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August 10, 2010

College Ultimate Frisbee: Only Fun if you Win. ~ Frannie Oliver

Cheating in Ultimate Frisbee.

Ultimate Frisbee is a sport that was originally created as a self-refereed competition.

The idea was to create a sport that upheld the spirit of the game, and was more about fun than winning.

In accordance to the rules, calls are made and players have the decision to contest the call or not. However, even if a call is contested, the opposing team has to deal with the fact that the call was made; there is no taking a call back. After the call is made, play continues whether there was a contest or not. This type of play may be okay for people who are playing for fun, but don’t care necessarily about winning. Ultimate was started by a group of laidback people, and these rules worked very well for them.

However, in the world of college ultimate, this isn’t the case for most teams. The quotation many teams live by is,

“We are out here to have fun. However, ultimately winning is fun.”

With this attitude of competition between teams, how could it be possible for every player to make a completely fair, legitimate call when each person is out there trying to win?

The answer is, it’s not. This type of competition goes against human nature. Everybody can look back to their childhood and remember that one kid they played against in a soccer or basketball game, in a tennis match or little league baseball game that tried to bend the rules to suit his or her standings in the competition. Many of those kids have grown up and gone to college, joining a frisbee team in the process. In a game that relies on the honor and integrity of the players, it’s easy for people like this to take advantage of the rules and make calls that fall in their favor.

While there are several college tournaments where calls are made in line with the basic rules of ultimate, line judges and referees become required when the competition reaches the highest levels, say at Nationals. There are two line judges and one referee on the field in many of the games. At a tournament like Nationals, teams have worked the entire season and gotten through Sectionals and Regionals to qualify. With all that work put in, many players would do all they possibly could to win, including making bad calls. That’s why there have to be referees present; otherwise teams could cheat their way to a national championship.

Ultimately, a sport that is self-refereed cannot work for everyone. However, there are many participants that uphold the spirit of the game every time they play. The level of competition is lower, and there is more emphasis on fun. As long as these ideals remain in some part of the game, I’d say the idea of Ultimate Frisbee is succeeding.

College ultimate is in it’s own category, one filled with competition and the drive to win over…well, just about everything else.

Ultimate Frisbee Highlights

Frannie Oliver is a student at the Univeristy of Colorado here in Boulder and plays for the women’s ultimate frisbee team Kali. She is constantly learning from her experience at Elephant, about everything from WordPress to yoga.

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