Before our game against Philadelphia Green Means Go this past Sunday, as a team, the All-Stars decided to institute new scoring celebrations. Maintaining energy after travel and little sleep was proving difficult, and we felt the need to infuse some new energy into our play. If you were unable to catch the game, these celebrations included the following: joyful spikes, acting out “tourist” activities by taking “photos” of one another, riding a ‘bus’ around the field, and taking our signature ‘Slim selfie’ after scoring goals.
Post-game, conversations about the spirit and integrity of these actions began both amongst our team and the media. Certain All-Star players felt that our celebrations were un-spirited and compromised our overarching goal as a tour. We received texts and emails from esteemed teammates and friends who were concerned with our actions, and a few critiques via twitter and other social media. Side conversations among the Stars ensued, creating what felt like our first contention as a team.
Prior to our game against New York Bent last night, leadership and I called a team meeting to address these issues. We framed the meeting as an open-floor discussion, and live tweeted individual thoughts from our Twitter handle (@AllStarUlti) in order to be transparent with tour followers.
The players’ spectrum of opinions became apparent very quickly. On one end, some were concerned that the spikes and excessive celebrations (mostly due to length) were disrespectful to the other team. And that in addition, they had detracted from organic, heart-felt congratulations to our teammates post scoring.
Others offered a contrary perspective—if men spike and celebrate, shouldn’t be able to do the same without criticism? Those of this opinion felt that the celebrations performed were for us -- that their purpose was to celebrate each other. They proposed that actions were within spirit of the game, which was defined as upholding integrity on the field, and challenging and respecting our opponents.
After addressing these two ends of the spectrum, we conferred mid-range pros and cons. We discussed the light-hearted intentions of the celebrations, stating that they came from a good place and hoping that GMG felt the same. I personally mentioned the importance of body language, and making sure that our behavior was celebratory rather than aggressive. Others addressed that although our intentions were good, it may have come across differently to our followers and to the other team. And that more importantly, it put some of our teammates in an uncomfortable position.
In search of a common ground, we concluded a plan of action moving forward. The team committed to taking less time with celebrations, reserving fun celebrations for huge plays, and to making sure that celebrating each other was our priority.
I concluded the meeting by addressing that because we come from different places and different ultimate cultures, our opposition on the topic is inevitable. And that is ok. Bringing different female ultimate cultures together is a large part of what makes this tour so incredible. That being said, with a fairly open mission statement—“to promote women in ultimate”—we as the All-Star Tour acknowledge our responsibility to promote women in the sport while maintaining respect and integrity for our teammates and our opponents. While there was no absolute conclusion to our meeting, we do feel that the differing opinions on our team represent a larger spectrum of opinions on the issue. If so inclined, we encourage you to continue our conversation by posting below. Some questions we still have are: are women held to a different standard with spirit of the game? If so, what actions can be taken to ensure that we are working towards a more balanced standard? Is spiking the disc and/or celebrating with positive intentions spirited, and why? Let’s keep the conversation going.