Yesterday, we watched the World Championships of Ultimate Frisbee in Lecco, Italy. Lecco is a pretty town situated in ‘lake country’ and surrounded by blue-colored mountains rising out of fog and mist. The views are wonderful: whatever you’re watching has a backdrop that looks like a painting. There were three games, all of which we watched: the women’s division, the mixed gender division, and the men’s division. We had friends playing in each of the games, and we expected the drama to occur on the field. Turns out, the players had better sportsmanship than the spectators.
The first game – the women’s game, we watched from the stairs of the bleachers. The game was close, and the ending a bit tough, since a friend was on the team that lost by just two points. There was an hour before the mixed game, so we grabbed seats in the middle of the bleachers. Though the seats were in the front row, so that everyone bumped us when walking by, they were also in the shade and had backs, so we considered ourselves lucky. Behind us was a group of 50-something parents from another American team, casually discussing various cities in Italy worth visiting. Behind them was a large group of seats reserved for the big wigs from the Ultimate organization, none of whom were there. I mostly watched the warm-ups, munched on snacks, contemplated the mountains, and asked a million questions about ultimate. After all, it was my second game as spectator; the first was in Golden Gate Park on a summertime Friday night, and most of what I recall is wearing a leather jacket and boots and wishing it were a fur coat and Inuit moccasins.
The second game was even tougher to watch because our team got off to a rough start, which seemed to take the wind out of their sails. It was also difficult because of the many people standing in front of us. Eventually, one of the tournament volunteers started sternly shooing away anyone who planted themselves on the stairs, as if oblivious to the people now having to stare at the backs of their heads. The game continued in the raging sun, and I just barely kept from biting all of my nails off, in empathy for my friends on the field.
Towards the end of the game, the friend we were sitting with (H) left to go for a run and a shower. (I like to think that she was keeping the jet lag at bay and feeling inspired by the playing, not that she’s crazy for running in the heat and sun.) Her boyfriend (J), one of the men’s team players and one of B’s co-workers, stopped by to tape up his feet and to say hello. Not long after, a group of girls in their early 20s arrived. They were in good shape – whether through exercise or the benefit of youth – and showing that off, along with their artificial tans and smug expressions. They were wearing the jerseys of their boyfriends’ team (Fish), the team against which J would be playing the men’s game. Because no seats were available, they proceeded to try to acquire some. First, they tried to displace some of the team parents, who seemed either surprised or confused by the temerity. Then, they loudly commented on the seats that B and I were saving for H and two other player’s girlfriends. When that didn’t prompt us to give them up immediately, they forcibly took them. As soon as J had to go onto the field to play, they swooped in, saying that they were there now, and our friends weren’t. Which might not have been so ridiculous if they weren’t also saving seats for other girlfriends. (I’ll ignore the fact that we had invested hours sitting there, even in the breaks between games, to keep those seats. I had had to go to the restroom for an hour and a half at this point.) Having staked their claim, they then promptly left to get ice cream.
Soon after, I struck up a conversation with one of the parents seated right above me. She was rooming with the parents of the Fish. We had a lovely conversation about various places in Europe and volunteer work in the middle east. However, before we got to all that, she actually apologized for the girls, though her association with them was middling at best. Their display of willfulness had been so blatant that she said she was actually embarrassed!
The girls never did return to the seats. Later, I saw why: they had found spots on the sidelines of the field. Now, they weren’t the only ones down there. One of our friend’s girlfriends was watching from there, and another friend’s husband was on the field during her whole game. However, the girls had said upon arriving that their boyfriends had explicitly forbidden them from going onto the field. It made me feel both better and worse that these girls disregarded not just strangers, acquaintances, and their elders, but also their own significant others.
And for those wondering:
- Our team won! The game was very good, and they led despite the fact that almost the entire stadium was rooting for the Fish. I am not generally a loud cheerer, but I took to squealing, clapping, and stomping my feet because their play deserved so much more applause than they were getting.
- No, this was not the only drama off the field, but I’ll stop here.
- And yes, I did manage to go to the restroom before the third game started.