Ultimate Frisbee – More than Just “Catch”

Frisbee has gone extreme, growing into a phenomenon of competitive sports.  Ultimate Frisbee is now considered a nationwide team sport that is gaining recognition by both the NCAA and the Olympics.  The first time I heard about the sport was from my older sister when she was a freshman in college. I laughed at her and said, “Hey, don’t get hurt playing catch.”  I was so wrong about the “playing catch” part. When I went to see her play against Pitt University, I was astonished.  It was so much more than just “catch.”

Ultimate Frisbee is generally played on a football, soccer, or open field.  Two, seven-player teams play against each other to score points in the end zone.  The object of the game is to move the disc (Frisbee) to the opposing team’s end of the field without it touching the ground, getting intercepted by the opposing team, or going out of bounds.  You have to anchor one foot at all times when you are holding the disc as well (there is a more specific list of rules here).

The games I’ve seen have had as much intensity as any other collegiate sport.  However, one thing that I thought showed true sportsmanship, was that there are no referees.  The opposing team will call a penalty and be able to argue if it is a fair call or not.  When it comes to scoring points, and out of bounds calls, other players will help split the decision.  In the games I watched, no matter how intense the rivalry, there were very few calls.  And that’s no surprise, really.  The official rules state, “The integrity of Ultimate depends on each player’s responsibility to uphold the Spirit of the Game, and this responsibility should remain paramount.”

The rise in popularity has mostly happened in the past five or six years.  It has gone from a casual activity to a serious collegiate team sport, a recreation-run league, and now you can easily find pick up games at local parks.  At the collegiate Ultimate level, it has been spreading like wildfire.  The Syracuse Men’s and Women’s club teams (named Doom and Fox Force Seven, respectively), have been competing for 8 years.  They travel and compete in tournaments down in Georgia, Wildwood, NJ, and even Montreal.

I tried my hand at Ultimate.  I thought, as an athlete competing at a college level, I would be up for the task.  I embarrassed myself the first time out.  These players could catch and throw like magic.  Not to mention, they would dive for any disc traveling in a 10-foot radius.  The atmosphere around the game was competitive, but at the same time laid back.  Sure when a team lost they got upset, but then you sit around with other teams afterward and have a great time.

In the college divisions, they hold an annual Championship Tournament for the Title.  It was held in Colorado this year and was televised.  It was definitely more than just a casual tournament.  Ironically, it was one big party, too.  The Tournament in the Men’s D1 bracket had 19 teams in it.  The Championship game was between Pittsburgh and Wisconsin, with Pitt coming out on top for their first title in their history.  The Women’s D1 bracket consisted of 19 teams also.  The Champions were Washington beating Oregon in an epic game.

The NCAA has been asked to consider Ultimate Frisbee as a sport and I certainly believe it should be!  What do you think?

Check out this website (http://www.usaultimate.org/index.html) to search and find local leagues or games in your area!!

Written by Guest Blogger, Stephen Brooks

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