The sport of Ultimate Frisbee, professionally known simply as Ultimate, has been a fun backyard game for years, but it actually got its start on a high school campus in New Jersey. Back in 1968, a group of students at Columbia High School put together the first set of rules and began playing the sport. After that, the game’s popularity started to grow on college campuses in the area and continued to spread throughout the country and the world. Fast forward to today, and Ultimate can be anything from a backyard pastime to a professional sport. With the sport’s popularity growing so exponentially, many within the community believe that Ultimate could move its way into being a major sport in the next few decades.
The act of throwing a frisbee originated at Yale University in the early 1900s. This was due to the fact that the popular local pie place sold their pies in metal discs and students would play catch with them. In 1948, Walter Morrison, inspired by the flying pie discs, designed and created an official disc that could fly through the air much farther than people expected. Over the course of the next few decades the design of the frisbee changed to increase how aerodynamic it was, but the fundamental design has stayed the same. Reminiscent of the Olympic sport of discus, the next few decades of competition in frisbee consisted of distance throwing contests. The game of Ultimate was created in 1968 by a group of three high school students in Maplewood, New Jersey Joel Silver, Buddy Helring and Jon Hines. They started by playing in a parking lot with sidelines made by telephone poles, players’ clothing and backpacks. In 1970, the three creators of the game both wrote up an official set of rules. In 1972, the first official game was played between the colleges of Rutgers and Princeton, and the popularity of the sport led to Yale University hosting the first official tournament in 1975. The game has now been picked up by 42 countries and it has become much easier to join a team. The number of Ultimate players recorded at the start of the 2000s was below 10,000, but as of today, there are over 15,000 recorded players.
The game takes place on a field with endzones. Both teams can have seven people on the field at a time. The goal is to pass the frisbee from person to person until you get to the end zone. The person with the frisbee has to stay in the same spot and if the frisbee is dropped then the other team gets possession. It is generally played until a team scores a decided amount of points with a time limit in place.
One of the most beloved aspects of the game is the atmosphere it creates. The game is played without referees so both teams just play it to the fairest extent. A phrase often spoken in Ultimate is “the spirit of the game” meaning that both teams respect each other and the game. Fights don’t occur and both teams converse throughout the game. This is often considered the most appealing aspect of the sport, especially since it isn’t seen in many other sports. This leads to a perfect mix of competitiveness and fun. Along with this, Ultimate is a fairly safe game leading to minimal injuries. Players and parents of players can easily encourage the game without having to worry about the high risks that some of the major sports have.
Sometimes all it takes is just a disc and some space. Luckily the cheap and low stakes nature of the sport makes it appealing to those looking to have fun or get some exercise.