Florida: Toeing the Line

 

Photo courtesy of Jesse von Fange.

Photo courtesy of Jesse von Fange.

This picture is interesting for several reasons. Not the least of which being the fact that we are standing in the background of it looking like, how do you say… a chump.

We’ve been interested in Florida since we first started hearing about them early on in our relatively young Ultimate careers. They are a polarizing figure in the Ultimate scene. We have yet to find someone who feels just so-so about the Gators. You either like them or you hate them and it’s no secret that the vast majority of people hate them.

After  spending a weekend studying the character of the Gators and those teams around them, here is our take.

We found the claim that Florida lacks spirit to be categorically untrue during AC Open Regionals. We’ve seen Florida at a tournament once before this weekend and were certainly unimpressed with their spirit. The showcase game at Florida Warm Up between the Gators and Georgia was dissapointing to say the least. The one moment that stands out in our minds is, just prior to a Georgia player getting off a wide open huck to an even more wide open receiver, a Gator came from behind and, with obviously no intention of actually playing defense, ran right through the thrower.

That being said, when we, as a part of the lowly South Carolina team, took on the Gators on Sunday of that very same tournament, we were fully satisfied with Florida’s playing style and spirit. Sure they beat us 13-1, playing mostly their bottom seven players, but they did it respectfully.

They have their low points and they have been known to act like fools on the field. Our question is: What team hasn’t? The arguments abound against Florida’s on and off field antics but in our opinion, from what we’ve seen, there isn’t much strength behind them. Not to mention, from the opening horn at Regionals, were it not for the jerseys, we don’t think any person could have separated Florida from the rest of the team’s in the field by its playing style or attitude.

The photo at the top of this post is the perfect example. Here is the background to this photo:

Florida vs. Georgia, game is all tied at 12-12. The Gators have been putting together somewhat of a comeback in an effort to make up some ground that they lost against the Dawgs earlier in the game. Finally, the hard cap comes on, next point wins. This game carries a huge amount of weight for both teams. The No. 1 seed for Sunday’s championship bracket is on the line. If ever there were an important point in these two teams’ seasons, this would be it.

The Gators put up a huck that leads to this photograph but the receiver is called out. It is our opinion, and we believe this is fairly clear from this photo, that the receiver was in. One would expect the Florida reaction to be uproar and anger. One would expect the Gators to cause a scene and throw fits and refuse to play on. However, instead of doing any of those things, the Gators picked up and got back on defense only to lose on that very next possesion.

We don’t want to get people all riled up and play the “What if?” game about what would have happened to Florida at Regionals if it weren’t for this call. Instead we want people to take a step back and try and think objectively about the Gators. They are Ultimate players just like the rest of us. It’s our opinion that the only thing that truely separates them from the rest of the Ultimate teams in the College division is a lot of talent and a load of baggage that they (rightfully or not) have inherited from their predecessors.

We would argue that the worst spirit shown when it comes to the Gators comes from those watching them. We cannot count the number of times that players from teams that, to our knowledge, have never lined up across from UF were shouting insults from the sidelines that go far beyond heckling. Of the 16 teams playing at Regionals only three teams played Florida this season prior to this weekend. Yet we think it is safe to say that every team we encountered had a pretty negative opinion of UF regardless of lack of personal experience. One of those teams that did have personal experience is Georgia and Jojah senior captain Peter Dempsey told us after the Bulldogs’ game against the Gators on Saturday that Florida was a “really fun team to play against.”

On a similar note, one need look no further then RSD’s reaction after the Gators were eliminated from play to see exactly what we are talking about. When user names such as suckitflorida and brodiesucks start showing up, you know there are problems.

We spoke with Florida captain Brodie Smith on the subject prior to Regionals and when we brought up the perception that surrounds Florida and Florida’s reaction to it, Smith seemed more frustrated by the whole situation than anyone. It seemed that he was sick of fighting a perception that he could do nothing to stop. While we’ll admit that the Gators’ actions at Florida Sectionals didn’t do much to “fight” the reputation there are plenty of other things that make it seem like Florida is tired of criticism of their play being a one way street.

These videos that Florida has been putting out are compelling on a number of levels. We realize that they should be taken with a grain of salt considering that they are Florida’s point of view. Heck, all of the plays in the above video are from the very game that we mentioned earlier that contained a horrible, obviously intentional Florida foul.

Nonetheless, we do think that this video, along with the others produced by the Gators this season are a testament to the state of college Ultimate. Perhaps things have gotten too competitive, perhaps we need observers/referees. One thing is certain though, all of the horrible things that are said about Florida and its players can in some ways be reflected back on to the rest of the elite college scene. There are bad eggs in every batch and Florida had and has its share. But the Ultimate community’s reaction to those bad eggs displays a lack of dedication to the idea that many of us claim to hold so dear.

We leave this rant with one question: What, to you, is worse? The team that has the bad spirit or the people/teams that react to that bad spirit with just as bad spirit?

We would argue that neither one is better than the other and hope for a future where neither exist.

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16 responses to “Florida: Toeing the Line

  1. Florida only played nice at regionals because observers were watching. We have played them before without the observers and you wouldn’t believe some of the shit they did. Also, they rely on cheating to win; hence them doing poorly at regionals and good at most of the other tournmaments.

  2. to fakefake, you’re just being silly, i would estimate that over 60 percent of the games that we played, excluding sectionals, this year were with observers
    -Alton

  3. Fakefake…you are an idiot.

    That is the biggest load of crap I have ever heard. Florida constantly requests observers at tournaments they go to. They won Stanford Invite having observers in every game of theirs I watched.

    It is people like you that this post is commenting against. You posting anonymously and vaguely only highlights my point. How dare you post this kind of garbage.

    “You wouldn’t believe some of the shit they did”

    Come on man. Sack up. Say who you are and what team you play for, say exactly what they did to your team.

    Nobody is willing to say this kind of stuff to any of their faces, everybody just hides behind the wall of the internet and takes potshots…it’s despicable.

    Kudos to you Michael for your willingness to take the unpopular route. As an alumni I appreciate people who make up their minds individually about UF, and don’t just buy into whatever puffery is being thrown around.

  4. The main point about a lot of competitive ultimate players cheating is totally valid. Fouling on the mark, making in/out calls when they aren’t really sure about it, making travel calls they aren’t sure on, etc. Don’t complain because Florida supposedly cheats and wins, just because you’re cheating and losing (or cheating and winning elsewhere).

    That said, one need not have played Florida this year to feel some hostility towards them:

    1) Several of their players are total buffoons on RSD. I bet a lot of people dislike them for that reason.

    2) Cyle Van Auken was one of the biggest cheaters ever to play the game and may have left some residual distaste for Florida.

  5. I think what has hurt Florida is that not only have they had bad spirit (which is fine, especially at a high level), they’ve had total disdain for the idea of spirit. Instead of being able to rag on Jojah for having similarly bad spirit, they make fun of spirit itself and act like assholes in protest of the concept. And that worked fine for them until they really made fools of themselves this spring and missed their bid to nationals.

    But really they’ve set themselves up as the Yankees of college ultimate. Or Duke. The team that everyone loves to hate. They’re just getting a little extra hate now, but I’m sure next year, they’ll come back with more energy than ever.

    • I believe Jojah won the team spirit award at Nationals in 2007 (making quarters at the time) I am not sure Florida has ever been in the top tier of spirited teams. Intentionally hacking on the mark to make sure D gets in position and wrapping up good throwers is not spirited. Not to mention having your coach tell people to kill themselves on RSD.

      Sure Jojah has it’s share of drunken asshole alums on the sideline, but who doesn’t? Don’t hate on UGA because their alums made fun of your team.

  6. I am pretty sure the observer (Gerics) called Chad out here. I was on the opposite sideline and was pretty amazed by the out come of this situation.

    great effort none the less by that scrappy bastard!

    Joel
    Florida #28

  7. I only played Florida once in my college career so I don’t have a large sample but I thought they were reasonably good natured throughout the course of the game, they didn’t make any more shitty calls than any other team in my experience. I would make the argument, based on my experience playing them, that UNC-W and ECU both play with less spirit and make more poor calls than UF.

  8. I’m honestly a little disappointed this YouTube video showed up on your blog. Our game with UF during Warm-Up was hotly contested and, one would note, observerless. In such a close battle, Florida’s cutters (particularly Brodie) used a lot of “interesting” techniques to get open, mostly involving either blatantly pushing off or simply using a hand or elbow to knock a defender back onto their heels and going the opposite direction. Obviously, none of the blatant instances of this show up on the video made by Florida to explain their loss by accusing us of cheating. They instead slow-motioned some of the weaker/subtler calls and captioned them with too much punctuation.

    I’m not saying a didn’t make one or two bad calls that day. I’m saying that I made LOTS of a good calls. So please, try to maintain your journalistic integrity and steer clear of propaganda.

  9. guy from florida

    I’ve played against this team, and I’ve seen them play other teams. on an individual level, Brodie is an outright asshole both on and off the field to people who aren’t on his level of play. as a team, a lot of the otherwise nicer players still act like gradeschool bullies when they’re with the group. I’m embarrassed of them, and I’m embarrassed for them.
    except brodie. if there’s a god, brodie will get in a car wreck and go into a coma.

  10. guy from florida

    that guy is a fucking piece of shit through and through.

  11. It seems like everyone complaining has lost sight of the real issue. If you actually want to do something then suck it up and do something pro-active… like push for policy that make refs or line judges mandatory and facilitates hiring them?

    Here’s the point…
    Face it, along with all competitive college level sports and teams comes the alleged “poor spirit” or animosity from the rival perspective – it’s the nature of the game fools! As nice as it would be, Ultimate has clearly risen to a level that makes it no different. Don’t expect players to be honest and friendly on the field when, for that moment, they are technically your enemy.

    I find it funny that people take Ultimate so seriously and yet choose to treat particular aspects of the game like they’re playing at the local YMCA. This is college. You can’t pick and choose buddy.

  12. Florida loves to slap the disc while its in a throwers hands to prevent a huck. The thrower will call a foul, but now the defense has time to react and the huck is rarely thrown.

  13. Jordan, when you are playing against a player on another team, that player is not your “enemy”, he is your “competition”. There is a big difference. You should show a competitor respect.

    And to the author of this blog, yeah Peter Dempsey will say that Florida was a lot of fun to play after he just beat them and he’s all happy, but if you saw their game earlier in the season, there was definitely pushing and shoving and arguing between Dempsey and Brodie.

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  15. Matt Sheehan

    I disagree. From watching Florida play in two tournaments, Stanford Invite and Vegas, I’ve observed them systematically violate the rules in order to win or to fluster their opponent. In Vegas they ran a zone that double-team on literally every stall count. The opposing teams had the choice of calling it every time and never getting in a rhythm (because ‘double team’ doesn’t carry a heavey penalty, Florida never changed its behavior), or dealing with it and trying to work around it.
    At Stanford Invite I watched them systematically foul Carlton throwers to prevent throws until the observer gave them a 50-yard TMF penalty. All teams have bad eggs but the difference with Florida is that they have largely built this philosophy into their system.

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