So What’s the Tally Classic all About?

Progression, it tastes so good and this weekend we plan to get our fill of it. The Tally Classic is all about the progression of Ultimate as a sport. The boys at Florida State, while they may not be changing the game on the field, are changing the way that tournaments are organized. If you haven’t heard of how things go at the Tally Classic then we hope that this post will give you an idea and convince you to submit a bid next season.

Firstly, the Tally Classic promotes the use of active observers. We misspoke a little bit when we mentioned rule experimentation in combination with this tournament. There are no experiments with rules, only with observers duties. We discussed the whole tournament with one of the Tournament Directors, Andrew Graff, and he had plenty to say about observers in conjunction with his tournament.

“Sometimes we have been on a team that was elated to have observers for once… only to realize the observers were not very good,” Graff wrote. “We planned on having 100% UPA certified observers even before the UPA made it necessary.”

However, observers being UPA certified wasn’t enough. The Tally Classic TDs wanted a little bit more.

“We invited the UOA to come down and train our UPA certified guys in the fine art of professionalism and mechanics DURING the tournament,” Graff wrote. “At ACCs last year we played/coached the future of ultimate observing. Active stalls and travels make the game so much smoother, and more like a real sport.”

This is coming from a player, from a normal guy just like your average college Ultimate player. Not some crazy on RSD that posts 800 times a month but hasn’t played competitive Ultimate in ages. Active observers, according to Graff, “feel right,” and the Tally Classic went to the lengths necessary to procure those observers for itself.

Beyond just observers, the TC is focused on providing the best Ultimate experience possible. Here’s Graff’s take, followed by our take, on a number of things that we think the average college Ultimate player will find interesting.

Number of Games:

“It’s a weird schedule. Every single team out there will get 4 games on Saturday, no more no less (barring last second drops),” Graff wrote. “We have found in our playing and coaching and observing experience is that 5 games in one day is simply too much. The fifth game becomes a “who’s still not injured” game, and the results can be different than normal.”

While playing as much Ultimate as possible at a tournament is always a valuable goal, the line needs to be drawn somewhere. To us, 8 games seems like a good spot to draw it. Teams seem to enjoy the 8s and other tournaments where you get 8 games that are worth your time versus 10 total games, and only 6 that are worth your time.

Pandering to Elite Teams:

“We have two tournament rates,” Graff wrote. “One more-expensive one for the big name teams getting the big game experience, and then one slightly cheaper one for the teams who don’t need observers, scoreboards, or want the feeling of big time college sports. We strive to provide a quality experience for ALL TEAMS INVOLVED.”

At this point, there is a huge gap in Elite college Ultimate and your everyman team. While Elite teams should not get treatment that is exponentially greater or different from a smaller team, one has to come to terms with the fact that Elite teams are going to expect a certain quality of play and treatment. If they are willing to pay for that, then more power to them. However, smaller teams should not be expected to foot the bill for Elite teams’ experiences.


We’ll just give our take on this, no offense to Drew, but the full explanation is long and hard to work through, so we’ll give it to you as best as we can.

Teams are broken up into pools of three. The first two games of the day separate teams into power pools and not power pools. Prior to this, the teams are not seeded at all, aside from being separated into D1 and D2 programs based on the level of talent the team has and the money that it paid. Then two more games are played in order to determine seeding for bracket play on Sunday.

Also included are lengthy byes. Many Ultimate teams don’t use their byes constructively, however, if teams do not allow themselves to get stiff or lose focus, a bye could be the difference between finishing a tournament strong or getting blown out for the rest of the day.

Of course, this leads to games running starting late into the day. Which is covered in the final section.

General Tournament Amenities:

There’s so much more in the e-mail between Drew and us but you’ll just have to take our word for it. We were excited to make it out to another tournament and as we learn more and more about this tournament we are getting even more excited.

This tournament is attempting to become the future of college Ultimate. We believe that if teams take advantage of the progressive nature with which FSU is handling this whole situation then college Ultimate can become something like what Tally Classic is, a respectable, professional affair. Teams should be getting fully behind this tournament because it is being run by a group of people that are trying to advance the game that we all love. Do not delay, next season the TDs are planning an even bigger field, get your team on board.

We’ll let Graff close this session out.

“The TDs care about the teams coming,” Graff wrote. “We want to put on the best tournament ever. We want every team to be excited to RETURN to the Tally Classic. And, if I do say so, we do a damned good job.”

P.S. Graff stated many times during the e-mail that he and the other TDs are towing the party line when it comes to refs in Ultimate. They truly believe that active observers are the answer to the Ultimate arbitration problem.


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