Friday, August 31, 2007

Score Reporter: the best thing since zone D

I wanted to write a little bit about how awesome the score reporter is. As far as I know this guy, Rodney Jacobsen, created this thing and I gotta say, it has revolutionized the archiving of ultimate. Hats off to you sir and thank you.

Now the cool thing about ultimate is that it is a fast evolving sport meaning that significant changes can be seen within 3-5 years of being involved with the sport. When I first started playing in 2002, the only way to look at who was good in the country was when the UPA released its top 25. Now this was ok, it let you know what people's records were, but you really didn't have a clue as to what their tournament performances were. Now this wasn't really a concern, at least not in my opinion, because the sport was much more about playing than following. If Stanford was 37-1 or Brown was 22-6, it didn't really matter because if you played against them, you knew they were good and a record really wasn't important and if you didn't play against them, then who cares, right? However, with the advent of the score reporter, data concerning the game completely changed. There was now a single popular database where anyone in the world could visit and check out who was doing what in ultimate. Up to date tournament results, schedules, records, everything you needed was right there in front of you. And it wasn't just college mens, it was everyone, open, mixed, juniors, womens, the works. How awesome is that?

Now this is kind of a chicken or the egg arguement. What came first, the interest in following ultimate, like you would baseball or football, or the score reporter that facilitated the delivery of information. I think the interest was there first because there were people that would go to tourneys just to watch before the score reporter came along. however, i find it to be an interesting arguement.

Back to the actual website though. The power that this thing has, is immense. I mean take a look at the most obvious thing, score reporting. Now instead of just having a record, you can track every game recorded. You can tell if it was a blow out or if it was close. And taken a step further, you can look at common opponents and see how your team would do given the oppurtunity to play. Taken further, there is a function where you can have a virtual score generated for every team in the country relative to a team of your chosing and you also get real life scores so you can determmine if in fact the algorithim is right. You can also predict when teams peak based on when they beat/lost to certain teams and you can also make predictions for tournaments, which I find fun. Above all, it makes ultimate more exciting and interesting. I was just in Japan but I could find out what the results for Canadian Nationals were right away. This really mattered to me cuz I love Furious and without the score reporter, I would have been clueless.

Another thing that makes this thing spectacular is that it is great for planning tournaments. if you are a TD all the potential algorithims for brackets and what not are laid out for you and all you have to do is plug in the teams. You also have the ability to make new formats if you want. This made planning a tournament so much easier for me and helped me break my TD cherry.

What is also really cool about this thing is that it allows you to look up teams and their websites. This can be fun if you are looking for pictures or video footage or merchandise, but it is also great because it can help you do research on teams that you might wanna play for, or are just interested in. You also have roster spots so you can see who is on the team, their number and how tall they are. my only criticism here is that for the most part teams are not up to date on the score reporter with their rosters and contact information. I think team captains should be encouraged to put their full rosters on line and have links to websites. Now this is a lot of work, I know, but I think it would be cool if you could somehow link the UPA roster information with the score reporter rosters, that would be cool.

And probably the coolest thing about the score reporter is that it is totally accesible to any UPA member. If you just played in a game you can report the score yourself even if you never come across the TD. This is awesome because it allows the TD to not always have to worry about running around and getting scores. I remember after saturday of yale cup I came home after the games to put the scores I had gotten and most of them were already up, BRILLIANT!!! What a fantastic invention!!!

This is all complimented with the fact that you can get up to date rankings based on a fairly good algorithim as opposed to having to wait for weeks at a time for the UPA or the NUMP to release some sort of hierarchy.

So if you take this post and my last post about ultivillage, I feel like the future of disc is within these two websites, as well as ultimate talk and RSD. You have the archiving of both technical data like scores and schedules, as well as video footage and interviews with ultivillage. Then you have the discussion with message boards and blogs. All of this new tech crap may seem over the top and unnescessary but it is the future of the game. In order to gain a larger auidence, it is important to make the sport look legit. This can be done by banning 3 digit numbers, getting numbers on shorts, observers etc... but it can also be done by establishing a very user friendly interactive network of documentation and discussion. I think the next few things that should be done for the score reporter are, like I said, better roster information, but also who took half in games and injuries.

This game is not just about your local team or summer league, its about every team. The world is getting smaller and it is important that anyone in the world is as up to date as possible with teams they are interested in. The few good tournaments like Flower Bowl that aren't on the score reporter need to get on board, not to mention fun tournaments like Potlatch, Paganello, Poultry Days, Kaimana, Wild Wood etc... I know for these tournies, the teams are not standard teams but thrown together ones, but that doesn't mean the information is not important. I mean I have been interested in teams like Nada Mooger, No Tsu OH, Voltron, Grey Tide, etc... for a long time but I don't know much about them and it is tough to get any information. The score reporter could be a good way to do this. I know that this puts a lot of work on the players themselves but I think that the interest is there. The cool thing about disc now, and people like Sholom and Rob are an example, is that its not just for playing anymore. There are people out there that wanna record disc and there are people out there that wanna discuss disc. On top of all of that, we all love to play it. So with that in mind, i think teams should really get on board with the score reporter, even more than they are now. I think websites like NUTC should also get involved. Consolidation is the best way to archive this sport and with more effort done to distill the information and make it public, who knows what will come out of it. I mean the score reporter was just a way of tracking games and spitting out a ranking system but it has sooo many more uses now. Just think if scobel and Rob consolidated their efforts, what if NUTC and DiscNW set something up, what if the Score-O-matic and the score reporter stopped competing. It would set the tone for an integrated sport across the country. This can potentially facilitate public access TV networks, international cooperation, etc... Maybe even some day there would be a singular "World's" tournament every year.

I am rambling as usual, but stuff like this gets me soo amped. Not to mention the club season is upon us and I am really looking forward to seeing what happens. In any event, I know I am probably preaching to the choir, but check out that score reporter, its sooo F-ing cool. Thanks a lot Rodney

match diesel

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

CSTV vs Ultivillage

First off I wanted to start off this entry by telling Rob that he is doing an amazing job with his ultimate filming and I would be hard pressed to find another person in the ultimate community that has done so much to bring ultimate to people throughout the world in the last 4 years.

Ok so ultimate is the most enteratining sport (in my opinion) to watch and since I have been palying disc, other sports like baseball, are wayyy to boring to watch consistently. Now with this new revolution movement that the UPA is pitching I think ultimate filming and broadcasting should be a topic of discussion. I know, a little late, but well this is when I came up with the ideas I have. So the UPA signed with CSTV back in 2005. Great, they show up to college nationals and they film the finals, maybe semis and what not and do an alright job of putting ultimate center stage. I don't know who the guy is that does the commentating, but he has a decent voice and it makes our sport look alright. I think Kyle or Ben does side commentary as well and they are doing alright, very informed, not unlike Joe Morgan with John Miller. Ok great, right? Wrong. I personally think CSTV sucks ass. It is wayyy obvious on their website and on their network that ultimate is not exactly a priority as far as sports go. I mean trying to find games that I know CSTV shot (ie Brown/Colorado finals, Florida/Wisconsin, etc...) is a pain in the ass and the actual downloads are pretty crappy at best. Maybe some folks are having a great time with it but I have struggled to even get through the Wisconsin/Florida game without the damn thing freezing on me and there is no freedom to pause or slow down the footage. Basically its crap. Its kinda like contracting a big company who has no real interest in my sport to package it and market it to me and my constituents in a manner that I know is sub par. No wait, thats exactly what it is. I don't know about the rest of the ultimate community out there but whenever I watch CSTV footage it just irritates me because I know that the dude doesn't know much about the sport and all of his comments and commentary is soo forced. I know wiggins or kyle contribute but it appears so fake to those that are actually watching it. I suppose the goal of CSTV is to market the sport to new poeple, which isn't working because ultimate's biggest advertising is on college campuses and high schools, or the goal could be to bring good footage to people that love the sport, which is isn't doing either. I mean the schedule sucks, games take 2 months to finally get on TV, they are on a speciality network that no one has, or the games are on at like 2-4am on a wednesday night. And whats worse is the footage is not for sale. You can watch a shotty version on your computer or TV and unless you TiVo it, thats it, hope you enjoyed the show. There is no pause or slow mo, or instant replay. Anyway, I suppose you could say I am not a fan of CSTV and I hate that the UPA is in bed with them.

Ok, so the alternative is....Rob's ultivillage. Whats awesome is that I don't even have to write about him. Everyone reading this now knows about his COTD, disc 1-4, his UvTv coverage, his fantasty ultimate, etc... He has been doing such a good job and at such a cost to himself. I mean he is everywhere. College nationals, junior worlds, worlds in perth, Potlatch, club nationals, ECC, Solstice, etc... And the best part is that he cranks the stuff out. I mean his footage of ECC (which hasn't even happened yet) will be on line (at least in COTD format) by wednesday after the tourney (my guess). I drove to college nationals watched all the games first hand and by the time i got back to New Haven I could already DL all of pool play and by the end of the week I had the semi finals footage (where I can be heard heckling Beau, thank you very much). I mean how bad ass is that. And not only is his footage available to watch, you can buy the stuff. I have like 10 gigs of his footage on my hard drive. I can go back and watch the club series from 2005 or 2006 and in 10 years, hopefully, I will be able to watch any series I want that he has shot at the click of a mouse. And I can also pop in one of a dozen DVDs that he has released and watch his footage (which by the way is only getting better). I can also watch Rob interview the likes of not only college stars like Robbie Cahill, Dan Hejman, or Adam Simon, but also club stars like Kevin Cissna, Andrew Lugsdin, Chase SB, Sammy CK, I mean the list goes on and he asks the same questions (more or less) that I would ask. Not some trite/cliche bullshit that CSTV does. And I suppose the best thing about Rob's footage is that it is soooo obvious that he loves the game. He knows the game, he knows his audience, he loves his company and he conveys that in his material. CSTV is just humoring us, giving us the standard half assed job that they give lacrosse or swimming or volley ball. I don't know about you but I hate being patronized and I want a guy who knows as much if not more about ultimate, broadcasting and doing interviews.

So where am I going with this? I want the UPA to saddle up with Rob. I mean the UPA should cater to their collective and I would say 75% if not more of "in the know" people in disc are ultivillage fans. No one likes CSTV (at least I don't) and I feel like few avid ultimate enthusiasts would endorse CSTV over Ultivillage. Plus ultivillage shoots more than just college. It is all over co-ed, women's, mixed, club, masters, juniors, etc... Aside from from open and college, all the other divisions could use more exposure and CSTV isn't gonna help out at all. Rob, however is giving all these side divisions the exposure they deserve and are giving people in their respective divisions the oppurtunity to watch and buy footage. This is the best way to expand the sport because it allows outsiders to see the game at its best. Although CSTV would be nice, its on some random ass network and few people will be able to see it on TV in the context for it to mean anything. If the bulk of ultimate footage were sold/viewed through ultivillage with the full power of the UPA showing new players disc 1 or club series 2006 or whatever would really boost the expose of the game. I mean it would be nice to have ultimate crack into "sports centers top 10" again but thats not gonna happen. And the next best thing is ultivillage. What I think would work (and this is totally from an uninformed and outside perspective) would be if Rob had full rights to college nationals and whatever else. He could then package it and market it through CSTV or YouTube or whatever other networks. This would then allow ultime to be packaged in the way it deserves, by people that love it, so that it can be viewed/purchased by people that love it. CSTV is not needed and it might be a good step at establishing ultiamte's legitamcy now, there are better avenues to do this. Plus if the UPA helps out Rob then he will have the ability to expand and hire more camera-persons and package an even better product.

I guess my main beef is that Rob is far superior to CSTV and the UPA should back Rob. He loves the game as much if not more than the people he markets to and that devotion should be appreciated and utilized. The UPA is not acting selfishly or poorly, I mean Rob has only been around since 2004. But now that he has gotten as big as he has and has the fan base, I think the UPA should consider bringing him under their umbrella and give him the support to really bring the sport to people in the best way possible. I don't know what sort of time line I am talking but I think I am in the majority and would like to hear Rob's voice on the College finals footage. Only then will we have the sport packaged in a way that will really cater to ultimate players thus making the advertising and progression of the sport that much better.

my thoughts

match diesel