I Bleed Black is a documentary put out by the guys at UCSB heralding the incredible skill and dedication of their ultimate frisbee team, the UCSB "Black Tide." I only have one disclaimer to make about this film:

Take it with a grain of salt!

If you don't really know what ultimate is about, it might be a bad idea to initiate yourself with this particular movie. The Black Tide are a bunch of arrogant bastards. If we take a quick look at the UPA:I. Introduction node, we will see that the second subsection of the first section is called "Spirit of the Game." This indicates, of course, that spirit is very important to the game of ultimate. Let's not dwell in abstractions, let's talk about a few examples.

Good Spirit:

I am a member of University of Chicago Junk. In the fall of 2002 we went up to NWU to play in a tournament. On the second day we went up against Oberlin's Flying Horsecows (the B team). At halftime we were crushing them, something like 8-2. Rather than give us the evil eye, they laughed with us. Rather than revel in it and celebrate, we asked them to trade jerseys with us to finish the match. So, for the second half all of the Chicago kids were wearing (uber-cool) Horsecow jerseys, and all of the Oberlin guys had on junk shirts. They liked our jerseys a lot and traded with some of the guys on our team. Everyone went home happy, even though neither of us won the tournament.

Bad Spirit:

Well, now that we come to it, I Bleed Black is basically example after example of bad spirit. The guys on their team spike the damn disc after practically every point. Now, there are plenty of appropriate moments and ways to spike the disc. Let's say you lay out right in front of your defender - who also finds himself four feet in the air and horizontal - in the endzone to grab the disc a few inches ahead of him. It might be appropriate to throw the disc to the ground at that point. Or, if you've got a penchant for stylish spikes, you could simply show your defender the disc as he's dusting himself off. Or, if you're totally ridiculous, you could do that karate-chop spike. However, if you've just scored a cakewalk of a point by catching the disc while unmarked in a wide open endzone off of a tame throw, do not spike! This is where the UCSB boys go wrong. They spike it all the time. After every point. They come off looking like a bunch of dicks, which apparently they are.

Now that we've understood the slight issues the Black Tide has with spirit, we can look at the rest of the film. It's pretty damn cool. It gives you a good introduction to the game if you've never really seen it first-hand, lets you know how insane the game can get, and how it's not really just a game for hippies, but athletic types. If you play already, it gives you some ideas about how much you suck. I mean, these UCSB guys are assholes, but they're also pretty damned good. They play psycho defense and have perfect forehand hucks and all that business. The documentary basically follows the Black Tide through one season of fall and spring season play, all the way up to the college nationals which were held in Boston. The parts of the film that aren't on-field aren't particulary gripping, though there are some poignant moments. The game scenes are pretty cool, since you get to see some really top-notch teams playing.

Again, if you're going to see this movie (which you should! Understand my world! The world of 175 grams of plastic!) you should keep the original disclaimer in mind, have a few beers and enjoy it with your hypercritical noder friends.

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