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The Real Issues With Spirit

by Lou Burruss

I love the Huddle. I think the work they do is a great contribution to Ultimate, I love reading the other contributors' work and I am honored that they would include me as an author. That said, I can't believe they are making such a colossal mistake in having ONE Spirit of the Game issue. 

Spirit of the Game is essential to Ultimate. Every time we step on the field to play, we are participating in what makes Ultimate unique and special. If you know me, you know I'm not a hand-holding, let's-all-love-each-other player. But you are an idiot if you think that Spirit doesn't matter, however you choose interpret it. To dedicate a single issue to Spirit of the Game is like having an issue entitled "Offense: Discuss" or "Defense: How do you do it?" 

Rather than answer their question about Spirit, I'm going to lay out the issues Ben and Andy should have arranged. 

1. Does Spirit of the Game work? Lots of people think it doesn't and they have their reasons. Lots of people think it does and they have their reasons. This is the fundamental question and a natural beginning. 

2. How will Spirit of the Game affect the future of Ultimate? has a lot of opinions about this one, but it'd be nice to hear from someone with a brain. 

3. What is the call game? The concept of a call game (and gamesmanship in general) is an essential one to understanding Ultimate, but too many players don't even have the words in their vocabulary. A primer on fundamental aspects of Ultimate is something The Huddle does well, so it's shocking they haven't included this one. 

4. What's your best call game move? We all know about stepping into the mark on stalling 8 to draw the foul, but what about all those subtle sneaky moves club players use? Wouldn't you like them to share those little tricks (and how to stop them?) This issue should probably be anonymous. 

5. Should you use the call game? Beyond what it is (Spirit Issue 3) and how to do it (Spirit Issue 4) stands the ethical question: should you use it? I had a couple older guys take me aside and give me some advice I should have headed (thank you Will Healey and Gary Brady) but that I ignored. All the young players out there should have an equal opportunity to ignore good advice. 

6. Great mistakes you've made. Everyone has calls they wish they could have back. This is the chance to put them down on paper and get some much needed expiation. I have a hard time imagining anyone stepping up to write this one, but if they did, it'd be great reading. 

7. How would you 'fix' Spirit of the Game? We all have our little pet projects and ideas on how to improve Ultimate. I'd be interested in hearing how people want to adjust the core principle of our little game. 

8. Refs or observers or nothing? Give everyone a chance to weigh in on this classic. 

9. Which article would you recommend and why? I always want a chance to rebut or amend or just comment on what the other authors have written. Given the importance of Spirit, a rare The Huddle opportunity to reflect on the other contributors' writing would be a pleasant way to wrap things up. 

There you go. Nine issues and probably not enough. 

As always, you can contact me at

huddle Issue 24 Spirit Of The Game

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

by Tully Beatty

The Real Issues With Spirit
by Lou Burruss

Even If No One Is Watching
by Lindsey Hack

A Tennis Analogy
by Brett Matzuka

Our Rules
by Ryan Morgan

Codifying Spirit
by Ted Munter

Spirit Of The Games
by Taylor Pope

Character When It Matters Most
by Chelsea Putnam

The Blender
by Charlie Reznikoff

Two Principal Components
by Adam Sigelman

What Goes Through Your Head
by Ben van Heuvelen

What We Do
by Ben Wiggins

My Turn As That Guy
by Anonymous Elite Open Player





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