Ultiworld, a popular Ultimate related magazine did a poll for it’s “readers” to pick the Catch of the Year. I wouldn’t have noticed it normally, but this time around Pranav Rajan, a player from India, featured in it. A lot of people in the Indian Ultimate community tried to ensure the whole community took notice and voted in large numbers!

[…] we studied many hours of tape and solicited your submissions to create a list of 16 finalists. Over the next week, you the Ultiworld readers will have a chance to weigh in and select the Catch of the Year.

Studying all these hours of tape and picking some of the best catches seems like a great contribution to the Ultimate community. It gives these players a good platform of recognition and it also gives all of us people to look up to.

But, I find this whole exercise of popular voting quite pointless. What exactly is Ultiworld trying to achieve here? It seems like it is just a competition to see how much popularity and support each player can garner.

Perhaps unsurprising to those who have followed along with our brackets in the past, Pranav managed by far the most votes in the first round, buoyed by a continent’s worth of support. If past brackets are any indication, it will take massive domestic support to take the young Indian star down in this competition. Can Sovell-Fernandez muster it?

In one of the tighter matchups we’ve seen in this year’s competition, Pranav’s U24 World Championships snag captured 56% of the vote to surpass another young star in the making, Allyn Suzuki of California Current. With the margin always close, Suzuki led as late as with 18 hours to go, but Pranav saw a late surge to claim victory.

The poll is unauthenticated. People can vote multiple times, with simple cookie tweaking. Even if we are relying on people to vote in the “Spirit of the Game”, I don’t see what the community gains out of this exercise.

The players, who featured in the poll, themselves are left wondering if they deserved to win given the poll wasn’t fool-proof and given that humans with all their biases easily vote for players they know, or players from their country, etc.

Ultiworld gets lots of page views and the like. The link to the vote was shared with lots of people who probably hadn’t heard of Ultiworld before or don’t care to read it. May be they found a few new readers?

I would’ve liked the whole exercise a lot more if Ultiworld just stopped at picking the 8 or 16 top catches, and putting them all in a post. But, may be that wouldn’t have got so many page views!

I refuse to participate in any such future popularity contests. And I think we all should.

Thanks to Meghana Iyer for sharing her strong views on this Ultiworld poll and for reading a draft of this post. Thanks to Shantanu Choudhary for encouraging me to write this post.