Saturday, January 18, 2014

Ultimate Basketball

“Hey, quickly, throw it here!”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m standing five feet in front of you and urging you to throw me the frisbee.”

“You just said you’re positioned within a five feet radius of me.  Why on earth should I ‘throw’ the frisbee to you, who are standing almost right beside me, instead of passing it to one of my teammates farther down the field, preferably waiting in the endzone, which is 15 yards off and which you could easily run to, catch the disc within, and score a point thereby in no more than the next 6 seconds?”

“Because I’m a Handler and you’re a Receiver.”

“Come again? I don’t follow your innuendo.”

“Ha, there’s no innuendo.  They’re terms originating from basketball.  In basketball, some of the players are Handlers, passing the ball to their teammates at the end of the court, and others are Receivers, catching the ball and doing absolutely nothing with it until they can relinquish it to the handlers who passed it to them earlier.  The coach and the Handlers of a team actually need to possess some degree of skill, while a Receiver can be any human being.”

“It sounds like your receiver shouldn’t be playing professional sports in the first place.”

“Hey, if I’ve learned nothing in school, it’s that even Epsilons are important.  Anyway, Ultimate Frisbee is just like basketball in that offensive teams are divided up into Handlers, whose responsibility it is to deliver the disc unto their teammates, and Receivers, whose responsibility it is to run around aimlessly hoping they don’t wear themselves out in vain and to immediately throw the disc right back in the direction it came from if they ever do get hold of it.  I know it seems formulaic, asinine, and unnecessarily tiring for everybody involved, but that’s the way it works best.”

“You lost me at ‘Ultimate Frisbee is just like basketball’.  In basketball, you can run with the eponymous object and drop it without automatically yielding it to the opposing team; the goal is an inanimate object instead of a human player, teams consist of five people instead of generally seven or more, and the court length is .26% that of an Ultimate field.  This argument by comparison also constitutes an Existence Ergo Expedience fallacy, assuming that because some practice, institution, law, or custom exists in some form at some place, it’s inherently practical and should be applied to every other situation.  This is the same tactic that Democrats utilize whenever they try to inflate America’s debt or borrow destructive and inhumane socialistic policies from other nations.  ‘The minimum wage has been observed and enforced for decades.  Therefore, on the basis of its present existence, it should continue to be observed and enforced for decades more.’  ‘Congress has always raised the debt ceiling whenever the government runs up against that check, so we must have a responsibility to raise the ceiling whenever that scenario arises.  To not follow the precedent set by our pathetic forerunners would be unspeakably irresponsible and cause irreparable economic harm.’  ‘Every other country in the world has socialized medicine and state-subsidized homosexual marriage.  The United States has some serious catch-up to do.’  ‘Double taxation is everywhere.  Therefore, double taxation is good.  We should double tax the private sector even more.’  ‘Basketball players routinely split themselves into two skill divisions and resign each other to fulfill one task and one task only.  Ultimate players ought to adopt the same gimmicky handicap.’”

“Dude, we don’t have time to think logically about this.  Would you just hurry up and give me the frisbee?  No one’s here right now and the defense is catching up to us.”

“I know no one’s here right now.  That’s why you should be running in the right direction instead of standing still and begging me to hand you the disc.”

“I can’t run because I’m a Handler.  Running is beneath my social status just as throwing is above your own.”

“Social status isn’t a factor in real sports.  Teams are formed based purely on athletes’ physique, awareness, and reaction time, all of which I have in sufficient abundance, having played this game for many months or even years, to make a scoring pass into the endzone if you’ll only tow your sorry rear over there.”

“Look, either you’re a Handler or a Receiver, and since this field can only accommodate two Handlers a team, you’re not one of –

“False dichotomy fallacy.  You wrongly assume that players can only execute a single role within their team’s united body, when in fact the best Ultimate players can work both sides of the disc, handling and receiving it.”

“Hey, watch it.  There are women playing this game too, you know?”

“You started this, Handler.”

Ultimate Frisspeak-to-English Lexicon*
Break– To burst into a sprint and so outdistance one’s defender as to catch the disc without significant risk or trouble, trouble, trouble.  Breaking is a two-man stunt that requires the full and immediate cooperation of the disc operator to work successfully.  Otherwise the breaker only depletes his energy and ability to subsequently defend his own mark in the event of a turn.
Cherry Picker – One who patiently waits out the duration of a round unimpeded in the endzone for some observant teammate to pass him the disc and who very rarely sees that patience rewarded.  Ranks third on the Ultimate social hierarchy behind Handlers and Receivers.
Cut – See “break”.
Dump it – “That guy blocking you is big and scary, and I don’t want to exert myself getting to an open space.  Give it to me!”
Floater – A surefire way to deliver the disc unobstructed unto the tallest player in the vicinity where gravity breaks the wind’s grip on it.  Also the cause of many an injury resulting from too many people leaping towards the same location and colliding in fragile places.
Give and go – “I judge you too incompetent to pass the frisbee successfully down the line.  Surrender it behind you unto my superior hands and run forward so that I can throw it back to you slightly further down… if I feel so inclined at the moment, which I won’t.”
Hammer – To hurl the disc upside down like a tomahawk in an arc that looks cool to the eyes but is almost always disastrous in practice.  No, I can’t do it consistently.  At all.
Hang on / Hold up – Synonymous with “dump it”
Pass back – To throw the disc in the wrong direction.
Rain  “Let’s come back another day.”
Short throws – The process of inching the disc down the field by 1-3 yard increments. As opposed to long throws, which score points exponentially faster but no one ever dares to endorse, at least not openly.
Taking your time – Refusing all opportunities to the pass the disc forward whenever an opening presents itself; wasting everyone’s time in “taking” one’s own.
Tea Party – An advanced maneuver in which two players disregard the two-step rule and charge down the field together in an unstoppable stampede.  Not a real political party.
Tron – A personal idol to every Ultimate player and legendary dual-wielding champion.  He fights for the Users.
Wind – An environmental hazard that augments the necessity of making “short throws” and rigidly enforcing Handler-Receiver roles.

* May expand in the future.


  1. Dear Author, I have decided that you don't speak "Ultimate Frisspeak", or else you are very misguided in your views on the maneuvers of which you speak. "Handlers", "Receivers", and "Cherry Pickers" are not so much positions as they are descriptions of one's strengths and weaknesses: if you are a handler, you have considerable skill in throwing the frisbee, while you may not be able to catch as well as you throw (bear in mind that being a handler does not inherently make you a poor catcher, it only means that you can throwing is your strongest point). CherryPicking is admittedly a slightly different scenario: one is generally not assigned as or dubbed a "Cherry Picker", but is instead a personal preference of the player in question. Being a handler or receiver is in no way a reflection of your social standing among your fellow players.

    Your definition of "break" is fairly accurate, although I would argue that breaking does not in all cases result in a substantial lead over your defender, and the player in possession of the frisbee is not always able to throw to you due to the man who is standing right in front of him, waiting to block his throws.
    Your description of "Dump it", however, is far from the mark. Dumping it is an action in which the player with the frisbee "dumps" the frisbee behind him to another player who is in a more advantageous throwing position than the current disc holder, so as to allow forward progress toward the opposing team's end zone.
    "Give and go" is also another action you fail to comprehend: giving and going is a technique in which the disc holder throws the frisbee to an open player who is either behind or parallel to him and proceeds to sprint towards an open area of the field where the new disc holder will pass it to him.
    Hammering is an action useful for several situations. Hammering is useful when one wishes to throw the frisbee high into the air while not resulting in a floater, thus getting the frisbee to the tall guy quickly and effectively.
    You seem to have misunderstood the phrases "Hang on" and "Hold up", which are usually yelled as the runner sprints up behind and past the disc holder so as to let him know of their soon-to-be open status.
    Rain - why in the world would people play a different day because of rain? I've played in the rain before.
    Short throws are generally much safer than long throws when being rigidly guarded, especially under the consideration that long throws are exponentially harder to get perfect than the shorter, safer throws.
    Taking your time in no way means to not throw the frisbee, but only to be cautious in your throws, rather than recklessly throwing to the first person who breaks.

  2. Middle Dude,

    Let's just go through this point by point, line by line so as to guarantee the most efficient time management (especially because I already wrote out a lengthy 3-paragraph reply in the comment box only to see every character of it vanish before my eyes when I hit the Preview button). Your main objection to my cynicism over the division of teams into Handlers and Receivers is that such designations "are not so much positions as they are descriptions of one's strengths and weaknesses". Putting aside for the moment that teams never delegate themselves roles based on negative skill – have you ever played with a group that classifies players as "handlerrs" and "fumblers", "slowpokes" and "lamearms"? Obviously not, as I even had to make up two of those words. –, how does your conception of these titles in any way accommodate for a player who can throw and catch with exceptional prowess? For the sake of argumentation, let's entertain the ludicrous assumption that such a player doesn't exist. What is the socially expected behavior of any Handler or Receiver in the course of game? It's to Handle or Receive according to his post and to do nothing else besides. In other words, it's to fulfill whatever preordained and arbitrarily allotted position he was given by the self-appointed captain of his team.

    As for your counter-definitions to those I gave in the lexicon, I would concur with most of them, especially since not a single one refutes or clashes with any of mine. You say that dumping the disc or passing it back is a motion in which the current possessor hands "the frisbee behind him to another player who is in a more advantageous throwing position". Maybe so, but it's still moving the disc in the wrong direction. Why don't teams just dump and pass the disc all the way back to the endzone from which they began the round in process in order to get in the most advantageous throwing position? Because that's the wrong direction. You say that hammering is a useful throwing technique for reaching a taller guy who presumably knows how to catch a sideways or upturned disc. Agreed. It's almost always disastrous in practice. You say that short throws are usually safer and easier to execute than long throws, particularly in cases where one is "being rigidly guarded". Perhaps it is for those who don't know how to throw around such a rigid guard. Long throws score points exponentially faster. You say that taking your time means to withhold from "recklessly" throwing to the first teammate who breaks (and, as it so often happens, the second teammate, the third, and the fourth). Regardless of which breaker the incompetent Handler eventually throws the disc to, he has wasted everyone's time in taking his own.

    However, I can find no common ground whatsoever with your definition of breaking, a maneuver which you say "does not in all cases result in a substantial lead over your defender". "Break" is a verb of separation by nature; to break is "to separate or cause to separate into pieces as a result of a blow, shock, or strain". Alternatively, to "break away" is to "escape from someone's hold" or "escape from the control of a person, group, or practice". A break that doesn't result in a lead over the opposing team's player isn't a real break because it lacks the necessary component of separation. Call it fraking.

    If you wish to continue making Short Throws, Taking your time, Dumping it, Giving and Going, and Receiver role-playing for your team, go ahead. I only ask that you show a little more tolerance for my individual choice to handle and receive the disc, whatever brings me pleasure at the moment.

  3. I'll go ahead and go through everything point by point too, because you don't seem to be understanding all that I'm saying. While you said that no one judges each other based on their negative traits, you didn't really respond to any of my other arguments. Handling and Receiving aren't positions in a game. They are your strengths. It is common sense to play to your strengths. It is not common sense to throw it far down the field to someone who is known for fumbling long throws. It is not common sense to ask someone known for terrible throwing to throw all the way down the field to you. Let's say that you can both throw and catch well. You are still going to be more proficient at either throwing or catching, and you should therefore accommodate your playing, so as to either catch or throw more respectively. If you're skill lies in catching the frisbee, rather than throwing it, your buddies aren't going to hold your prowess against you. The same goes for "Handlers".

    You didn't seem to understand in my counter-definitions that if the frisbee has just gone back to a more advantageous position, it probably means that the frisbee is going to go somewhere from that advantageous position. Very. Quickly. You seemed to be using some pretty hefty double standards as well. You endorse long, risky throws to the opposite side of the field, but yet you disapprove of equally risky tomahawk throws. How can you think it's wise to do one ridiculously difficult feat, but not another? I don't get it. Also, you're not wasting time by taking your time if taking *your* time results in making a successful throw. Time takes second place to accuracy.

    I would also argue that breaking is not the separation between the guarder and his target, but is rather the attempt by the runner to shake off the man who is guarding him. It doesn't always result in a significant lead. Even in occasions when a substantial lead is gained, I've witnessed many extraordinary defensive maneuvers in which guarders will miraculously knock down the frisbee at the last second.

    And I'll keep your preferences and choices when I have the frisbee this Sunday.


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