Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tournament 4 - Lesson 2 - Competition is all I want

I've played a range of Ultimate tournaments on a range of teams. What I realized this weekend is I enjoy Ultimate when the games are competitive. Winning or losing means little in blowout games, where one team clearly outclasses the other, but competitive games are fun.

That may not be true for everyone, and I know lots of people that really only care about winning, but for me and many of us, we truly like a challenge. When two teams are battling back and forth it's fun, and it makes for good entertainment for the fans.

Some of the best games I've played in and watched are the ones where the game is tightly contested. This weekend the finals at Tour 1 for both the women (Iceni vs Leeds) and the open (Chevron vs Fire) were excellent games to watch as both teams fought in tightly contested matches. The winners in both games were decided by two and one point respectively. Now that's worth watching.

When I'm playing I feel the same. The closer games that I play in a tournament the more fun I have. I guess it's like goals. Impossible goals or easy goals are both equally non-satisfying, but achievable goals that are challenging but achievable give a person great reward.

For those of you who analyze video games, the same is true. People get addicted to games that are doable, but challenging enough to keep the mind active. The same is true with work and careers. Maybe I should have realized the parallels to Ultimate years ago ;)



Druski said...

Good post Peter and good connection with the non-ulti parallels. Overall it sounds like what you are discussing is essentially what sports psychologists (or some of them anyway) call "flow". I'm not a sports psychologist but from what I understand of the concept, it's what occurs when there's a balance between skill and challenge.

If you imagine the two on a graph (say the Y axis is increasing challenge and the X axis is increasing skill), the band at around 45 degrees represents the are where the athlete will experience flow - the challenge is enough to balance skill and make it worthwhile to participate. Above this band (the challenge is greater than the athlete's skill) there is anxiety and frustration; below this (the athlete's skill exceeds the challenge) there is boredom.

The thing is that both are scalable - a very raw athlete may be satisfied with a low level of challenge, an intermediate one will be happy with moderate competition, and a high level athlete will only really be in flow when they are in a high level of competition. Which all fits what you're saying - playing where you can have a bunch of close games is where you'll have the most satisfaction.

Thomas Gabriel said...

Sorry, can you fill us in on some of the details of the men's division.

Where is Chervon from? And where did Clapham place?

Just trying to keep myself up to date.

Jeters said...

The results are here:

Chevron is from the Northern part of the UK. I think Fire beat Clapham 1 in the semis (though Clapham seemed to split between Clapham 1 and 2 with some strong players on Clapham 2).


Rob said...

Chevron are technically from Manchester/the North West, though they had a bit more variety on the roster than normal from what I hear (I've been told some of the main players from Leeds were with them this time, but this may be conjecture).

Clapham lost to Chevron in the semi's but also to Fire in pool play. As you say though, there was a bit of a split between teams so these results may not be representative going forwards. (n.b. some of the Clapham team will be playing with GB masters in the other tours, so there seems to be a bit of a shake up at the moment)