I Don’t ‘Play Frisbee’

If you’ve grown up playing soccer, football, or hockey, I can see why at first glance you may have a hard time taking ultimate seriously. In an effort to convey to the world that it is a competitive, athletic, and legitimate sport – but also a unique one – ultimate may have gone a bit too far. With terms like ‘Universe Point’ (the name for the tie break point), ‘The Greatest’ (yes, this is actually the name of a play), and even the name ‘Ultimate’, the game does provide ample opportunities for eye rolls.

But here’s what I’d like you to do: give frisbees a second chance. Anyone who witnessed TSSC’s Toronto Ultimate Festival at Sunnybrook this past weekend knows that these glorious plastic discs are more than just an object that people with matted hair and beaded beards toss around in a park.

Here are five myths about discs, and the game of ultimate, that should be put to rest.

  1. It’s not a real, athletic sport


The best way to dispel this myth is by playing it. Ultimate players run, cut, jump and defend non-stop and the pace of the game is head-spinning. In fact, it’s common for players to run several miles over the course of a game. This one player used a GPS at an ultimate tournament in 2009, and over the course of a three-game tournament, he ran fifteen miles.

  1. It’s boring to watch


Let’s face it: human beings are not very different from golden retrievers. Many field sports involve variations of propelling objects into the air and then trying to catch them (or stopping others from catching them). And the only thing better than doing it yourself is watching top athletes do it while you sit on the couch with a beer.

Because of the way a disc rips through the air and then hangs towards the end of its flight as it loses spin, that dramatic moment – there’s no way he can catch that…wait, is he going to catch that? I think he just might OH MAN HOW DID HE CATCH THAT – is suspended that much longer. And it’s pretty thrilling.

There’s a reason that ultimate is appearing more and more on major sports network highlight reels.

  1. Spirit of the Game + No Refs = Everyone sitting around singing Kumbaya


The focus on self-officiating does make ultimate different, and unapologetically so. There is still fierce competition for every disc, but from the highest levels of the game to the rec leagues, the culture of the sport is to promote fair play and respect for your opponent, and to call your own fouls. Kind of better than watching pro soccer players roll around like they’ve been shot after every nudge, no?

  1. Ultimate is a new sport

DSC_0066The rules of ultimate frisbee were established in 1968 at a high school in New Jersey. Today, there are over 5.5 million players worldwide, and that number is growing fast. Ultimate is a World Games event, and on the path to becoming an Olympic sport.

5. There’s nowhere to watch high-level ultimate in Toronto


Ok, maybe this isn’t actually a myth, but I want to dispel it anyways. The Toronto Rush, our local pro ultimate team in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL), held the home opener for their third season this weekend. All the things you hate about going to most Toronto pro sports games (i.e. it costs a million dollars, the team is bad, the queues are long, the team is bad, all the players are overpaid bums, and no seriously why is this team so bad) do not apply here. Games are cheap at $12 each, the fan experience is tremendous, and in the Rush’s first two years, they won the championship once and lost in the finals once.

If you’re interested in giving this quirky sport another look, do yourself a favour and check out TSSC’s summer leagues here. Soon you too will be flying high.DSC_0679

~Written by Sandeep Kembhavi

Want to get out and active? Sport & Social Club provides sports and programs for adults in the GTA. Check out www.torontossc.com for more info!