Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Can we inspire the kids

It was quite remarkable a few days ago. Just another day of work and I biked home. As I entered the parking lot of my flat the kids, who usually play around there were in a bike relay race. Still nothing out of the ordinary, until I heard one of the kids say, "GB is in the lead, Chris Hoy pulls ahead".

Pictured Above: Chris Hoy of team GB on the velodrome.

I listened to their race a little more, and realized that both competing relay teams were GB teams. The kids were emulating their recent heroes from the summer Olympics and the success Great Britain had in the velodrome.

I did the same, when I was young, with Micheal Jordan (basketball), Magic Johnson (basketball), Ozzie Smith (baseball), Blue Jays (baseball), Jr. Team Canada (hockey), and Wendel Clark (hockey). I'm sure we've all done it in some form or other for all sorts of activities such as singing, dancing, and sports.

Out sport, Ultimate, is missing this young child imprinting. Not only is the sport not seen by the young, we have few heroes, and Ultimate is not a good emulation game.

Problem 1 is viewership. This, I believe, is solvable with the Internet, some good editing, a good story, and lots of camera work. We an do to Ultimate what they did to Texas Hold'em. Where the money comes for this endeavour, I don't know, but a good pilot project to bring in the investors and advertisers might have to come out of are own pockets. I hope to be involved with this in the coming years.

Problem 2 is the lack of heroes. I think this is solved along with problem 1. It's about the story, as I've emphasized before. The reason Chris Hoy is big, is because the story of his three medals is big. Reading that he won three medals in the newspaper is not big. Get a commentator rambling with excitement as Chris Hoy wins a sprint, that's big. Hype it up with anticipation, and watch Usain Bolt cross the finish line, that's big. Mute the event and watch it again. Strangely, not that big. The sound byte and the story take a hero a long way, because we need to understand the heroes challenge and hardship.

Problem 3 is the lack of emulation games in Ultimate. When you're playing around by yourself, you can kick a ball in a net pretending it's the big goal. You can shoot a basketball or a hockey puck as the final seconds tick away. You can even throw a tennis ball against a wall, pretending your a pitcher or a bowler representing your team in the big game. The kids I watched didn't have a velodrome, but with a bike and a strip of pavement, I'm sure they felt they were in the velodrome.

In Ultimate, even with two people, there's not much you can do. I've played a baseball pitching like game throwing back and forth, where you define a strike zone, and throws outside the strike zone can represent hits or runs. Goaltimate, mini, box, or 2-way box are reasonable miniature games for Ultimate, but they're not great. Worst of all, if a kid can barely throw, then all these games become very boring very quickly.

We need to create some disc based games for kids to mess around with. Something along the lines of preultimate. I haven't thought this through, but the game has to be simple, and doesn't always require the catching of a disc. We'll need to deal with the classic clumping of young players who all want there hands, feet, or sticks to touch the sport implement at hand. And the game has to be fun!

We don't have a Chris Hoy to inspire a young generation to emulate Ultimate, and that's not really a big issue. Those of us (and I'm not sure if that includes me) who want to grow the sport and make it legitimate, might have to think along these lines, so I've thrown out a few suggestions.



Jughead said...

You can do it easily while tossing. If you've seen a favorite player on video, you can emulate his throwing style. Just like my cousin can yell "Kevin Durant" and shoot a 3 with his type of form, I can say "Sean Boyle" and try to throw from the splits.

Chris Kosednar said...

after watching shank's forehand fake to huge backhand it was all i ever practiced, also take a look at peoples numbers, How many people chose a relatively unpopular number like 19?

Simon Talbot said...

I dunno, you'd be surprised at how much junior players know about the elite level, largely thanks to Ultivillage.

Some good games for kids to mess about with in the schoolyard are guts, schtick and 500.

J. Becker said...

Oh, and we can learn to watch out for homophones.