. Saturday marked my first ultimate competition in too long. Reminiscent of my time back home in Boston, we set out for the train station bright and early with the Imperial College DiscDoctors. Armed with a ham and cheese sandwich, a copious amount of water, and a train ticket to Brighton, the early departure didn’t seem so bad. We arrived at the gym after an hour-long journey. This was going to be my first ever indoor tournament so I was clueless.

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Indoor ultimate is VERY different from outdoor. First, the game is played in respect to time as opposed to points.  This means that a game ends no matter what after a certain time period elapses instead of a game ending after a certain amount of points are scored. In this indoor match, the pitch is much smaller; it is roughly the size of a basketball court. As a result, this is a very fast-paced game. Everything is so “swilly” only because there isn’t enough room to even form a regular stack. The gods of indoor ultimate decided to take pity on us and only allow five players on the pitch at a time instead of the usual seven. Regardless of this, the game cramped.

We started the day off well by adjusting to this completely new game. It’s not every day that you can’t find an open cutter and immediately look to throw a hammer over the top. After our failed attempts to look at the game through a traditional lens, we knew we had to change. Now, floaty throws, blades, and upside-down throws became viable options.

After reflection, the Americans who were new to the indoor ultimate game decided that we despise it. This type of ultimate was a devolution of the sport. Outdoor ultimate involves the skill throwing in the wind. Any ultimate player will tell you his or her woes of trying to throw into a nasty headwind or crosswind during a game. In order to overcome the elements, your throws need to improve. As a sort of Darwinism of the ultimate world, the wind makes us better. Indoor is just a way around it. No wind is the unfortunate equalizer in indoor ultimate. A novice who cannot throw at all in the wind is now on the same plane as the experience veteran. Additionally, the skills of acceleration and flow are stripped from the beautiful game of outdoor ultimate. With limited space, there is no room to truly accelerate passed your defender and win the disc. Consequently, cutting has devolved into cheeky headfakes and little jabs at the disc that would never work in an outdoor environment.

Yet another aggravating aspect of indoor ultimate is the lack of necessity in throwing. Due to the cramped nature of the indoor pitch, you are encouraged to look for cheeky upside-down throws or blades over the top of everyone else. This creates bad habits when returning to the outdoor game. Unfortunately, this also influences poor decision in the indoor game too. Time and time again, we would see a player with the disc look off open cuts just to throw a wobbly hammer into space. Why throw a loopy and floaty throw when you can connect on a clean backhand or forehand?

In conclusion, the UK should eliminate the indoor ultimate game if they wish to progress as a unit. By encouraging low-percentage looks, accepting turnovers, and developing a flare for the unnecessary dramatic throw, the college ultimate scene in the UK is devolving. In comparison to the UK, US college students usually start playing ultimate at the same time, but arguably progress more in a determined time period. This is a result of ultimate’s Darwinism. US college students are used to playing outdoors in the elements and adjusting their play to succeed in this adversity. They can recognize when a certain look is not viable, when a throw is not acceptable and the like. Furthermore, they know how to throw a certain way to make their passes complete and to move in the proper way on the pitch to sustain flow. After this brief stint in the indoor ultimate world, is indoor ultimate ruining the integrity and skill of the game?

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Aside from all ultimate commentaries, Sunday was reserved for family. Mom and Dad came in to London bright and early on Sunday morning, and with little sleep, I dragged them into the city immediately. First, we walked through Kensington Gardens to see the beautiful palace and pond adjacent to it. We conversed about their sleepless flight as we wandered into Hyde Park and hugged the Serpentine and the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. We passed back through the Italian Gardens to complete our scenic journey just in time to head further into central London.

We picked up their London Pass–their Holy Grail of culture during their holiday–and they even got a pin! Although their biological clocks convinced them it was lunch time, I made them hold out a little longer to help them get acclimated further. They spotted the National Portrait Gallery out of the corner of their eye and we couldn’t resist going in. We browsed the contemporary floor while they were still getting over the fact that it was free admission. Portraits of famous British personalities lined the walls depicted in various mediums. A few pixelated LED screens showed cartoon representations of certain people, while abstract sculptures hung above us. They even had a very weird video loop of David Beckham sleeping projected on a wall.

After our brief browse of the National Portrait Gallery, we retired to a local pub for a local pub lunch. You guessed it: Dad had his fish and chips and he loved it.

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