Ultimate Frisbee, which is officially known as Ultimate, is a non-contact sport that requires a disc to be thrown to players in order to get the disc to the end zone to score a point in the opposing team's end zone.
This sport was first played in 1968 by a group of individuals who wanted to throw a pizza pan as a game. After this, Wham-O created the first playable, disc-shaped item which has been evolving ever since. From starting in a town in New Jersey, it's popularity has spread all over the globe to become an important lifestyle or past time to over 7 million people; men or women, boys or girls.
Ultimate can be played at all ages and by all skill levels ranging from youth to professional. It can be played on grass, in the sand, or indoors on a basketball court. It is recognized as a sport by the Olympics but it will not be represented as one in the upcoming game in 2020 nor 2024 but there is a large chance that it will make an appearance in Los Angeles in 2028. Recently professional teams have made appearances at halftime for football games, playing a few points to show it off and raise awareness for the relevance of Ultimate in the sports circle.
There are many borrowed gameplay concepts that are shared with other sports which helps new players understand by assimilating more commonly known sports. Just like in basketball, you must have a pivot foot when in possession of the disc, but at no point are you allowed to move if you "dribble" the disc. A field is shaped just like a football field, including the end zone, but the difference is that there are no marked yard measurements needed for Ultimate. The amount of running can be related to soccer but one could argue that Ultimate causes everyone to run a lot more.
When watching highlight reels of Ultimate being played by experienced players, they will be filled with players skying others, getting layout D's, and bidding hard for a disc in the end zone. Incredible grabs and amazing throws are what help you become a memorable player because those skills are among the most important ones.
Spirit of the game is, above all, the sportsmanship code of ethics. Respect is the most important value to have on the field so that everyone playing has a good time and can focus on the sport rather than the stress between players.
As like with any of sport, the more you practice, the better you will be and the more you play with different people, the more you will see that there is more than one way to play this game.
The community of Ultimate takes pride in the spirit and friendliness of the game. If anyone purposely acts in an aggressive, ignorant manner, it is typically looked down upon and not encouraged.
To show Spirit of the Game is to represent this sport well to the new people who play it and make it fun for everyone on and off the field.
The golden rule: treat others how you want to be treated. This is the best way of explaining that in order to uphold the Spirit of the Game in tournaments and games, you must treat your opponents as people too.
Everyone makes mistakes, there will be new players, and there will be different levels of competitiveness. There is a level of maturity for each situation which is to be able to maintain the respect for each player as well as the game itself.
High fiving, complementing, and helping your opponent up are ways to spread spirit and make the experience more positive for everyone.
What makes Ultimate Unique?
The reason why Ultimate is different from any other sport in this way is because the thought of intentionally fouling, or trying to gain an advantage through disregarding the rules, is heavily discouraged. To lose respect from any party, including teammates, is to not uphold the positivity of the sport. Being a part of the community, players have a responsibility to show rookies that Ultimate isn't just about the game, but about the environment and encouragement between people.
When Ultimate was in its infancy, there were no referees nor observers to watch and lead the games so each player had to use the honor system and keep each other accountable for the plays that happened. In 1978, the 7th edition included the significance of the spirit of sportsmanship in Ultimate, stating that this is basically the backbone of the sport, holding it all together.
Spirit was created based on the feeling of just playing with friends. The general feeling is that here is a level of respect for them as human beings and that feeling should be mimicked throughout all games with any group of players.
In 1986, Spirit was in danger since many teams had ignored it and created tensions between opposing teams by making dangerous plays and causing fouls on purpose.
With the introduction of observers and referees, creating clear boundaries for players in higher level Ultimate meant that teams couldn't cheat or were liable for intentional fouls to move the game in their favor. Tensions died down and players understood that having the attitude of "winning at all costs" was looked down upon by the organizations hosting the tournaments.
The first disc, or "Frisbee", was created in the likeness of the pie tins from Connecticut's Frisbie Pie Company near Yale University. In 1948, Fred Morrison made the first disc made out of plastic for the purpose of sport and in 1951, the Wham-O company mass-produced the "Pluto Platter" disc.
In 1958, Wham-O trademarked the name "Frisbee" after the Frisbie Pie Company that had closed a year earlier.
The first official game played with a "Frisbee" was in 1968 in Maplewood New Jersey by Columbia High School students. Joel Silver, Buzzy Hellring, and Jonny Hines created the idea for Ultimate Frisbee and their first game was between the student council and student newspaper staff.
In 1970, Silver, Hellring, and Hines created the first set of guidelines that players must adhere to. Since then, there have been 11 revisions.
The first National Collegiate Championships, now called the National Ultimate Frisbee Championships, was played in 1975 with eight college teams. Rutgers University ending up winning over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the finals.
Discraft created the Ultrastar 175 gram disc in 1981 and it was used in most Ultimate games to replace Wham-O's 80 Mold disc that was 165 grams. Wham-O tried to come back with another disc for the sport but none of them were as successful as Discraft. The Ultrastar disc became the official ultimate disc in 1991 and has been in use ever since.
Anne Watson made a tiresome effort to make Ultimate Frisbee an official varsity sport for high school students in the state of Vermont. In Spring 2019, Vermont became the first state in America to accept Ultimate Frisbee as a varsity sport, making breakthroughs in Ultimate history.
The American Ultimate Disc League was established by Josh Moore in 2010 as the first Professional Ultimate League in the US. The first season did not start until April 2012 but it consisted of eight teams from around the country who would compete to be in the Championships at the end of the season. This league has been composed of men teams until 2019 when the Premier Ultimate League made its debut in the professional scene.
World Ultimate Championships
The first world championship was hosted by Gothenburg, Sweden in 1983. Both of the USA teams, open and women, won each of their divisions against the other European countries.
In 1989, the World Games hosted by Karlsruhe, Germany showed Ultimate as an exhibition sport. Ultimate became a medal sport in 2001 in Akita, Japan with six teams from different countries.
Even though the International Olympic Committee recognizes Ultimate as a sport, it did not make the cut as a represented sport in the upcoming Olympic games for Tokyo 2020 or Paris 2024. When the Games come to Los Angeles in 2028, the Ultimate community is going to try and advocate the inclusion of Ultimate.